Bryan Ruby


Thoughts, Words, and Deeds

Words

Umbraco 7.4 focused on the User Experience

Umbraco Logo

Niels Hartvig recently posted that Umbraco 7.4 has been released. With much focus on improving the user experience, this new version of Umbraco is being subtitled as the "Content type editor update".

Features and improvements highlighted in this update includes:

  •  New content type editor
  •  Some UX polish + documentation
  •  Media library improvements
  •  Grid polish
  •  Password for user panel (no dashboard)
  •  Models Builder

Agility CMS updated with December 2015 Release

Agility - Media and Docs

A few days ago, the Agility CMS Team released an update that includes new features and bug fixes. This is the first update since the "big upgrade" threee months ago when Agility introduced a significant rebuild and redesign of its content management system's interface.

Among the bug fixes, probably the most annoying one to me was a bug hat prevented users from being able to delete a linked content item from within grid view. Previously, a user was required to click on the "Edit Content" button in order to remove an item. Before the fix, the work-around was sufficient but annoying due to the changes involved in the expected workflow. Overall though, as a user of the Agility CMS, I've been pretty impressed how much Agility got right in the redesign that the waiting time for the fix was acceptable to me.

A new era for Drupal begins with Drupal 8

As was mentioned earlier this week, today is the day Drupal 8 becomes official and is released for public consumption. The last time CMS Report was given the opportunity to talk about a major Drupal release was in January 2011 with the release of Drupal 7. If you thought the three year waiting period from Drupal 6 to Drupal 7 was long, waiting nearly half a decade for Drupal 8 certainly feels like a lifetime in the world of content management. During this cycle of development, Drupal's own open source community has evolved and its developers have introduced hundreds of changes into the Drupal content management platform.

Since the release of Drupal 7, the Drupal community considered not only how they could influence the content management industry, but has also looked outward to consider how the best practices of developers, designers, and publishers could influence Drupal's own to build a better Drupal. Dries Buytaert, founder and project lead of Drupal, in a blog post remarked that "Drupal 8 has been a big transformation" for the open source community. 

The pace of change in the digital world has become dizzying. If we were to ignore these market forces, Drupal would be caught flat-footed and quickly become irrelevant.

Date for Drupal 6 end-of-life announced

I admit it. When looking at the calendar my eyes have been focused on November 19, 2015. This is the date that Drupal 8, under development since 2011, is expected to be released. But for Drupal 6 users, the beginning of Drupal 8 also marks the beginning of the end for Drupal 6 support. Announced on Drupal.org, Michael Hess writes that Drupal 6 will reach end-of-life on February 24 2016.

As announced in the Drupal 6 extended support policy, 3 months after Drupal 8 comes out, Drupal 6 will be end-of-life (EOL).

On February 24th 2016, Drupal 6 will reach end of life and no longer be supported.

What this means for you:

  • Drupal 6 will no longer be supported by the community at large. The community at large will no longer be creating new projects, fixing bugs in existing projects, writing documentation, etc. around Drupal 6.
  • There will be no more core commits on Drupal 6.x to the official tree. (see What if I have a Drupal 6 site still)
  • The security team will no longer provide support or Security Advisories for Drupal 6
    All Drupal 6 releases on project pages will be flagged as not supported.
  • At some point in the future update status may stop working for Drupal 6 sites.

The policy of the Drupal community is to support only the current and previous stable versions. (When Drupal 8 is released, Drupal 7 will continue to be maintained but Drupal 6 be marked unsupported.) This policy was created to prevent Drupal's core and module maintainers from having to maintain more than two active major versions of Drupal.

On the road to a better Agility CMS

New Interface for Agility CMS

Three years ago, CMS Report made the jump from Drupal to the Agility CMS featuring its Magazine Publishing Suite. Since then, I've had the opportunity to see Agility's software evolve including improved delivery in the mobile space through responsive web design. While gradual improvements were made in the CMS, probably the biggest change for Agility Inc. was in late 2013 with the appointment of their new CEO, Jonathan Voigt. When Jon was appointed CEO he promised a refocused vision for Agility that would provide better products and improved services for Agility's paying customers. This autumn, Agility fulfills that promise as it rolls out a significant rebuild and redesign of the content management system's interface.

Agility has announced that they have started pushing out the new version of its popular web content management solution. Besides the interface improvements, the new version of Agility CMS also introduces a new Dashboard feature as well as significant improvements in software performance and task workflow.

"This a huge step forward for Agility CMS. The legacy content manager was built out 8 years ago, and it served us and our customers well. This new, upgraded version provides the same user-friendly experience – but it’s sleeker, faster and provides more value to all that login to the platform,” Jon Voigt, CEO of Agility CMS, said.

CMS Made Simple 2.0 is released

Over the weekend, the core developers for CMS Made Simple, an open source project, announced the release of CMSMS 2.0. While not a complete rewrite, CMSMS 2.0 is a significant re-factoring and renewal for the content management system. Many of the changes involved are focused on giving the web professional an easier and simpler editing experience within the CMS.

In the announcement, Robert Campbell further explains how CMSMS 2.0 came to a final release.

After a very, very long wait (around three years for this attempt alone) and a great deal of effort, we are overjoyed to announce the public release of CMSMS 2.0. The next generation in the evolution of making managing web content simple.

