This is my theory on open source development and the importance of collaborative efforts. I will outline some thoughts on the benefits of having a community of people that are actively supporting Drupal development.
The first benefit that comes to mind is the willing cooperation of many individuals in making the best product possible. The diversity of needs and goals spawns many useful modules.
The next would be having a wide range of possibilities when selecting a Drupal support team or partners. You can join the Forums or Groups related to your interest and learn much more swiftly than you would by using tutorials alone. Tutorials are excellent and there are a lot of really helpful ones covering multiple aspects of Drupal, but the community is where you can delve deeper and receive support as you work hands on with Drupal.
I am not one for arbitrarily joining groups, but the Drupal community is one of the most helpful creative collection of intellects I have come across. The community is made up of every level of developer, newbie to expert. There is an opportunity for you to learn and teach. You get something out of the community while you are able to give back. There are several ways to be involved in the Drupal community – you can help answer questions in the forums at groups.drupal.org, you can help respond to questions in the chat rooms, you can contribute code, help maintain your favorite modules, create modules where you see a need, contribute to the documentation project. You do not have to be a Drupal expert to have insight or valuable information to offer. If you are using/learning Drupal, you can be very helpful to people that are on the same path by checking out the forums and seeing if you can respond to someone going through a configuration you just mastered.
Of course – you can become an expert if you wish. Drupal is a multi-featured software, and you can choose an area to focus your skills on. If you have a design and graphics background, you will probably want to get more familiar with the theme aspects of Drupal. If you are a PhP developer, the core framework and API structure and hooks may be the area where you will shine. A person with no real programming skills can become an expert on configuration methods and choosing modules to complete a task.There are so many strategies to becoming involved with Drupal, as an Administrator or as a developer, that it makes it very interesting. Let’s look at a few examples:
As stated above, if you have a graphics background, this would probably be the area of Drupal you would first be interested in.
2. Module Development
With minimal PhP knowledge, you can develop a custom Drupal Module. The more advanced PhP you know, the possibilities are almost endless in Drupal.
3. Server Environment, Tuning and Optimization
There is always a need for excellent server tuning, and PhP tweaking along with MySql tuning and cleaning. Drupal can run smooth and fast in a well tuned environment. There are certain settings that need to be adjusted based on the size and purpose of your site.
4. Advanced Configurations of Popular Modules
Thousands of contributed modules make Drupal an International project. If you become adept at understanding the way Drupal interacts with third party modules, you can be a key to helping companies set up their Administration environment.
5. Taxonomy and Context
Creating categories, keywords and terms for a site can make a difference in how the site shows up in the search engines. Taxonomy and Context are not only key parts of defining sections for a site, they are the way to define the way a search engine sees a site and lists it. It will help refer people to useful content on the site.
See above, and then take a look at the assortment of SEO modules available for Drupal. Most of them will guide you through the SEO process whenever you create content.
7. Security – Upgrades – Support
You will have to weigh the difference between doing the updates yourself or outsourcing part or all of the process.
How about features like Media and Mobile Apps that interact with your site – well, the Drupal community is where you will find new and exciting ways to use the technology being discussed. If you don’t find a relevant discussion, you can always start a topic. Please remember to do a thorough search to see if your question has a history – chances are it has!
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