Using the new Drupal 8 Migration API / Module

We at Liip AG believe, that the migration API is the best and most efficient way to import data into Drupal. Here are some reasons, why you should use migrate instead of the feeds module or any other custom importer modules:

  • Since Drupal 8, Migrate API is part of Drupal core
  • Migrate will be maintained and supported as long as Drupal 8 exists as it provides the upgrade path for older Drupal versions to Drupal 8
  • Migrate is sponsored by Acquia and mainly supported by Mike Ryan, a well-known and skilled Drupal developer.
  • Migrate has out of the box support for all important Drupal objects such as nodes, users, taxonomy terms, users, files, entities and comments.
  • Migrate has a Drush integration, that allows you, to run import tasks from command-line or via cron job
  • Migrate maintains a mapping-table, has rollback functionality and even supporting a highwater field, that allows to import only new or changed datasets.
  • Migrate is well documented and there is an example module.

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Rebranding – a symbolic move to recover from an economic downturn?

Swiss marketing Vaud
Conference 2016.04.12
Revamping the Identity of an Iconic Technology Brand: Logitech

Rodrigo Castaňeda, Head of Brand Experience

Logitech

© Atelier Kaïros photos

Logitech’s rebranding was qualified as the most ambitious brand transformation in its 30+ year history’ in the summary of the conference. It was intended to reflect the company’s commitment to design and its transformation into a stronger, multi-category technology brand.
I was particularly interested in listening to Rodrigo Castaňeda and on which perspective he would adopt to explain Logitech’s rebranding. Not only thanks to swissmarketing’s appealing summary but especially because I think that there is nothing challenging like crisis communication or management. In those situations we learn the most and get to understand, in retrospect, from the weight of our decisions. The way a company tells its history is revealing of its essence.

2011-2013: Economical context
Founded in 1981 in Apples (Vaud, Switzerland), Logitech is specialized in the fabrication of peripheral devices. In the 80’s, it started by producing mouses and keyboards for several enterprises such as HP, Dell or Sony, then expanded its range of products.

In 2010, along with Google and Sony, it planned to propose the Google TV. However in 2011, Logitech stopped its collaboration on the project, mentioning that this partnership was a mistake losing millions of dollars on the way. Certainly an unlucky timing, since it synchronized with an economic downturn: everybody thought PC was slowing down, because everything was going mobile. A few dark years followed, the 2012-2013 fiscal year had especially moribond perspectives. Logitech underwent different actions to fix the situation, the rebranding being one of them.

Of Logitech’s history, Castaňeda only evoked the contextual economic situation of 2011-2013, mentioning that Logitech got into a turnaround mode because of it. The question challenging them at that moment was ‘how to maximise profit and grow the company beyond the PC strong hold?’

On the influence of your company’s structure
Castaňeda explained how Logitech operates in hundred countries, yet behaves as a small company, a nice place to work at, with little hierarchy, and everybody being very open. For example, nobody has an office, including the CEO, which makes everybody very accessible. You can just go, talk and ask, which made the teams very committed into the rebranding project.

« A lot of things were happening, and we had a lot ambition but how far do we pay tribute to it? how far do we diverge? » asked Castaňeda mentioning the need to honor and recognize Logitech’s legacy and its approximately 30 years of existence, as it was being rebranded.

Logitech has a long story behind, it sold its one billionth mouse in 2008, however it needed to reinvent itself. Upon arrival, CEO Bracken Darrell did not only plan to refresh the product portfolio, drifting from peripherals to speakers, mobile and tablet accessories, but also create a design company. The existing excellency of the engineering would meet with design efforts. To undertake this task, Alastair Curtis, the head of design chief at Nokia, was hired.

State your ambitions
How do you bring customers from trusting to loving your products?
With a well planned brand strategy. Indeed, the purpose as a brand is at the intersection of the focus of the company (who we are, what we do) and its ambitions (where do we go?).
In Logitech’s case, the wish was to go beyond functional performance; it should not only be about products and peripherals. The product should be carried beyond its physical assets. They wanted to design products that transcend their functional value and are loved by people. It is then about experiences.
To the three existing functional brand values – performance, ease of use, quality – three emotional values were added – engaging, empowering, inspiring – bringing Logitech new perspectives.

