Since early 2014, LCM has continued a productive, ongoing partnership with Chicken Soup for the Soul, and supports their web properties and the associated infrastructure. Recently, Chicken Soup asked LCM to launch two new and completely different Drupal 8 sites within a month. LCM worked off of prototypes from Chicken Soup for the Soul and was trusted to move quickly. By deploying two separate teams of 2 developers, LCM was able to take each site from prototype to launch on D8 and Pantheon within two weeks, while another team maintained the ongoing feature release schedule on Chicken Soup for the Soul’s massive Drupal 6 site.
In June of 2016, Chicken Soup needed a simple site for their rapidly-growing television and online programming production and distribution business. The site needed to handle a collection of content pages and videos, and was intended to be another microsite that would follow some standard templating and functionality as laid out for previous Chicken Soup sites LCM had worked on, and new sites that were still to come.
Chicken Soup was looking for an alternative approach.
Building new features to support growing business lines inside their massive aging Drupal 6 site was becoming unsustainable. Over time, the site had accumulated so much functionality that each deployment ran a high risk of breaking something, which led to lengthy deployments. Recognizing that issue, a plan was developed in partnership with Chicken Soup for the Soul to spin out a series of smaller, more focused sites sharing a similar architecture. Drupal’s modular architecture, and particularly Drupal 8’s approach to dependency management, made it a great fit for this task. Additionally, while the core CMS functionality of Drupal 6 worked well, the UI was becoming dated and cumbersome to work with. Drupal 8 featured a lot of usability enhancements, such as the built in WYSIWYG, that would make the site much more usable overall. Finally, the feature set of the site was tightly focused, and after consideration, we were able to implement it with a small handful of contributed modules, and very little technical debt.
Following on the success of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Pet Foods site, Last Call Media used a similar formula: leverage Drupal 8 core wherever possible, and avoid contributed modules. This was a great strategy in terms of avoiding the turmoil of early Drupal 8 contrib churn, and had the side benefit of keeping the site very lean and performant. After experiencing some past pain points in using the bare “Configuration Management” system in Drupal 8, we chose to use the Features module on this project. Features makes it easy to bundle configuration into modules, and makes it easier to share configuration (in the form of Drupal modules) between the brand’s sites should the need arise in the future.
The site uses Last Call Media’s boilerplate Drupal 8 scaffolding build, which helped jumpstart the development process by providing a suite of best practices and quality assurance tools with no extra effort.
The goal of this project was to build a flexible marketing site capable of showcasing Chicken Soup for the Soul’s entertainment offerings; primarily their TV shows and online videos. The biggest obstacles the project faced were the looming deadline, the relative instability of Drupal 8 immediately following the initial release, and the lack of contributed modules that were available to us. For example, the Media-related modules we would normally use for the online video section were not stable yet. Instead of using a media/file entity as we normally would to store an online video, we leveraged Drupal core’s new URL field to store the URL of the Rumble video, and used a field template to output an embed link. It was a simple and elegant solution to a difficult problem.
Thanks to excellent communication with Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Digital Strategy team, and Last Call’s experience in working with Drupal 8, we were able to turn the project around in just two weeks. This met the deadline set by the marketing team, and achieved all of the goals that were set out.