The best way to learn Drupal

By shane
Mon, 2012-04-30 10:10
13 comments

I often get asked what is the best way to go about learning Drupal or the best way to get started with website development. Because of these questions, I decided to put together a list of things I wish I would have done first, when I started to teach myself Drupal.

Learning Drupal Tip #1 - Getting Started

The first step to getting started with Drupal is to first figure out where you are at. If you are a web developer transitioning from another CMS or system like Wordpress, Joomla, etc, you will probably need to start in a different place than someone completely new to the subject.

You also need to do a little self reflection and figure out how you learn best. There are many methods to learning Drupal, and you will need to figure out what works best for you. This may be in the form of reading books, watching videos, or through trial and error (which is probably the way to learn the quickest).

Learning Drupal Tip #2 - Drupal.org

No matter how you decide you want to learn Drupal, you should definitely start with setting up an account on http://drupal.org. There are many pages on Drupal.org that will help you get started. The Drupal documentation page is a good starting point.

You may also want to look into IRC or the Drupal forums as a possibility to get quick support if you get stuck on something. Sometimes it is good to know you are not fighting the Drupal learning curve alone.

Learing Drupal Tip #3 - Videos

If learning by watching is your preferred learning method, here are some links that you may want to look into.

  • Daily Dose of Drupal - This is a self promotion for my Daily Dose of Drupal videos. I record a Drupal related video based on a variety of Drupal topics every weekday and post it here.
  • Drupalize.me - This is a great starting point for learning Drupal. I was a subscriber in the past and Lullabot puts together some well produced videos to help you get started in all aspects of Drupal website development.
  • Learn By The Drop - This is another place with some good videos for learning Drupal. They have a good free video series, as well as a video on installing Drupal 7.
  • Mustardseed Media Podcast - I was an avid viewer of the Mustardseed Media Podcast when I first started learning Drupal. The videos really provide an in depth look at various modules you can use to help you in developing Drupal websites.
  • BuildAModule - I have had employees use BuildAModule in the past and they learned a lot. BuildAModule provides thorough videos for anyone just getting started with Drupal.
  • Youtube - It also never hurts to look around Youtube for videos on Drupal.

Learning Drupal Tip #4 - Books

I have read my fair share of Drupal books, or at least large parts of quite a few. However, most of the Drupal books I have read were for Drupal 6. I have listed some Drupal books that I liked, as well as some Drupal 7 books that I would likely purchase if I was to learn Drupal all over again.

  • Using Drupal - A great reference for those just getting started as well as experienced developers who want to brush up on their skills. Focuses mainly on building Drupal through the admin interface without the need to dive into the code.
  • Drupal's Building Blocks - Book is focused more on Drupal 6, but covers the concepts of CCK, Views, and Panels
  • Pro Drupal Development - Although I have not read this book, I have read some of the Drupal 6 version. If you are looking to build modules/themes in Drupal, this will be a great resource.

Learning Drupal Tip #5 - Drupal Websites or Blogs

Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or whatever your search engine of choice may be, will definitely aid you in your Drupal learning curve. There are many blogs and websites like CodeKarate that are here to help.

You may also consider checking out my posts on best Drupal 7 modules or becoming a better Drupal developer.

Learning Drupal Tip #6 - Make your own path

Truth is, there is no "right way" to learn Drupal. There is only "your way" or the way that will work best for you. If you have questions, don't be afraid to ask for help using some of the methods above. Also, feel free to drop questions in the comments below or contact me.

Generally Drupal developers enjoy helping out when they can. One thing to keep in mind is to make sure you do adequate research about your question beforehand if you want a Drupal developer to spend the time to help you.

I know I did not hit on everything, so if you are an experienced Drupal developer, let me know what I am missing in the comments below.

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Comments

Steve -

If you are brand new to Drupal, but comfortable with programming languages, the absolute best way to start developing is to get a local host set up (either using MAMP, WAMP, or LAMP depending on your operating system) and just get a Drupal package installed. Once you've gotten to a place where you might want to share that project, then you can look into hosting options like MediaTemple, Rackspace, or many of the other good options!

Hope that helps!

-----------------

Marcus
mburnette.com | @marcusdburnette

It was not supposed to a be a secret, just forgot to put the heading in there. Thanks for the catch.

I agree contributing to Drupal whether it be to contributed projects, core, documentation, etc, is a great way to learn.

NodeOne is usually the first site I mention! Johan is my hero!

Yes ! Johan Falk makes an awesome job in publishing a ton of videos for NodeOne and the community. He also wrote a great book called "Drupal 7 the essential", just perfect to learn drupal.

One small self-promotional push for http://OSTraining.com as a resource for Drupal videos.

We've done 100s of live Drupal classes and have converted that into online Beginner and Intermediate classes and 100s of written tutorials.

Classes on Display Suite, Organic Groups and Simple News coming are this month.

Outside of the shamless plug:

Emma Jane: http://designtotheme.com Her books, courses and e-books are great design resources.

Tom Geller: we tested a lot of books with students and his Visual Quickstart Guide got the best feedback from newbies: http://www.amazon.com/Drupal-7-Visual-QuickStart-Guide/dp/0321619218

For anyone that's more of a designer than developer, be sure to check out ModuleNotes.com (yep, I'm shamelessly plugging my own project too!)

Drupal can be tough to learn for us non-devs, so I wanted to make it as simple as possible for designers to overcome the steep learning curve.

The aim is to build a site that has simple descriptions, tutorials, demos, and screencasts and create the ultimate module resource for the "code challenged" like myself :)

I am not code-challenged at all.
I am familiar with PERL, PHP, mySql, Javascript, Jquery...

The easiest way for me to learn a system is to simply start using it. What would be the best way to set up a Drupal dev environment and begin developing?
I can purchase a domain and host it at a Drupal ready host such as Site Ground.

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