Learning Drupal: Your Guide to Main Resources

Drupal as a Content Management System (CMS), is known for its versatility and power. Unfortunately, it is also known to have a steep learning curve. The task of mastering the building of a Drupal-powered website can be quite daunting to novice users. The good news is that many online resources are available to help you overcome the learning challenges.

This article is your guide to the main online resources for mastering Drupal. Some resources are generally applicable to any modern Drupal releases, others are specific to Drupal 8 (the most recent release), or Drupal 7.

 

General resources

Acquia Academy

 

 

Acquia is a company specializing in using Drupal to build enterprise websites. Drupal's original creator, Dries Buytaert, currently serves as Acquia's CTO. Acquia Academy is the training division within Acquia. It provides both free and paid training services.

The free training component comprises of videos as well as instructor-led online courses. If you want a quick introduction to Drupal 7 or 8, watch the videos. If you want a more formal course experience with exercises and reading assignments, you can take the online courses.

Drupal learners need a live Drupal website so that they can practice their skills. The Acquia training materials include instructions on how to obtain free trial access to the Acquia Drupal platform. This is a bonus to those learners who are not ready to install and run Drupal on their own machines.

 

Drupalize.me

 

 

Drupalize.me is a paid Drupal training website created in 2010 by Lullabot. After you become a paid member, you will have access to a library of 1,400+ Drupal videos. You can watch the videos in any browser on your desktop or mobile device, but you cannot download them. They don't offer a free trial. However, a small subset of the videos are free for you to sample.

 

BuildAModule

 

 

BuildAModule is another membership-based, paid training service. It has 1,900+ Drupal videos. A very nice feature is that their videos are displayed with a clickable transcript. The transcript makes following and navigating a video much easier.

The introductory chapters in their videos are often free for you to sample. With a paid membership, you can watch, but not download, entire videos on their website.

 

Drupal Answers

 

 

Drupal Answers is a community-based, question-and-answer database for Drupal developers and administrators. The database contains answers to 63,000+ questions. Because of the target audience, the questions are technical in nature, and often involve how to accomplish particular tasks in Drupal. Many technical questions that Drupal beginners ask are answered there.

Drupal Answers is hosted by StackExchange, and sign-up is free.

 

Drupal Forums

 

 

Drupal Forums is the official Drupal.org question-and-answer database. In addition to technical, "how-to" support problems, this forum covers news and announcements about the Drupal community. Sign-up is free.

 

Drupal 8 Links & Resources

 

 

Drupal 8 Links is an aggregator website which collects links to Drupal-8-related resources. It has 120+ links to code examples, blog posts, videos, and podcasts. This is a great resource for Drupal 7 practitioners who want to update their knowledge to Drupal 8.

 

Beginner’s resources

Drupal First Time User Guide

 

 

If you are a first-time Drupal user, this user guide is a great starting point. It is a community-maintained document. So, don't be surprised that this document is written with varying levels of details on a variety of topics. Some topics are substantiated with original text while others are links to external webpages.

You will find well-formed opinions from people who had done it and are now contributing back their experience in the form of best practices. For instance, you will find publishing workflow suggestions as well as a list of which contributed modules to learn.

 

Drupal Installation Profile and Distributions

 

 

Drupal beginners are often confused about which contributed modules to use and how to configure them to implement a particular type of service, e.g., e-commerce. The good news is that you can download pre-packaged Drupal distributions that are tailored for some common services. This article provides details on how to create installation profiles and distributions for Drupal 7. Although beginners may not need to package their own distributions at the early stage of learning, you will find the overview useful, especially the link to existing distributions that you can install and try out.

 

Exploring Themes in Drupal 8

This article explains how to create a starter theme in Drupal 8. It begins with an overview of starter themes and learnes you to work with libraries.

 

Site builders' resources

What is a Drupal Site Builder?

 

 

This podcast explains the basic roles in Drupal development, namely, site builders, front-end developers, and back-end developers. It also explores the basic skill requirements for each role. If you are new to Drupal development, this will help you plan your career path.

 

Basic Site Building Concepts

Before you actually start developing a Drupal website, it is highly recommended that you read this article to get familiar with the concepts and terminology of Drupal. This article is especially helpful if you have some previous background in WordPress. You already know about modules, pages, and posts. But, with Drupal, you need to learn some new concepts such as nodes, content types, blocks, views, hooks, and articles.

 

How to Build a Website with Drupal

This article does not teach you how to create contents for your Drupal website. Instead, it focuses on how you should do the initial setup and configuration. For example, you will learn how to customize the title and slogan for your website, change the theme, and import basic contributed modules. This article was written for Drupal 7.

 

Developers' resources

Drupal API Reference

Drupal is highly extensible. You can use the Drupal API to customize its most minute behavior.
All Drupal developers should bookmark the official API documentation portal. The documentation there is generated directly from the comments embedded in the source code. It is the most up-to-date and accurate source of information about the Drupal API.

 

What is a Drupal Developer?

 

 

This article is a perfect, written companion to the aforementioned podcast "What is a Drupal Site Builder?" It discusses the 3 main roles in Drupal development (site builders, front-end developers, and back-end developers), and the corresponding skill sets required. In addition, it introduces the non-development roles which you will see in a large Drupal project. Examples are system administrators, testers(QA), project managers, and user-experience (UX) designers. Toward the bottom of the article, you will find some good advice on growing your Drupal career.

 

Become a Drupal Developer

This article is best described as a lesson plan on how to become a Drupal developer. You will find links to video tutorials on Drupalize.me.  Note that only some of the videos are free.

The emphasis is on back-end PHP development. Drupal 7 information is presented in the beginning of the article; Drupal 8, near the end.

The plan to become a Drupal developer includes the learning of PHP coding fundamentals as well as the Drupal APIs. Also, it advocates the learning of tools to increase productivity and promote teamwork. The tools include git, Drush, and Composer.

 

Guide to Theming in Drupal

This guide is your launchpad for learning how to change the theme of a Drupal 7 (or 8) website. It contains links to both Drupal.org as well as third-party resources. The guide is community-maintained.

 

Introduction to Drupal 8 Configuration Management

This article first explains what configuration management (CM) means with respect to a Drupal website. Then, it expounds on the changes introduced by Drupal 8 to CM. You will find the CM video embedded in the article very useful.

 

Custom training resources

Private training is available if you want a training program that is customized to your specific Drupal needs and requirements. Vardot is an Acquia Training Partner which delivers customized professional training.