This month's meetup proved a good reminder of times past. First, our network connection was pretty slow, reminding us all of the fun of dialup. Then, we had what I believe is our youngest meetup attendee ever, Marc's new baby. And in our main presentation, Maida walked us through her learning experience from first hearing of Drupal to launching pueblolibrary.org.
Despite the huge usability improvements in Drupal 7, Drupal still has a lingering reputation of a steep learning curve. And Maida's introduction sounded especially intimidating, with no team to share the adventure, and a decision to launch in what was then a brand-new (and still a little rough around the edges) Drupal 7. Also, she started from a static HTML site, so she was essentially starting from scratch.
So how did she do it? In short, Maida tapped into what makes Drupal awesome: the Drupal community. She attended the Webchick Drupal 7 tour, two camps, dozens of Drupal meetups, and DrupalCon Denver. Maida also found assistance in Drupal.org issue queues and in her friendly local #drupal-colorado IRC channel. People new to Drupal are often told about the benefits of getting involved in the community, and Maida's story was a great demonstration that it really works.
It wasn't all smooth sailing, of course. Maida mentioned both Views and theming as difficult to learn even with help from the community. I thought this was a nice validation of some of the work already happening on improvements for Drupal 8. Going from Drupal beginner to launching a widely-used site, as Maida did, should be even easier in the future.
After Maida's presentation, Chris Pitchford told us about his new ebook, Instant Drupal Modules. In his book, Chris explains some ways to create Drupal modules with exports from modules, which is a great way for first-time module developers to learn how a module is made without needing to write all the code. Chris also described the process of getting a book into the iBookstore, which sounded both easy and painfully slow.
Between Maida's Drupal learning experience and Chris' book on learning more Drupal, this was hopefully enough to convince Marc's baby to pick up Drupal, maybe after walking. And since you're apparently already old enough to read, you are even more capable of becoming a Drupal expert. It's not always easy, but there's a huge community here eager to help you.
Already know Drupal? It's probably about time you start presenting about what you know. The Denver Drupal meetup, like most local meetups, is always looking for more Drupal-related presentations. Presenting is another great way to get involved in your local Drupal community, and preparing a presentation is another great way to learn.