Kickstarting Your Drupal Journey: 12 Essential Resources for Beginners
What is Drupal?
Much like a prism which reveals different colours depending on the angle of light that strikes it, Drupal offers a rich array of functionalities, showcasing itself differently according to individual user needs and perspectives in the CMS landscape. To some, it appears as a platform to build websites; to others, it takes the form of a versatile CMS Framework to build digital experiences. Some view it as the central component of a Digital Experience Platform, while others see it as a Digital Experience Platform itself. Drupal's adaptability, like the varied colours emanating from a prism, underscores its versatility in serving diverse roles and meeting distinct user needs within the CMS domain.
According to Drupal.org, Drupal is
"a free and open-source content-management framework that can be customized and is suited for developing simple websites or complex web applications."
Drupal's utility extends beyond traditional web content management. It stands as a potent platform designed to foster unique digital experiences. This shift in vision from being a tool for "ambitious digital experiences" to serving "ambitious site builders" not only broadens its horizon but reinforces its commitment to cultivating an open web that is accessible to all. Moreover, its fully composable architecture builds upon a robust foundation, amplifying builders' potential by offering a grand repository of over 10,000 extensions and integrations.
Prominent organizations worldwide, including Pfizer, and The Weather Company, prestigious universities like Stanford and Penn State, governments such as the USA, Australia, and India, and international organizations like the UN and the World Bank, place their trust in Drupal. Its proven capabilities make it a reliable choice for diverse and demanding projects.
The Drupal Community
The Drupal community is renowned as one of the largest and most vibrant free software communities, celebrated for its democratic approach and commitment to inclusivity. At the heart of this community are principles rooted in free and open source. The Drupal community hosts two flagship DrupalCons, held annually, accompanied by many Drupal camps and other events designed to nurture connections and collaboration within the Drupal ecosystem.
For many, their first introduction to Drupal occurs when they engage with the software. As with any extensive software, Drupal comes with its share of complexities. Fortunately, the Drupal community is exceptionally hospitable, providing abundant mentorship opportunities to guide newcomers through these intricacies and help them embark on their Drupal journey.
The Learning Curve
Unlike other popular CMSs, learning Drupal can be a steep hill that is hard to climb. For beginners, it can seem overwhelming initially due to its expansive codebase and thousands of contributed modules. However, the learning process becomes much more manageable with the right resources.
As developers, individuals will constantly encounter learning curves as they innovate their way from project to project. Laura Haskell has an interesting take on the Drupal learning curve: Surviving the Drupal learning curve.
12 Resources to Learn Drupal
In this article, we have curated 12 resources to jump-start your Drupal journey. While the Drupal ecosystem boasts a wealth of learning materials and references, newcomers often find it challenging to get on the right track for learning. These resources encompass various aspects of Drupal, from web fundamentals to sources where you can find additional resources to continue your Drupal journey.
1. Getting Started With the Web
2. Drupal User Guide
Drupal User Guide is your inaugural step in the journey of mastering Drupal. It serves as your launchpad, encompassing the entire spectrum from fundamentals of content management to Drupal installation and the core concepts that underpin it all. It even includes a session on how to initiate engagement with the Drupal community.
3. PHP for Beginners
PHP is the powerhouse behind Drupal. Initially developed by Rasmus Lerdorf to preprocess webpage templates, PHP has transformed over the years, evolving from a template preprocessor into a fully-fledged modern programming language. The most recent iterations of PHP encompass all the essential features expected of a modern programming language.
Drupal also uses Symfony components and object-oriented design patterns to standardize the system. Now, any developers familiar with modern web development practices find themselves at home when they start Drupal development.
Those who have questions on modern PHP should watch this presentation by Rasmus Lerdorf on the occasion of the 25th year of PHP, where he talks about PHP's history and roadmap. The excellent tutorial by Jeffrey Way on Laracast gives you the necessary background to start with PHP.
4. Drupal - the Right Way
Programs are meant to be read by humans and only incidentally for computers to execute.
― Donald Knuth
To start with Drupal development, adhering to its coding standards is important. Drupal's coding standards guideline serves as a blueprint for developers to maintain a high standard of code quality and consistency across Drupal projects. These guidelines encapsulate best practices that encourage clean, readable, and maintainable code, fostering a collaborative development environment.
5. Drupal at Your Fingertips
A haven for those who start coding in Drupal, this resource presents a repository of helpful code snippets. Whenever you encounter challenges or need solutions to specific problems during your Drupal journey, refer to this guide for practical coding tips.
