planet-drupal | Modules Unraveled

054 The Simplenews and Newsletter modules with Sascha Grossenbacher and Paris Liakos - Modules Unraveled Podcast

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This is the second episode in the “Newsletters in Drupal” mini-series, and I’m really excited for this show! We’re actually going to be talking about two modules, and the reason I’m excited is because there’s potential for these two modules to merge into one. We all know that there are a million ways to do any one thing in Drupal, and from a site-builder, and maintenance point of view, it’s always a good thing if we can eliminate duplicate modules! So, while nothing’s set in stone yet, this might just be the beginning of the end for at least one redundant module!

Alright, before we get into the modules themselves, I’m going to be asking all of the guests in this series the same two questions about newsletters in Drupal.

  • What do you see as a benefit of using a “Drupal” setup like Simplenews or Newsletter over an external service like MailChimp?
    • Sascha:
      • Everything happens in Drupal, Full control over the data, user interface and processes. Simplenews allows you create personalized newsletters based on the context of the user, using other data from your site. For example, you could add the list of content they flagged last month or suggestions based on that.
    • Paris:
      • Better integration of your drupal data with the newsletter system.
      • You can use other existing modules to improve the creation or automatic population of your newsletter.
      • Central place for its administration.
      • It is open source, so you can easily modify it further according to your needs, or hire someone to build another custom module on top of it.
      • Of course, it is free
  • And for the sake of argument, what might you see as the benefit of using an external service as opposed to a “Drupal” specific setup?
    • Sascha:
      • A large number of features that are ready to use and better backend user iinterfaces like templates and template builders. We are currently working on integrating with Panelizer, so that you can use similar tools as well in Simplenews but we don’t have nearly as much time as the teams behind these services to provide the same experience.
      • Scalability, being able to send tens of thousands of e-mails in short time. You can of course use a transactional e-mail service like Mendrill or Mailjet for reliability, statistics and so on but the e-mails are still built on your site.
    • Paris:
      • You dont have to think about server configuration, mail servers, spam mails, blacklisting and other technical things.
      • Your server load, since the whole system is hosted elsewhere
      • Maturity: i think most external services are more mature than simplenews and of course a lot more than newsletter


  • What is simplenews, and how does it work?
  • What are some of the features?
    • Sending nodes as newsletters to subscribers
    • Multiple newsletter categories with separate settings
    • Per category and multi-signup Blocks and Pages
    • Subscriber management including mass-subscription and export
    • Optional E-mail confirmations for anonymous users
    • Customizable newsletter templates
    • Support for HTML (including text alternative) newsletter when used in combination with a supported mail system module
    • Views and Rules integration
    • Support for multi-language newsletters
  • What is the documentation like? Are there screencasts?


  • What sets Newsletter apart from Simplenews? How is it different?
    • Newsletter was built with automated newsletters in mind..That is, you have many newsletter lists and want to send them with different time intervals each..I know that there is an add-on module for simplenews that does that, but it came a lot later than newsletter was released
    • It also has easier workflow for admins and statistics (Same as above, there is a simplenews module for that
    • Finally it is base on Drupal 7 entities, which makes it easier to integrate with other entity based modules.
  • What are some of the features?
    • Multiple newsletters lists configurable on existing terms
    • Plain text or HTML out of the box.
    • Multiple schedules Each newsletter can have more than one schedule, e.g. Daily, Monthly, Weekly, manually or even custom, eg after 10 new posts for this term.
    • Centralized administration and configuration on a single page.
    • Users can customize the terms in the list they subscribe to.
    • Custom template per list.
    • Statistics (CTR and Open-Rate)
  • What is the documentation like? Are there screencasts?
    • Unfortunately not..all documentation there is, is in README.txt

Use Cases

  • When would someone use one module over the other?
    • Sascha:
      • I had only a quick look at Newsletter today but from what I saw, it has more functionality for administrators and is probably also easier to use out of the box than Simplenews. I think it is a typical project that has been built for a specific use case and if that use case is what you are looking for, then newsletter might be a good match for you.
      • Simplenews has evolved over a long time and has some of advantages due to that
      • A reliable spooling system that makes sure that mails are sent and are only sent once, including support for large numbers of subscribers and parallel send processes
      • A more flexible sign-up process which can be configured per newsletter category, configurable confirmation mails, combined confirmations for multiple categories and so on
      • The fact that newsletters are nodes makes it easy to provide an online archive and a web-version of your newsletter
      • Uses Drupal’s theming system to build the outgoing mails.
      • So if those things sound like something you want or need, then you should probably have a look at Simplenews
    • Paris:
      • Agreed with above, don’t have anything to add

What does the future hold?

