Weblogs

By Bastian Widmer 17th April 2014 Drupal

We are crazy about graphs and statistics. No wonder we also want to get a feel for the health of our Drupal sites in some way. On our video wall, one screen is dedicated to showing us errors per server to get a better understanding for how good we are doing. You cannot reach zero here, but you see if something fails miserably when things go over 9,000!

We can use our logging information for several things - visualizing error messages is just one use case. As an example, we store the generated data a bit longer to audit some processes, for example, content modification or deletion which is logged by the content module. However, let's jump in!

Architecture

Our setup is currently pretty simple. The so called Elasticsearch ELK Stack (ELK stands for Elasticsearch Logstash Kibana) provides many more possibilities to setup for scalability. For our current size and needs we are happy with the way we set it up. It is straight forward and empowers us to make use of the data that is otherwise stored in the Drupal databases mostly unnoticed.

Drupal - Syslog Module

We make use of the Syslog functionality within Drupal to ship the Syslogs to our Local 7 endpoint of Syslog. From there, the messages are passed to Logstash.

Enabling Syslog is a straightforward thing:

drush en syslog
drush vset syslog_identity yoursite_com
drush vset syslog_facility 184
drush dis dblog

The remaining settings are left default, but you can change the information that is logged to your needs.

Logstash

Logstash, written by Jordan Sissel, is the Swiss Army knife in our setup. You can think of it as Multiple Input - Multiple Output System. It features many In and Output Types (check the documentation section of the Logstash website for more information). We use the Syslog listener of Logstash and feed this data into our Elasticsearch instance. We create a new index every day to ease the process with retaining the logfiles. The current setup does not need further separation to this, Logstash allows us to split up the messages passed along from Drupal into separate searchable fields. For example, we split the site name, username, module, severity into separated fields.

Elasticsearch

All log entries are passed on from Logstash to Elasticsearch for indexing, search and storage. Elasticsearch is a quite young but powerful tool. It handles sharding and replication over many nodes with ease and has fantastic performance in searching.

Kibana

Kibana is the frontend to Elasticsearch. It allows you to query the data stored within Elasticsearch and displays this information in graphs, diagrams tailored to your needs. We have several graphs we use daily. For example, we show all exceptions thrown on our video wall to see when something goes down. A sudden change in quantity of the errors gives us a hint to look into it. We also go trough the errors after deployments to ensure no fatal exceptions happen and are able to fix things that wouldn't be noticed otherwise.

Want to hear more?

Got curious to see what you can achieve with those tools? I'll is speaking at Campus Berne on 22. April 2014 - You can register yourself on TechUp.

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In this week's edition we say good bye to Windows XP, look at the bug that got attention of the mainstream media and dive into structured data. Enjoy!

Open Source

A neat video that should clarify the origin and purpose of open source.

Search Engine Optimization

Amazee Metrics: How to Use Structured Data for SEO
Want to improve the appearance of you search engine results? Then this tutorial might help.

Technology

Medium: How can Heartbleed exploit affect me?
Not sure what consequences the SSL vulnerability could have for you? This article might help to get a better understanding. What it meant for our customers and us is documented in this blog post.

SPLOID: Photographer reveals the secret of the Windows XP desktop image
This week Microsoft finally discontinued its support for Windows XP. So before we all go misty-eyed, here a nice background story about the famous default desktop background image.

DrupalCon Austin

DrupalCon Austin 2014: Are You Ready for Drupal 8?
Want hit the ground running with Drupal 8? Then signing up for training before DrupalCon is probably a good idea.

By Bastian Widmer 11th April 2014 Business

In recent days the Heartbleed bug gained significant media attention.

The bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs).

What does mean for our clients and us?

On Tuesday morning we learned about the vulnerability. After an initial analysis we got in contact with our hosting partner Nine.ch and discussed the possible ways to upgrade the faulty OpenSSL component.

We started the mitigation process at 13:54 CET. All systems were patched, and tested against the vulnerability by Tuesday 17:41 CET.

All our clients affected have been contacted individually by Thursday morning.

As there might be the possibility that the private keys of the used certificates have been compromised we started revoke all current certificates and reissue new SSL certificates to ensure safety of the encryption.

By Sascha Eggenberger 10th April 2014

Flat Design is really trending these days. Many of our latest releases incorporate this approach, thus contributing to the web turning into a flat world – and that's not bad at all.

But what should you keep in mind when opting for this approach? Here are a few things I've learned. 

Keep it simple

Make something look simple, makes it also easier to use.

If users aren't faced with different decorative design elements like shadows and textures, then it's much easier for them to focus on the content. Remember: content is king.

However by reducing designs to their bare essentials, you may also face new problems you probably didn't have or even anticipated before.

Create visual differences

Why does this matter you say? Let's look at forms. Forms make or break the most deciding interactions on your website like sign ups (communities), data inputs (participation & sharing) and many other tasks which require personal information from your users.

Therefore there should be a good visible difference between buttons and input fields.

Is it clickable or not?

Flat design can make it hard for users to find out if an element is clickable or not. To prevent this problem, we should provide a strong visual feedback like hover states on traditional or active states on mobile devices.

Humanize Flat Design

Flat Design, by its nature, is usually very inhuman. To make it look friendly and inviting to users combine your design with images. Images can not only personalize your visual identity but humanize it even further.

Faster design process?

This is what a customer would like to hear for sure, but unfortunately this is somehow not the reality. Making something simpler doesn't make it easier to think about in the creative process – it sometimes requires even more time to simplify something complex.

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This week the following stories got our attention. Enjoy!

