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Developer Series

Acquia Cloud - Overview

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Barry Jaspan: Acquia Cloud is a platform for developing and deploying Drupal sites. It provides development, staging, and production environments for each site and automates the task of deploying your code, databases, and files across them. For example, your development environment will usually be deploying the master branch from your code repository. When you are ready to show the latest code to your client, you simply drag the code from development to staging. This tags the tip of the master branch with the current date and deploys it to the staging environment. When you are ready to run the same code in production, you just drag it again from staging to the production environment. If a problem occurs, you can quickly go back to prior code by selecting any previously created tag. You often want to test your latest code against the current production database from your live site. As with code, you can simply drag and drop it from the production environment back to the staging or development environment. You can do the same thing with your user-uploaded files.

Acquia Cloud fully supports Drupal multi-site. You can create as many databases as you want; one for each subsite. Each database automatically gets a separate instance for development, staging, and production. Your site always uses the correct database for its environment, so your development environment never accidentally messes up your production database. Every database in each environment is automatically backed up every night and retained for three days; so on Monday morning, you still have a backup from Friday. You can also make a backup on demand at any time that is retained until you decide to delete it. You can download, restore or delete any of your backups at any time. All the features of Acquia Cloud are available not just through the web UI, but also through the Drush command-line tool and Cloud API. Also, all Acquia Cloud subscriptions include Insight, Search, Mollom and a variety of third-party tools. To learn more, visit docs.acquia.com/cloud.

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Acquia Insight

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Michael Cooper: After I’ve been developing Drupal for a couple of years, I found out that most of the tasks that I was doing were repetitive. I was constantly checking websites before I launched them through a series of standard checks, making sure certain modules were in were configured correctly. I was also having to regularly run through those sites and make sure that nothing had been misconfigured on them, that some developer hadn’t gone in and changed something or that the customer hadn’t gone in and changed something after I handed the site over to them. It’s not that people were making mistakes, it’s just that there’s a lot of stuff that can go on with production websites.

So Acquia Insight, every three hours, grabs a swath of information about your website and analyzes it for security, performance and best practices, and we look at those three sections. We have about 150 tests that we run, to make sure that your site is well configured and isn’t going to cause you any problems. Some of the tests can be critical alerts. For example, the page caching is turned off or that anonymous users have access to the PHP filter and some of them are a lot more innocuous like the Views UI’s on, and you might not need it because people can go in and play with parts of your website that they don’t need to. We also have security checks specific to different versions of Drupal, and even to certain distributions; we have certain checks that’ll be showing up for those.

One of the best parts about Acquia Insight is that we do code analysis. We actually look at every module on your site and we make sure that your module has not been forked. If it has, we actually provide a diff of that module so you can look at that module and to change that and determine if it’s valid or not. It’s also very helpful when you upgrade. You can then pull down the new version of the module, apply the patch to it and then know that you’re good to go. When you’re developing for Drupal, one of the things we’ve all learned after a while is there are about 30 ways to do anything, and 15 or 16 of them are correct. Insight’s going to recommend the most standard way to solve a lot of problems, but you might know another way to handle that problem or solve it with a different module that maybe you just came out with a little while ago. If there’s an alert on our list that you’re failing, you can simply ignore that alert and wont penalize it for. You can see your score go up, and that alert falls off your list into the Ignored list. If you want to learn more about Acquia Insight, visit docs.aqcuia.com/network and click the Insight link to see how it works.

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