Returning To The Drupal Way
After three and a bit very successful and fun years with my previous company, last week I changed jobs. Quite a big deal in anyone's life, and even more so for me as it meant the end of a 2 hour car/train/tube commute each way to the office was being replaced by a 20-30 minute car journey (traffic willing).
Despite the fact in my previous job my job title was "Drupal Technical Lead", I hadn't done any what you would call "proper Drupal" for almost a year. From February 2013 I was in charge of support for a custom built enterprise system built in Drupal 6 with enormous amounts (100 modules) of custom code - very much Drupal as a framework rather than Drupal as a CMS. Couple with this the fact that it was D6 and not D7 and my skill base of "building sites the Drupal way" had faded somewhat, aside from taking my first steps into the land of Drupal Commerce, but that is a story for another time.
As a result of the nature of my previous job, I simply had not had time to learn some of what are now considered staple D7 activities. One of my first jobs in my new position was to build a feature for a custom content type. Sounds easy enough you would think - except when you've never got round to playing with features, then it becomes a bit more daunting than it first sounds. You've heard how great it is, but you haven't ever had time to use it. Thankfully I now know, as many of you will, that it's pretty friendly to use, and have gotten to experience first hand what all the fuss is about (it's a bit good isn't it).
With the above said, I thought I would share five small snippets of things I have learned or relearned in my first full week re-immersing myself in doing things "The Drupal Way":
5) Features is good. I know that's stating the bleeding obvious, but it doesn't half save a lot of work and effort.
4) Including custom templates in your features content type module and getting them picked up is only easy when you know how. There is a great resource for doing such things here - https://drupal.org/node/715160.
3) Not technically a Drupal discovery - but PHP Storm is a really nice, Drupal friendly IDE. It's much, much easier to get XDebug set up in than in Eclipse PDT (my previous IDE of choice), has good support for Drupal out of the box and has been a very nice bonus discovery. Licences are quite reasonably priced too. I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone who uses Drupal / PHP regularly to give it a go.
2) Overlay module is the worst thing in Drupal ever since we said goodbye to the "fun" of Drupal 5. I am hugely pleased it is disappearing in Drupal 8. Having been working with D6 for so long I had properly forgotten what an annoyance it can be.
1) Doing things "The Drupal Way" can be very rewarding and even fun (I know I'll be hallmarked by some as being sad for saying that) - but when you've worked with innumerable lines of custom PHP loosely wrapped up in Drupal for a long time, it's quite nice to return to the world of field level tp's and exportable content types.
Hopefully now I'll also have lots more inspiration and useful things to put on this blog again as it had somewhat died a death. Watch this space.