We need to teach people Drupal 8. Now

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Drupal 8 is just around the corner and there is a whole army of people that need to get trained on how to use it. Fast. For people that are not actively involved with core development it can be daunting to see Drupal 8 looming in the future. It’s exciting because you’ve heard about all the shiny new features, and know that you’ll be able to do some really great things with it. But that transition comes at a cost, you need to learn the system first and there's always a productivity penalty when learning new things. This ends up making it scary to take on new projects using Drupal 8 and ultimately impacts the rate of adoption.

Over the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time teaching people how to use Drupal via training videos, workshops, and on-site training for clients and I think that this provides some insight into how we can ease the learning curve a little this time around that I would like to share. And I believe this is a good opportunity to have a discussion about how we as a community can improve the available training materials and more rapidly turn ourselves and the rest of the Drupal using world into Drupal 8 ninjas.

Some of my ideas include

Providing good, well documented examples demonstrating this is how it was in Drupal 7, and this is how it is now in Drupal 8. Allow people to build on the knowledge they already have so they don’t feel like they are starting over.

Figure out how to teach the “why” of Drupal 8, not just the how. Learning how to work with the new CMI API via the documentation and copying some examples so that you can add some config variables to your module is just part of what we need people to understand. We also need to teach them why CMI, why it was architected this way, what decisions were made along the way, etc. If we want to see people make the most of the tools we’re providing them they need to be able to know when it’s the right tool for a problem that we haven’t even dreamt up yet. And without the why those kinds of discoveries are difficult.

I can also talk about what I see as being some of the bigger learning hurdles for Drupal 8 so that we can start to come up with ideas for how to help people over those gaps.

Schedule Information
Experience level: 
Time slot: 
Tuesday · 17:00-18:00


This is probably the #1 most important thing for making Drupal 8 successful. How well we teach the community about D8 is the thing that will make or break this release. I'd love to have a good core convo about this, and I can't wait to hear your ideas.

A suggestion:
A huge problem getting up to speed in Drupal is deficient documentation:

  • Core (D7) generally has good 'laundry-list' documentation (think unix man info: a detailed list of every parameter), but often insufficient guide to best-practice usage of basic and common features.
  • Contrib frequently has awful documentation

An idea is to provide developers/contributors with a guide to the type of documentation that we need, which could be, for ex.:

  1. the meaning or function of each option/value/argument (i.e. the 'laundry-list' documentation)
  2. best-practice usage of basic features/values/arguments
  3. best-practice usage of common features/values/arguments

It could be countered that it is not always clear what is 'best practice', 'basic', or 'common'. However, a best effort should be made at these, and these could be debated in comments. As all writing instructors will tell you, a problem with writing well is that an author often doesn't have a clear-enough idea of what they are writing about (how many times have you heard: 'Outline!'), and the process of writing forces you to sort through these issues. Having a documentation standard like 'full-list, best-practice basic and best-practice common' could help focus people on what issues they need to be clear about in order to write well.
And finally, let's emphasize that helping our Drupal community includes helping through documentation! The community that is the strength of Drupal shouldn't end at meetings and IRC, but extend to great help through documentation!