“We design (our focus as a company) experiences (beyond products) so you (beyond consumer) create, achieve and enjoy more.” stated the team.

© Brand and Design Strategy, Logitech Analyst and Investor Day, 2016.03.02

The creative process
In 2014 began a journey to make Logitech more human, with many interviews, workshops, mood boards. The teams were mostly cross-functional: everybody needed to be involved, and on board with the ambition wished. Logitech also hired a design team, whose focus was on answering the question ‘how to create effortless experiences?’

« The brand will help us drive our reputation and give us license to create amazing things » sort of became a mantra for the involved teams.

New logo – new spirit
Today’s technology is everywhere, so it wasn’t wished to call attention to the ‘tech’ part of Logitech. The whole transformation signals that Logitech is increasing its focus on design, but it is more than a cosmetic change. it is also about values.

The new logo is all about how to be modern, in line with the present time and a lot more simple. The teams wanted fresh and striking colors, differentiation and simplicity.
The mark ‘logi’ was also added. The company is not renamed, but introduced this logo as a label.

Be young, be iconic, don’t broadcast, converse: those are the important things the teams learnt.

Apply your brand
The rebranding is not only about the logo. It translates into many fields.
It visually applies to videos and the way products are pictured. For example, a special attention is dedicated to settings and organisation. On the verbal ground, Logitech’s communication is shorter (usually two words), with statements such as ‘break free’, ’go forth’, ‘connect. create’. In shops, the sections are now bolder, with bright colors and lights.

Guidelines and brand training also became central for events and trade shows. In order to spread the world to regional teams, most intensive and detailed guidelines were written.

Moving on
On a pragmatic level, a shift in product line accompanied by a rebranding seems to be a successful mix as the mobile speakers (Ultimate Ears) has become a driver of growth for Logitech. A +48% year over year growth in sales for 2016 is foreseen for this line of product, whereas zero growth is expected for the iconic products, namely keyboards and mice (Q3 Fiscal Year 2016 Financial Results, January 20, 2016).

A rebranding is more than a symbolic change. It obviously is a public statement of a desire to change and evolve. However, for a company, it becomes really effective and significant when the change of values is not only stated but also lived. As subtly hinted by Castaňeda, the rebranding had a huge impact on recruitment, which, on my opinion, is a highly positive sign. More importantly, a stand still should be at all cost avoided. A company is meant to evolve with its employees and current trends. Logitech seems to be now aware of it, as it suggests that “there is more to come”.

 

Watch here the video of the conference.

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State of Drupal Commerce for Drupal 8

The two biggest players in the Drupal 7 webshop field are Drupal Commerce (also known as DC1) and Übercart. DC1 actually started as an Übercart rewrite to make use of Drupal 7 APIs. After the split Übercart was ported to Drupal 7 too but it was still using Drupal 6 technologies.

Although still very much in development, it seems something similar will be true for Drupal 8 as well. The developers of DC2 (the Drupal 8 version of Drupal Commerce), lead by Bojan Živanović rewrote the whole system from scratch to make use of the huge changes in Drupal 8. They are active members of the Drupal developer community so they not only know but also form the actual best practices. While working on DC2 they have fixed many dozens of Drupal 8 core issues and much more in other contributed modules (such as Entity, Inline Entity Form, Profile).

A great realisation when rewriting Commerce was that several components of a webshop could be reused by other (not even necessarily webshop or Drupal) systems. Some typical examples are address formats, currencies and taxes. These components are usually a huge pain to maintain because of the small differences from country to country. So they have created standalone PHP libraries usually using authorative third party datasets such as CLDR for currency or Google’s dataset for address formats. Some of them are already used by other webshop solutions like Foxycart and developers even outside the Drupal community are giving feedback which makes maintaining them easier.

In the DC2 development process UI and UX has got a big emphasis already from the beginning. Based on research of existing webshop solutions the shop administration and checkout process has been redesigned by UX specialists. For example, the product creation process is quite confusing in DC1 and there’s not even a recommended way to do it. In DC2 this happens now in one single form which makes it super easy.

