Checklists, Drupal and First Aid

Stepping outside what we normally do can give us fresh insights into what we do and how we do it. I have just completed the Level 3 Occupational First Aid course. 70 hours in the classroom. Many more hours spent poring over a massive textbook. Learning. There were several moments when I wanted to chuck the course and come back to my computer and web design. But I realized that not only was there First Aid skill building going on I was learning. Learning about working with others, learning about regular work again - class was from 8 to 4 with work-like lunch and coffee breaks, and learning about checklists.

I've been slowly working my way through Checklist Manifesto. And I think it has a lot to say to Drupal folk. Install profiles. Never doing something twice. These are mantras that Drupistas hold dear. But there are things that defy these mantras. I have begun to specialize in Drupal upgrades. Moving from one major version of Drupal to another. Much of what I do is repeititve and I have a checklist that I follow. Shared here and here.

As I sat in Doug Gough's excellent presentation on "building a drupal 6 module" last night at our local meetup, I began thinking about one of my favorite modules - SEO Checklist . How would a checklist for upgrade module work? Could it incorporate all the learnings that I have about Drupal contrib modules moving from D5 to D6 and make the process simpler? I don't know if the idea will go anywhere but it seems a good combination of module building and an itch that needs to be scratched. Upgrade module is part of the steps in this process. And wouldn't you know it... Since the last time I used the module - about two weeks ago - there is an upgrade assist module that gives exactly that checklist. It is now incorporated into the Upgrade Status module.

Still to reflect on the checklist phenonomena. To handle repetitive tasks that may not be huge but are part of the necessary work of the Drupal Implementer A checklist is the best way. The other thing that a checklist does is that it provides the basis for conversation and communication. It brings up the questions that need to be answered. A checklist provides quality assurance by insuring that small but crucial steps are taken.

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