Choosing a developer for your Drupal project can be a daunting task. Drupal is a hot technology, and there are a lot of talented (and some not-so-talented) individuals out there who are offering their Drupal services. Who should you choose? Here are five questions you can ask Drupal developers you encounter to find out if they are Drupal ninjas or Drupal noobs.
1. What are your contributions to the Drupal project?
The key here is to find out if your Drupal developer is an established player on the Drupal scene. Drupal is open-source, and relies upon contributions by the Drupal community to continue to grow. A CVS (Concurrent Versions System) account is an account on Drupal.org for developers to contribute to the project. If your development team has their own accounts, and they have contributed to Drupal, it's a good sign they are the real deal.
Here are a few follow up questions, just to make sure you get the full story
- Do you have a CVS account with the ability to contribute to the Drupal project? (see note above)
- What level of help do you provide to community members in need of guidance?
- Have you contributed to any of the modules or themes located in the Drupal repository?
- Give us some examples of the work you have done to contribute to the Drupal project.
If your potential developer is using computers like these, they may not be the Drupal developer for you. (Photo by cote)
2. Do you have working examples of a multisite installation of Drupal that we could review?
It's possible to run sites on multiple domains or subdomains from one installation of Drupal. That way, you only have to make updates once for several domains. Pretty cool, huh? This is referred to as a multisite installation, and if your project requries one, you want to know if your developer has experience with them. Ask to see examples. If they ask you what a multisite installation is, run.
What kind of version control system do you utilize for managing the code that you write?
In other words, find out if your code going to be managed and is it safe for changes. Reliable developers use version control software to manage the code changes they make to your project. Version control makes it easy to revert back to previous versions of the application because all edits are logged. Version control becomes a necessity when multiple people are working on the same project in order to keep track of the changes that are being made and to prevent concurrent changes to the same section of code. At CommonPlaces our engineers use Subversion, a powerful version control system that allows them to see recently changed files and the specific lines of code in those files that were changed.
4. What is your plan for Quality Assurance and staging of our website before it goes to production?
A wise developer (in any technology) knows that sometimes things don't work as expected. That's why a smart Drupal developer will test changes to your site in a staging area before publishing them on the live site. Ideally, your developer will have a thorough testing plan for Quality Assurance that is implemented before changes are published, and is willing to share it with you.
5. Do you have access to the top contributors and core developers in the Drupal scene? If so, who? Can you provide a reference?
Ever heard the expression, "It's not what you know, it's who you know"? Well, I wouldn't go that far, but it would be nice if your developer was connected with some of the top Drupal gurus. Be sure to ask for references. After all, you wouldn't hire a new employee without references; why should you hire a Drupal developer without them?
Hopefully these questions will help you find a capable and experienced Drupal developer. If you would like to send any answers you receive to our team, one of our Drupal experts would be happy to review them. Feel free to contact us with any Drupal questions you might have - or to hear our answers to these questions!