[consulting] Drupal Certification

adept digital evolution techlists at ade.pt
Mon Aug 10 18:46:07 UTC 2009

Hi friends,

I've been following this thread sort of loosely (and silently thus far, 
being new to this list and doing my respectful intial Lurk Mode thing). 
One thing I've not seen discussed -- and that I'm not sure anybody would 
be attuned to who hasn't been involved in an effort to formulate, 
develop, market and stage an actual certification program -- is the very 
significant resources that are required, both human and fiscal.

These are a few points surrounding a certification program that I 
present for your consideration:

1. Certification Categories:

Many of the jobs I see posted on boards could be done by someone who is 
a good *Drupal Admin* with some lightweight hacking skills. This would 
be someone who understands how to install, configure, and tweak Drupal 
and modules and stylesheets to build a site according to someone else's 

Then there would be the *Drupal Architect* category -- this would 
require a broad and deep understanding of everything that is possible 
with Drupal and its modules (though not necessarily a programmer per 
se). This person would have the knowledge to start with the concept for 
a site and draw up the overall front-end architecture as "translated" 
from pure concept to Drupal-ese, do some story boarding, prepare 
instructions for the Admin. Designing a site to be built with Drupal is, 
of course, very different from drawing up plans for a static site to be 
built in Dreamweaver. It's an environment-specific skill and Drupal Site 
Architect might be a specific job position in a large enterprise-scale 

Then there are *Drupal Themers*, who can build or safely modify themes 
according to best practices, and who have graphic design chops.

And, of course, *Drupal Programmers* who not only are advanced php 
coders but are intimate with the OO structure that drives Drupal. These 
persons might need to customize core code for a special project, and/or 
to build new hooks, and so on.

So is it reasonable to create a single certification program (as a 
separate issue from what body ought to develop and offer such a program) 
that demands people be fluent in All Of The Above in order to be a 
candidate for certification? Or would a variety of certificates be 
offered? Which leads to ...

2. Development of a Body of Knowledge (BOK) and docs/training materials:

Before a test or series of tests can be devised, there needs to be some 
sort of recognized Body of Knowledge against which to test. This takes a 
heavy investment of time (i.e., money, unless there are some saints 
around here willing to put in many f/t months for free). FOR EVERY MAJOR 
RELEASE that is rolled out, the BOK needs reviewing and amendment. Then 
all existing test questions need to be reviewed and possibly amended, 
and new questions need to be written.

Given the current state of Drupal documentation (lovely in all its 
free-form spirit of contribution ... but only partially organized from a 
Meta standpoint, and right now at a sort of luscious tangled-up 
overgrown garden stage), it cannot serve as the source BOK for 
developing tests. First the docs need work (and that is underway but 
only at the pace that Documentation Project members can find the time). 
And/or clear, self-paced training docs to prepare for the test need to 
be written. You cannot test against "information that you should just 
have picked up by now if you are a real Drupal pro" ... or you will have 
prospective test-takers up in arms asking what they can study to prepare.

Not only do these materials have to be revised with every major release, 

3. Test Development:

This is not something one slaps together. The psychometrics, 
international legalities and other factors that impact the effectiveness 
and fairness of a test is a whole field of study unto itself.

Also consider that for each test version, perhaps four times as many 
questions as will appear on an individual's exam need to be prepared; 
then 25% of the questions selected for each person's test. Otherwise it 
becomes too easy for test-takers to pass along information regarding 
"what's on the test".

4. Contracting with a Testing Venue:

For certification to be meaningful tests need to be offered in 
recognized testing venues where the test-takers identity can be 
verified. This means contracting with a company such as Prometric to 
stage the actual exams and grade the results.

5. Marketing the Program:

Now the program must be "branded", marketing content and graphics 
developed (for both test-takers and prospective employers) .....

I'll stop there. You get the idea --

-- This is not something that is going to come together via unfunded 
loosely organized volunteer effort. 

-- There are legal implications and heavy requirements that any 
organization taking this on needs to consider.

And now, finally, "IMHO" ...
... I'd much rather see community and individuals' resources put into 
keeping the Drupal platform (and its documentation and learning 
resources) evolving and improving.

I'd suggest that if there is a group here with sufficient resources 
and/or intra-group expertise and/or free time on their hands ... that 
they create a working committee and report back to us on their progress 
or post to solicit specific help. I would wish them all the luck in the 
world. I'm only trying to portray a realistic picture of what is 
involved,  having myself invested hundreds of hours of my own time on 
similar efforts in the past which ended up fizzing out (with the only 
benefit being that I gained an understanding that enabled me to write up 
the above)

regards to all,


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