Google Chrome 70 Brings Progressive Web Apps to Windows

Once installed, they run like any other native app and can be launched from the Start Menu.

PC and Mac laptop and desktop users, for a long time, had nothing like the apps offered to smartphone and tablet users via Apple’s App and Google’s Google Play stores. The closest thing these users had were web apps, but they required a constant internet connection to work, only ran within a web browser, performed slowly, and they could have limited functions.

But with Google’s newly released Chrome 70, the company focused on making Progressive Web Apps (PWA) available.

When these apps are installed they have a native look and feel and can work offline. But does Chrome 70 deliver PWAs smoothly and efficiently and do they integrate easily on Microsoft’s Windows 10?

What is a Progressive Web App?

There are certain things an app should be able to do. It should offer push notifications, live updates, and be optimised for mobility, offering a smooth and responsive user experience. Apps should be able to run not only on handheld devices but laptops and desktops and deliver the same experience. A PWA is really no different, but to be successful at the desktop level, it has to meet a set of standards.

PWAs are built using the same development languages as web pages, including tech like Javascript for building specific functions. Web pages are hosted on servers and accessed via an internet connection, which makes them slower than apps you install in your device. These have access a great amount of ‘local’ power – the processor, memory and related tech of the device, whether a desktop PC or a smartphone.

For PWAs to work smoothly developers need to complement them with a new set of solutions, such as the ‘Service Worker’, which allows it to perform most of its functions without the need for a network connection. A PWA should also include a well-written Web App Manifest. This element controls how it performs, its screen presence, if it should have a home screen, and even if the browser’s bar should appear.

Chrome 70 changes and Windows 10

The last version of Google’s web browser, Chrome 69, didn’t offer much different from prior iterations. The browser, however, was plagued with a security problem that received a lot of criticism. It would log users into their Google accounts without prompting for credentials. In Chrome 70, Google addresses this issue with a Public Key Credential. It also adds two-factor authentication, an element which some banking sites have instituted for an added layer of security.

The biggest change, however, is that Chrome 70 has the ability to install PWAs and that the GUI in Windows 10 fully supports them. In fact, once installed, a PWA can run from the start menu or even a desktop shortcut just like any other Windows-based app. That goes for the overall install process as well once you have the correct link for the PWA install, or a user can go to the Microsoft Store to obtain a PWA there. Of course, this fact is all dependent upon if the PWA meets the criteria listed on the PWA Checklist.

Real-world test

Twitter is one of those companies, so in a real-world test, Chrome 70 starts the install and it creates the app in the start menu. When the app launches, though, it is clear it hasn’t detached itself from the browser elements. The “native” presentation of the app lacks the sophistication of one written for Windows in terms of its overall look and feel. For instance, during the test, the Twitter app would switch to a Chrome icon in the taskbar. While push notifications work okay, if Task Manager is viewed, it lists Chrome as a running application and not Twitter. But if Microsoft’s Edge is used and the PWA is accessed through the Microsoft Store, this problem is corrected.

It’s still early days but the future is looking bright for PWAs

While Progressive Web Apps are on the cutting edge of tech, Google’s engineers would say this concept is still in an experimental phase, even though many companies are adopting the use of these type of apps. As it stands now, however, PWAs are not available to users of Firefox or Mac users using Google, but Google claims support is coming for the latter in Chrome 72.

But PWAs represent a model that should work better for all, cutting down development time, costs and helping with compatibility. Microsoft is particularly keen for them to succeed as they failed with their own efforts to build a mobile app ecosystem.

They want to see more high-quality apps populate their store and if app developers adopt PWAs they can simply list them there (as opposed to having to re-write them as Microsoft apps).

For Google, this is an opportunity to make Chrome even more compelling to Microsoft users, with the ultimate aim being to bring them over to their own operating system – Chrome OS.

Oakley Capital Invests in the cPanel Web Hosting Software Platform

On August 20th, 2018, cPanel, a web hosting software platform provider based in Houston, TX., accepted Oakley Capital’s investment in the company.

Oakley’s believes this transaction will encourage further product creation and invention at cPanel. Additionally, with this purchase, Oakley foresees cPanel growing beyond its current 220 employees, and that it will be reaching even more customers than it currently has in 70 countries.

cPanel was founded in 1997 by CEO Nick Koston. With this investment, Koston believes that the company will continue to “contribute…to the success of millions of websites operating globally…and with the same passion that you, our loyal customers, have come to expect…” Koston also feels that Oakley Capital’s investment will lead to the development of a broader array of software with better features and support.

A fully- automated web hosting platform, cPanel’s software features a dynamic range of features and stand-out customer support. With the platform in place, customers can monitor every detail of a website via the intuitive software with just a few mouse clicks.

cPanel has an FAQs page with answers to most questions about Oakley Capital’s investment.

