Drupal PaaS Hosting Review: Platform.sh

10th July 2020 - 7 minutes read time

Continuing my review of some Drupal PaaS hosting platforms I am taking a look at Platform.sh.

What I'm not doing is a massive deep dive on all platforms. Ultimately, your milage will vary and what you get out of these platforms will be different for most people. You will know the requirements of your project and what you need to accomplish.

Also, if you want to know more about a platform, then please contact them directly. I'm sure they will be happy to hear from you.

Platform.sh is a PaaS site created by Commerce Guys, who are the main driving force being the Drupal Commerce suite of modules. They split off in 2016 and have grown to become a very respectable company in the PaaS space. They have also expanded their service to support a lot more than Drupal so you can easily deploy your Drupal and WordPress sites side by side.

Drupal PaaS Hosting Review: Pantheon

8th July 2020 - 9 minutes read time

Continuing my review of some Drupal PaaS hosting platforms I am taking a look at Pantheon.

What I'm not doing is a massive deep dive on all platforms. Ultimately, your milage will vary and what you get out of these platforms will be different for most people. You will know the requirements of your project and what you need to accomplish.

Also, if you want to know more about a platform, then please contact them directly. I'm sure they will be happy to hear from you.

Pantheon provides a PaaS solution started in 2010 in the USA. They now have a worldwide support staff and have data centres in a variety of different locations throughout the world. They started out as a specialist Drupal host, but now have support for WordPress hosting solutions.

Drupal PaaS Hosting Review: Acquia

2nd July 2020 - 10 minutes read time
I've been looking at Drupal hosting solutions recently, and after trying a few I thought I would write a quick review of each. I was specifically looking for hosting providers that provide dedicated Drupal hosting support and an administration dashboard of some kind. It turns out that a handful of such suppliers exist. Whilst it is perfectly possible to setup a server on AWS or DigitalOcean and then install Drupal there, this isn't what I am looking at. The good thing about Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions is that you get hosting, backup, recovery, logging, tools, and analysis all built in. Some platforms even have extra tools like build pipelines, marketing systems or analytics.

Grep Context

27th June 2020 - 3 minutes read time

Grep is a really powerful tool for finding things in files. I often use it to scan for plugins in the Drupal codebase or to scan through a CSV or log file for data.

For example, to scan for user centric ViewsFilter plugins in the Drupal core directory use this command (assuming you are relative to the core directory).

grep "@ViewsFilter(\"user" -r core

The -r flag here recursively scans the 'core' directory. This command returns the following output.

Langton's Ant In JavaScript

22nd June 2020 - 11 minutes read time

After looking at Conway's game of life I have been looking at other forms of cellular automata. This lead me to discover Langton's ant, which is a different kind of cellular automata where an agent (namely an ant) is used to turn the squares on or off as it travels around a grid.

The rules of Langton's ant are quite simple. The ant simply follows two rules as it moves around the grid.

  • At a white square, turn 90° clockwise, flip the colour of the square, move forward one unit.
  • At a black square, turn 90° counter-clockwise, flip the colour of the square, move forward one unit.

This can be represented in code by looking at the current state of the square that the ant is stood on and then performing an action. Movement in a particular direction is achieved by adding or subtracting from the x or y coordinates depending on which way the ant is pointing.

Wrap Around Increments

21st June 2020 - 5 minutes read time
Something I've been writing long hand for a number of years is wrap around increments. This is essentially adding to a value that has an upper limit, and wrapping back to 0 when that max value is reached. This can be done with an if statement.

Spelling Words With The Elements

6th June 2020 - 6 minutes read time

The other day I was tasked with creating the weekly quiz for my family. I decided it would be good to do a section that would consist of 10 words that were spelled using symbols of the chemical elements. The questions would be presented as a list of element names, like this.

Barium Carbon Potassium Tungsten Argon Darmstadtium

This breaks down to the element symbols in the following way.

  1. Barium = Ba
  2. Carbon = C
  3. Potassium = K
  4. Tungsten = W
  5. Argon = Ar
  6. Darmstadtium = Ds

Putting that all together we spell out a word.

Getting Ready For The Upgrade To Drupal 9

21st May 2020 - 8 minutes read time
Drupal 9 will be released on June 3rd, 2020 so with this just around the corner I thought I'd put together a post about how to check if your site is ready. The transition from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 was more of an upheaval than an upgrade. Updating a Drupal 7 site to Drupal 8 requires a lot of effort involving code changes and migration steps. Drupal 7 modules are not compatible with Drupal 8 and so any custom code written needs to be adapted to the new structure of Drupal. The difficulty of this change made the Drupal community take notice and think about how future versions of Drupal are introduced.

Using Deployer To Deploy Drupal 8 Sites

28th April 2020 - 10 minutes read time

Deployer is a PHP based deployment tool that I have been using very successfully for a number of months now. It comes with a number of different recipes to deploy a variety of PHP based applications, including Laravel, Symfony, Yii, and Drupal.

I first found Deployer when looking for a deployment package that suited my needs. Phing had been my tool of choice for a number of years, but it had proved problematic trying to debug the XML syntax when things needed tweaking. As I was deploying PHP applications it made sense to me to use a PHP based system to do the deployment. I looked at tools like Capistrano, but as I wasn't that familiar with Ruby I was worried that I wouldn't be able to debug mistakes or customise the deployment process easily.

Creating A Chatbot Agent With Dialogflow And Kommunicate

19th April 2020 - 12 minutes read time

Having a chat feature on your website (commonly called 'live chat') is useful when helping your users overcome any difficulties they are having. You can pop up a little chat window in the page and ask if they need any help finding what they need. This can be especially useful on large commerce sites where users might get stuck looking for things.

The addition of a chatbot also allows you to automatically answer some of more common questions. For example, if a user asks where they can find the delivery and returns policy then a chatbot can automatically respond with a response. These rules can get more complicated, but it depends on what you instruct the bot to answer to.