The DX Files: A voice from the field

This is part five of my series, The DX Files: Improving Drupal Developer Experience. Today I am simply posting, verbatim, a message that a potential new Drupal developer sent me. The point here is just to understand how Drupal's DX influences the way it is perceived and the kind of people that want to work with it.

Hi Barry,

I am a new Drupal user/aspiring developer. I stumbled across your presentation "Developer Experience: Because Coders are People Too" on the DrupalCon 2008 Szeged site just last week. I watched the video and just nodded my head in agreement the whole time. Thank you! This validated my own opinions ­ there is something wrong (or at least unusual) about Drupal; it's not just me not getting it.

Anonymous arrays (the poor man's OOP) and un-typed arguments seem like a terrible idea to me. I almost react viscerally against them. I can understand why some have rejected Drupal. Your friend who will not work on Drupal again ­ I am almost there myself.

A little about my background: I have a Berkeley CS degree, worked for HP for 5+ years doing software development and now work at a small company that I cofounded a couple of years ago. I have lots of OOP experience. I have worked on a few 50,000 line+ projects in C++ and Java over the years. To do these medium to largish size projects, it has been my experience that one must do "defensive" programming. Part of this is knowing that the compiler is your friend. One should write code so that mistakes can be caught by the compiler. In Drupal, there are string literals everywhere and anonymous arrays ­ basically ticking time bombs waiting to blow off limbs. I find this frightening. I would never do this in C++ or Java.

I am just starting with Drupal. Part of why I liked your presentation so much is now I realize these are issues ­ something that I never saw acknowledged elsewhere ­ so I can hopefully move on and actually start making progress with Drupal without wondering why I wasn't getting it.

I am reminded of Winston Churchill's famous quotation: "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." To me, Drupal is "The worst CMS except all the others that have been tried."

Contributed modules like Views, CCK, Voting API, etc and themes make Drupal more than a CMS. It is a terrific platform. Much easier/better than rolling your own. Java doesn't have a viable competitor, that I am aware of.

So basically I want to know how can I learn more and how can I help? I want to make Drupal sites, because of its huge wealth of contributed modules and the ability to extend the system. I am extremely frustrated by many parts of Drupal. I basically agreed with everything you put in your series of blog posts about DX.

What, as a noob, can I do?

I would like to contribute some how.

Thanks,
Nick