  • Can we expect to see the modules merge in the near future?
    • Sascha:
      • Depends on what you understand from a merge. A number of additional features provided by Newsletter (statistics, scheduling) is already available as separate projects. The new major version for Simplenews, which we are currently working on, will contain an improved architecture based on entities, similar to Newsletter. That should make it possible to provide the remaining additional functionality that Newsletter provides on top of Simplenews, for example the simple and straightforward of for creating and re-using templates. So once we are there, then we can probably state that Newsletter is deprecated for most usage in favor of Simplenews
    • Paris:
      • Newsletter will just provide a migrate class to transfer all the data to simplenews equivalent and of course requiring as dependencies simplenews add-on modules (like simplenews_statistics)
  • What are the goals and features developed in for Simplenews 7.x-2.x?
    • Sascha:
      • New underlying, entity-based architecture
      • Clean terminology in the UI and code: newsletters, subscribers, newsletter issues
      • Recipient handlers, allowing to address a subset of your subscribers based on views, organic groups, per language, a CRM

053 Using Mailchimp and Mandrill to Send Newsletters in Drupal with Lev Tsypin - Modules Unraveled Podcast

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  • First-off, we’re going to be talking about both the MailChimp and Mandrill modules. So, before we get into the modules, can you explain the difference between the two services?
  • Unique relationship with MailChimp and how they’re sponsoring development, etc.
  • What do you see as the benefit of using an external service like MailChimp as compared to a “Drupal” specific setup like using Simplenews or Message notify?
  • And for the sake of argument, what would you see as a benefit of using a “Drupal” setup over an external service?

Mail Chimp

  • How much integration is there between the module and the service?
  • Can you create new lists from the Drupal interface? How many lists?
  • Can you create the newsletters in the Drupal interface?
  • How do you work with templates? Do you configure them on the MailChimp side, and then select them in the Drupal interface?
  • MailChimp has a “drag and drop editor”, is that functionality carried over to the Drupal interface?
  • How do you include site content?
  • How does it deal with images in a newsletter?
  • How can you add site content into a newsletter?
  • Can you setup autoresponders?
  • Can you setup split tests in the Drupal interface?
    • LT: MailChimp handles this with it’s email optimizer
  • Can you view reports and analytics in Drupal?
  • How do users subscribe and unsubscribe from a newsletter?


  • What is Mandrill?
  • How does the Module integrate with the service?

Use Cases

  • MailChimp
  • Mandrill
  • When would you use both?
  • Documentation? Screencasts?

052 TMGMT with Christophe Galli and Sascha Grossenbacher - Modules Unraveled Podcast

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  • What exactly is the Translation Management Tool?
    • Started at a Sprint a year ago here in Zurich, initiated and supported by Miro Dietiker, among others.
      Does not introduce new translation functionality but builds on top of the existing content and entity translation modules.
      The focus is on the management of the translation process. Instead manually creating a translation by copy and pasting translations, it allows to create a job that can be sent to a local or external translation service.
      Various translation services are supported, local users, exporting XLIFF files, machine translation and translation agencies like Gengo, Supertext and One Hour Translation.
      The complete workflow of creating a translation is kept under control at any point, including quality control, review processes and saving the translation back to Drupal.
      It provides various management views that give an overview over the translation status of your site and pending translation jobs.
  • How does this integrate, or play nicely with i18n?
    • It currently accepts nodes and entities as input. Integration with interface translation and so called i18n objects (menus, terms, views) is initiated but not yet complete. (Help is welcome!)
  • What is the current state of development?
    • We are preparing the first beta release, to be released within the next weeks. The focus of this release is node and entity translation, improved user interfaces and the new local translator.
      The development version can be downloaded on the project page and we have a lot of automated tests to make sure that this version is as stable as possible.
      Apart from the core project, there is a translation server distribution coming. It is based on the google summer of code project by Sebastian Siemssen (fubhy). We will release a first version of that distribution together with the beta release.

Use Cases

At any given time, you can take a single node, send it to a translation service like Gengo, review translation and save it back in a single user interface.
Use the provided rules integration to automatically create a machine translation for all languages that your site supports when a news article is created.
Request a translation of all pages from your local translation team, which can use the local translator that provides a separate User interface on the same site.
Do the same for several sites, using a centralized translation server so that your translators only need to access a single site.
Or you can use our directory listing to find the best external translator for your content.

