Learn Drupal by practice, itterations


I've found that web development as a whole works best by iterative development, using many concepts from Getting Real and other agile theories. This is definitely true of Drupal. When you start off with Drupal you'll start building content types, views and panels galore, and there's nothing wrong with this, it's the best way of getting your ideas out so you can see how they work. You'll also then start dipping your toes into other modules and then writing your own, using books and documentation along the way. Good times.

The thing to remember is to revisit your previous work and improve upon your work: export views to files to speed them up and add an element of revision control; rewrite some clunky SQL queries with improved architecture and views; merge two modules you wrote before and make one that's better; add extra text to node titles for improved search engine accuracy; clean up the CSS and views to work faster and produce more sane output. And on and on..

There's lots to do, lots to learn, don't stop!

Drupal modules: release early, release often (please)


Something I see quite a good amount of with Drupal modules is a tendency to hold onto fixes committed to CVS for some time. I believe this is counter productive. While yes, it is good to hold onto new, big features until they have simmered for a while and proven to be stable, smaller updates and especially bug fixes, should be rolled out regularly.

A case in point is my recent discovery that certain letters can break customized Views if you use the APIs to change the query from an equality statement to an approximation / SQL "LIKE" statement. The wizard that he is, Earl Miles, who is the lead developer on some of Drupal's most powerful modules including Views itself, took time out of his busy day and replied to my post with a link to a discussion on which even included a patch to fix the issue. This was totally wonderful, expected, and I truly appreciate Earl's efforts for doing this.

The frustrating part for me, though, is that Earl himself provided the first patch for this issue back on September 5th, 2007. A whole fourteen months ago! And it still hasn't been rolled into an official release. A known bug, with a patch available from the main author itself, sits unreleased for a year? That's just a little bit crazy.

I believe that the Drupal development community needs to get real and become more agile with their code releases. An active project should not sit for over a year with no releases, there should have been several releases, if only bug fix point releases (Views 5.x-1.6.1 anyone?). And if the project teams can't handle the added workload, perhaps they could ask for some help? I honestly believe this would greatly help the community.

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