Since its founding, Acquia has set a strong precedent for investing in developer experience. Developers are users and influencers of Acquia products, and need to be armed with state-of-the-art tools to build leading digital experiences with Drupal. From Acquia Dev Desktop to the Drupal 8 Module Acceleration Project, Acquia is committed to developing tools and resources that empower development teams. This month, Acquia’s own John Kennedy and Adam Balsam hit the road to showcase Acquia’s next generation of open source developer tools and extensions to Acquia Cloud.
At the Developer Experience Roadshow in Boston, Kennedy, who was the program lead for the D8 MAP project, pinpointed four reasons why it’s necessary for Acquia to continue to build new tools and products for developers:
- Drupal Development has changed: The transition from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 has significantly changed Drupal development. Drupal developers can take advantage of more tools and frameworks than ever before. For example, many Drupal developers are standardizing on workflows that leverage Symfony, Composer, DrupalVM and Docker. The increasing popularity of these tools means that Acquia needs to rethink its development experience for Drupal.
- Testing remains important: Testing has always been important, but today there are improved methodologies of automated testing that appeal to both developers and non-technical users. Solutions, such as Selenium and PhantomJS, enable users to run functional tests locally with visual feedback, and in the cloud within an continuous integration workflow. Capabilities like these support agile development and encourage teams to adopt best practices. The ability to easily build and execute tests within this new methodology is an important component of the new Acquia developer experience.
- Pull requests are standard: SaaS-based source code repositories like Github, which allow developers to visualize the code changes, are increasing in popularity. Pull requests are now a standard part of development workflows and allow developers to collaborate more easily. Acquia Cloud must integrate with services like Github to facilitate this process.
- Drupal distributions are back: Finally, as Dries noted in a recent blog post, distributions remain a growing opportunity for Drupal. Customers like NASDAQ and the YMCA are leveraging distributions to create new business models, which offer Drupal distributions “as-a-service” at scale. Another development is the emerging concept of “hierarchical distributions,” which allow you to build distributions on top of one another. For example, Kennedy said Acquia is collaborating with the team at ImageX to build an OpenEDU distribution on top of the Lightning distribution. Distributions will continue to grow in relevance for any organization, ranging from large enterprises to small businesses and digital agencies.
All of these factors have influenced the evolution of the developer experience that Acquia now offers. Today, Acquia provides a collection of tools that speed up development and delivery, without compromising quality. These include both open source products and extensions to Acquia Cloud:
- Acquia BLT is an open source build, launch and test development tool. BLT provides a local development environment and standard template for Drupal based projects derived from Acquia’s Professional Service’s best practices. Acquia BLT makes it easier to conduct development and automated testing on your local machine.
- Acquia Pipelines automates functions like testing and deploying websites and other applications to Acquia Cloud. Pipelines is a continuous integration tool that is built for Acquia Cloud and requires very little configuration. Unlike other CI solutions, such as Jenkins or Travis CI, Acquia Pipelines will automate a composer-based CI test/build workflow that deploys to Acquia Cloud out of the box.
- Acquia Cloud CD is a continuous delivery tool that allows you to launch on-demand environments on Acquia Cloud. Developer and DevOps teams can take advantage of integrated self-service provisioning of environments to integrate changes into digital experiences faster than ever.
- Acquia Lightning is an open source starter kit and framework that lowers ongoing maintenance of your digital platform, and allows developers to build Drupal 8 sites and applications faster. The Lighting distribution (developed and maintained by Acquia) accelerates the process of building authoring experiences that enable authors to produce rich content that is delivered seamlessly across all digital channels. Lightning focuses on four functional areas of authoring, layout, workflow, preview, and media. “Lightning is best described as a framework distribution, because it doesn’t sacrifice flexibility for functionality. It is often used as a base distribution to build more specific distributions,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got a very strong principle that we don’t include anything in Lightning that a developer will need to take out or undo.”
All of these tools and extensions are designed to help developers build, test and launch better digital experiences. With an emphasis on improving developer experience, Acquia’s expanded toolset makes it easier to create enterprise-ready Drupal sites than ever before. Armed with these tools, developers, digital agencies, and organizations can create even greater value for their customers.
If you or a teammate are interested in learning more about Acquia’s tools and extensions for developers, check out the next stop on the Developer Roadshow (which includes a free technical training and demo) in San Diego this May.