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Completing the Drupal Site Builder exam

Thu, 27/10/2016 - 10:35

Are you a developer who’s up for a challenge? Why not complete the Drupal Site Builder exam? I wrote the test recently and am proud to be one of seven Drupal certified developers in South Africa. Five of us work at Rogerwilco.

The exam was challenging but not because it was difficult, because it covered the fundamental features of Drupal. Drupal projects that have any sort of complexity don’t rely on core Drupal alone. They include a myriad of contributed modules and custom development. One can easily forget what Drupal offers ‘out of the box’. Of all the Acquia certifications, it’s the most straightforward. Other exams require both backend and frontend web development skills.

There are 50 exam questions in total, broken down into the following sections

  • Drupal Features
  • Content and User Management
  • Content Modeling
  • Site Display
  • Community and Contributed Projects
  • Module and Theme Management
  • Security and Performance

Being a multiple choice examination, the majority of questions directly challenge your knowledge of Drupal in the ‘real world’. What is the best way to get ‘x’ accomplished within the context of Drupal or what are Drupal’s limitations? Other questions focus on troubleshooting various scenarios that anyone with some Drupal experience would’ve come across while site building. Anyone with exposure to agile software development will appreciate the scenario based ‘user story’ approach to the questions asked. Only a handful of questions could be ‘book learned’ as they deal with procedures and guidelines.

What was it like to prepare for the exam?

Drupal site builders are often tasked with solving problems that Drupal, without any contributed modules, would be very difficult to solve. There are so many additional modules that take Drupal development to the next level (Entity API, Panels, Organic Groups, Flags, Webform, Pathauto, Rules and Context, to name a few). My focus for the weeks prior to writing was to refamiliarise myself with what Drupal aims to provide to the open source community; a world-class content management framework. I also reviewed my knowledge of Views, the only contributed module (and one of the most important for advanced site building) required for the examination.

What tips would you give to someone who’s going to be writing the exam?

For anyone who has built numerous Drupal projects with any level of complexity, I would suggest focusing on the following:

  • Creating content types and configuring their displays.
  • Reviewing your Views skills (make sure you understand the Views UI and are able to understand when a certain View ‘display’ is required).
  • Taking note of the permissions provided by all core modules and their potential security implications.
  • Making sure you are aware of the specific community guidelines regarding community interaction, module management and security/performance of Drupal. All this information can be reviewed on Drupal.org.
  • Of the core Drupal modules, pay particular attention to the ‘Aggregator’ module as I received a good number of questions specifically requiring the functionality it provides .
  • Once you’re confident with your understanding of Drupal, create a site that will utilise all the core modules and views. This will help you realise what can be achieved with Drupal’s core features, as well as discover its limitations.

Tip for answering questions: Flag the longer questions for review at the end of the exam as they can eat up valuable time. This video (an Acquia webinar) provides an excellent overview of the exam and what is expected.

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