Tips for New Drupal Developers
Tips for New Drupal Developers

Drupal is a powerful open-source content management system that enables developers to create custom websites and applications. If you’re just starting with Drupal, it can be difficult to know where to begin. In this article, we’ll provide over 10 tips and best practices for new Drupal developers. We’ll cover everything from setting up your development environment to creating custom modules and themes. So if you’re just getting started and looking for ways to progress your skills, read on!

1. Set Up a Local Development Environment

If you’re just starting out with Drupal, it’s important to set up a local development environment on your computer. This will allow you to test out your code and make sure everything is working as it should before you deploy your code to a live server.

How to Set Up a Local Development Environment

  • Consider using Drupal VM, a pre-configured virtual machine for Drupal development.
  • Follow the official documentation for Drupal VM installation and setup.

2. Use the Devel Module

The Devel module is one of the most useful tools for new Drupal developers. The module provides a suite of tools that can help you with development, debugging, and performance testing.

Devel Module Features

  • Generating dummy content
  • Viewing database queries and performance information
  • Debugging code with the integrated debugger
  • Profiling code to identify performance bottlenecks


To install the Devel module, you can use the drush command:

$ drush dl devel

3. Use Version Control

Version control is crucial for any developer, especially when working on a team. Git is a popular version control system used by many developers worldwide.

4. Follow Drupal Coding Standards

When writing code for Drupal, it’s important to follow the Drupal coding standards to improve code quality and consistency.

Checking Code Compliance

Use PHP_CodeSniffer to scan your code and report errors or warnings.

5. Use Best Practices for Security

Ensure the security of your Drupal site by following best practices:

  • Keep Drupal core and contributed modules up to date.
  • Use strong passwords for all accounts.
  • Restrict access to admin pages.
  • Review code changes before deploying to a live site.

6. Learn the Twig Template Engine

Twig is the default templating engine in Drupal 8 and later versions. Familiarize yourself with Twig to create custom themes effectively.

7. Use the Drupal Console

The Drupal Console is a command-line interface (CLI) tool that can be a significant time-saver for tasks like code generation and debugging.

8. Get Involved in the Community

Engage with the Drupal community through meetups, online forums, and contributions to stay updated and network with other developers.

Community Resources

  • Drupal Forums
  • Acquia Drupal Community

9. Write Unit Tests

Unit testing is essential to verify code functionality and prevent bugs. In Drupal 8, PHPUnit is used for unit testing.

10. Use Development Tools

Experiment with development tools to enhance your workflow:

  • Devel module (for debugging Drupal)
  • Xdebug (for debugging PHP)
  • PHPStorm (for PHP development)

11. Create Custom Error Pages

Custom error pages provide helpful information to users when something goes wrong on your site. Default Drupal error pages can be replaced with custom ones tailored to your site’s needs.

12. Use Caching Properly

Caching can significantly improve your Drupal site’s performance when used correctly. Choose the appropriate caching mode (Normal, Aggressive, None) based on your site’s requirements.

13. Optimize Images

Optimizing images before uploading them can save server space and improve load times. Consider resizing, compressing, and choosing the right file format for your images.

14. Use the Administrator Menu Module

The Administrator Menu module streamlines navigation within the administrative interface, saving you time and effort.

15. Learn about Theming

Theming involves creating a custom look and feel for your Drupal site. Familiarize yourself with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and learn how to use Twig for theming.

16. Understand Proper Drupal URL Structure

Clean URLs improve site usability and SEO. Learn to structure URLs without unnecessary parameters.

17. Stay Up-to-Date on Drupal Developments

Drupal is continually evolving. Stay informed by following the official Drupal newsfeed and exploring online resources such as forums and mailing lists.


Becoming a proficient Drupal developer takes time and dedication, but by following these 10+ tips and best practices, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the ins and outs of Drupal development. Remember to set up a local development environment, utilize essential modules like Devel, and engage with the Drupal community to stay current. With the right tools and knowledge, you can create powerful and secure Drupal websites and applications.

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