development

Dell XPS 13 (9360) Review from a lifelong Mac user

I've used Macs as my primary computing devices my entire life. And though I continue to use a Mac for my primary workstation for both work and personal projects, my use of computers has evolved in the past few years quite a bit. With more of my stuff moving into the cloud and fewer software applications being exclusively tied to macOS or Windows, it's given me more freedom to do some amount of work from a tablet (currently iPad Air 2), Mac (currently 2015 (work) or 2016 (personal) MacBook Pro), and even my old PC laptop (a Lenovo T420 that I used mostly for testing).

After lugging the T420 with me to an open source conference a couple weeks ago, I decided I'd finally go ahead and acquire a modern, Ultrabook-style Windows laptop, and looking around at options for an open source developer more comfortable in Linux than Windows 10, I narrowed it down to:

Getting Started with Lando - testing a fresh Drupal 8 Umami site

Umami demo profile running on Lando for Drupal 8
Testing out the new Umami demo profile in Drupal 8.6.x.

I wanted to post a quick guide here for the benefit of anyone else just wanting to test out how Lando works or how it integrates with a Drupal project, since the official documentation kind of jumps you around different places and doesn't have any instructions for "Help! I don't already have a working Drupal codebase!":

What do you use to build and develop Drupal sites?

tl;dr: Go complete the Drupal Local Development Survey, and we'll present the results (among other things) at MidCamp in a couple weeks!

Local development for Drupal is a subject I've invested a lot of time into. At the start of my Drupal journey, I used to use MAMP, then MAMP Pro, then a native *AMP installation. Then when I learned about Vagrant I started building Vagrant-based environments with shell scripts. Then I learned Ansible and started using Vagrant and Ansible. And then I learned Docker and used Ansible, Docker, and sometimes Vagrant!

Everyone's journey is different—but one thing most of us can agree on is: it ain't easy finding a way to run Drupal on your local workstation if you've never done it before.

Should you use MAMP/WAMP/XAMPP? Should you use Acquia Dev Desktop? Should you use Docker or Vagrant and build your own environment? Should you use a packaged solution like Drupal VM or Lando? And then how will you manage your codebase? How will you build a theme?

How can I get my PR merged into your open source project?

Recently I received an email from an IT student asking the following: I recently submitted a pull request to one of your open source projects on GitHub. What can I do to get this pull request merged? The answer below may sound somewhat like a cop-out, or harsh (especially considering it was to a starry-eyed student trying to dip his or her toes into the waters of open source software contribution)... but I've found that honesty is the best policy, and the best way I can maintain good OSS software is to guard my (limited) time for OSS work vigilantly, and try to not allow sentiment force the merge of any kind of code, no matter how simple/small the change. Here is my reply:

Thanks for the email! I maintain over 100 different open source projects on GitHub, all in my spare time (which can be hard to come by with 3 kids, a full time job at Acquia, and a few other hobbies!). I spend a few hours per quarter on any given project. Some of the more popular projects have dozens of issues, PRs, and new comments that need to be read through to figure out what I need to these few hours on.

Professional software development and the Power curve

Besides being a software developer and photographer, I take a deep interest in spaceflight and love reading about the history and development of air- and spacecraft, with a special focus on early space program development.

A few books I've read in the past couple years have gone beyond being interesting just for their historic content—they gave me a lot of ideas to reflect on in relation to my approach to software development, especially what I'd term 'professional' software development (vs. hacking something together for fun, or churning out brochureware sites or cookie-cutter apps).

One book in particular, Failure is Not an Option (by Gene Kranz, famously known for his efforts as director of Mission Control during NASA's early days into the Apollo era), offered some great examples of how a high-performing team should operate, especially under pressure and with high stakes.

Should I disable PHP warnings and notices?

This is a reposting of what I wrote on the Acquia Dev Center blog in 2016, Should I disable PHP warnings and notices?.

Drupal onscreen logged PHP error messages and warnings

Many developers who work on Drupal (or other web/PHP) projects have error reporting disabled in their local or shared dev environments, for a variety of reasons—some don't know how to enable it, some are annoyed by the frequency of notices, warnings, and errors, and some don't like to be reminded of how many errors are logged!

There are a few important reasons you should make sure to show all errors when developing, though:

Drupal 8 with Redis, PHP 7, Nginx, and MariaDB on Drupal VM using CentOS

One of the motivations behind Drupal VM is flexibility in local development environments. When you develop many different kinds of Drupal sites you need to be able to adapt your environment to the needs of the site—some sites use Memcached and Varnish, others use Solr, and yet others cache data in Redis!

