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Drupal 8 Update - Drupal 8 Update
Drupal 8 Update - Drupal 8 Update

Drupal 8 – Keeping up-to-date

In the fast-moving world of technology, it’s vital that designers and developers keep abreast of the latest developments if they’re to stay ahead of the game. Our BSL engineers are no exception, and recently attended a Drupal 8 workshop to learn more about the latest version. Drupal is just one of the CMS platforms that BSL uses for some of our projects. 

Open source content management

A look at our portfolio is proof that BSL has more than one field of expertise, designing and developing custom software applications for the web, tablets, smartphones and the desktop. Such flexibility means our engineers need to work with a range of tools and systems, including Drupal – an open-source content management system that BSL frequently uses as a front-end framework in client web sites. And there’s plenty of competition in the open source world – WordPress, Backdrop, Magento to name but a few – each with their own capabilities and nuances. As a provider of innovative and customized software it’s essential we keep fully up-to-date with (r)evolutionary new versions of these tools  – including the arrival of Drupal 8. Reason enough for us to attend the Drupal Training Day 2016 on February 19.

Drupal training day 2016

This training day is an important date in the diary for anyone involved in the Drupal open source community, whether they’re students, teachers or fellow software engineers. More than 200 visitors took part this year, and the availability of Drupal enthusiasts to answer users’ questions guaranteed the day’s success. There was virtualization software for Windows, OSX and Linux users, the new Drupal version was distributed, and advanced and beginners’ training sessions throughout the day provided practical examples of front- and back-end development, programming and site building.

Tried-and-tested – so what’s new?

Drupal is a tried-and-tested, solid web content management system. A tool that can be used ‘as it is’, or one that’s equally valuable for PHP enthusiasts to develop a great web experience. Drupal is particularly suitable for sites that need to support a large numbers of web visitors and users.

BSL has built up a well-earned reputation for Drupal expertise over the years – we’ve worked on a number of complex Drupal-based projects for Bibliotheek.nl (now part of KB) and NBD Biblion, and  our Drupal specialists have recently provided their know-how onsite for a major newspaper group in the Netherlands. Think too of our in-house websites supporting the literary app BoekWijzer and our social media app, DilemmaMatch

After  the launch of Drupal 8 a few months ago, the obvious question for us was ‘what does Drupal 8 have to offer?’

Drupal 7 versus Drupal 8?

The differences between Drupal 7 and 8 may not be immediately obvious for most web site visitors, but they are there. Most importantly for the end-user, version 8 should provide more mobile device compatibility out of the box, as well as other improved responsive abilities. Important from a user’s perspective at a time when the number of mobile page views is growing fast. In keeping with current trends, more than 50% of visitors to your web site will probably be using a mobile browser in 2016.

And for developers, we’re promised that version 8 offers an ‘improved developer experience’, with better functionality and options, including improved file handling. Drupal 8 also offers easier configuration management, making it equally suitable for smaller web sites with lower visitor volumes.

One point to bear in mind before installing the latest version: Drupal 8 needs more than 4 times the disk space required by Drupal 7. Not really a problem the availability of large, inexpensive disks and SSD’s , but if you host your site(s) externally you might need to check the amount of disk space in your contract.

BSL engineers, never standing still

Armed with the latest product information and the hands-on experience gained during the Drupal training day, our engineers will put Drupal 8 through its paces in the coming weeks. Making use of test sites, we’ll examine stability, any issues that need patching, and overall performance before we incorporate it into our client software.

If you’d like to find out how our experience and expertise can help you, then get in touch with the Bright Side of Life to learn more about our Drupal skills, and much more besides…

The benefits of long-term partnerships

The benefits of long-term partnerships

NBD Biblion offers personalised book and media title recommendations to schools and libraries, and supplies their clients with the titles they select. BSL has had a long-term partnership with NBD Biblion for more than twenty years, delivering development teams, technical advice, and support.

ChatGPT for business information analysis

ChatGPT for business information analysis

After the initial enthusiastic response to the introduction of ChatGPT and AI, attention switched to the unreliability of many ChatGPT answers. However, using Azure OpenAI (ChatGPT) and Cognitive Search with reliable data, we can deliver reliable, high-quality business information in response to natural language queries.

Browser engine wars – Part 2 – The impact of Apple’s iOS monopoly

Browser engine wars – Part 2 – The impact of Apple’s iOS monopoly

The Apple iOS monopoly means that every app on iOS – including browsers from Apple’s competitors – must use WebKit to display web content. While it’s not uncommon for browser developers to use a third-party engine, they can usually control which engine features they use in their browser and – if needed – add custom features.

Browser engine wars – Part 1 – How did we get here?

