Because the demand for Drupal talent exceeds the supply, it's incredibly hard to hire talented Drupal developers. In a recent blog post I advised people to hire good Java or PHP developers, and to get them up to speed on Drupal.

In an interview with CNET, JBoss founder Marc Fleury was asked where they found Open Source developers:

We tried once to create an open-source developer out of a normal developer, but it completely failed. We never tried it again. Truth be told, I had an aversion to it. An open source developer is a self-starter. He's competitive - this is someone that wants to prove that they can do something better than you can. As such, it's a great recruitment/qualification vehicle, because you can see their work before you ever think of hiring them. You can see if they'll work out for the company. We definitely took that approach to hiring.

I believe there is a lot of truth in that. First, developers with impressive resumes don't necessarily grok Open Source software development. Second, having experience with Open Source software development is becoming an increasingly valuable asset on any developer's resume. So let me refine my advise:

Hire good Java or PHP developers that are active in the Open Source community (at large), and get them up to speed on Drupal.


Mixel (not verified):

Yes ... but ... don't you think Open Source developers are rare?

So how do we get the “spirit” into an education package? How do we teach it to those who did not get it by themselves?

Many of these questions were motivations for my experiment last year related to the programming course I'm teaching. So what was asked:

  • Communication: students had to blog about their projects and use forums
  • Functionality: creating some functions depending on the project
  • Abstractions: making sure the code is readable, reusable, expandable ...
  • 3-party integration: as it was a PHP project students had to integrate with an API and languages (like a Java applet) or scripts (like JQuery).

Note that these projects were still individual projects, and that they didn't tackle collaborative development problems.

Only 1/2 of the students were capable to deliver. Let me give a bit more insight in the challenges. It seemed that the students who didn't wanted to blog were also having troubles with how the course outline was created. I didn’t give any specific book but focused on learning how to search (i.e. use the web). Interesting is that some students who where resisting initially, got to understand it by the end. I think you can say 1/3 understood it up front, 1/3 began to see the idea during the course and 1/3 never got it. I’m planning to optimize the course in the next 4 years. Currently the course site is private but I plan to make it public at the start of next year (October).

[email protected]… (not verified):

Hire good Java or PHP developers that are active in the Open Source community (at large), and get them up to speed on Drupal.

Coming as a Java developer with some spare time to enjoy Drupal for personal projects, I think the Drupal documentation still lacks some good (sequence?) diagrams to show e.g. FAPI 2.0 in action.

So it takes still to much time to get familiar with the framework and achieve good (aka good code) results for even small problems.


Consider buying a copy of the Drupal Pro Development book: it comes with all kinds of diagrams and flow charts. Or consider to help us document things on as you discover Drupal. :)