A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about Yeoman and the existing Yeoman generators for Drupal. As someone who loves and rants a lot about code generation, it was a tool that I had been wanting to try out for quite some time, and the experience after having spent a couple of hours with the tool, figuring out which generators could be useful for me, was rather satisfactory.
Now, beyond having some generators that I can benefit from, my interest in Yeoman was mostly in the APIish side of it. In other words, I wanted to see how easy it is to create my own generators for whatever tasks I find myself repeating a lot. The best way to find that out is, of course, to try and write a generator plugin for it, facing the usual challenges of being a total newcomer to a language or a framework. One of the most common pieces of code I have to write in my projects, are ctools plugins, in particular, Content Type plugins, so I decided to write a generator for just those type of plugins. This post will explain the basics of the tool and how to create a basic generator. If you want to get the most out of it, I’d recommend you to open your IDE or text editor of choice, and follow along, so that you can experiment with Yeoman at the same time.
Life before Code Generators
I love automation.
It’s something that lives deep inside me, and I always seem to seek it as hard as I can, even when dealing with the most trivial things. Yes, even those things for which automation might not even give huge benefits at all. That is, perhaps, because I just fit in the prototype of lazy developer who wants to reduce the work to do as much as possible, or simply because I like the challenge of grabbing a problem that requires some hours and several steps to get solved, and turn it into a trivial matter that can be done in less time, by anyone.
And that’s what I did a year and some months ago, when I wrote the Field Type Generator module for Drupal 7, which I’m releasing today. Depending on your background, and the processes and tools that you use for Drupal development, this might or might not be as great a tool as it is for me, but I can tell you that in my case, it’s a little gem that has saved me a lot of time over the last year.