Ghost 2.0 – Introducing a More Powerful Publishing Experience

Ghost launches a modernized update for its 200th release unveiling an enhanced feature set and a powerful new editor described as ‘the love child between Medium and Slack’.

The new editor is both open-source, extensible, and built on MobileDoc – a portable JSON-based document storage format that allows translations into a variety of formats such as HTML, RSS, AMP, NewsML, etc…

Other new features worth of note include:

  • Multi-language support – Supporting multiple content serves across unique URLs with SEO-friendly semantic templates
  • Dynamic cards – To embed a variety of content types in your posts
  • Custom structures – Offering different ways to define a URL structure dynamically
  • Content collections – Allowing different sections to support different content types
  • Chronological content – To sorts posts in any order and not just reverse-chronological

The new update will allow Ghost to reposition itself as a more powerful and flexible option for those requiring  more sophisticated publishing needs.

However, the Ghost team remain committed to keeping focus on writing:

“There are a lot of projects out there which started out as an editor and ended up as a completely unintelligible page builder. While we wanted Ghost’s editor to do more than before, we also very deliberately made sure it didn’t try to do too much.”

How to get Ghost 2.0

Ghost 2.0 is available now via their paid SaaS offering and free if you self-host it.

About Ghost

Ghost was founded in 2013 to create a new platform focused solely on professional publishing. Their mission is to “to create the best open source tools for independent journalists and writers across the world, and have a real impact on the future of online media.”

Enter CRN’s Fast50 Awards 2018

It is that time of the year once again, time for the CRN Fast50 Award ceremony, and this year is a milestone for the award because it’s in its tenth year.

The CRN Fast50 acknowledges the fastest-growing Australian companies within the IT industry, based on year-on-year revenue growth.

All entries are judged between July and November, with the top 50 companies revealed at a major awards ceremony, in Sydney, on November 15, 2018.

For Australian companies in the IT industry, the CRN Fast50 award is a coveted recognition of their company’s achievements within the short time since their introduction.

There are several reasons you should throw your hat into the ring for a chance to win the coveted CRN Fast50 award including:

  • Winning the award will boost your company’s reputation.
  • Receive recognition for your company that equates to more business
  • Prove to your clients the stability of your company.
  • Receive attention from your industry’s largest channel.
  • Raise your company’s profile among your industry’s hottest vendors.

How to enter

There are several benefits to entering the contest for the IT industry’s most sought-after CRN Fast 50 award; the most significant is the recognition your company will gain from the leaders in the industry.

For further information on the contest requirements and benefits visit the CRN Fast50 Awards website.

About CRN

CRN, established in 1998, is a leading source for news and business insight for IT resellers, systems integrators, managed service providers, and IT solutions companies. The news source offers a broad spectrum of IT information across an assortment of outlets including print, online, mobile media, roundtables, and webinars.

Joomla Updates: V3.8.11 Release and Joomla 4

Joomla is on a roll.

Joomla, one of the top free and open-source content management systems (CMS), is on a streak of a major overhaul. And why not? WordPress is shaping up their Project Gutenberg just as Drupal is sewing up the roadmap towards Drupal 9.

The digital world is evolving and you need to adapt in order to survive, hence Joomla’s latest updates.

Joomla 3.8.11 is now available

Joomla 3.8.11 has just been released to address over 35 bugs and improvements for the 3.x series. These include:

  • Fix for the Missing “Select Type” field in the Extensions Manager
  • Replace the URL parameter “limitstart=0” by “start=0” when SEF is enabled
  • Remove non-callable array items from field categories
  • Articles – Category Module: New ‘showon’ attribute for form fields
  • Fix OpenSearch implementation
  • Fix for tag filtering in Featured Articles view in administrator
  • Fix for filtering Featured Articles by access level in administrator
  • Media manager: relative paths for video files
  • Com_menus: removal of useglobal attribute
  • Multilingual Associations Component: fix associations in sidebyside view for contact and newsfeeds

Make sure to back up your website before installing the new version.

Joomla 4 is happening

The highly anticipated Joomla 4 “intends to deliver more simplicity and a better experience for users and a more powerful system for developers.” It’s still a work-in-progress with no specific release date as of this time.

However, Joomla 3.10 will be released alongside Joomla 4 which will be made available for 2 years, giving users an ample of time to prepare their migration to the latest version.

Joomla 4 is expected to have the following features and developments:

  • A cleaner and more powerful codebase with the removal of deprecated functions from Joomla 3.x and the use of PHP namespaces that allows developers to deliver more robust and innovative applications than ever before
  • Install Joomla in the blink of an eye: an easiest, fastest and more user-friendly install process
  • Brand new User Interfaces (backend and frontend) to provide a new and easiest experience, using Bootstrap 4
  • Because the web is for all, we aim to provide an accessible backend template (Level AA of WCAG 2.0)
  • The power of the Joomla Framework merged to the CMS
  • A fully rebuilt Media Manager with a cleaner User Interface and new image editing features
  • New security features such as support for prepared SQL statements
  • An enhanced event dispatching system
  • Reworked Application for Consoles
  • And many more!