A new concept in DC2 is Stores. Stores represent billing locations and products can belong to one or more stores. One use case is the need for different billing for customers from different countries. Another one is having a shop where sellers can open an account and sell their own products. In this case each seller has their own store.

There are many other new features and improvements like a new and flexible tax system (you can say things like: “from Jan 1st 2014 the VAT changes from 21% to 19%”), a redesigned checkout flow, different workflows for different order types etc.

DC2 is still in alpha phase and is not recommended for production use yet. Beta releases will already have upgrade paths between them and so can be considered for starting real sites with. Beta1 is expected for May.

Drupal Commerce is the most popular e-commerce solution for Drupal 7. Given the high quality code and responsiveness to developer, shop maintainer and customer needs I do not expect this to change in Drupal 8 either.

Sources:
Drupal Commerce 2 blog
Modules Unraveled podcast on Commerce

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Predicting how long the böögg is going to burn this year with a bit of eyeballing and machine learning.

So apparently there is the tradition of the böögg in Zürich. It is a little snowman made out of straw that you put up on top of a pole, stuff with explosives and then light up. Eventually the explosives inside the head of the snowman will catch fire and then blow up with a big bang. The tradition demands it that if the böögg explodes after a short time, there will be a lot of summer days, if it takes longer then we will have more rainy days. It reminds me a bit of the groundhog day. If you want to know more about the böögg, you should check out the wikipedia page https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sechseläuten.

Now people have started to bet on how long it will take for the böögg to explode this year. There is even a website  that lets you bet on it and you can win something. In my first instinct I inserted a random number (13 min 06 seconds) but then thought – isn’t there a way to predict it better than with our guts feeling? Well it turns out there is – since we live in 2016 and have open data on all kinds of things. Using this data, what is the prediction for this year?

590 seconds – approximately 10 minutes.

We will have to see on Monday to see if this prediction was right – but I can offer you to show now how I got to this prediction with a bit of eyeballing and machine learning. (Actually our dataset is so small that we wouldn’t have to use any of the tools that I will show you, but its still fun.)

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How do UX and Agility connect in project planning and execution?

Wednesday 16th March 2016 at Liip Lausanne, we proudly hosted the first swissICT UX meet-up held in Romandie!

SwissICT is the primary representative of the ICT Branch in Switzerland. They are based in Zürich and the largest professional association of the ICT industry, with 800 companies, 2’200 single members and 16 groups of experts (including User Experience).

As one of the objective of this non-profit organisation is the promotion of professional knowledge, the UX Expert Group organises various events throughout Switzerland (there are regular meet-ups in Bern, Zürich, Fribourg and now Lausanne). Four specialists of the UX Expert Group, Dorit Horst (Associate at Uservalue), Eva Siegenthaler (Manager UX@SBB-Team, SBB), Andreas Weder (Head of UX at Magnolia International Ldt.) and Philipp Murkowsky (Head of User Experience at Puzzle ITC GmbH) organized the event in Lausanne, with the support of the Liip Team.

Discussion and promotion of knowledge on UX & Agile
The aim of the ICT-UX events is to share valuable insights and best practices between specialists, to discuss each other’s challenges and questions and to generate new inspiration. Indeed, the format of the evening was deeply participative! It consisted of 3 discussion groups with one to two mediators. The format is very flexible as we might walk from one group to another. It included more discussion and less talks. It started with a short introduction on UX practice and Agile method.

Dorit, Eva, Philipp and Andreas introduced us to the statements, which would be the ground of the evening’s discussion:

  • UX precedes agile
  • UX is leading by one sprint
  • You need to test with real users in every sprint

Once in groups, we wrote our thoughts on sticky notes and explained them to the group. We clustered them afterwards, according to their similarity in themes. Once clustered, we could identify priorities, a number one topic obviously had many notes.

Food for thoughts – short insights in the conversations

UX precedes agile
As Philipp stated it ‘You have to prototype everything in advance!’

