Spoiler alert! If you haven't seen “The Last Jedi” yet, this blog post includes what can be considered a minor spoiler. I've seen the movie a few times now (I saw the original Star Wars movie when I was 7 years old, and I've been hooked ever since), and I've been able to fully indoctrinate at least one of my kids in my love for the series. When we first saw the movie on opening night, there was a line of dialog that resonated with me more than usual - I've been thinking about that line for over a month now and have figured out how to relate my love of Star Wars with my obsession for teaching Drupal.
"The Greatest Teacher, Failure Is"
There's a point in the movie when Yoda is speaking to another character and utters this line. As a former mechanical/aerospace engineering college adjunct professor and a current Drupal trainer, I've always believed that for a lesson to truly take hold, there has to be a little bit of pain - not physical pain, but rather the kind of pain that comes from doing something incorrectly (often numerous times) before realizing the proper way of doing something that leads to a more satisfying, correct (and often efficient) result. As usual, I didn't have the proper words to describe it - thanks to Yoda, I do now.
As I look back at my eleven years in the Drupal community, I can point to more things that I care to admit that I didn't do correctly the first time. If I narrow that list to technical mistakes, it becomes very clear that many of the mistakes I've made have had a direct impact on the curriculum I've written for our various training classes.
As we gear up to teach Mastering Professional Development Workflows with Pantheon for the second time, allow me to share some of the failures I've had in the past and how they've had a direct result on the curriculum for this 6-week class.
- "Everything is a content type" - this is something I learned only by repeatedly designing the information architecture for various sites that ended up not being able to completely fulfill all the project's requirements. Understanding the differences between various kinds of entities is key to building a sustainable site that meets 100% of a project's requirements.
- "Core search is fine" - I'm embarrassed to say how late I was to get on board the Search API train. Being able to provide faceted search to clients of all sizes is a huge win.
- "I don't need the command line" - looking back at the first half-ish of my Drupal career, I used Drush only when absolutely necessary. Not learning basic command line tools until well into Drupal 7 definitely held me back. With Drupal 8, if you want to be a professional Drupal developer, there is no way to avoid it. Luckily, using command line tools like Composer, Drush, and Drupal Console are not only "the right thing to do", but also save time.
- "MAMP is fine" - I was late to the party in moving my local development environment from MAMP and Acquia Dev Desktop to a Docker-based solution. I had played around a bit with virtualized solutions, but once you get accustomed to a professional-grade, modern, Docker-based solution, you'll never go back.
While I could list additional examples (multi-branch development, configuration management, display modes) of previous failures - or even one or two that I feel like I'm currently failing (test-driven development), the point is that sometimes it is necessary to fail in order to really understand the value of a success.
DrupalEasy's 6-week live, online Mastering Professional Development Workflows with Pantheon, not coincidentally, addresses the failures listed above. The next session begins on February 27, 2018.
The next session (our 11th!) of our 12-week, live, online more-introductory-focused Drupal Career Online begins March 26, 2018.