Higher Ed on Drupal? You should create a distribution!

Higher Ed is moving to Drupal in a big way! Many universities are even standardizing on Drupal, and using it build all their new sites.

It's a great fit, solving many of the common problems that universities and colleges have worldwide, including: easy access control, editorial workflows, accessibility, brand consistency and lower costs compared to non-Open Source platforms.

Using a single platform for multiple sites, whatever it is, allows you to gain a number of efficiencies:

  • Standard tools, techniques, and configurations
  • Shared knowledge in the organization (training creating content on one site will transfer to another site)

But if you're using Drupal for more than a couple sites at your organization, and you don't have a custom Drupal distribution, then YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!

Creating a Drupal distribution will allow you to:

  • Launch a new site in seconds (instead of minutes or hours), with your standard branding and the all the base functionality you want on every site
  • Reduce the cost of maintaining shared functionality on many sites, by allowing you to update the distribution and quickly deploy the same changes to all your sites
  • Easily apply security updates
  • Share the cost of developing new features that will benefit many campus sites

Read more to learn how many institutions of higher education are creating Drupal distributions to increase efficiency and reduce costs when maintaining lots and lots of Drupal sites!

How we helped take Open Berkeley to the next level!

Video created by the Open Berkeley team to promote it internally.

UC Berkeley has hundreds of campus websites, including sites for its departments and their initiatives. All sites need to have consist branding and (like all Drupal sites) need to be updated for bug fixes and security advisories. But budgets are tight and not all departments have staff with technical skills!

That’s why the Central IT department created Open Berkeley, a Drupal distribution that any campus department can choose to use for their new site.

Users get a site that follows brand guidelines out-of-the-box, meets accessibility requirements and has the basic functionality that most UC Berkeley sites need. And this allows Central IT to continue to develop the distribution and regularly release new versions to their users with new features, bug fixes and security updates.

And since all sites get to benefit from the work that Central IT is doing, the cost is shared across the whole university, rather than requiring the departments that own the site bare the full cost!

Read more to learn how we helped take Open Berkeley to the next level!

Drupal414: Introduction to Behat and automated behavioral testing

Have you ever ...

• Changed one part of your site and accidentally broken some other part but didn't notice until it was too late?

• Gotten an "unclear requirement" from a client, where you couldn't really tell if you've satisfied it or not?

• Asked non-developers to help with testing, but they missed things or didn't have the time?

If so, Behat might be able to help! 

Behat is a tool for doing automated, functional testing of your site. Unlike other functional testing tools, the feature specifications are written in human-readable text (rather than code)!

This means your client can sign off on them as part of the project's requirements and non-developers (even the client!) can help create them.

In this presentation at Drupal414, we look at some example Behat feature specifications and use them to test a Drupal site.

Launch a startup in 54 hours? Well, we tried at Startup Weekend!

Many startups take months or even years to launch! Can it really be done in 54 hours?

Over the November 1-3 weekend, more than a hundred people gathered at Startup Weekend Milwaukee to give it shot!

Waiting until the product is "ready" is frequently a fatal mistake. You need to get in front of customers and start testing your assumptions as soon as possible! Otherwise you may never learn if anyone even wants your product until it's too late.

Being forced to work with such a tight deadline can help you evaluate what is truly necessary in your Minimal Viable Product (MVP) to test your idea.

I gathered a small group of Drupal users from Drupal414 to see if we could prove my assertion that Drupal is the ideal platform to build an MVP (Watch Drupal + Startups = AWESOME!, my full presentation about this).

How did it go? Did we succeed?

Read the rest of the article to find out!

Drupal414: Drupal + Startups = AWESOME!

I honestly believe that Drupal is the IDEAL platform to build a web startup.

People who know me have heard me talk about this many times. Building your startup on Drupal allows you to:

  • ... go from initial concept to a product you can show to investors or test with early adaptors sooner (on the order of 1-2 months!)
  • ... invest time and money ONLY on the parts of your application that provide its Unique Value Proposition (UVP) - NOT the little things every web app needs.
  • ... change faster (and without necessarily writing code!)

I've been working for several months on a presentation that not only argues these points in detail, but explains why those are critical factors in the success of any startup.

Last week Thursday (2013-09-19), I finally gave this presentation for the first time to Drupal414 (the local Drupal Users Group in Milwaukee, WI)!

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