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Advice for New Drupal Developers

With over a million sites running on Drupal, it’s more popular than ever. And  lately, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of developers new to Drupal. When I was new to Drupal, I was sort of thrown into the deep end, and it was sink or swim. Through hard work and dedication, I was able to swim, but here is the advice that I wish someone had given me when I was new to Drupal.

1. Go to through the introduction on Drupal.org/documentation.

Really, this is where you should have started before reading this. There are plenty of other self paced resources out there, the paid for ones definitely worth your investment in the long run.

2. Subscribe to the Weekly Drop

This Everyone who is anyone in Drupal at least skims the Drop every Thursday morning. It provides a lot of great sources for Drupal information. And getting published here is a great honor for those of us in the industry.

3. Attend a local meetup.

I didn’t go to my first one until I had worked with Drupal for almost a year. With 17,000 modules on Drupal.org and counting, there is no way anyone is going to be able to learn all the tips and tricks on their own. Learning from others is what open source is all about! This is where you can talk to folks one-on-one who work in Drupal every day. Most meetups are scheduled through meetup.org and held monthly. If you don’t have one near you, consider starting one! The next step after meetups is attending a regional camp. Ticket prices for these a pretty modest compared to the major Cons if not free altogether, but you definitely want to register for your local camp early before tickets run out.

4. Hang out on IRC.

At any given time there are hundreds of developers just hanging out on IRC in the #drupal and other channels. Just be aware, these developers are all working on their own projects, so if you ask a question here, you may not get a response immediately, so be patient, and come prepared. The secret to getting prompt answers from developers is byasking smart questions. A good question shows that you have done enough footwork to build a basic understanding of the problem, but that you just need some more specialized expertise to fill in the gaps.

5. Create an account on Drupal.org

Bring involved in the various discussions on Drupal.org will greatly boost your own chances of being a successful developer. Don’t wait on creating one!

6. DON’T GO TO A CODE SPRINT EXPECTING FREE TRAINING!

The community tries to be helpful for new developers, but code sprints are where core contributors are working on the next big release of Drupal. If you are looking for advice, or a primer on Drupal, go to a meetup, or ask on IRC instead. Asking developers to stop working on Drupal core to teach you the basics just is not what sprints are meant for.

7. Learn git.

Drupal itself, and all module projects are managed via git. And it’s a great tool for managing your own projects. Git is like drinking beer or doing squats, the more you use it, the more you like it. And there is so much documentation out there on git, so jump in!

8. Install drush.

Drush is the command line tool for Drupal. If you are unfamiliar with the command line, don’t worry, it will become easier over time. Just don’t fight using drush though. It allows you to do just about anything in Drupal with a few short commands.

9. Become a Drupal Association member.

Not only can you get a cool hat, you can get big discounts on Drupal training and other stuff. Which is just the kind of thing a new developer should be pursuing. You also get asweet badge on your drupal.org profile.

Follow these 9 steps and you should be well on your way. If however you have some questions along the way, I’d be happy to do my best in answering them. 

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