Browser engine wars – Part 1 – How did we get here?

The Register recently reported that Google is working on an iOS version of Chromium. A few days later, a second article claimed that Mozilla is working on an iOS version of Gecko, Firefox’s browser engine. Both reports suggest that the Apple browser engine on iOS, WebKit, is in danger of losing its monopoly.

Donation on behalf of earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria

Donation on behalf of earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria

On Monday, 6 February, several powerful earthquakes and aftershocks hit Turkey and Syria. This disaster affects as many as 23 million people, including many who are already in desperate need due to the conflict in Syria. If possible, please join us in making a donation on the Giro555 website.

WordPress and page-builders such as Divi and Elementor

WordPress and page-builders such as Divi and Elementor

For building websites on behalf of clients, we often use WordPress together with page-builders, making it easy to prototype and develop modern, responsive websites. With page-builders such as Divi and Elementor, you can easily and quickly design and build pages to match almost any design.

2022 and the Bright Side of Life

2022 and the Bright Side of Life

Taking the time to reflect regularly on the things we are grateful for at the Bright Side can help shift our perspective to focus on the positive aspects of our work. So, here are the things for which I’m grateful in 2022.

SEO benefits, and the power of good-quality content

SEO benefits, and the power of good-quality content

Many business owners still think their websites are merely visiting cards. Their “go-to” expression is: “our clients/audience already know where to find us…”. This may be true, but optimizing your website will reach new clients and audiences.

New Keylane Careers website

New Keylane Careers website

Keylane asked BSL to help design and build a new Careers website. The main aim is to increase the number of visitors by improving the organic search performance. To achieve this, we’re introducing a new design and adding blogs.

Cloud provider migration: What are the benefits?

Cloud provider migration: What are the benefits?

The focus of Cloud computing is to improve the efficiency of IT services. By choosing a cloud-based solution, organisations can stay up-to-date with technology innovations and benefit from higher scalability, lower expenses, and enhanced security.

A new website for BoekWijzer

A new website for BoekWijzer

We’ve completely revamped the BoekWijzer website! The website was built to support the BoekWijzer app, the mobile guide to the world of Dutch literature. Using the app, you can quickly and easily stay up to date with the latest literary news.

New developer / web designer at BSL

New developer / web designer at BSL

If you have any questions about your website or web design in general, then Patrick van Bennekom is ready to help you five days a week at BSL. Patrick helps to design and create websites and apps for our customers, including the design of logos and house styles to deliver a professional end product.

Migrating to the Cloud, benefits and opportunities

Migrating to the Cloud, benefits and opportunities

Several of our clients are migrating to the Cloud, and some that aren’t yet ready for this step are reviewing their legacy systems, intending to migrate to the Cloud in the future. We’ve recently completed two migrations on behalf of multinationals, and our experience has taught us that a direct approach (simply redeploying existing databases and applications on virtual machines) is not always the best route…

Beleev: Controlled Multisensory Environments

Beleev: Controlled Multisensory Environments

Perhaps you have never heard of snoezelen, a Dutch term that describes controlled multisensory environments (MSE) that stimulate various senses within a custom environment – a so-called “Snoezel” room. On behalf of St. John the Baptist special education school in Kerkrade, we’ve created custom software to create and manage so-called “Snoezel” rooms, controlling, lights, audio, switches and a video projector.

Goodbye 2021 and COVID-19 lockdowns – It’s time to look back

Goodbye 2021 and COVID-19 lockdowns – It’s time to look back

So who, in early 2020, thought that we’d still be operating under COVID-19 lockdown measures in January 2022? Luckily, my skill set has given me a better understanding of software development and technology than catering or hospitality. As director of an IT company, I’m happy to say that Bright Side of Life has taken to remote working as a fish to water. Let me tell you about our year.

Canon of the Netherlands apps now available in stores

Canon of the Netherlands apps now available in stores

The Dutch Canon of the Netherlands (2007) tells the story of how the Netherlands was formed. Using the Canon, BSL developed the popular EnToen Nu apps for iOS and Android a few years later. In 2020, the Canon was extensively revised, so we’ve completely rewritten the Canon apps, bringing them up-to-date, making them faster and even more fun to use. They’re now available in the app stores.

Integrating powerful AI search capabilities within apps and web-services

Integrating powerful AI search capabilities within apps and web-services

Search technology is continually evolving, so we’re always ready to adopt new technologies to meet specific client needs. This blog outlines our recent experiences with Azure Cognitive Search and Cognitive Search AI services – classifying thousands of new documents each day, delivering customised briefings to subscribers. Using Machine Learning and AI we can create intelligent search prototypes in just a few weeks.

Canon van Nederland apps coming soon!

