Drupal core offers various features, but sometimes it does not satisfy the business requirements. Developing a custom module gives unlimited possibilities to build and customize your website as per your needs. Custom Drupal development is not limited to altering the color scheme, fonts, and images.
For custom Drupal development, developers need a better understanding of business and hands-on experience in Drupal development.
So, you have just migrated from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, and you have to develop one of the modules from scratch? Need to tweak an existing Drupal module to add a particular functionality
We got you covered! If you are someone looking for best practices to follow while custom development in Drupal, then you have landed on the right page. This blog will tell you more about custom Drupal development, its benefits, and how to do it effectively.
A custom module in Drupal is a module that is created with customized features. The Drupal custom module can range from contributed modules that need little customization or a completely new Drupal 8 module developed from scratch with all new sets of non-existent functionalities for your project.
Sometimes migration from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 might need a custom module because the Drupal 7 module isn't available in Drupal 8. Simply put, a custom module in Drupal is built to extend the core functionality or inbuilt module of Drupal.
Regardless of your expertise in Drupal, custom module development has its own set of challenges.
For example, there are differences between Drupal 7 and Drupal 8. The critical difference is that Drupal 8 requires Symphony, the latest version of PHP 7, to run. On the other hand, Drupal 8's is built on a futuristic approach and is easy for well-acquainted people with OOP and MVC concepts. So you might be thinking that if Drupal offers a host of modules and features at its core, then what's the need to develop a custom module? Well, here is the list of key advantages associated with custom Drupal web development.
- Quick development time
- Helps developers match the exact requirement of customers
- Get robust taxonomy and RSS feeds
- You will have custom and user-friendly URLs
- Flexible and scalable
- Since you write code, the code quality is excellent
- Easy to integrate third-party tools
Custom drupal development methods vary from version to version in Drupal. The one method used in Drupal 7 might not work for Drupal 8. Here are some of the crucial things to keep in mind for the best output of custom Drupal development:
1. Use Configuration Before Code
To avoid hard-coding a class into a theme, make sure to set the values in the configuration and use it with the code to avoid rewriting the code every time you have to make changes. Once you set the value in the configuration, it gives you advanced functionality and "easy to modify" features. It also enhances coding speed and results in high-quality modules.
2. Limit The Usage Of Modules
While working on enterprise-level Drupal websites, it is essential to use fewer modules. Avoid using every single module which is lacking. Experienced developers are in favor of programming their modules rather than reusing the existing ones. A higher number of custom modules will demand more work in the future to maintain and modify your Drupal site. Publish your modules on Github, which helps you avoid using a larger number of custom modules and encourages you to create reusable code with the required configuration.
3. Environment & Coding Standards
Most of the Drupal development companies work in the same development environment to ensure efficient workflow. In such scenarios, the biggest issue is to make sure that the produced code is clean and reliable; the code should make sense to their team members and the larger Drupal community itself. With the Drupal community and distributed teams working together efficiently, you need to follow coding standards to make sure you achieve the project's goals and objectives.
4. Use hook_schema and hook_update_N
Your module will need its database tables if it stores data in the database which is not Drupal entities or nodes, and you are going to use it as content. Make sure to declare the table schema you will need. You can use "hook_schema" in the module. install file. It will be created and removed on its own whenever you install or uninstall a module.
If you want to remove, add or modify columns or modify the schema, you can easily do these changes in an update hook. Use hook_update_N and bump the version number. Other developers or development teams can implement these changes by pulling your code by running "drush updb."
5.Use what Drupal offers
Drupal has several built-in and admin functionality to help you store and display your module's data. You can define the module settings pages using hook_menu; it will enable modules to register paths to help determine how URL requests are handled. You can use the drupal_get_form page callback to define and return the settings that are needed to be stored. One of the key benefits of doing this- you can restrict, submit and validate handlers to the form if the value has to be integers or existing data fetched from an API, etc.
6. Working With Cron
Cron is a time-based task scheduler that you can configure to execute tasks automatically without any manual involvement once the initial configuration is done. Drupal offers several built-in cron functionalities and a task queue for almost every module development. However, in some cases, like your hosting provider doesn't support cron tasks configuration or maybe you are facing issues in configuring it to run correctly, it is essential to check your site's status report to figure out if you can use Cron configuration.
7. Have A Dedicated Place For Your Custom Modules
Suppose you have named your Drupal custom module as "My_shop." In this case, call the new dedicated folder as "/module/custom/My_shop." It's always advised to create a proper place for this type of module so you don't have to struggle a lot when you want to use the new custom module. It also helps you keep the in-built Drupal module downloaded by Drpal.org and custom modules separated from each other.
8. Create A New Module If Necessary
Reuse the existing Drupal modules as much as possible instead of jumping to write one from scratch because the heavy "load" of custom modules can become challenging to maintain and update your Drupal website in the future.
9. Debug Your Module With Xdebug
It is also known as the golden rule to follow when developing custom modules in Drupal. Debugging your custom module code ensures that there are no PHP code bottlenecks, and you're using only the latest code.
10. Use Automated Code Checking Tool
Make sure to use automated code checking tools like Coder to ensure that your code is reliable, clean, readable, and adheres to Drupal’s coding standards. It also helps you ensure that you are following the best practices of your PHP version.
As we have said initially, custom Drupal module development is only necessary when the existing ones are unavailable and truly not sufficient for your business.
We hope these tips will help you in maximizing the output of custom Drupal development. Also, to avoid messing up the custom module development works, you can hire a professional Drupal development agency with hands-on experience developing custom modules in Drupal.