Why should UX come first?

© ICT UX Expert Group

Philipp fostered the discussion: “We need to know where we are heading. Sometimes the client does not know where he is heading. How then do we integrate the development? Is the project feasible within the budget? Etc. Developers have a good perception of what the outcome will be and what the technical risks will be. They can spot things better, which means that they will be prone to solutions.”

UX is leading by one sprint
«UX has to be one sprint ahead of development.»

© ICT UX Expert Group

The whole group agreed that having a vision gives us motivation to pursue the work. We judged that one week ahead is not enough, two weeks is ideal, because you have an iteration while the client is looking at the work and gives us feedbacks.

However, by big projects, and when you don’t know what will be the big milestone, it is close to impossible to have UX first. One of the participant, recalling his experience, enhanced how important collaboration is between the UX and dev teams. In his example, the whole team decided to have a coffee together in the morning, enabling discussions. Such a simple thing actually really worked and facilitated the project.

You need to test with real users in every sprint

© ICT UX Expert Group

Testing with real users will deliver you facts instead of opinions. It will therefore allow you to base your decisions on real data. You should start testing with real users in early stages and continue doing so as the user requirements evolve. Regular user testings will also anchor a user-centered culture in the agile team.

Dorit provided us with insightful advice on how to run user tests. She recommended us to watch people’s behavior instead of asking questions: “You can have as many opinions as people. But with behaviors, it is different, because you see what actually happens, you see where people fail, where they hesitate, slow down, etc. .” Thus, it provides you real data.

Next steps and further discussion
At Liip, we all had a lot of fun participating at this event and we are excited about the next ICT UX meet-up. 

In every group, the discussion sooner or later fostered around the theme of the collaboration within the teams. The need to talk, between developers, UXers and PO was an evidence.

To continue discussing the subject, we recommend a talk (in French) by Jérémie Fontana, Art Director at Wax Interactive, on the collaboration between designers and developers. Jérémie will present us a case study on the functionalities of Adobe and the CreativeCloud services. Designers, developers and project managers, discover how you can optimise your workflow and save time! Darja Gartner, one of our UX specialist will be there, in case you have any question, don’t hesitate to go to her!
Designers et développeurs, comment réussir votre collaboration?
13.04.2016, 18:30
Alpha Palmier, Lausanne

 

See our album of the evening here.

Don’t miss any of our events and follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
More on User Experience @Liip here.

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What is your tension?

Some months ago, before going to the Practitioner training I wrote about Holacracy and my hopes regarding this new way of managing organizations. I’m now back from another 5 day training focused on Holacracy coaching and I’d like to explore a bit further the central concept of Holacracy: tensions.

Tension?

As explained briefly in my first post, theoretically a tension describes a person’s felt sense that there is a gap between the current reality and a potential future (both in a positive or negative sense). Practically, tension processing is something we all do on a daily basis of course: I’m hungry: I go grab something to eat,  I’m tired: I go to bed. Easy right?
Very often though we feel the urge to react but don’t take the time to analyze our tension(s). Which leads to inappropriate reaction (in the sense of “un-filling my tension”) and frustration. We also tend to mix various tensions together which inevitably lead to more frustration. For example, I was talking with Mariusz at the training (a great guy by the way, building a new kind of school in Poland) and someone exposed a common domestic situation: your daughter pushes her little sister, you tell her to stop, only to see her pushing her sister again while looking at you in the eyes! (ah! kids!). As a parent I know very well what my reaction would be: shout at the kid while protecting the little daughter. No need to describe what’s next: everyone is screaming, some are crying, etc…
Now if I take a step back and realize that I’m actually facing 2 different tensions and try to prioritize them, it might help. First I’d probably want to take the little one to a safe place and then only try to understand what is wrong with the big one. See how suddenly there is way less urge in solving the 2nd tension?

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Coworking in the ThinkSpace: not only about coffee machine sharing, but also real experiences

Yesterday night, Liip Lausanne officially launched its ThinkSpace at 4 Rue Etraz. The party was organised by the Liip Team but intended for the startups hosted in the coworking space. We wanted to offer them all an occasion to celebrate and invite their partners and friends to visit their new workplace.
The opening party was also an opportunity for the Lausanne Liipers and the coworkers to meet outside of the rush of the daily business.

