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Introduction to module development

22 August 2010

Our Introduction to Module Development class provides a hands on crash-course in solving problems by building custom modules. Students will follow along in a local sandbox as they are guided through the process of creating a functional custom module to meet a specific need not addressed by existing projects. At the end of the class students will receive a copy of the finished module which includes additional well-documented examples of advanced topics such as update scripts, programmatic content type creation and Views integration for our custom database tables.

Course goals

Attendees will leave the class with a working knowledge of Drupal’s main APIs including the menu, form, node and user systems as well as the database abstraction layer. Every attendee of this class should leave with an understanding of how modules are capable of extending Drupal’s functionality and and where to start when they need to build that one specific feature.

Language: English
Duration: 8 hours
Style: Hands-on training
Minimum attendees: 15
Maximum attendees: 30


  • Basic knowledge of Drupal
  • Own laptop with a working Drupal 6 installation
  • A basic working knowledge of PHP

During the course you will receive

  • Lecture notes (both printed and in PDF) and a working copy of our finished example module.

Course outline:

  • How to avoid writing modules
  • Introducing our custom module
  • Starting a new module
  • Understanding the hook system
  • Working with the Menu System
  • Drupal’s Permissions System
  • Introduction to the Form API
  • Creating a home for our data
  • Adding to the node - using hook_nodeapi
  • Working with the database
  • Creating a custom Block
  • Reporting Results
  • Views Integration


Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg - Alex Urevick-Ackelsberg has been working in technology since 1999, and with Drupal since he hooked up with Music for America, a voter education and registration initiative, during the U.S. 2004 presidential campaign. Before he began working professionally with Drupal he helped to create numerous blogs and online communities including Young Philly Politics, a local political blog, Blue Force, a progressive national security site, and Future Majority, which looks at the intersections of youth, culture, and politics.

Alex worked at The New School for Social Research in New York City for eight years, where he also received his Bachelors and Masters degrees, both of which focused on psychology, politics, and communications. After he left the New School, Alex worked various jobs in politics and communications, including doing Online Marketing/Internet Outreach for the award winning film The War Tapes, working as the Youth and Cultural Field Organizer for Philadelphians Against Santorum, and managing a City Council race in Philadelphia.

When not working with Drupal or using Social Networks to discuss and debate politics Alex can usually be found hanging out with his wife and infant daughter, tinkering with his salt water reef tanks, propagating corals, and otherwise feeding his life-long love for all things living.

Jody Hamilton has been a full-time Drupal developer since 2006, coming into the project at Drupal 4.7 after beginning her web career with independent PHP and CSS work. She worked freelance and for Canary Promo + Design building Drupal sites, developing modules, theming, teaching Drupal, and consulting for Drupal site builders. Working independently on projects where she wore all the hats, Jody became a general Drupal expert with strong knowledge of all things Drupal including APIs and code development, theming and CSS work, site building, architecture and module selection.

Jody partnered into Zivtech in March 2008 after meeting Alex at the Philadelphia PHP/Drupal Meetup. She leads development at Zivtech, where she continues to squash bugs and write new code, plan site architecture, as well as training and assisting the rest of the team.
Contributing to Drupal core and contributed modules has been an on-going part of her work, recognizing that improvements to Drupal are directly beneficial to those who work with it. She contributes modules and patches, including core patches. (See: some of Jody's contributions to Drupal.)

Jody graduated from Harvey Mudd College in 2000. Prior to joining the world of open source web development she worked as an analytical chemist for the pharmaceutical industry and as a high school math teacher. Having a scientific approach and an education background are both useful in her current work. She also has a background in music, playing numerous instruments and writing songs and lyrics.

Jody lives in rural Pennsylvania with her boyfriend, his two girls, and her three cats. When not at work in Philadelphia she can usually be found driving to work in Philadelphia.

Howard Tyson was introduced to web programming through his work on experimental interactive systems while pursuing a degree in Visual Arts and New Media. Writing code to solve problems instantly became a passion and quickly blossomed from hobby to career.

Howard has been working with Drupal since version 4.7 and after managing the web component of a media production company he decided that he needed to find a path where he could focus all of his energy on Drupal and making open source software that rocks and teaching people how to use it. He has been working at Zivtech exclusively on Drupal since June 2009.