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April 27, 2015 Posted by: Jeffrey Wisard

6 Questions To Ask A Drupal Developer To See If They Know Their Stuff

6 Questions To Ask A Drupal Developer To See If They Know Their Stuff

There are thousands of Drupal developers that claim to be an expert in Drupal and that they’re passionate about everything open source. Yet, despite lots of developer talent available in the market, identifying the right Drupal developer remains a very big challenge.

Here at DrupalPartners, we strive to hire the best darn talent that we can and we thought we’d share with you about how we managed to put together a great pool of Drupalites. We wrote a post on How to hire a Drupal developer – a step by step guide, concentrating on hiring talent. For this article, we want the focus to be on, “how to identify a real Drupalite.”

To help you, we’ve compiled some questions that we think our customers should ask prior to hiring a developer. These questions are targeted at the developers who are pretty experienced in Drupal. Thus, they should know the answers. If they can't answer these questions, kindly thank them for their time and move on.

Question #1: What are Drupal distributions?

A knowledgeable developer will be able to give a concise answer to this question. The ideal answer expected out of a candidate: Drupal Distributions are essentially copies of Drupal that includes Drupal Core, libraries, modules, themes and other installation profiles. Distributions are generally used for evaluating, learning or for binding a site.

Question #2: What version control system do you use to manage your codes?

Since must projects involve a team, any reliable developer will opt for version control software for the purpose of having a history of all the edits that have been made. It becomes a reference for any changes/updates that have been done during the project.

Any good developer will try to keep the version control systems as transparent as possible and use the version that explicitly shows the recently changed files. Version control is something which is of vital importance when there is a large dev team. A good version control system helps avoid parallel changes to a single set of codes.

Question #3: How does a Drupal database system work?

This is something that will reveal if the developer is strong with the basics and understands the building blocks of Drupal.

The answer should simply read – Information is stored in a Drupal database, and each information comes with its own/specific database table.

Since the answer may seem very theoretical in nature, you could further extend the question by asking the developer to elaborate with an example. Asking this follow-up question will help you to be sure that he/she perfectly understands and is not merely re-producing the theoretical definition.

Question #4: Ask for the best practices he/she follows prior to sending the site for production

An experienced developer who has worked on a number of projects will readily know that all projects have their hiccups. A savy developer should be prepared for unexpected outcomes.

The developer should be able to emphasize on having a clear idea on testing the site in a staging environment than making it live directly. A seen-it-all developer should have a clear idea on the testing procedures and a robust plan for quality assurance. They should have a list of best practices for this stage of development.

Question #5: How challenging or easy it is to migrate custom modules in Drupal?

Custom Drupal modules can be tricky. The answer to this question should be on the lines of: Drupal hosts a powerful Migrate module that is capable of transferring/migrating any site to Drupal. However, this requires a sound knowledge of PHP and a reasonable familiarity with the field and the class structures.

Migration is definitely a bit of a complicated task that many fret. Yet, Drupal has in-depth documentation on the Drupal Migrate’s basics. Also, Drupal offers multiple options to perform the data migrations.

One doesn’t have to be a pro at Drupal, but a basic PHP script writing is essential. Another important point is a very good understanding of the source data and, specifically, the destination schema. Again, you could ask them to elaborate with an example.

Migration from older websites and incompatible systems is one major challenge most of the Drupal folks face and that is precisely why Drupal offers amazing documentation guidance for its community.

Question #6: Have you ever considered any other platform other than Drupal? Why?

This is to judge if the developer has working knowledge of other contemporary platforms. A basic knowledge of what exactly the platforms are and for what purposes they are used is a good indication that the developer is well informed.

Assuming that the developer uses the top 3 platforms – Drupal, WordPress and Joomla, the answer should start with citing the uniqueness of which of the platforms. For example:

Drupal – An open source platform that can be safely said as one size fits all. Drupal is a platform that has thousands of passionate contributors hence has a module or functionality for every other purpose and can even be customized. Yet be aware that it does comes with a steep learning curve.

Wordpress – WordPress is essentially a web software that can be used for creating beautiful websites and blogs. It is to be noted that this platform can be used only in case of running a basic corporate site or a blog which are either small or medium sized.

Joomla – Joomla is a CMS that is largely used where e-commerce and social networking is at its peak importance. And there are our 6 questions to ask a Drupal developer to see if they know their stuff. We are very aware that this is not a complete list, so feel free to add your favorite questions in the comments below! In the meantime, looking for some experienced Drupal Developers? We’ve got just the thing. Contact us and let's start talking!