One of the many great benefits of having a Drupal website is developing custom Drupal modules. Today, we will discuss best practices when building custom Drupal modules, as well as some of the great modules already available to take advantage of.

What is Drupal?

Drupal is a content management system (CMS) that powers nearly 1.2 million websites worldwide. Drupal is used by a variety of different businesses, and powers websites for a variety of businesses ranging from personal blogs to large corporate companies. Drupal is known for its reliable security features, superior performance, and community support. It offers a number of great standard features that allow non-technical users to manage and update content, and many take advantage of its client side editing features. It is often used by developers for custom website design due to its ability to extend its functionality through modules and content presentation through themes. Drupal also offers the ability to integrate various software components, making it flexible for different business needs.

What is a module?

A module is a set of Javascript, PHP, or CSS files that can be integrated within the Drupal platform to extend a website’s features and functionality. A module that is already available can easily be installed or removed at any time. Many websites use Drupal’s core modules which include:

  • Managing accounts
  • Adding, removing, or editing content
  • Managing navigation

Beyond core modules, Drupal also offers the option for custom modules to be integrated into a website that are built by an outside web developer. When building custom modules, we have a few suggestions for best practices. If you are considering building a custom Drupal module or hiring a developer, these tips are great to refer back to.

1. Ensure Understanding of Requirements and Proper Setup

You want to be sure that your custom module will run smoothly, so we recommend looking into the proper environment before beginning the project to make coding smooth and simple. Make sure you have the proper software setup installed so you can effectively write, compile, and execute your module properly.

2. Create a Directory for Your Module

After setting up the environment, you will then need to create a custom folder within your Drupal directory (this can be found under modules/custom/mypage on Drupal 8).

3. Give Your Module a Good Name

After creating a directory for your module, you will want to give it a good name to locate it easily. We recommend naming it something that relates to its functionality (the name of your module should also end ininfo.yml).

4. Refer to Drupal 8 Solutions When Constructing Your Module

If you are building within Drupal 7, refer to Drupal 8 as a reference point when building your module. Drupal 8 may offer a solution that relates to the functionality you are looking to create, so this will make the building process much simpler.

5. Validate The Server Side Throughout the Project

Many Drupal developers will validate the client side when building a module to make sure its functionality is displaying correctly on a web page. It is also important to double check the server side, as this will prevent any long-term errors caused by incorrect coding.

6. Use Cache to Back Up Work

Cache is a high-speed memory storing mechanism. When building your module, be sure to use cache to back up any work you have done and prevent data loss.

7. Use the Most Up to Date Hooks

Hooks allow modules to interact with the core code of Drupal. Hooks allow modules to define new pages within a website, adding content to pages and setup customizable databases, tables, and more.

Hooks occur at various points through all enabled modules at various points throughout the execution of a custom project. Since all these components work in sync with each other, using the most up to date hooks when building your module will ensure everything works together and properly updates.

8. Properly Built Modules Ensure Long Term Success

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the best PHP options and the version of Drupal you are working within, since there are many differences between Drupal 7 and 8. Drupal 8 also offers the inclusion of the TWIG engine template, making the coding process less time-consuming.

9. What are some awesome existing modules on Drupal 8?

If you are thinking of upgrading to the latest version of Drupal, below are a few existing modules you may want to take advantage of:

Paragraphs– allows non developers to bring balanced content to their website by allowing for integration of text, image blocks, and popup elements

Webform– allows you to easily build forms for users to submit within your website

Display Suite– allows you to easily update or create layouts using drag and drop features

Field Group– allows you to structure and easily organize content

AdvAgg– allows you to optimize performance on a Drupal website

Overall, upgrading your website to Drupal is a smart choice, since the use of themes and modules allow for endless customizations to be made to the functionality or design of your website. For assistance in creating a custom Drupal module or any Drupalrelated questions, contact a Drupal expert here.

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