I consider myself extremely fortunate to have landed on Drupal so early in my web development learning journey. Drupal was a technology I was able to start using very early without any programming skills and still was able to create real, working websites for myself and others. It’s still a technology I encourage generally tech-phobic people to try since it can be extremely empowering to build and customize your own site, instead being forced to hire out the entire web application build process to an external company or programmer.
A few days ago, I gave a presentation on Introduction to Open Source, Web Development with Drupal, which I embedded the full presentation below and will hopefully post the video soon.
The presentation itself covered quite a few general introduction points (what is a CMS, Drupal vs. WordPress, and Drupal as a “Site Builder CMS”), but mainly I wanted to show the attendees that you can actually build stuff without knowing how to code, so I did a live demo creating a members directory for the co-working space where the event was hosted. Live demos are tough sometimes, but this one went quite well. I was able to cover what I consider the two keys to using Drupal: adding fields and managing data display by using Views.
While I mentioned it during the presentation, one of the points I don’t think I covered fully enough was how I went from basically knowing very little about programming and web development to running my own Drupal web shop. Just a few years ago, I was basically a novice to Drupal and web technologies in general, but through curiosity and a few “failed” projects, I was able to learn an amazing amount about Drupal, site building, information architecture, project management and slow-but-surely php module development.
When someone asked during the question and answer part at the end, “How do you recommend learning Drupal?,” my answer gave two suggestions: First, I suggested that the best way to learn is to have a project or something you want to build and then try to build it with Drupal. This advice is valid for any new technology you want to learn. It’s tough to learn something without having a clear situation where you’ll use it. Second, I provided a few decent resources for learning Drupal, including Lynda.com’s Drupal 7 video series, Drupalize.me and the book “Understanding Drupal.” I also praised how helpful and kind the Drupal community can be towards newbies.
In this post about Drupal (which I normally blog about here), I’d like to discuss how I came to become a web developer and site builder. It’s the tale of a couple “failed” businesses and my effort, in spite the setbacks, to “build it myself” using open source technologies. Finally it’s a bit of a “love story” in how I came to embrase Drupal and develop a business around this open source, site builders CMS.