Resources for getting up to speed on Drupal 8

Before I write the “rant mode” portion of this post, the most important part is that I would appreciate it if a fellow Drupal developer could point me in the direction of one or two or three good learning resources for become a proficient Drupal 8 developer.

I remember when I took my first full-time job as a Drupal developer in late 2009. By then I had already done some Drupal development and had written a few custom modules, so I was not entirely a novice, but I knew that I needed to significantly improve my skills. I bought John VanDyk’s excellent book, “Pro Drupal Development,” and studied it intensely. Back then I was learning Drupal 6. “Pro Drupal Development” was 704 pages long and full of dense, sometimes challengingly complex information and lots of code examples that I studied carefully. By the time I got to the end of the book I felt qualified to do my job. Later I came across Angie Byron’s great book, “Using Drupal,” which was a lot shorter and easier to read than “Pro Drupal Development” and helped get a lot of developers up to speed.

A few years later, Drupal 7 came out, and I needed to update my skills to the new release. Fortunately, VanDyke helped put together a new edition of “Pro Drupal Development” that explained the changes. After a bit of study, I was back in business.

Drupal 8 was officially released a little more than a year ago, and I’ve been pretty busy working on websites that still use Drupal 7, so until recently I have not had much occasion to learn about the new system. I’ve decided that it is time to get caught up, but I’m frankly dumbfounded at the poor quality of the documentation that seems to be currently available on the Drupal website. After some searching, I found this page which attempts to explain how to create custom modules:

https://www.drupal.org/docs/8/creating-custom-modules

The problem, though, is that the documentation is broken into multiple web pages, with no clear pattern of organization. It is bad enough, in fact, to remind me of the infinite collection of randomly-sorted gibberish described in the famous Jorge Luis Borges story, “The Library of Babel”:

https://libraryofbabel.info/libraryofbabel.html

OK, it’s not THAT bad, but would it have killed people to organize the documentation into some kind of learning sequence?

Some further Googling took me to this 11-lesson guide, published by Acquia, which appears to be better organized than the stuff I found on Drupal.org:

https://docs.acquia.com/article/building-modules-drupal-8

Appnovation has also produced some videos that look like they may be helpful:

https://www.appnovation.com/blog/top-resources-getting-started-drupal-8

And then there’s this, which is not exactly a Drupal tutorial. Instead, it gives me a list of six programming skills I have to develop before I can expect to become very good at Drupal 8:

http://www.webomelette.com/6-steps-new-drupal-8-developers

That, of course, is part of the problem with Drupal 8. It introduced substantial new changes and complexity that raise the barrier of entry to Drupal 8 programming — which probably explains why more than a million websites are still using Drupal 7, while barely 100,000 have begun using Drupal 8.

Complexity is not necessarily a bad thing, but it would help if there was a resource today like “Pro Drupal Development” that I could count on to guide me through that complexity. Unfortunately, there is no Drupal 8 edition of “Pro Drupal Development,” and feels a bit sad to be nostalgic for a time when all you had to do was read a 704-page book to become proficient in Drupal.

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