As was discussed in the post, Becoming a Drupal Rockstar, now is a great time to start developing in Drupal. You will quickly discover that Drupal sites are built out of modules (like plugins), each providing its own bit of functionality. One of the biggest challenges for building sites in Drupal is finding the right modules for a particular use case.
There are some modules that will be used on almost every site:
- Views allows you to use a user interface to create complex database queries, use the URL path to restrict the query in different ways, and visualize the result with many different plugins.
- Google Analytics places the analytics code on your pages so you can find out who’s visiting your site.
- Wysiwyg lets you configure the text formatting buttons for content editors. While wysiwyg support is expected in Drupal 8 core, it is still a separate module in Drupal 7.
For the more advanced functionality, though, it can be tougher to figure out which modules to use. Here are some tips for finding and evaluating modules:
- You can search the list of modules and narrow your search by category, such as “Evaluation/Rating.”
- If you find a module that does almost what you want, but not quite, check out the related modules in the right hand sidebar.
- Read the blog posts on Planet Drupal regularly (especially Lullabot’s Module Mondays) and follow a few top-notch Drupal developers on Twitter. You could even go to meetings of your local Drupal users group to get tips on the hottest new modules.
- When evaluating a module, check its usage, which is available above the download links. While popularity isn’t everything, especially for new or niche modules, high usage does indicate that a module is useful. It also indicates the number of people who depend upon that functionality, hopefully including developers and companies who can invest time in bug fixes and feature requests.
Don’t be afraid to download a module and try it out. Just make sure that you have a separate version of your site for testing so you don’t have to worry if the experiment goes bad.
Safari Books Online has the content you need
Here are some great Drupal resources in Safari Books Online that can help you with your Drupal modules:
|With the recipes in Using Drupal, you’ll take full advantage of the vast collection of community-contributed modules that make the Drupal web framework useful and unique.|
|The Definitive Guide to Drupal covers every aspect of Drupal, from planning a successful project to making a living from designing Drupal sites, and even to contributing to the Drupal community yourself.|
|Drupal 7 Module Development is a practical, example-based approach to introduce PHP developers to the powerful new Drupal 7 tools, APIs, and strategies for writing custom Drupal code.|
|Drupal 7 Social Networking provides careful instructions and clear explanations to take you through the setup and management of your social network site, covering topics from users, to marketing, to maintenance.|
About this author
|Lin Clark is a Drupal developer specializing in Linked Data. She contributed to the RDF in Drupal 7 core initiative, created SPARQL Views as part of the 2010 Google Summer of Code, and has spoken extensively about the benefits of using Linked Data technologies in everyday applications. She attended Carnegie Mellon University and is currently pursuing a research Master’s at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute at NUI Galway. More information is available at lin-clark.com.|