Becoming a Drupal Rockstar
“We found that Drupal offers more tools and does so faster.”
– Neal Sample, CTO of open commerce at eBay, speaking to Wired
Drupal has gained popularity as the open source CMS for enterprise, powering sites for clients from Twitter to the White House. With its large and highly interactive developer community, it’s a hot bed of lead user innovation.
This has lead to a unique problem—developers have too many job offers. As Drupal founder Dries Buytaert says, “the demand for Drupal talent exceeds the supply … most of the Drupal developers I know are maxed out.” This makes it a great time to learn Drupal.
Skilling up in Drupal
The Drupal skills that are most in demand are site building, theming, and module development, and there are a ton of resources available here on Safari Books Online to get started in all three of those roles.
Site builders piece sites together by downloading and configuring modules (which are called plugins in other systems). This requires getting to know the most popular modules on Drupal.org, as well as hidden gems, and a knack for experimentation. The book Using Drupal (Drupal 7 version available as a Rough Cut) walks you through your first site building projects, and the new Drupal User’s Guide provides a lot of the extra know-how about site planning and information architecture that site builders need.
Module developers create new kinds of functionality for site builders to play with, making heavy use of PHP and Drupal’s native APIs, as well as integrating with 3rd party APIs. Drupal 7 Module Development gives you tips on how to use those APIs from some of the people who wrote them. Pro Drupal Development, for years the bible of Drupal developers, also has a Drupal 7 version available.
Get paid to level up with Acquia U
The demand for good Drupal talent is so high that one company, Acquia, is actually paying recent and imminent college grads to get trained. The company, started by Drupal’s founder, partners with Drupal companies to provide enterprise support, but many of those companies are strapped to find Drupal developers. So Acquia decided to step in and infuse the developer market with new talent.
Acquia U gives you 6 weeks of paid training and then three 6 week paid rotations through their technical teams. Applications are being accepted now for the program.
Increasing your Drupal scorecard
While there is no certification program for Drupal, the community has its own informal metric in the form of Certified to Rock, which tries to calculate community involvement for the top 24,000 Drupal contributors. The site’s creators make clear that the way to increase your CTR score is simple: get more involved in contributing to Drupal. But besides just uping your CTR score, community involvement also increases your visibility and value to potential employers.
One great way to increase your rockstar quotient is to get involved in core development. A good place to start is Drupal 8’s core initiatives. These initiatives provide signposts as to where Drupal is heading over the next few years and they also help new contributors find relevant issues. Let’s take a look at these initiatives to see which areas of Drupal are the best fit for you.
With a billion-plus phones sold per year, the Web dev community is readjusting their sights (and sites) to focus on mobile, which is why the Mobile Initiative is making Drupal 8 a first-class mobile platform. This initiative, led by Drupal 7 Module Development co-author John Albin Wilkins, is perfect for those who “geek out” about touch screen interaction and responsive design.
HTML5 and Design Initiatives
The HTML5 initiative is rewriting Drupal’s templates to take advantage of the new HTML tags, such as <article> and <time>, and new form elements and input types. Lead by Jacine Luisi, co-author of the Definitive Guide to Drupal 7, the initiative is a great way to get involved if you have a passion for markup. If you’re into design and theming but don’t care as much about the ins and outs of the ever changing HTML5 specification, there is the Design Initiative.
Web Services and Configuration Management initiatives
The Web Services and Configuration Management initiatives, lead by Drupal 7 Module Development co-authors Larry Garfield and Greg Dunlap respectively, are both great places for hard-core PHP backend ninjas to dig in. Web Services aims to make Drupal an effective REST server. Configuration Management is working on making configuration easier to revision, so that it can be rolled back easily, and it is easier to deploy to multiple servers.
The Multilingual Initiative continues Drupal 6’s emphasis on internationalization, making Drupal the best solution not just for English language sites but also for the 100+ languages into which the community is translating Drupal.
Find out more information about all initiatives and become a Drupal core developer. With the help of Safari Books Online and the sites mentioned in this post you will be well on your way to gaining the skills you need to become a Drupal developer.
If you’re ready to take the next step, look for some upcoming Drupal tips from Lin Clark.
Safari Books Online has the content you need
You’ll find a lot of good Drupal resources on Safari Books Online. Here are a few to get you started.
|With the recipes in Using Drupal, you’ll take full advantage of the vast collection of community-contributed modules that make the Drupal web framework useful and unique.|
|Drupal User’s Guide shows how to use Drupal 7’s newest improvements to build more modern, manageable sites for any business or organization. Hogbin covers crucial topics other Drupal books ignore, including search engine optimization and accessibility.|
|Front End Drupal is 100% focused on issues of site design, behavior, usability, and management. The authors show how to style Drupal sites, make the most of Drupal’s powerful templating system, build sophisticated community sites, streamline site management, and build more portable, flexible themes.|
|The Definitive Guide to Drupal 7 is the most comprehensive book for getting sites done using the powerful and extensible Drupal content management system. Written by a panel of expert authors, the book covers every aspect of Drupal, from planning a successful project all the way up to making a living from designing Drupal sites and to contributing to the Drupal community yourself.|
|In Drupal 7 Module development , six professional Drupal developers use a practical, example-based approach to introduce PHP developers to the powerful new Drupal 7 tools, APIs, and strategies for writing custom Drupal code.|
|Pro Drupal 7 Development updates the most popular development reference for the newest major release of Drupal. With several new and completely-rewritten essential APIs and improvements in Drupal 7, this book will not only teach developers how to write modules ranging from simple to complex, as well as learn how Drupal itself works.|
About this author
|Lin Clark is a Drupal developer specializing in Linked Data. She contributed to the RDF in Drupal 7 core initiative, created SPARQL Views as part of the 2010 Google Summer of Code, and has spoken extensively about the benefits of using Linked Data technologies in everyday applications. She attended Carnegie Mellon University and is currently pursuing a research Master’s at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI Galway. More information is available at lin-clark.com.|