Drupal development, unlike Drupal site building, is code and language intensive. The Drupal framework is controlled and run by technologies with steep learning curves (and intimidating names) like PHP and Structured Query Languages, which your organization’s executives may not be familiar with. However, it is important to help your decision makers understand the basic building blocks of Drupal so that they may understand what goes on within your server’s public root directory. Here are five important pieces of the Drupal development process that your boss needs to know.
Development Sites are a Requirement
Most of the time you don’t want developers actively touching the codebase on a production server. It is much safer, and a best practice, to duplicate the website’s production environment onto a separate server for the sole purpose of new developments or configuration changes. Though this will add to the overall cost of a hosted environment, it also prevents the possibility of a catastrophic failure occurring on your live website which could, depending on your organization’s business, cripple your corporation. Development websites have restricted IP address access and are not indexed by search engines, meaning your development site is inaccessible by the public.
Version Control is Paramount
Drupal, fundamentally, is a large directory of digital files and resources that interact together to manage your organization’s website content. Any work performed behind the scenes, aka codebase edits, has the potential to disrupt Drupal’s communications and impact your website negatively. Version control is what allows developers to quickly revert a software application in the event of an unforeseen or undesired result. For development teams using version control – every time a change is made to the website’s code the entire codebase is captured in a snapshot and stored for safekeeping. In the event of something gone awry, the website can be restored from the most recent snapshot of its codebase in a matter of seconds.
Backups are Always Necessary
Backups are to content what version control is to your codebase. A Drupal backup is also referred to as a database dump, which is the process of copying all of the content within your website’s database to a separate and safe location. If something or someone compromises your website’s database, this backup file can be copied back into Drupal’s database to restore content up until the point the backup was created. Generally, we recommend that our client’s websites are backed up every night to avoid heartache. If your website handles eCommerce transactions you may want to increase how often backups are captured.
Modules Save Money
Drupal modules extend the core software’s functionality and allow site builders to create dynamic websites without needing to understand a single line of the codebase. Anytime a development team can use a contributed module, rather than write code for the task, is a money saver. Drupal’s position as an open source technology is what drives its developers to submit modules for the entire community to download and use. Many of these modules end up being so popular with development teams because of their usefulness that they become part of the core software – case in point, Drupal’s Views.
SEO is More Than Code
For many websites, their ranking on search engine result pages is analogous to their success. Your website’s search engine ranking is the result of many factors that start in the codebase, but are ultimately powered by your website’s content editors. Valuable SEO website data such as page titles, keywords, and descriptions, aka metatags, must be created and maintained by a content editor with their finger on the pulse of your organization. Search engine crawlers index your website routinely and deliver search results after running user’s queries through their prodigious database of information. The more descriptive your metatags are, the more often your content is fresh and updated, and the more inbound links your website has pointing towards it, the higher your score will be relative to other websites returned by a query.
Knowledge is power. Unfortunately, Drupal development is only possible with an understanding of many abstract concepts that are not immediately easy to wrap one’s head around. However, with a wealth of information(for free) and thousands of developers actively participating in , nothing about your website’s software should be written off as ‘magic’. Not even by your boss.
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