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Acquia Cohesion, what is that about?

2020-07-20

Acquia Cohesion is a Drupal website builder that lets you create all the visual aspects of a website, such as a layout, theme, templates, blocks, components. All within the browser with easy to use drag-and-drop UI.

Acquia Cohesion adds creative freedom, layout flexibility while retaining the scalability and functionality that Drupal offers. You can design a layout, update the colour theme, building a template all without the need to write CSS, PHP or HTML. This makes the visual building process faster and more impactful. It significantly reduces the time a business needs to manage and update their website. It is a free solution if your hosting solution provider is Acquia.

What Can You Build?

Styles

Acquia Cohesion provides a well-designed UI for users to manage styles that were otherwise needed to be written in code. It provides the user to modify default styles for all types of elements on your website as well as the ability to create custom styles.

For example, setting the default font-size, font-weight of headings, body, links can all be configured by playing with the settings. From the theme colours for your website to the responsive breakpoint settings, they can all be defined in the settings without having to touch the codebase at all.

Want to style custom elements such as a CTA button style? Acquia Cohesion gives you the ability to create custom styles for buttons, links, layouts and many more. You can save the set of styles with a class. Then add the class to the element when entering content or building a layout.

The UI provides a list of properties from font to layout to transitions, once the properties are chosen, users can change/update the value as they desire. It even has the option to choose pseudo-element styles and hover/active states.

If all these properties are not enough, there is an option to add custom CSS properties and CSS value.

Components

If you’ve worked with Drupal before, you know how useful custom block types are. Acquia Cohesion provides a “Components” feature that is similar to custom block types but with more capabilities, more user-friendly, with much less coding.

A component, think of it as like a mini-template, contains the layout, style, functionality and editing ability all in one.

Components can be set up as a fixed content item. Such as a card or a CTA banner. It can then be reused across the site as needed. Components can also be used as a saved set of layout, fields and styles that can be reused with different content. Having the two different options makes managing content on your website clean and efficient, as you only need to create new components when it has completely different layout and styles. When you have components saved, it also saves you time when you build a new component, because you can reuse the saved layouts when building a new component.

If you want to build a component that has a set layout and styles but users can input different content, all you need is to also build a form with the “Component form builder”. The form builder also allows you to create custom styles if, for example, the component you are building requires the choice of different backgrounds. To achieve this without Acquia Cohesion would require custom block type template modifications along with extra fields and styling in the codebase. With Acquia cohesion, all can be achieved with configuration changes.

To style the components, the user can add CSS properties within the elements added to the Layout canvas, as well as utilizing the styles defined in the custom styles.

This approach of component-based design, minimize the time spend redesigning and rebuilding similar components, it also creates a more consistent “look and feels” and user experience throughout the website.

Templates

Working with Drupal means to work with all sorts of template twig files to create the desired custom styles and layout. With Acquia Cohesion, you can do all that in the configuration as well.

Just like setting containers, rows and columns, as well as all types of custom layout in a component, you can build custom templates for different content types, blocks and views. In addition, you can specify different templates for different view modes.

When working with templates, Acquia Cohesion provides easy to use UI for users to drag and drop fields in the layout canvas, then provides a token browser or drop-down lists to connect the fields from the content type.

Preview

Whether you are working with components, templates or styles, Acquia Cohesion provides both the same page preview or preview on another screen if you have multiple monitor setup. This feature reduces the time it takes to perfect the layout and form-building as the user can see exactly what would be the result without having to save, clear cache or wait for styles to be compiled.

Working with Acquia Cohesion

Drupal has always been highly versatile and customizable, but Acquia Cohesion brings some of that to the front and away from the codebase. Here are a few things you can expect from using Acquia Cohesion.

Your team of web developers or the agency you contracted can set up and launch the Drupal site faster. The required level of knowledge or skill set of your developers is relatively lower. These two results in a reduced cost of building the Drupal website.

Your content editors or marketing team will have more flexibility and creative space to experiment with different layout and styles. It will give them more freedom when creating a marketing campaign.

It was a very different experience compared to what we are used to in Drupal.

Who’s it for?

There is no one solution for all, different businesses have different needs when it comes to websites and it is important to find the one for you.

Drupal is one of the most popular open-source CMS. If your business is already running a Drupal website or is considering moving to a Drupal solution, Acquia Cohesion should be something you consider.

If you require your marketing team to assemble new web pages, if your marketing team are non-developers, if you wish your content editors can not only update content but can easily modify the visual aspects of the content, Acquia Cohesion should definitely be on your list of considerations.

If you run marketing campaigns from time to time and need to create special landing pages for the campaigns; If you update product information often and want to have the flexibility to do so with your own content editors; if you want to refresh the design every season, Acquia Cohesion can definitely save you a lot of time.