Drupal VM has recently gained much more flexibility in that it now allows configuration options like:

  • Choose either Ubuntu or CentOS as your operating system.
  • Choose either Nginx or Apahe as your webserver.
  • Choose either MySQL or MariaDB for your database.
  • Choose either Memcached or Redis as a caching layer.
  • Add on extra software like Apache Solr, Node.js, Ruby, Varnish, Xhprof, and more.

Out of the box, Drupal VM installs Drupal 8 on Ubuntu 14.04 with PHP 5.6 (the most stable release as of December 2015) and MySQL. We're going to make a few quick changes to config.yml so we can run the following local development stack on top of CentOS 7:

Drupal VM - Drupal 8 status report page showing Nginx, Redis, MariaDB, and PHP 7

Configure Drupal VM

To get started, download or clone a copy of Drupal VM, and follow the Quick Start Guide, but before you run vagrant up (step 2, #6), edit config.yml and make the following changes/additions:

Major improvements to Drupal VM - PHP 7, MariaDB, Multi-OS

Drupal VM - Vagrant and Ansible Virtual Machine for Drupal Development

For the past couple years, I've been building Drupal VM to be an extremely-tunable, highly-performant, super-simple development environment. Since MidCamp earlier this year, the project has really taken off, with almost 200 stars on GitHub and a ton of great contributions and ideas for improvement (some implemented, others rejected).

In the time since I wrote Developing for Drupal with Vagrant and VMs, I've focused on meeting all my defined criteria for the perfect local development environment. And now, I'm able to say that I use Drupal VM when developing all my projects—as it is now flexible and fast enough to emulate any production environment I use for various Drupal projects.

Developing for Drupal with Vagrant and VMs

Many blog posts have outlined the benefits of using VMs (Virtual Machines) for local Drupal development instead of either using native PHP and Apache, or a bundled environment like MAMP, XAMPP, or Acquia Dev Desktop. The advantages of using virtualization (usually managed by Vagrant) are numerous, but in certain cases, you can make a good argument for sticking with the traditional solutions.

If you'd like to take the dive and start using virtualized development environments, or if you're already using Vagrant and VirtualBox or some other VM environment (e.g. VMWare Fusion or Parallels Desktop), how do you optimize local development, and which pre-bundled Drupal development VM will be best for you and your team?

Criteria for the Perfect Local Development Environment

These are the criteria I use when judging solutions for local Drupal development (whether virtualized or traditional):

  • Should be simple and easy to set up
  • Should be fast by default
  • Should be flexible:
    • Should work with multiple providers; VirtualBox is free, but VMWare can be much faster!
    • Should allow configuration of the PHP version.
    • Should work with your preferred development workflow (e.g. drush, makefiles, manual database sync, etc.)
    • Should prevent filesystem friction (e.g. permissions issues, slow file access speeds, etc.)
    • Shouldn't have hardcoded defaults
  • Should be complete:
    • Should work without requiring a bunch of extra plugins or 3rd party tools
    • No extra languages or libraries should be required (why install Ruby gems, npm modules, etc. unless you need them for your particular project?)
  • Should be Free and Open Source
  • Should include all the tools you need, but allow you to disable whatever you don't need (e.g. XHProf, Apache Solr, etc.)
  • Should work on Windows, Mac, and Linux with minimal or no adjustment
  • Should be deployable to production (so your local dev environment matches prod exactly)

A lot of these points may have more or less importance to a particular team or individual developer. If you're a die-hard Mac user and don't ever work with any developers on Windows or Linux, you don't need to worry about Windows support. But some of these points apply to everyone, like being fast, simple, and flexible.

rsync in Vagrant 1.5 improves file performance and Windows usage

I've been using Vagrant for almost all development projects for the past two years, and for projects where I'm the only developer, Vagrant + VirtualBox has worked great, since I'm on a Mac. I usually use NFS shared folders so I can keep project data (Git/SVN repositories, assets, etc.) on my local computer, and share them to a folder on the VM, and not suffer the performance penalty of using VirtualBox's native shared folders.

However, this solution only scaled well to other Mac and Linux users with whom I shared development responsibilities. Windows users were left in a bit of a lurch. To extend an olive branch, I hackishly added SMB support by installing and configuring an SMB share from within the VM only on windows hosts, so Windows devs could mount the SMB share and work on files in their native editors.

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