The web development community can have a long list of requirements, languages, frameworks, constructs and tools that most companies or bosses want you to know.
This list may not include everything you need to know including PHP, HTML, CSS, responsive web development principles, and Drupalisms. Here is the list of some of the important skills, concepts, and tools that we think you should know as a beginner Drupal developer.
1. Version Control
Every developer should have some experience with version control and versioning. Version control is an essential part of the Drupal community. Versioning allows for Drupal projects to be easily managed, maintained and contributed in a uniform manner. Version control will also most likely be used in-house to manage each client project as well.
2. Command Line Interface (CLI)
It isn’t necessary to be a CLI Ninja, however being able to work comfortably using a CLI is very important. One of the advantages to using a CLI is the ability to be more productive. You can quickly automate repetitive tasks, perform tasks without jumping from application to application, and the ability to use tools like Drush to perform tasks that would normally require you to navigate 3 or more mouse clicks to accomplish.
3. Package Managers
Using package managers is important to the installation of Drupal. Whether it is installing Sass or Bootstrap from node or Drush from composer, it is important to know how package managers work and exactly what you are running before running commands on your computer.
4. Contributing Back
An important part of the Drupal community is contributing back to projects and core. When you find an issue, such as something that just doesn’t seem to work correctly, or you would like to implement a functionality to Drupal, you should think about giving back to the community. If you find an issue on an existing project or core, check to see if there is an existing ticket on that project. If there isn’t, you can create one, and if you can debug it and resolve the issue you can contribute a patch to that issue. If you don’t know exactly how to debug the issue you can have an open conversation with other developers and maintainers to help resolve the issue. Contributing and interacting in the community moves Drupal forward.
5. CSS Preprocessors
Within the last couple of years, there has been a movement to CSS preprocessors to add a programmatic feel to CSS2 and CSS3. There are some that are against preprocessors because it adds a little more overhead to a project. Whether you use them or not, you may have a client or framework that uses one that you might need to be familiar with how to use a preprocessor.
6. A Framework
It is important to know the principles of templating so that you can easily pick up and learn new frameworks. Whether it is Mustache, Twig, Jade, or the templating syntax from within Angular, there are similarities between the syntax and the principles can be applied to each of the languages that will allow you to quickly step from one to the next with a smaller learning curve.
8. Basic Debugging
Debugging a problem correctly can save you valuable time by getting you directly to the cause of an issue instead of looking over each line of code one by one. It is essential to know how to do basic debugging when working with Drupal. Sometimes the error messages can give you enough information, other times it is necessary to step into Devel or XDebug and step through the project to find the exact location where the code is not working correctly so that you can start to solve the problem.
9. Unit Testing / Code Testing
Testing your own code is important. When it comes to code testing you have many options, from TTD and BDD you can write unit tests to cover your classes, linting to make sure you are writing “good”, standardized code. Linting can be helpful for writing code that others can easily navigate and sets up some best practices for you to follow.
10. A CMS
When starting with Drupal, it might be good to have familiarity with a CMS platform before jumping in. There are some advantages to knowing the constructs of other CMS platforms and being familiar with how to work within a platform. However, when working with Drupal it is important to think about the way Drupal works and not be stuck in the way other CMS platforms accomplish goals.
As a web developer, it is important to know many concepts and technologies. Many companies will not require you to know everything, do everything and be a jack-of-all-trades. In technology, there are so many new tools, frameworks, and languages coming out daily that it is impossible to stay on top of them all. It is far better to get a good base understanding of core web concepts that can be applied to multiple languages, tools, and technologies and then specialize.
Did I miss something you feel is important? Is there something you would like to have seen on the list? Leave a comment below.