There are hints and tips, and when you have questions, its talk page is where you can drop your questions. Alternatively there are the IRC channels #mediawiki and #wikimedia-dev where among others Krinkle will be available to help you out.
As time goes on, issues with MediaWiki 1.17 and its performance are solved so the moment where your project will be upgraded is getting nearer. Please help yourself and prepare yourself. Another resource is the log of the office hours with Roan and Trevor that can be found here.
If there is one lesson to learn, then it probably is that standards evolve.