In recent years, Drupal has become one of the most popular open-source web content management systems (CMS).
It is secure, user-friendly and free, which has undoubtedly contributed to its meteoric rise in the backend development space.
It’s the leading CMS for non-profit and government organizations and is becoming more prevalent with private companies as well.
Drupal is a great way of meeting the data and content development needs for your web application. Still, interacting with Drupal or any other management framework can be a challenge, especially if you are unfamiliar with the space.
In order to simplify the task ahead of you, we laid out 6 best practices to help you become successful when customizing or maintaining your Drupal application.
Using these best practices, you can enable your development team to navigate your way through this innovative framework and create compelling and reliable interactive web applications.
1. Learn the Language of Backend Development
The first step on your journey towards quality backend development in Drupal is to learn the language. Without it, you will be dead in the water. Fortunately, Drupal relies on what is widely considered to be the most flexible programming language, PHP.
PHP is a server-side or backend scripting language. It is used to develop both dynamic and static websites and applications, making it useful for a wide variety of developers.
PHP is easy to pick up, regardless of your current technical expertise. That is likely why Drupal creators elected to rely on this particular scripting language as opposed to one of the alternatives. Once you have gotten a grasp on PHP, you are ready for the next step.
2. Choose the Right Database Management System (DBMS)
While Drupal does help you to get started by pre-selecting the scripting language, you will have to choose your own DBMS. However, Drupal will almost always operate with MySQL DBMS by default. PHP is compatible with all of the major DBMS tools on the market today, giving you the freedom to select the best fit for your project.
A database management system is the tool responsible for handling large amounts of data. Data management is vital to successful backend development.
The appropriate DBMS tool for your project will depend on the overall complexity of your site. A static site will work just fine with the default MySQL DBMS. On the other hand, a dynamic site will require configuration changes.
Dynamic sites, like social media pages, cache individual user data and use that information to customize the frontend experience. This process is why dynamic sites have higher data management demands. Choosing the wrong DBMS for your page will hinder the frontend experience. That is why you must carefully select your DBMS during Drupal backend development.
3. Understand the Linux/Apache Basics for Backend Development
As a backend developer, you are writing server-side languages. Your work is focused on how the site works, which requires seamless communication with the server.
There are several primary web servers, including Apache, Windows, Linux, and AWS. Having a working knowledge of these servers is essential for backend development in Drupal.
The majority of Drupal backend development is performed on Apache, which is where your primary focus should be. In addition, you will need to have some familiarity with Linux.
Most servers, including Apache, support Linux operating systems. That is why learning some Linux commands/operations is vital to your Drupal backend development / maintenance.
4. Do Not Overlook Drupal API During Backend Development
API or application programming interface is an essential piece of prewritten coding. It is especially important if you intend to develop a dynamic web application.
API is attached to your web application in order to facilitate seamless communication with other applications being used by the frontend user.
An API allows those that visit your site to log in using their existing Google or social media account. This small step can make using your site more convenient, encouraging increased traffic.
Drupal API makes it easy to expose your Drupal content to other software or web applications.
Common use cases include:
- Sending orders to a payment processor (ie: First Data or PayPal)
- Sending customer data to a CRM (ie: Salesforce or MailChimp)
- Sending data to custom software (ie: Drupal to a desktop application)
5. Decide Whether You Need a Static or Dynamic Site
When setting out to perform backend development in Drupal, it is important to have clearly defined goals for your project. Having knowledge of scripting language, DBMSs, and servers is essential. However, even an experienced backend developer can struggle without a plan.
As mentioned above, a static webpage will offer a virtually identical experience to every frontend user. While this is great for simple pages that involve ordering products or reading about a service, dynamic pages maximize client engagement.
The display of differing content and opportunity for user interaction makes dynamic websites the preferred option for many organizations.
6. Lean on Contributed Modules
The best place to start before writing any custom code is with contributed modules.
Drupal has one of the best developer communities in all of web dev. There, you’ll find modules from Drupal developers and official organizations.
For the most common use cases, you’re very likely to find a module that will get the job done.
This includes modules that help you integrate payments (Drupal Commerce Core), Salesforce (Drupal Salesforce Suite), SSO (Drupal OAuth2 and OpenID) and more.
Build a Better Drupal Site by Partnering with Us
As you can see, Drupal has drastically improved the backend development process. Even still, becoming proficient at backend development requires both experience and creativity.
At With Pulp, we believe in seamlessly merging artistry and technology to better serve the customers of our clients. We can help you to create an interactive web application that will drive sales and improve the long-term outlook of your business.
Contact our team if you’d like to save time and money creating or maintaining your web application.