Canon van Nederland apps coming soon!

The Committee on the Development of the Dutch Canon developed the Canon van Nederland in 2007. BSL developed the EnToen app a few years later, and since its launch in 2013, it has been a top-rated school app. In 2020, a new Canon Committee updated the Canon. We’re now busy working on new Canon Apps, with a modern look, and using the latest technical know-how.

Drupal 9 replaces Drupal 8. Long live Drupal 7!

Drupal 9 replaces Drupal 8. Long live Drupal 7!

Drupal 9 arrived last year, and Drupal 8 is end-of-life in November 2021. Nothing strange about this. But did you know that Drupal 7’s life has been extended to November 2022? Due to the high number of active users, it will remain in use longer than Drupal 8! Nevertheless, if you’re still using Drupal 7, you’re drinking in the last chance saloon, and it’s time to plan your transition to Drupal 9.

BSL delivers a new Pulse importer using the Forrester API

BSL delivers a new Pulse importer using the Forrester API

We developed our “Pulse” Business Intelligence Software for PwC. It’s a global service, maintained and supported by BSL. Pulse imports thousands of documents daily from commercial content providers and website feeds, delivering personal briefings to PwC subscribers throughout the PwC organisation. At the request of PwC, we recently created a new importer for Forrester using their API.

Outsourcing, retainers and long-term development partnerships

Outsourcing, retainers and long-term development partnerships

It’s not always straightforward for even large companies to create cutting edge development teams, as their core business may not be related to IT. Moreover, even when IT is a significant part of their business, there is frequently a wide gap between delivering core services and innovating with new technologies. BSL offers development services that can help fill the gap.

Machine Learning technology for Library services

Machine Learning technology for Library services

We’ve worked for many years with NBD Biblion, a unique organisation that selects and distributes books to public libraries in the Netherlands. They recently introduced Machine Learning (ML) technology to automate their client recommendations. After this success, NBD Biblion asked BSL to integrate a new Machine Learning service with MIPS, developed by BSL.

Drinks and a movie at BSL

Drinks and a movie at BSL

Enjoying a few drinks and watching a film together was a regular feature of life at BSL. I write ‘was’ because COVID-19 has kept most of us working from home. As a result, sharing a drink and watching a film together has not been an option. So instead, we’ve organised Digi-parties, Easter surprises and other events. Most recently, we arranged for everyone to enjoy a movie at home.

Two BSL anniversaries in May, time for a party

Two BSL anniversaries in May, time for a party

Two BSL anniversaries this week. Senior developer Peter Verbaan has been a key resource within BSL for 15 years, and front-end developer Roderick Gadellaa for 5 years. Reason enough for a party, you might say, and that’s something we love at the “Bright Side of Life.” For now, Corona makes this impossible, so it’s an online drink and a virtual hug.

Designing a simple phone app for 1888 information numbers

Designing a simple phone app for 1888 information numbers

1850 BV has asked us to design and develop a new simple phone app for Android and iOS, designed to help people who have difficulty using modern smartphones. After all, not everyone is excited about all the hundreds of features provided by a typical smartphone. It’s hard for people who lack the technological skills to figure all this stuff out. And or course, many simply find tiny screens challenging.

Early to market? Try developing a Minimum Viable Product

Early to market? Try developing a Minimum Viable Product

Entrepreneurs frequently contact us with ideas for their ground-breaking app, web-service, or web application. Their market research completed, business plan ready, financial backing sorted. They want to start, and get their product to the market as quickly as possible. This is when we introduce the concept of an MVP or Minimum Viable Product.

The Entoen Nu app makes history lessons easy

The Entoen Nu app makes history lessons easy

Do you sometimes have trouble with Dutch history? The EnToen Nu app is intended for those interested in Dutch culture and history, particularly children from grade 5 up to and including secondary school. It can be used at school, and at home. We’ve recently updated the app, adding support for the latest version of the Canon of the Netherlands.

SRS: New Job Model and Access Governance Foundation

SRS: New Job Model and Access Governance Foundation

Since developing the original Signature Registration System (SRS) on behalf of a large international bank we’ve made many changes. Migrating SRS to an Azure SQL cloud service is our current focus, but earlier this year we worked on two other infrastructure changes: Introducing NJM (New Job Model) and AGF (Access Governance Foundation) support in SRS.

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 2

Oracle migration to Azure SQL database – Part 2

In recent months, two clients have asked us to migrate legacy Oracle systems to Azure. In the previous blog, we explained how our tiered web applications make it easy to maintain our software and to migrate from one database to another. We asked Eric Wijnands to tell us about one of these migrations, moving a Banking solution from Oracle to Azure SQL.

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