What is a Drupal Developer?

Submitted by gary haddon on Sat, 07/08/2017 - 17:34
What is a Drupal Developer?

The Drupal content management framework is being adopted by more clients and agencies due to its growth in popularity. Demand for Drupal developers is therefore increasing. This article aims to help people understand exactly what a Drupal Developer is and what they do.

There are three areas of expertise; Back-end, Front-end and Site builders. Most developers will specialise in one area although it is common for overlap so a good understanding of all is ideal.

Drupal Back-end Developer

A Drupal Back-end developer is responsible for the way the website works; its functionality. A Back-end developer can also be referred to as a ‘Drupal Developer’ or ‘Module Developer’.

They should have a good working knowledge of contributed modules and API’s, they are usually responsible for creating custom modules to create functionality if it isn’t possible from already contributed modules.

Back-end developers are usually involved in the initial design phase as they will have a better idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the Drupal framework and existing modules. They can also be involved in the launch/deployment of websites and configuring web servers.

Back-end Developers should be experts in PHP and have a good working knowledge of MySQL, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery and various other libraries. It is highly advantageous to be familiar with the command line and tools such as Drush.

Drupal Front-end Developer

A Drupal Front-end developer is responsible for the way the website looks, we call this the theme of the website. A Front-end developer can also be referred to as a ‘Drupal Themer’ or ‘Drupal Designer’.

They are responsible for keeping up to date with the latest standards and should be able to create a fully responsive design capable of displaying on all devices from mobile to large desktops. Front-end developers usually have graphic design skills although they are separate roles. It is highly advantageous that they have good User Experience Knowledge (UX) and User Interface Design (UI).

Front-end developer should be experts in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. It is also not uncommon for expertise in a CSS compiler LESS/SASS and frameworks such as jQuery and AngularJS.

What is User Experience?

UX is the way people interact with a website, we often refer to workflow and user journeys. Typical questions include: Can the user easily navigate to any part of the website? Can text be easily read? Are buttons and user actions obvious? Is the site accessible?

What is a Theme?

A drupal theme is the way the content and other page elements are rendered on the page. A theme is made up of various template, CSS and JavaScript files, these make up how the website looks and feels including its colours, fonts, spacing, layout and animations/effects.

Drupal Site Builder

A Drupal Site-builder is someone who may have no technical expertise but has a good working knowledge of Drupal and its contributed modules and themes.

They will have the ability to create pretty complex websites using the modules and themes available from the community, although may lack the skillset to add custom functionality that isn't available, relying on developers to carry out the more demanding tasks.

A Site builder should have an excellent understanding of contributed modules and themes, which is often built up over a matter of years, they should also be active in the Drupal community, helping submit bugs and issues. They may also be responsible for keeping websites up to date with security updates and training.