Did you say collaboration?
Collaboration has always been very important for Liipers. At the very beginning already, when we arrived in Lausanne 5 years ago, we shared an office with our friends from :ratio. As we grew bigger, it has been necessary to enjoy extra space. However the desire to share desks with other digital startups remained. As we moved to the Rue Etraz, it was possible to secure 2 floors: the ThinkSpace could be set up!

The ThinkSpace is a collaboration floor, specially dedicated to startups and SMEs active in the digital world. The project started in a blast: in November, the first coworkers moved in as the last renovations were being done! Today, as we officially celebrated its opening, we discover that our space is nearly full! :)

Only about sharing a coffee machine?
The ThinkSpace is not only about saying ‘hello-how are you?’ over the coffee machine (even though we love Tawipay’s delicious capuccinos) it’s also about sharing ideas and experiences. It’s not only the Liipers and the startups who benefit from the exchanges, but also our clients! With synergies we are more efficient and do not hesitate to recommend our coworkers when needed. Who has heard about the love story between one of our client Salines Suisses and Mondays.ch? We developped the Sel des Alpes website for them while Mondays is now in charge of their community management.
Aside from Tawipay and Mondays.ch, you might cross folks from cool companies Skioo, Supertext and Zip.ch who currently cowork in the ThinkSpace as well.

And next, a ThinkSpace in Bern
We are so enthusiastic about our experience in Lausanne, that we wish to pursue it in our new office in Bern, opening in April at Schmiedenplatz 5, very near from the Zytglogge tower. Also be prepared, it will be about sharing knowledge and experiences, and the opening party will be grand as well

Thank you all, Liipers and dear coworkers, for you support! An exciting future lies ahead of us ;-)

Get started exploring Google Analytics data with Python Pandas

The latest release of Pandas (v0.17.1) has brought the deprecation of the Google Analytics data reader submodule (pandas.io.ga). This deprecation decision is actually good news since this submodule had dependencies on packages that are not currently python 3 compatible and was, even under python 2.7, hard to get up and running.

After updating my system to the newest versions of pandas, I had to find a new connector to fetch Google Analytics data, and found an advantageous replacement in the google2pandas module from Panalysis.

This blogpost walks you through the setup of Pandas and google2pandas, and breifly introduces you to fetching and getting Google Analytics data into Pandas dataframes, for further exploration with Pandas.

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3 recommendations to men who are going to be dads

… and that don’t want to fall into the traditional trap 

Liip will have many babies this year! And I mean real, human babies. Two expectant male Liipers asked me*: “How shall I prepare for it? Do I have to watch out for something in particular?”

Well, yes, I think there are three often unconscious developments to watch out for and I describe those below. But: These three are only important to those future dads who want
a. a profound relationship with their children
b. an intellectually satisfied woman at their side.

In short: if you do not want to live by the “traditional” model – meaning: having little bonding to the child, working 100% and your wife staying at home, responsible for kids and household – then the following recommendations are for you. For those readers who cannot say yes to a. and b., you rather stop reading as then this is not for you.

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Les Rencontres Hivernales du Libre, deuxième édition

Winter Libre meetup, second edition.

As Swisslinux.org member, I again had the opportunity to take part to the Rencontres Hivernales du Libre (roughly translated as ‘Winter Libre meetup’), up in the jura, in St-Cergue. This week-end-long meetup, organized for the second time this year, aims at gathering all libre-related actors. This article, originally written in french, tells you the story of what happened there, who attended and did what.

Les Rencontres Hivernales du Libre, deuxième édition

Dans le cadre de l’association Swisslinux.org dont je suis membre, j’ai à nouveau eu le plaisir de participer aux Rencontres Hivernales du Libre, du 8 au 10 janvier passés. Ces rencontres, organisées pour la deuxième fois en 2016, ont pour but de rassembler les acteurs romands du Libre, dans sa définition la plus large.

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