6. Examples Module
For aspiring Drupal programmers, having the Examples module readily available is a smart decision. This module effectively demonstrates the Drupal framework using functional examples, addressing key areas such as Event Subscriber, Form API, and Services. It offers an efficient and hands-on approach to learning.
7. Drupal API Reference
Understanding and absorbing well-written code is a fundamental step in becoming proficient at writing good code yourself. The Drupal code base is a rich repository for this, offering a firsthand look at high-quality coding in action. Beginners can delve into this extensive resource through the Drupal API reference, which furnishes detailed documentation of Drupal core systems, including explanations of various functions and references to their implementation in Drupal, thereby providing a substantial foundation for learning.
To enhance your understanding, consider watching this insightful presentation on the Drupal render pipeline by Wim Leers. Although it revolves around Drupal 8, it still offers valuable pointers on where to find pertinent information in the most recent Drupal versions. Change Logs are also a good place to watch to get updated on what is happening in the Drupal codebase.
8. DrupalCon Sessions
The DrupalCon sessions, held twice a year, are a rich source of learning and catching up with the latest in the Drupal world. Watching the latest Driesnotes (sessions by Dries Butyaert, the Drupal Project leader) can give you insights into the current trends and the roadmap for Drupal.
9. Drupal TV
Drupal TV serves as a rich reservoir of curated videos from a multitude of Drupal events. It stands as an exceptional resource for learners, offering curated video collections that enable a more profound and diverse understanding of Drupal.
10. Drupal Planet
Drupal Planet is a dynamic hub where you can explore blogs centred around Drupal. Whether you're seeking insights into others' Drupal endeavours, in search of tutorials, or hungry for tips, this platform offers an immersive experience within the Drupal ecosystem, fostering efficient learning.
11. Drupal Q & A
Engage with the Drupal community through Drupal Slack in the #support channel and other relevant channels. You can observe ongoing discussions and even ask your questions. Platforms like Drupal Answers and the issue queues of Drupal and its modules are great places to find solutions to your queries.
12. Be Part of the Drupal Community
Begin your Drupal journey by becoming a part of the expansive Drupal Community. This warm and inclusive space hosts diverse activities and events, offering ample opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals.
The list of resources does not end here. Here are some more for your Drupal Learning Journey.
- DrupalShip is a resource-rich library brimming with a diverse array of tutorials and guides aimed at enhancing your Drupal capabilities. Whether you are a novice or at an intermediate level, this platform has something for you.
- PHP The Right Way is another essential destination to find resources on modern PHP, object-oriented programming, and security.
- Acquia Drupal Certification Study Guides are rich resources for those focused on a specific area of Drupal and aiming to get certified with Acquia. The Acquia Academy also offers a community section with free Drupal courses for learners.
- Drupalize Me is a comprehensive repository of Drupal training materials, offering an expansive and varied set of resources designed to cater to all learning levels.
- Talking Drupal podcast emerges as a key resource, providing insights and discussions on Drupal from seasoned experts in the field.
- Drupal Global Training Day - Check out the upcoming Drupal Training Day in your location.
Professional Training on Drupal
There are many organizations that provide professional training on Drupal. The following organizations stand out with their expertise and contribution to the community.
- DrupalizeMe: Drupalize Me has a vast repository of training materials and guides. This is the go-to place for anyone who wishes to learn Drupal by themself professionally.
- Acquia: Acquia offers professional training and certification on Drupal. Acquia certification is considered to be the de facto standard in Drupal certifications.
- DrupalEasy Academy: DrupalEasy Academy offers instructor-led professional training programs on Drupal for individuals and groups.
- Debug Academy: Debug Academy offers professional skill development programs on Web and Drupal.
- Evolving Web: Evolving Web offers professional Drupal training for individuals and groups.
On Asking Questions
Understanding Free Software
Drupal is rooted in the philosophy of free software. To understand this philosophy better, explore these articles:
Bookmark this page and begin your exploration into the world of Drupal. While the path ahead may appear challenging, remember the sage words of Yoda, "There is no try." Dedicate yourself to the effort, and you're well on your way to becoming a Drupal Jedi.
Note: The vision of this web portal is to help promote news and stories around the Drupal community and promote and celebrate the people and organizations in the community. We strive to create and distribute our content based on these content policy. If you see any omission/variation on this please let us know in the comments below and we will try to address the issue as best we can.