What is the best way to learn Drupal?

Drupal is like a living, breathing organism, and the software grows and changes in small ways every several months. That being said, the CMS is surprisingly easy to learn.

Drupal is one of the most popular open-source content management systems used by web developers today. It’s often touted as the enterprise CMS of choice and is popular among businesses and organizations of all sizes.

But one common concern we hear is the level of difficulty that new Drupal users fear.

In actual fact, the logic Drupal uses is one of the simplest and most straight-forward in CMS web development. There’s really no reason to be concerned.

It might be a CMS heavyweight, but Drupal isn’t actually difficult to learn.

Let’s take a deeper look into this common concern, and explore what’s different about Drupal.

How do I learn to use Drupal?

By far, the best way to learn anything is by building experience.

Drupal is like a living, breathing organism, and the software grows and changes in small ways every several months. The Drupal that is available today is a very different piece of software than it was several years ago.

You’re probably best placed to enter into Drupal with some prior background knowledge or experience in web development first, preferably in PHP.

Since Drupal 8 has now been re-written and makes use of the popular Symfony framework, developers with previous experience with Symfony and Twig are likely to find learning Drupal 8 development a lot smoother. But either way, the differences are easy to pick up with a brief look at the codebase.

Drupal is indeed a heavy and powerful piece of software, and therefore might not be the best first-time resource for novices or those new to the web development field. To become proficient in backend Drupal development, you’ll benefit greatly from a general experience of front and backend web development first.

That being said, the CMS makes it admittedly easy to learn its workings for those not already accustomed to Drupal and the way it handles information.

As long as you have a background in general website administration and web development, you shouldn’t find it too taxing to get to grips with.

For further education, there are plentiful guides, YouTube tutorials, books and similar resources available online. By far, though, is the knowledge and experience the Drupal community is able to provide, to help usher along your learning of the CMS.

Drupal’s StackExchange forum is a great place to find help and seek advice in any area of Drupal site building and development, with hundreds of keen developers frequently assisting their colleagues and peers.

However, the best insight of all is definitely Drupal’s official website, which is home to a community of millions of seasoned developers and Drupal enthusiasts from around the globe.

Drupal.org provides an abundance of well-written documentation and guidance, offered by none less than Drupal’s official team as well as contributors to the Drupal project and all of its contributed extensions, such as its prolific catalog of free, open-source modules.

The informative articles provided by the Drupal community are a brilliant place to start, especially if you are just breaking into Drupal development — or working with the CMS in any capacity, mind you.

One useful tip is to set up a development environment where you can experiment with the CMS. This limits your learning process to a ‘safe space’ (also known as a sandbox), instead of using a live website or production environment to learn.

Practice is key, and with Drupal, you’re soon bound to get the hang of it.

In many ways, Drupal shares the same methodology across all areas of the CMS, in how it works and the logic it uses. This is definitely a bonus to fledgling Drupal enthusiasts.

Once you become familiar with this, it won’t be long until you have built a solid rapport with the software, and Drupal’s extended capabilities and strengths will become gradually apparent.

Practicing using a development environment can be even more productive if you opt to create a sample website using Drupal, perhaps using dummy content to perform tests and experiment with making customizations.

There are multiple job roles associated with maintaining a Drupal website. Some typical examples are:

  • Content managers
  • Site builders
  • Website administrators, and
  • Drupal developers

An easy way to spin up a Drupal site with demo or dummy content is to invest in a premium Drupal theme, which comes pre-packaged with sample nodes and a variety of page types.

Our Drupal themes, for example, also ship with comprehensive documentation files to guide even beginners with using and customizing Drupal, and detailed steps on how to modify and extend your Drupal site.

Overall, there are many ways to learn Drupal. It isn’t nearly as daunting to learn as some have made out, and there are a huge amount of educational resources available for beginners online.

Once you get to grips with the logic Drupal uses, it will be fairly easy to understand all areas of the CMS.

In fact, we bet it won’t be long before Drupal becomes second nature to you. You’ll find yourself wondering what you ever did without it.