CMSMS 2.0 has been a long and tiring uphill war, with many large and small battles; some of which we won, and some of which we lost. Throughout our battles the Dev Team has always remembered our primary goal and tagline: "Power for the Professionals, Simplicity for the End Users." This means that the professionals have a standards-oriented, powerful engine to build websites and web based applications, and the system still remains simple and fast for the average non-technical user to be able to manage the content of his or her website.

The primary focus for the developers along with feature changes of CMSMS 2.0 include:

  • Significant improvements in the editing experience:

    CMSMS 2.0 includes a new WYSIWYG editor, an improved and dynamic file manager, and a brand new content managing module. Content editors can now easily find, control and edit thousands of pages without concern that they will accidentally erase somebody else's work (that's important!).
     

The Aaron Winborn Award

On March 24, 2015, the Drupal community lost Aaron Winborn who was diagnosed with ALS a few years ago. In honor of Aaron, the Drupal Association and Angie Bryon recently announced the Aaron Winborn Award. The announcement reads as is:

Announcing The Aaron Winborn Award to honor amazing community members

In honor of long-time Drupal contributor Aaron Winborn (see his recent Community Spotlight), whose battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) (also referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease) is coming to an end later today, the Community Working Group, with the support of the Drupal Association, would like to announce the establishment of the Aaron Winborn Award.

This will be an annual award recognizing an individual who demonstrates personal integrity, kindness, and above-and-beyond commitment to the Drupal community. It will include a scholarship and stipend to attend DrupalCon and recognition in a plenary session at the event. Part of the award will also be donated to the special needs trust to support Aaron's family on an annual basis.

Thanks to Hans Riemenschneider for the suggestion, and the Drupal Association executive board for approving this idea and budget so quickly. We feel this award is a fitting honor to someone who gave so much to Drupal both on a technical and personal level.

Thank you so much to Aaron for sharing your personal journey with all of us. It’s been a long journey, and a difficult one. You and your family are all in our thoughts.

Starting my Summer with the Blossom Smart Watering Controller

Blossom Sprinkler

Spring brought to South Dakota plenty of rain. The lawns are green, the flowers are in full bloom, and it seems we can't go beyond a couple days without a rain shower or thunderstorm. While water is usually plenty for my city, we do things smart around here and restrict water usage for our lawns year round. It's not uncommon in my part of the country to see the weather pattern quickly change from wet to dry. What once was green can turn brown in a hurry.

If you want a green yard when summer is in full swing, you will do best to respect the water restrictions and program your sprinkler controller the smartest way possible. Here in my city, watering lawns is not allowed during the hours of 12 p.m to 5 PM. Homeowners with even-numbered addresses may water lawns on even-numbered calendar dates and users with odd-numbered addresses may water lawns on odd-numbered calendar dates. Last summer though, my traditional sprinkler controller decided this responsibility was too much of a burden. The failing controller couldn't even keep the time of day correctly yet alone maintain an ideal watering schedule. So this May, I replaced my failing controller with Blossom's Smart Watering Controller in hopes of a greener lawn and a better sprinkler system.

A new generation of sprinkler controllers

Haven't heard of Blossom before this article?  Up to a few months ago, I hadn't before I watched Cali Lewis and David Foster at this year's CES interview Manrique Brenes. Blossom's water controller was so new at the time of purchase that it wasn't available for regular sales and I found myself for the first time committing to a product via a KickStarter investment.

My Blossom Sprinkler Controller Has Arrived

Blossom Sprinkler still in box

My Blossom Sprinkler Controller has arrived! For home owners with a water sprinkler system, you no longer have to be stuck with the expensive but dumb irrigation controllers that was originally installed at your house. There is a new generation of "smart" sprinkler systems arriving on the scene, including those created by Rachio and Blossom. The Blossom controller self-programs based on real-time weather data and gives you control of your schedule right from your phone. Once the controller understands the vegetation, layout of your yard, and the weather it should do the thinking for you when deciding how much to water should be used. The company claims that because their controller is "smarter" than conventional controllers (and hopefully smarter than me), I can expect to save up to 30% on my water bill.

For the past couple years, the old controller for my home sprinkler system hasn't function well. Whether the sprinkler was bad to begin with or took a power hit, it couldn't remember it's programming well from day one when my wife and I bought the house. Then last January, Cali Lewis and David Foster at the CES interviewed Manrique Brenes of Blossom​ about his company's new product. The product was so new that it wasn't available for purchase and I found myself for the first time committing to a product via KickStarter.

Uncle Sam Wants You To Update Your WordPress Plugins

In times of war, you may be asked what you can do for your country. In modern times, your country may be asking you to do your part by updating your WordPress plugins.

The United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), through the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), issued a public service announcement last week recommending website administrators to update their Wordpress sites. More specifically, the bureau wants you to update your third-party WordPress plugins.

Why is the FBI worried about your content management system? Apparently, continuous website defacements are being perpetrated by individuals sympathetic to the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL) a.k.a. Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS). According to the FBI, the defacements have affected website operations and the communication platforms of:

  • News organizations
  • Commercial entities
  • Religious institutions
  • Federal/state/local governments
  • Foreign governments,
  • A variety of other domestic and international webites.

While one wouldn't expect WordPress to house national or company secrets, all this unwanted disruption translates to cost in terms of lost business revenue and expenditures on technical services to repair infected computer systems.

But why is the FBI focused on WordPress and not another CMS? In part, it's because Wordpress is popular and used by many. The more sites vulnerable to known and specific exploits, the easier it is for hackers to find their target. All victims of the defacements identified by the FBI shared common WordPress plug-in vulnerabilities easily exploited by commonly available hacking tools.