"If I Only Knew" - 7 Simple Tips to Improve Your Drupal Skills

5 minutes—That’s all it took to find, enable, and configure a module that ultimately replaced the 40+ hours of custom work I just completed. And this was not an isolated incident within my 3 years of using Drupal. I still find myself reinventing the wheel versus using the ‘one thing’ (module/theme/patch/strategy) that’s already exists.

The art, of course, is knowing where that ‘one thing’ is amidst ALL the Drupal information out there. Even some of the top contributors bemoan how difficult to stay on top of it all.

My advice: Don’t give up! You don’t need to know everything to be effective. There are some very simple ways to grow bigger ears and stay generally informed without requiring a full time job’s worth of effort. Here are 7 simple tips to quickly improve your Drupal knowledge.

1. Follow Drupal Planet

Drupal Planet aggregates content from over 400 different Drupal related blogs and news outlets. Not only is this super convenient, but it gives you the ability to see a cross section of the entire community.

2. Get a Drupal Account

Do you know that less than 1% of all Drupal users actually have a drupal.org account? If you’re in this boat, you’re missing out on the ability to:

I wish I had done this from day 1. I’ve gained a lot of wisdom as well as helped the community in lots of little ways.

3. Join a Drupal Group

If you are passionate about a given topic (SEO, geolocation, HTML5, etc.), join their groups! You’ll be in the loop and can even help direct the conversation by adding your input.

4. Go to a meetup

Meetups are a great way to interact with other Drupal enthusiasts in your area. You can make some friends, get tips, ask questions with more seasoned members of the community, etc. In my very first meeting, I learned about several modules and strategies that I used the very next day. It’s an amazingly useful resource.

5. Join IRC

Sometimes the fastest way to find an answer is to just ask a simple question. If you can’t find it on google, there are no less than 400 people in the #drupal channel of IRC who might know the answer. Many will actively answer questions and otherwise converse about any topic germane to Drupal.

6. Get their books

Online Drupal documentation is great, but I find it far too fragmented. Thankfully, their are entire collections of ebooks that cover just about every major Drupal topic available. I use them for both step-by-step examples, sample code, reference, and general knowledge of a given topic.

7. Listen to podcasts and screencasts

Companies like Lullabot produce a series of extremely useful podcasts, featuring interviews with top Drupal contributors. Companies like Commerce Guys produce screencasts to walk you through the beginning, intermediate, and advanced level details of setting up a store.

Your Advice?

Do you have a favorite tip? Leave a comment and I’ll add to the list.

Tags: Drupal, Drupal Planet
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