Stay Drupal Sharp


It's all about the skills. To quote Ferris Bueller, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it". We all have multiple things demanding our attention each day. Current projects, support, documentation and of course your non-work life. How can you be certain that you're staying sharp? Drupal, like life, can move pretty fast. Stop and look around.

One of the key things you can do to keep your skills razor sharp is to simply keep up to date. And I don't just mean Drupal 8. There's plenty of action on the Drupal 7 front. And let's not forget the related technologies that can take your site to the next level.

There are a few ways that I like to use to keep in the loop:


The mailing lists at are essential. At a bare minimum you have to subscribe to security announcements to get the first look at new security releases. Even if the modules or themes in these anouncements don't have an immediate impact to any of your projects, take a moment to review the impact statements and related issues. These tidbits are a great way to raise your awareness of common vulnerabilities and their resolution. That's bound to come in handy as you create your own customizations. While you're at it, you might as well join the Drupal mailing list which includes the Drupal newsletter, Drupal Association updates, DrupalCon news, business topics and educational opps. 

But don't stop at There are some pretty great community driven newsletters out there as well. In particular, The Weekly Drop is a nicely curated example. Hat tip to Bob Kepford of Media Current for his efforts.

Get Involved

Speaking of the Drupal community, there is no better way to stay in the know than community involvement. Much of Drupal's appeal comes from the rich and vibrant group of people that actively work to make it better. No matter your current skill level or area of expertise there are plenty of options to help out and in the process increase your pool of Drupal knowledge. I have learned plenty from doing code reviews on sandbox projects that are seeking to become official contributed modules. Don't feel you aren't currently skilled enough to help out with the burgeoning Project application queue. Just follow the project application template. Going through the process even once will help familiarize you with the basics of project structure, documentation and best practices. Take a look at other reviewers comments to get a feel for common issues.

I'm a big fan of podcasts for their versatility and ease of access. I can listen in my office, when I'm traveling, driving or out for walk. A couple of podcasts that I check in on regularly:

Topics vary from the more technical, general web development, site optimization and tips on community involvement. You don't have to approach a podcast like taking a class. Just make a note if you hear something that you'd like to look into more deeply later. Podcasts are a great way to get comfortable with DrupalSpeak if you're new to the community and awesome for keeping up to date on what other's are up to!

Camps and Cons

Not everyone has the option to travel to DrupalCon. That need not stop you from enjoying the massive amount of focused content that's generated at this awesome event though. Past DrupalCons have had mixed results in recording talks but there are always a good number posted online after the fact. If all else fails, contact the person(s) who were scheduled to make a presentation and request a transcript. You'll find most of us welcome interest. Most ad hoc birds of a feather (BOF) sessions are not recorded but you'll often see online resources populated during these pop up online.

Build a module keeps an updated list of Drupal Camps and Cons worldwide. If you don't see Drupal camps in your area very often that's a great reason to try and organize one of your own! 


Even outside of formal events there is always one place that's hopping with Drupal chat, IRC. IRC is not only a great resource for questions, it's the perfect place to hang out and listen in on ongoing conversations to pick up tips and discover others with similar interests. The #drupal channel is a good place to start. Once you start digging into code reviews you'll want to move over to #drupal-contribute. You can even seek out a mentor to help you get started. 

Build Something

Of course, the best way to stay sharp is to build something! I mean outside of client work. I always have at least one sandbox project going where I'm testing out a module or some in depth configuration. Casey Fox talked about local development using Acquia Dev Desktop in a recent post, that's one of the easier ways to get off the ground. If you'd rather go the cloud route, Acquia Cloud Free is a solid option with some interesting addons. Pantheon offers unlimited sandbox sites on their platform as well. I highly recommend taking a look at each in turn. 

I'm sure I left out a few ways that I stay Drupal sharp, the various training programs available for example. But for this article I wanted to focus on every day methods of keeping your edge. The most glaring omission I see above is my colleagues. Not only do we bounce ideas off each other, we are always sharing tidbits of knowledge and random coolness on our dedicated Slack channel. I can't highlight the value I get out of random team interaction enough. But for you one person Drupal departments out there, don't feel left out. There is a whole Drupal community out there waiting for you to "stop and look around" for once and join the team!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Stay In Touch