What's keeping us busy this spring
We, at Drop Guard, never stop thinking what else can we do to help Drupalistas around the world to get aboard of the continuous update process ship as soon as possible. It's absolutely imperative to stay alerted all around the clock either with help of automation platforms like Drop Guard or doing things your own way.
A huge part of our work is education and training - talking to people at numerous events, during private meetings, on social media channels. Our message is simple - no matter what stack are you on, or what kind of tools you use - make sure your website dependencies (modules, core, third-party party PHP/JS/Rails/whatever libraries) are in the healthy state at all times. Sounds simple probably, but still for many Drupal users it's a challenge to acknowledge and tackle.
The other part is, of course, improving Drop Guard as our flagship product and a living illustration of the processes, workflows and best practices modern developers should adopt for their projects to be successful in the long run.
And, as our development team has quite a lot of updates to share, we are jumping straight to the point.
Drupal 8.3.x release brings new challenges
Remember good old days when simply updating a module from one version to another was enough to ensure you're always up-to-date and secure? Well, those days are gone now.
Together with the release of 8.3.x branch of Drupal core the new experimental Field Layout module was introduced. It uses the Layout Discovery API to ensure compatibility between core and contributed layout solutions. Layout Plugin module should be uninstalled and no longer used.
What it means is that the layout related modules - Display Suite, Panels, Panelizer and others have to maintain two branches now - one compatible with 8.2.x branch of core, and another with 8.3.x. Which version to choose for your case is very well described on the corresponding Drupal.org project page, but how affects it the continuous update process?
Most importantly, you can't just blindly update to the most recent major branch of the module, because it may be incompatible with your core!
To avoid such issues, we have to use a full power of Composer! If you manage your website with Composer (with or without Drop Guard), set the version constraints for such "sensitive" modules so that they never get updated to the next major release without you being in charge of the whole process. Alternatively, just set your constraints specifically to the version you need.
Of course, testing early and upgrading directly to 8.3.x or next major version of the core when it's available is the best solution we can recommend.
Drop Guard weekly digest
No matter how many projects do you manage with Drop Guard, you want to be in full control over what's happening under the hood. Beforehand it was only possible by checking the status of your projects in Dashboard regularly.
Since last week all Drop Guard users are subscribed to the weekly digest email which in short and compact format provides the basic statistics for your websites. Get to know your errors, git merge conflicts, successful updates and the status of your subscriptions - all in one email.
Test for write access to a repository
You should no longer wonder if Drop Guard has full read/write access to your repository. Concerned about the private/public keys setup, changed the IP address or made any other changes and want to ensure Drop Guard can still operate on your repository? Just go to the Site config >> Site settings section of the project configuration interface and hit the "Check write access" button.
We also check for write access automatically when the project is created.
Contextual help links
Stuck trying to configure update behaviours or integrations? Look for the little question mark icon in the top right corner of the screen. It will forward you to an extensive help page about the page you are on at the moment. We're still there for you via firstname.lastname@example.org, of course!
"Test passed" update tasks are closed automatically when the new version of the module is available
A very common case - the update task has been processed, but you forgot to close it afterwards. As a result, it hangs out being still technically open. Just recently it prevented Drop Guard from creating a new task for the updated version of the module. With the new Drop Guard release, if you forget to close the update task and the new version of the module becomes available, the previous task will be automatically closed to leave room for the next update.
Be aware that if you have any Actions attached to the "Task is closed" event, they will be fired as well.
Execute single Action for a group of simultaneously running update tasks
In Drop Guard, each update task corresponds to a single module update. However, what happens if you execute many update tasks in one run? By default, if you have any Action configured, it will be fired as many times as the number of tasks you have in the batch. Sometimes, it is not the desired behaviour, so we have a solution for that.
When creating an Action, check the corresponding box to tell Drop Guard to execute this Action only once per batch (or "bunch") of tasks, and after all your update tasks are processed, the Action will be executed in a few minutes.
Particularly handy for deploying updates or merging branches.
Yes, we do support PayPal now! Please be aware that each account can have only a single payment method at the same time - either payment by card or PayPal. So choose wisely.
Status & changelog page
Yes, we admit that blog posts like this one should be posted more often. However, at the same time, we do not want to create too much noise and only post internal updates when we certainly have something important to say.
With this approach, our users can easily miss a release of a minor feature or an incremental update to a system, which is not that big, but still important. Now we have got you covered - just visit https://app.drop-guard.net/status page from time to time, or subscribe to its RSS channel (the link is at the bottom of the page). As this is an internal status and changelog page targeted mostly to our active users, do expect a lot of insight and fun there. Cutting edge news and updates, maintenance and downtime notices, tips and tricks - just to name a few things, see you there!
Finally, something fancy for you this time - all emails coming from Drop Guard, including custom Actions and weekly digests, are nicely formatted using our brand new HTML templates. No more boring plain text emails!
As this blog post is getting rather long, this is it for today. Subscribe to our Status RSS to stay informed about exciting news and updates from Drop Guard!
As always: if you miss a feature or have your thought on existing one, share it in the comments section below.