Spark: Authoring Experience++ in Drupal 7, 8, and Beyond


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Spark is an initiative led by Acquia's Office of the CTO under Dries Buytaert, the Drupal project lead. We take a holistic look at Drupal's competition and design and implement features to help close the gaps.

One big gap that has consistently held Drupal adoption back is that of the out-of-the-box content authoring experience. Hand-typing HTML like it's 1994, previews that aren't actually previews, and interfaces that are unusable on a mobile device all present big challenges for those coming to Drupal. While all of these problems have numerous workarounds in contrib, Spark's goal is to improve the Drupal product itself to eliminate this friction innately, so site builders can spend less time smoothing out rough edges and more easily focus on what they came to Drupal to do: build their actual sites. :)

Spark is both a Drupal distribution and a set of discrete modules for both Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 (in many cases, Drupal 8 core) which can enhance the user experience for your site's content authors, including:

Mobile Friendly Navigation Toolbar
In-Place Editing
Responsive Preview
WYSIWYG editing
Improved Accessibility
Redesigned Administration Theme
...and more!

This talk will focus on demonstrating these new features and explain how site builders can take advantage of them, as well as talk about what the next areas of focus for the Spark team will be for Drupal 9 and beyond.

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Spark: Authoring Experience++ in Drupal 7, 8, and Beyond

  1. 1. SPARK: AUTHORING EXPERIENCE++ IN DRUPAL 7, 8, AND BEYOND A N G I E “ @ W E B C H I C K ” B Y R O N Site Builder Track - Thursday, June 5, 2014
  2. 2. ABOUT ME
  3. 3. Agenda • Spark background info • Demo of D7 vs. D8 authoring experience • Tips on how to survive until D8 • What’s next? • With audience participation. :)
  4. 4. What is it?
  5. 5. The goal! Build kick-ass features for the current release of Drupal so people can use them now, and propose them for the next version of Drupal core to solve pain points in the product itself.
  6. 6. Our Approach
  7. 7. Technical strength 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Sitecore CQ5 Plone Squiz Wordpress Joomla Drupal Open Text Drupal wins the technical decision...
  8. 8. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Sitecore CQ5 Plone Squiz Wordpress Joomla Drupal Open Text ...but lags in authoring experience Technical strength Authoring experience
  9. 9. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 In-line editing Workflow Content staging Media management Layouts Localization Mobile authoring Ideal Pro Drupal How the Drupal authoring experience compares Drupal experience Ideal product
  10. 10. 1. Design • Run initial designs past internal team • Create clickable prototypes in InVision and/or HTML/CSS/JS • Do “hallway testing” on iPad, cell phones, etc. with both technical & non-technical users • Refine designs & share results with community
  11. 11. 2. Iterate++
  12. 12. 3. Argue a lot. ;)
  13. 13. What areas has Spark tackled so far?
  14. 14. WYSIWYG
  15. 15. In-Place Editing
  16. 16. Streamlined Content Authoring
  17. 17. Mobile-Friendliness
  18. 18. Let’s see it in action!
  19. 19. Well that’s nice and all. But what about sites I’m building today?
  20. 20. Drupal 8 Core Feature Drupal 7 Contrib Equivalent WYSIWYG CKEditor In-Place Editing Quick Edit Responsive Toolbar “Mobile Friendly Navigation Toolbar" Responsive Front-End Theme Omega, Zen, Adaptive, etc. base themes Responsive Admin Theme Ember Responsive Images Picture Responsive Tables Responsive Tables Simplified Overlay Escape Admin
  21. 21. What’s next?
  22. 22. Spark 2.0 • First, get Drupal 8 a lot closer to done (Focus of the team since Prague). • Then, take a fresh look at competition, current trends in authoring experience & site builder experience. • Next, pick the biggest pain points, build out prototypes to solve them in Drupal 8 contrib. • Spoiler alert: Media and Layouts are likely to rank. :P • Finally, propose those improvements for Drupal 8.1.x or Drupal 9.x (depending on scope).
  23. 23. Trends we’re currently watching
  24. 24. Minimalist Authoring (The simplest thing that can possibly work)
  25. 25. Personalization (The right content for the right audience at the right time)
  26. 26. Contextual Site Building (In-place everything)
  27. 27. Your Ideas Here! :)
  28. 28. The following slides were created by a big, messy group “shouting and sorting” exercise. ;) Everyone in attendance (~80-100 people) at the session had 10 minutes to shout out whatever suggestions under the given topic, which were typed down on the slides, and then everyone got two “votes” (raising their hands). The results on the slides are ranked based on relative # of hands raised in a quick eyeball. Who needs science?
  29. 29. Biggest pain points in Drupal for content authors? • Previews! • Different body layouts: 3 columns, etc. • Bulk uploads • editorial workflow • Links / File links => Within page, other pages, etc. • Consistent content between pages — lock down fonts, headers • Menu items • Content model transparent / having to everywhere to edit everything • Revisions • File attachments: Desktop to WYSIWYG • Paste from word :) • “Zen” of admin themes for editors • Terminology: region/block/etc. — content editors don’t care. • Collaborative editing / Better integration with google docs
  30. 30. Biggest pain points in Drupal for site builders? • Point and click form design! • Roles/permissions admin • Taxonomy term management sanity :) / Workflow for taxonomy • Breadcrumbs • Content migration • Re-usable content that appears in different places • Exportable blocks with editable content • Better block visibilities • Simple bulk migration (Excel-style) • Display suite
  31. 31. Other projects to watch out for? • Ghost • Square Space (editing, theming tools) • Linkit • Site Core (content staging) • BrowserCMS (in-place editing) • GitHub (editing) • Impress Pages (linking structured data) • Craft • Disqus / Livefire
  32. 32. Thanks!
  33. 33. WHAT DID YOU THINK?E V A L U A T E T H I S S E S S I O N : A U S T I N 2 0 1 4 . D R U P A L . O R G / S C H E D U L E Thank you!