the drupal ladder

The Drupal Ladder is an excellent resource to help you improve your Drupal skills.  While it’s Drupal’s goal with this program to generate developers who can become fine developers down the road (and aspire to the elite and eventually contribute to the community), you have to start from the beginning and climb the ladder.

I started at the bottom and worked (NO – actually I am working) my way up.

First, you have to register at http://drupalladder.org/user/register.  After the usual exchange of emails, you are given a profile that monitors your progress. If you click around, you will find many informative links, lessons and forums.

But Where to Start?

I started at the bottom and worked (actually, I am working) my way up. I’m putting this list from bottom to top just so it’s not too confusing for readers.

  • The bottom: Introduction to Drupal
  • Install Drupal locally
  • Install Git
  • Getting started in the issue queue
  • Test patches
  • Write a patch
  • Re-roll patches to apply cleanly to the latest version of Drupal
  • Find a core system that interest you and learn about it
  • Create or Join an issue team to work on an issue in the queue
  • Work on a core issue
  • Write tests
  • The top: Review and revise patches

I really like the way they have structured the site. It is very well organized with a strong “crawl before you walk” approach. I completed the first four rungs in relatively short order. I didn‘t have a chance to thoroughly go through the Drupal 8 installation, but I am looking forward to that and I think it might be a subject for a later blog. 

Letting my eyes wander the rungs that are further up, I am going to have to revisit and improve my PHP skills. I’ll have to focus more on the Drupal API for sure. But for now, baby steps, as my mother used to say. There are multitudes of resources on all these subjects on the internet, so go Google-crazy.

Remember that the focus of this Ladder is to develop the particular skills required to give back – to contribute code back to the Drupal Community.

Learning and Working With Others 

The Drupal Ladder seems to go beyond self-study and requires the developer to participate and contribute at the more experienced levels. I think I’m going to join a few of these sprints and see what’s happening. It feels a lot less intimidating joining in here.

Learn sprints are about one hour long: “People identify where they are on the Drupal Contribution Ladder, then they pair up to work through taking the next step on the ladder by following the exercises in the linked lessons.” You can learn more about learn sprints after you register.

Issue sprints are about two hours long and the group is assigned work to solve actual programs in the Drupal issue queues. While I am not personally there yet, I do see a way ahead. I, for one, would like to solve an issue and pay back, as opposed to asking, asking and – yes – still asking for help. 

Giving Back

The very foundation of the open source movement relies on that full-circle approach where developers hone their skills to give back. The whole ladder approach is not new, but it has been proven many times before with great success. I think Drupal is using it as a means to mentor and facilitate the development of their future geeks.