The best way to learn Drupal
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.
- Drupal Therapy - Another site with some good quality screencasts
- Youtube - It also never hurts to look around Youtube for videos on Drupal.
- Sign up for the CodeKarate newsletter or subscribe to my RSS feed. I plan on adding some Drupal videos in the near future.
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.
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.
Tips from the comments
- Contributing to Drupal - If you know how to code you could consider contributing to existing projects. You can also contribute directly to Drupal core. If you are the type that is great at explaining how things work, you can always contribute documentation. There are many ways to get involved and doing so will help you climb the Drupal learning curve even faster.
- NodeOne.se Video Lessons
- Design to theme
- Drupal 7: Visual QuickStart Guide