Drupal

Last Call Media: Drupal 8 Lessons for Developers
We had some fun with Drupal 8 this week. However the folks over at Last Call Media dug a bit deeper and here are their findings.

Drunomics: Drupal Dev Days Szeged wrap-up
From the sounds of our group of developers that returned, from last week's Drupal Dev Days in Hungary, the event was raving success. Drunomics' Josef Dabernig shares his perspective.

Technology

Suhayl Khan demonstrates how to access the first web page with devices, which are significantly older than the World Wide Web. This is seriously geeky but amazing at the same time.

Europe

Wired: Victory for net neutrality in European Parliament
The European Parliament passed a strong net neutrality law this week. Although it still needs to go to the European Council it's a promising sign.

Tweets that cut the noise

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By Daniel Truninger 1st April 2014 Business, Drupal

Today we are proud to announce that amazeelabs.com, our main website, has been re-launched ON DRUPAL 8.

After countless hours of emotional debate we came to the conclusion that we required a bold move to communicate our position as Switzerland’s #1 Drupal agency. To put this straight we actually are the proud owners of the first company web presence on Drupal 8 - on the entire web!

We strongly believe that a website isn't the final destination after all, it’s just the medium for the creation and promotion of a site’s content.

Gregory Gerhardt, Managing Director and Founder of Amazee Labs, commented: ”For too long our brilliant design has fought an uphill battle against the evil work of copycats. Our new website design shall rest uncopied - simple, authentic, close to its roots."

We hope you like our new face.

Update: So who fell for our April Fools' Day story? Normality has been restored and our regular site is back up. We loved your reactions.

Dear reader, this week we take a look at Second Screen usage, the first Olympics for bionic athletes and the latest from the world of Drupal. Enjoy!

Drupal

webchick.net: Drupal core committer takes Acquia Certification exam. You won't believe what happens next!
In last week's edition we mentioned that Acquia launched a Drupal certification program. Angela Byron, a co-maintainer of Drupal 7, was one of the first to take the exam.

Second Screen

Econsultancy: 16% of TV's audience is using social media at the same time
The Council for Research Excellence's latest study illustrates the spread of Second Screen usage. According to the study every sixth primetime television viewer admits to using social media while doing so.

Technology

World Backup Day — March 31st
Is your data safe from disaster? If not make the pledge and back up your data this Monday.

Zurich

The Verge: Switzerland to host the first Cybathlon, an Olympics for bionic athletes

While in recent years all bids to host the Olympics in Switzerland have ended in misery a different kind of Olympics will be hosted in Zurich in 2016.

Tweets that cut the noise

With Drupal 8 you will be able to the install the CMS from any device in an optimized fashion. Guess what: Our Frontend Developer Emma Karayiannis contributed to this feature.

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By Daniel Truninger 28th März 2014 Drupal, Events

Overwriting code in Drupal

On Thursday Vasi (vasi1186) highlighted methods how to overwrite the default behaviour of Drupal's core and some of the well known contributed modules.

Manage and Deploy your sites with Drush

In his session Bastian (dasrecht) explained how to setup Drush to work with remote sites and how we use it in our daily business. 

Get ready for full translated sites with Entity Translation

Drupal 8 will require only only one module for translation: Entity Translation. Michael (Schnitzel) presented our biggest learning with Drupal 7's version of the module and how by using it the transition to Drupal 8 will be significantly easier.

Pro tip: For the full experience of his presentation's animated cat content gif goodness, which Slideshare doesn't support, you can download his Keynote slides here.

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By Emma Karayiannis 26th März 2014 Drupal, Events

We are coming to the end of the dedicated sprint days at Drupal Developer Days Szeged. Let’s take a look at the success we’ve had so far.

Sprinters started arriving early on Monday morning and by the end of the first day the two sprint rooms were almost full. 

A third sprint room had to be added to the roster on Wednesday as we were out of space on Tuesday evening. To give you a good idea on numbers the total number of sprinters so far is over 150!

There’s a great vibe in the sprint rooms. Everyone has been saying how well organised the sprints are. Everyone’s enthusiasm to work on Drupal is sky high.

The sprints have covered many initiatives for Drupal 8 and Drupal.org with huge progress being made already. Since Monday many new contributors have worked on Drupal 8 and have already had their work committed to core.

The number of core commits this week so far has passed the 90, and it’s going up at a speedy rate. Many thanks to Webchick, AlexPott, and Catch who have been working around the clock to commit everyone's hard work.

Here are some highlights of the week so far:

  • The Frontend sprint needed to mass relocate as so many people turned up. They are now in a bigger location taking up half a sprint room.
  • The Beta Blocker Bunnies working hard to reach the Beta release of Drupal 8.
  • A special mention for the coffee. Free latte macchiatos (hand delivered by Gábor Hojtsy if you ask him nicely).
  • Everyone regrouping after dinner for late night coding in the sprint rooms until being made to leave.

More photos of the Drupal Developer Days can be found in our Flickr set.

This week our focus is on Drupal's first certification program, a service with an amazing potential and how Google's DNS servers have become a popular graffiti motive in Turkey. Enjoy!

Open Source

Drupal

Dries Buytaert: Acquia certification for Drupal
This week Acquia announced the first certification program for Drupal. Here are Dries Buyaert's thoughts. Expect more to follow on the topic, since it has already been discussed emotionally in the community.

Fun

As Konami code aficionados we certainly love this Easter egg in Google’s voice search.

Little Helper

Co.Design: A New App That Lets You Take Apart Websites and Rebuild Them At Will
The service Kimono allows you to transform any website into a structured API in seconds. We already get the data, in a JSON file, from our favourite Indian restaurant with help the service.

Tweets that cut the noise

Seiten

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