10 / 09 / 19
26th September 2019
After popping over to Berlin last year for the Craft CMS conference, Dot All in Montréal was a no-brainer, as there were a lot of key takeaways from the conference that were really beneficial to our Craft CMS development going forward. Whilst the conference was a bit heavy on JAMstack, the first day still had a great workshop and there were exciting announcements and interesting talks throughout the event. I’ve put together a round-up of (in my opinion) the highlights from the 3-days across the Dot All Conf.
There was a lot discussed by Brandon Kelly around the current state of Craft and what we can expect over the next year. Craft is an ever growing and evolving development platform with an exceptionally strong community of developers and marketers alike, who advocate the platform. Here’s a round up of the key points and announcements Brandon Kelly mentioned throughout his presentation.
Craft 4 Announcement (Coming in 2020)
Whilst it’s still vital to ensure your clients move to Craft 3 before considering Craft 4 (which will be a lot easier to “switch on”) - there were a few key highlights to note when it came to the new version.
There’s going to be a big overhaul of the backend and a huge emphasis on the Author Experience (more on this later), which will include things like high contrast mode, dark mode and better accessibility improvements.
We’ve had this issue so many times, so we’re super happy to see the new “Multi-Author Alerts” introduced, making it possible to see when two or more people are editing the same entry.
Improved content modelling
Conditional fields, nestable matrix (no SuperTable/NEO), additional fields like horizontal rules and the ability to put fields in a grid, were just a few of the improvements coming to Craft 4.
On day 1 I attended the Modern Web Development workshop where we created a Headless Craft CMS install (without the standard templates, only hosting the CP). The workshop was really beneficial and we learnt a lot about how Gridsome & GraphQL works by building a front-end to display a bunch of cocktail recipes (from those that attended Dot All 2018, you’ll remember the website).
To create the site we connected Gridsome and Craft using GraphQL, a new and more intuitive way to query a datasource, which also supports data modification. It was definitely a process we’ll be looking at in the future for some of our Craft development.
Chris Coyier (CEO of CSS Tricks and Code-Pen) discussed the growth of front-end development frameworks and GraphQL. Basically, front-enders don’t have to rely on the backend dev as much. Win-win all-around.
Coyier did mention that there now seems to be a “new breed” of developers, the frontend of the front (CSS) and the backend of the front (JS) which was an interesting take on the current state of development. The talk didn’t relate so much to Craft, but it was definitely an eye opener to the future of website and application development.
Giel Tettelaar went on to state “The best developers are (lazy) energy efficient.” They’re not lazy - they simply look for the quickest and easiest way to do the task. Tettelaar went on to talk about the different types of testing:
Again, some really interesting insight and we’ll be taking acceptance testing into our workload with upcoming projects. He also discussed that we can generate scores using Craft’s built in testing features, which uses Codeception in the background. It can be plugged straight into our Buddy pipelines, so everything is automated… so just as Tettlaar suggested, the quickest and most efficient way.
One R.E.M reference later and Andrew Armitage dived into managing migration projects and the risks behind them, and the depths of knowledge needed on the previous site before the migration occurs. He drilled home the importance of asking questions, especially when it comes to integrations / background tasks that might not be obvious on first glance.
When auditing - look at everything: content, redirects (including high performing images!), data, performance, SEO visibility, Ads and code quality/current integrations. Make sure responsibility is clear within the team on who handles which tasks.
After migration - Check robots.txt & nofollow Meta, that API keys are correct, tell the client about any redundant services and do daily SEO check to ensure there aren’t issues with rankings. The quicker the issues are sorted, the less harm they’re going to do.
Andrew also, very kindly, gave a shout out to our new tool for managing URL redirects, Redirectly, which is now taking sign ups for early beta access.
There will always be more than one way to skin a cat and Andrew went into the comparisons between JAMstack and LAMPstack, and that websites/applications can be a combination of both. LAMP (Craft headless) and JAM (Gridsome). He also highlighted some of the pros and cons of both.
Pros: Scales great, built on JS, no DevOPS, more jobs
Cons: Currently really slow build times for large sites, not as easy to get started
Myths: Site will be faster (except for TTFB), no more DevOps
Pros: We’re all familiar with it, maturity of tools, easy dynamic content
Cons: Doesn’t scale well without $$$, DevOps knowledge is required
Steinel and Pierce discussed that going headless allows developers to focus on the front-end a lot more, meaning that more time can go into polishing the front-end for the user. Their primary points were that there’s hardly any maintenance/support needed, it makes for efficient allocation of resource budgets and scalability and speed is second to none.
What’s more, all of the above can be achieved using Crafts new Cloud System. This will allow for only one development ecosystem on projects (JS) and be super secure. The current Craft setup isn’t exactly “Headless”, however, it does offer Element API (JSON feed) & GraphQL (two-way data mutation).
After needing a little break from all the talk of Headless development, I turned to Callender’s presentation on future proofing Craft Commerce products. The importance of SKU’s (stock keeping units) was a key point in the talk and never changing the price of a SKU, but simply creating another SKU instead. Callender also suggested generating SKU’s programmatically to take the headache away from the ecommerce owner. There was also a discussion around product options and add-ons to upsell alongside the original product.
All in all, Dot All Conf was as insightful as ever and it was great to be around those in the Craft community to discuss changes in the tech and future announcements. I’d definitely recommend the conference to anyone who had yet to make it out and fortunately, for some, it’s a little closer to home next year, with Amsterdam as the set destination. We’re excited to see the advancements in Craft Cloud and Craft 4 next year.
For any further questions around the conference, feel free to drop me a message or mention on Twitter @jamiejenks_.
Interesting? There’s plenty more where that came from…