The Joomla community is encouraged to help ensure Joomla 4’s release by downloading Joomla 4.0 Alpha 3 which is available for screening. Testers can report any bugs and check the Joomla 4 open issues at https://issues.joomla.org/.

As for your Joomla hosting needs, drop us a line.

 

DrupalCon 2019 In Seattle

DrupalCon’s offerings are evolving and improving to transcend everyone’s expectations — you should not miss it.

Drupal is bringing its global community together for its annual conference next spring.

DrupalCon 2019 is expected to have a diverse audience. It will be segmented to response to the evolving needs of the community as well as create a greater impact on the digital world. Whether you’re a developer, web designer, website owner, entrepreneur, content strategist or a digital marketer -– DrupalCon has something for you to enjoy, learn, network and inspire.

To make sure your days at the conference is a time well-spent, the schedule of activities is sectioned into major ‘tracks’:

  • Builder Track
  • Agency Leadership Track
  • Content and Digital Marketing Track
  • Executive Summit

Each of these tracks will have their own space, their own journey and their own content — with opportunities to come together in keynotes, social events, and the hallway track for the cross-pollination, community building, and DrupalCon’s culture of collaboration, which remain core benefits of attending the conference.

Learn more about DrupalCon sponsor packages or you can register and reserve your own ticket today for a discounted price. You can also sign up their mailing list to receive more updates.

Organised by Drupal Association, DrupalCon 2019 is a 5-day event starting on 8 April and ending on 12 April at Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, WA USA.

Drupal was founded in 2001 by Dries Buytaert as an open source content management system (CMS) written in PHP. It’s globally known for its advanced, enterprise-level of security, even governments chose to host their websites on Drupal. As of August 2018, BuiltWith recorded 1,042,335 live websites using the platform, including Facebook, Pinterest, HP Inc, California Public Utilities Commission and Yahoo Research. Drupal 9 is expected to be released in November 2021.

The upcoming event is going to be different and grander than the previous DrupalCons. So, mark your calendars and book that flight.

Magento Opens Community Insider Program For Developers

This is a sheer chance for developers and agencies to accelerate their Magento skillset, get certified, and have direct access to the platform’s e-commerce and marketing tools.

Magento, one of the top e-commerce platforms, has just launched its Community Insider Program (CIP) and now accepting developer applications for the 1st phase. It is an entry-level program for freelance developers, web consultants and smaller web agencies who want to build up their Magento knowledge and skillset – and get certified.

CIP provides direct access to Magento Commerce tools and sales and marketing resources.

How is this beneficial

Once you’re an Insider, you will have access to Magento Commerce Source Code + a Cloud sandbox environment. Other benefits include:

  • A Community Insider badge to show your customers that you’ve met the Magento Commerce proficiency requirements.
  • Increase exposure of your business with your dedicated listing in the Community Insider Directory.
  • Get access to selling and marketing resources on the Magento Partner Portal.
  • Enjoy additional exposure with the opportunity to be featured in branded content and attend Magento events.

We created the Magento Community Insider Program (CIP) to broaden the Magento ecosystem to a larger group of developers and agencies to help them formalize their relationship with Magento, expand their skill set, and continue to build their Magento business practices. We have 300,000+ developers in our ecosystem, so the Magento Community Insider Program is a great way for small agencies and individual developers to stand out.

What are the requirements

To join the program, you are required to have at least one Certified Associate Developer on staff, regular contributions to the community (i.e. bug fixes, content), and use of general Magento best practices. You are also required to disclose the following:

  • All names and MAG IDs for all Magento Certified Developer(s) on staff
  • Product and contact information for a referenceable client
  • Details around successfully implemented Magento products within the last two years
  • Business specialties and commerce-focused projects within the past year

How much does it cost to join

The program is currently valued at $3000 per year. However, the more information you provide to Magento upon application, the less likely you will be asked to pay the annual fee. There will be discounts, too, if you contribute to the community. These include lead referrals, content, bug-fixes or special features, etc.

To sum up, CIP aims to help developers become legitimate Magento developers, growing their business as they build and launch dynamic online stores using Magento Commerce technologies. Don’t lose this chance, visit the Magento Community Insider Program website and hit Apply Now. For your Magento hosting needs, get in touch.

 

Changes To The .AU Namespace Under Afilias

The registration and renewal of .au domain names are now governed by Afilias Australia starting 1 July.

