Beyond Websites - Using Drupal for Digital Signage

jam
May 3, 2017
1
Digital Kiosk

Using Drupal 8 to power real-time signage systems. Acquians Adam Weingarten and Mike Madison shared their knowledge and experience in a session at DrupalCon Baltimore called “Beyond Websites: Using Drupal for Digital Signs”. Drupal gets better when companies, organizations, and individuals build or fix something they need and then share it with the rest of us. Our community becomes better, stronger, and smarter when others take it upon themselves to make a positive difference contributing their knowledge, time, and energy to Drupal. Acquia is proud to play a part, alongside thousands of others, in making tomorrow’s Drupal better than today’s.

“People are looking for ways to present information outside a conventional web page. Drupal has a lot of established patterns for web pages but not many for some of these new experiences. This session helps fill those gaps and give people a roadmap for how to build their own next-generation digital experiences.”

Adam Weingarten, Technical Architect at Acquia, translates business requirements into “what a client actually needs, instead of what they think they need and works with them to get buy-in,” by applying his experience at “estimating, designing, supervising and implementing large scale sites with complex workflows, content models, and cutting-edge user experiences.” Not content with doing Drupal as a day job, Adam’s hobbies include working on Drupal-related CDN and caching issues. He’s made contributions to the Purge, and Cloudflare modules.

Adam Weingarten

Mike Madison, Technical Architect at Acquia, has more than a decade of experience in web and a background in human-computer interaction. He has used a variety of open source technologies, including Drupal, Wordpress, and Semantic MediaWiki to solve challenging problems for a variety of clients and organizations around the world.

Mike Madison

jam: How did your session come about?

Adam/Mike: As part of Acquia’s Professional Services team, we have both contributed to a client project that utilizes the technology outlined in the presentation. Given the focus at Acquia (and the community at large) on powering digital experiences “beyond the web,” this seemed like an ideal time to talk about this work. This is a mostly non-technical session and we are targeting a wide audience from the marketing/executive side through the more technical development/architecture side. If you want to know more on the technical side, we’d love to geek out with you about it!

jam: What will I learn from your session and why is knowing about Drupal-8-powered digital signage important?

Adam/Mike: People are looking for ways to present information outside a conventional web page. We’re proving that “Decoupled Drupal” can deliver business value in the real world. Drupal has a lot of established patterns for web pages but not many for some of these new experiences. This session helps fill those gaps and give people a roadmap for how to build their own next-generation digital experiences.

In our session, we focus on how to use Drupal, in combination with some other technologies, to power digital signage, including many of the pitfalls, security implications, best practices, and even make best-practice recommendations on approaches that we know work because hey ... we’re doing it right now for real!

jam: What value does Drupal-8-powered digital signage deliver to ...

... developers? Adam/Mike: The session is designed to show developers the types of problems that we’ve encountered while actually implementing this sort of system and advice on how to tackle these problems in their own work.

... site owners and businesses? Adam/Mike: We also lay out a business case for why this should be done using Drupal as the backbone of a digital signage, ideally as part of a larger digital experience. We also address some of the options you need to consider when going with a non-traditional and (still) rather new approach like this one.

... the Drupal community? Adam/Mike: This is a prime example of a new and emerging need being driven by client demand. We believe (and are proving) that Drupal 8 is ideal for providing this capability. Since the LAMP stack alone does not provide the needed capabilities for such a solution, this is a strong proof point that, as a community, we need to rise above and beyond--expand our “standard” toolset to stay relevant. And we’re more than capable of rising to the occasion.

Adam/Mike: Real time data is influencing everything digital now. Digital experiences are more becoming about what is going on “around” the user in the retail store they are shopping in, or the metro stop they are waiting in, or the plane they are flying on. Web pages are built around the idea of being displayed in the browser, performance is thought of in terms of robust caching and don’t support real time delivery of data very well. Up to the moment data delivery and the ability to react dynamically based on the contents of that data itself (pretty meta!) is an emerging expectation that we need to be ready to deliver now.

jam: How has Drupal 8 affected our ability to deliver digital signage?

Adam/Mike: While this work could be implemented in D7, doing so using a modern, object oriented framework makes common, critical activities like unit testing, dependency injection, and intelligent reuse of code significantly simpler. We’re hoping to make all this even easier soon: Our team is getting close to open sourcing a module that serves as a developer bridge between the AWS API and Drupal 8.

DrupalCon Baltimore Session [video]

Session resources

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