Questions from Twitter

051 with patrickd - Modules Unraveled Podcast

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  • What is
    • “ is a website where you can quickly test out a project online without messing around locally.
      There are about 20.000 projects and some of them fit better to your needs than others do, and helps to find the right one.”
  • Who is behind the project? Is it just you, or a team?
    • “Most of the initial development was done by myself, but I got much support from my colleagues and also Stuart Clark helped me cleaning up some messes recently.
      The project itself is opensource and I’m generally happy about any feedback I get.
      Everyone reporting bugs or making suggestions is part of the team for me.“
  • Is this just for modules? Or can you tryout themes as well?
    • “It’s pretty much for any type of project hosted on
      It works for drupal core itself since version 6, for modules, themes, and even installation profiles, or distributions as we call them now.”
  • What’s the basic interface like? How do you test out a project?
    • “I tried to keep the interface as simple as possible. All you need to do is basically start typing the name of a project hosted on d.o, then some autocomplete suggestions will appear,
      which you can select the project from. You can alternatively directly type in the project shortname or even the number of a sandbox module.
      After you selected a project shows you the available and supported versions which you can select. Then just click on ‘Launch Sandbox’ and it mostly takes about five
      seconds and if everything worked out you will be redirected to your personal sandbox and you’ll have 30 minutes to figure out whether a project does what you need or not.”
  • What if 30 minutes are not enough, can I get more time?
    • “For most modules 30 minutes should be enough but if you need more time, for example to check out commerce kickstart, you just need to register on and your
      sandboxes will automatically last one hour. If you still need more you can contact me and I’ll see what I can do.”
  • What happens if there are dependencies?
    • “Resolving dependencies turned out to be to most annoying problem while creating
      In good cases all dependencies are described in the .info file of a project and they can be resolved recursively without problems. But things get complicated when dependencies have
      other names than the projects shortname.
      For example if a project has ‘content’ as dependency, there’s pretty much no good way for a machine to figure out that it needs to download ‘cck’”
  • What about third party libraries?
    • “Third party libraries that need to be manually downloaded are even worse than dependencies.
      I simply have to rely on the developers here to reference all necessary libraries in a proper .make file.”
  • Is there more planned for the future?
    • “Yes! The most frequently requested feature is to be able to apply patches on the selected project. I also want to add some kind of statistics page. There are many other suggestions
      too, but I still want to keep the user interface as simple as possible.”
  • Where is funding coming from?
    • “I was very happy that my companies CEO didn’t hesitate a second to sponsor some of my working time and even the first server for the project.
      After got a bit popular I soon got a mail from RealityLoop and they also wanted to sponsor a server.
      I’m really grateful for their support, especially because they really showed that they were interested in the project and it’s potential for the Drupal Community rather than getting
      customers on their website.”

Use Cases

  • What are some use cases for
    • “The intended usecase for was to be able to quickly spin up a testing site and figure out whether a module has the functionality you need.
      But it’s really cool to see that people are using it as on-demand demo sites for their modules and themes, or even for their client presentations.”
    • Demo content (maybe install devel?)
  • What kind of feedback have you received from people using the site?

Questions from Twitter

  • Blue-Bag - @ModsUnraveled interview @patrickd_drupal great service! Any plans to allow >1 module selection?
    • "Yes! That feature was also requested very often. It’s definitely planned, though it’s not very easy to implement, so it will take some time."

050 Aberdeen Cloud with Aaron Porter - Modules Unraveled Podcast

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  • What is AberdeenCloud?
  • How does it affect development?
    • Version control - replace github?
    • dev / staging / live
  • Is AberdeenCloud just for development? Or can you host a live site on it as well?
  • What kind of scalability does AberdeenCloud offer?
  • What’s the pricing look like?
  • What kind of support is available?

Use Cases

  • How can clients and site owners use AberdeenCloud?
  • What does AberdeenCloud have to offer for site-builders?
  • What tools/features are available for developers?
  • What’s coming up in the future of AberdeenCloud?

Questions from Twitter

  • Paul Johnson (@pdjohnson): What tools exist in Aberdeen cloud to make devs lives easier? E.g continuous integration, scaling, monitoring, upgrading Drupal, db backup
  • Paul Johnson: How does Aberdeen cloud differentiate itself from @acquia and @pantheon_drupal?

035 Stuart Clark and His Awesome Modules - Modules Unraveled Podcast

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Wysiwyg Fields

  • I took a look at this module briefly, and even installed it on a dev site, and I have to say, it’s pretty slick. Why don’t you describe exactly what it does.
  • What do you mean by this works in a “Drupal way”?
  • How is this different from using the media module and wysiwyg combo?
  • Video: ImageField demonstration

Custom Formatters

  • Before we start, let’s make sure everyone’s on the same page as to what formatters are. So, can you explain that quickly?
  • What can you do with Custom Formatters?
  • Origin story

Configuration Builder