Via an official statement on Sunday, .au Domain Administration (auDA) confirmed that the transition process from AusRegistry to Afilias was successfully completed. About 3.1 million domain names are migrated to a new registry and national domain name infrastructure.

With the .au namespace being an essential piece of national digital infrastructure, the new registry operator will help ensure the operational stability, security and integrity of the internet in Australia.

Created in 1986, .au is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Australia and is being managed by auDA. The organization announced the change-over project in December 2017, replacing AusRegistry as .au registry operator after more than 15 years.

Why choose Afilias?

Afilias is globally known for its top level domain (TLD) registry and DNS technology.

Apart from its competitive pricing and great reputation as a registry operator, Afilias was selected based on non-financial criteria. These include the ability to perform to the technical specification, its potential to meet or surpass auDA’s required service levels, capacity to support the registry transformation project goals, and its security and risk management capabilities.

auDa asserted that the move to Afilias’ advanced registry will enhance .au namespace’s global reputation for reliability and security.

What changes are being imposed?

To be clear, your website is not affected by the changes nor your domain name(s). But, now that Afilias is the new .au namespace manager, there are a few tweaks in the registration and renewal process:

  • All Australian ccTLDs (including .com.au, net.au, org.au, id.au, asn.au, edu.au and gov.au) are now managed by Afilias.
  • Domain names that end in .au can now be registered or renewed for 1 to 5 years. Your choice.
  • For .au domain names due for deletion, there will be a 14-day grace period.
  • The expiry date of your active domain names remains the same (at the time it was registered). However, you can now extend the expiration date of up to 5 years.

For Network Dynamics customers that need to renew their domains, simply go to your client area and select the term you want to register your domain for.

Office 365 Updates For Better UX

To keep pace with the evolving needs of its users, Office 365 is rolling out its first batch of UX updates.

Earlier this month, Office 365 has announced that they will be gradually releasing its initial set of user experience (UX) updates for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook. In the next couple of months, this Microsoft-built suite of tools will be deploying new designs for select users to test and provide feedback.

The first set of updates, which are exclusive to Office.com and Office 365, includes:

  • An updated version of the ribbon allows you to see your team for easier collaboration, but you can still opt out to go back to the classic design. The update is currently available on the web version of Word and will appear on Outlook in July.
  • New colours and icons will appear throughout the apps for a more scalable graphics and updated UX. Select users will be able to find the update in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for Windows. The new graphics will roll out on Outlook for Windows in July and on Outlook for Mac in August.
  • The Search bar will be more obvious to the eye for easier access. The update is already made available on Office.com, SharePoint Online, and the Outlook mobile app, and it will start on Outlook on the web in August.

With “zero query search,” simply placing your cursor in the search box will bring up recommendations powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph.

It should be noted that the updates are currently in the trial period and developers are closely monitoring user feedback. More improvements will be expected in the design over the next few months.

We plan on carefully monitoring usage and feedback as the changes roll out, and we’ll update our designs as we learn more.

Have you experienced the new Office 365 updates in action? How was it? Let us know in the comments.

Drupal To Release D9 Soon?

Drupal’s next major release will rest on third-party PHP dependencies.

Dries Buytaert, Drupal creator, confirmed on a blog post that they’re planning the release of Drupal 9 before Symfony ceases to support Symfony 3 in November 2021. At that point, Symfony 3 will no longer receive security fixes.

Ideal for any type of website, Drupal is an open source content management system (CMS) with an extensive library of extensions and modules to power up its functionality. It has a huge community of users and developers, making it one of the most widely used CMS. There are about 1.7 million live websites using Drupal as of this writing.

The CMS is notable for its sophisticated, enterprise-level of security, making governments (such as whitehouse.gov) chose to host their websites on Drupal. Based on a recent report, Drupal is the most secured platform compared to the other leading CMS platforms.

Buytaert noted:

The driving factor in that discussion is security support for Drupal 8’s third party dependencies (e.g. Symfony, Twig, Guzzle, jQuery, etc). Our top priority is to ensure that all users are using supported versions of these components so that all Drupal sites remain secure.

So instead of adding features to Drupal 8, Buytaert said they are considering upgrading to Symfony 4 and releasing it as Drupal 9.

Nothing has been decided yet, but the current thinking is that we have to move Drupal to Symfony 4 or later, release that as Drupal 9, and allow enough time for everyone to upgrade to Drupal 9 by November 2021.

The initial plan did not take into account the other third-party components yet. However, Buytaert stated that they have already worked out the ways to make Drupal upgrades easy to ensure a smooth transition from version 8 to version 9. Furthermore, the founder is keen to upgrade Drupal’s already remarkable security program.

While nothing is set in stone yet, Buytaert is asking the Drupal community to join the discussion and share inputs to help them sew up the roadmap to Drupal 9.