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Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data

Creating views that aren't based on nodes


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Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data

with Tom Geller

Video: Creating views that aren't based on nodes

We've assumed that we would run this site with only one substantial user. That is, the administrator. But we could have designed it so that all members of the family are registered users and then let them enter their own date of birth and headshot and so forth. One result of doing things this way is that we could then use Views to keep statistics about how they were using the site, as we'll see in this video. In preparation, I've added a few users to our example Drupal site here. If you want to follow along at home, you can add some users on your own site by going to Administer > User management and Users and then clicking on Add user.
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  1. 12m 56s
    1. Welcome
      1m 12s
    2. Reviewing requirements
      3m 35s
    3. Using the exercise files
      3m 11s
    4. Touring examples of data visualization
      4m 58s
  2. 27m 56s
    1. Planning data structure
      8m 26s
    2. Importing and manipulating data
      6m 40s
    3. Looking at Drupal's database
      6m 13s
    4. Deciding whether to store personal data as nodes or users
      6m 37s
  3. 1h 13m
    1. Understanding the Content Construction Kit (CCK)
      4m 57s
    2. Creating new content types with CCK
      7m 26s
    3. Hiding the Body field
      2m 46s
    4. Reflecting CCK field data in the Title field
      7m 28s
    5. Managing CCK field placement
      7m 34s
    6. Exploring CCK's other features
      8m 22s
    7. Using other CCK field types
      3m 25s
    8. Adding date information as a CCK field
      8m 43s
    9. Including images as CCK fields
      10m 23s
    10. Connecting content to existing nodes
      5m 58s
    11. Using taxonomies to categorize and group data
      5m 59s
  4. 53m 54s
    1. Understanding why views are useful
      6m 12s
    2. Using SimpleViews to create basic content views
      5m 49s
    3. Diving into the Views interface
      11m 16s
    4. Adding fields to a view
      7m 12s
    5. Understanding iconic controls in the Views interface
      7m 15s
    6. Surveying the Sort, Filter, and Field options in Views
      5m 40s
    7. Adding view displays as pages, blocks, and RSS feeds
      10m 30s
  5. 43m 34s
    1. Overriding default settings on view displays
      8m 56s
    2. Attaching more information to views
      10m 57s
    3. Improving view appearances with grid, list, and table formatting
      9m 20s
    4. Surveying other basic display settings in Views
      11m 3s
    5. Altering a view's appearance through CSS
      3m 18s
  6. 55m 8s
    1. Importing, exporting, and cloning views
      6m 9s
    2. Controlling access to views
      7m 19s
    3. Learning from built-in views
      5m 52s
    4. Creating views that aren't based on nodes
      10m 6s
    5. Extending views with arguments
      10m 17s
    6. Extending views with relationships
      7m 2s
    7. Going further with relationships
      8m 23s
  7. 46m 40s
    1. Understanding geographic data
      4m 26s
    2. Setting up the Location module
      16m 20s
    3. Entering geographic data with the Location module
      10m 10s
    4. Displaying basic maps with the GMap module
      6m 43s
    5. Integrating the GMap module with Views
      9m 1s
  8. 54m 21s
    1. Exporting data in tabular form
      11m 25s
    2. Planning with the calendar modules
      11m 31s
    3. Using the Charts module and Google Charts
      7m 11s
    4. Graphing data with Open Flash Chart
      4m 50s
    5. Making important data pop out with tag clouds
      7m 46s
    6. Putting it all together in an attractive package
      11m 38s
  9. 36s
    1. Conclusion
      36s

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Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data
6h 8m Intermediate Jul 01, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Drupal's built-in data presentation tools offer several ways for web designers to clearly and attractively package their data. In Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data, Tom Geller explains how Drupal handles data so users can set up intelligent structures and implement them with Drupal's Content Construction Kit. Tom also shows how a data-driven web site can improve its interactivity by using geographic data to connect real-world addresses to maps. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Importing and manipulating data in Drupal
  • Presenting date-formatted information in calendars
  • Understanding Drupal's data-query interface, "Views"
  • Improving view appearances with grid, list, and table formatting
  • Importing, exporting, and cloning views
  • Extending views with arguments and relationships
Subjects:
Web CMS Web Development
Software:
Drupal
Author:
Tom Geller

Creating views that aren't based on nodes

We've assumed that we would run this site with only one substantial user. That is, the administrator. But we could have designed it so that all members of the family are registered users and then let them enter their own date of birth and headshot and so forth. One result of doing things this way is that we could then use Views to keep statistics about how they were using the site, as we'll see in this video. In preparation, I've added a few users to our example Drupal site here. If you want to follow along at home, you can add some users on your own site by going to Administer > User management and Users and then clicking on Add user.

As you could see, I've added a few here, or if you have the example files for this course, you can import them directly. The first thing that we should talk about is what other kinds of views can be set up besides those that are based on nodes. To see that, we'll go to Administer > Site building and Views and we'll add a view. As we scroll down, we see the different view types available. The one we know about is nodes and that's clear exactly how that works. With users, the advantage that you get is that it's tied to an email address, access controls and online activities and so forth. Comments are those things that are attached to nodes. They're not actually nodes themselves, although there is some talk of changing the Drupal architecture eventually to turn them into nodes.

I don't think that's going to happen in the next version of Drupal and I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't happen in the version after that. So, I wouldn't worry about it. Just keep in mind that comments are always attached to nodes. Terms, as you know, is meta- information. It's something that's stored in the taxonomy structure. Files are things that people upload to this site and they can have what they call a many-to- many relationship to nodes. That is, one node can hold many files and one file can serve many nodes. Finally, node revisions are sort of like comments. For each of these different kinds of view, you have different options about what you can show. We're not going to go through all of these, but we will talk about users just to give an example about how they're different.

One way that will show this is by looking at some of the blocks that are built-in that are actually user views. To go there, we'll scroll back up and go to Administer > Site building and Blocks and scroll down to the bottom to see those blocks that have not yet been put into a block region. Two of these blocks are actually very much like user views, the Who's new and Who's online blocks. Let's put both of those in the right sidebar just so we can take a look at them and learn from them. We move it to the right sidebar and click Save blocks. As expected, we see a list of who'd joined the site recently. We would also see a list of who is online if there were other people online.

We only have one person online. That's of course us, the administrator. Let's go back to our Home page and you see that block stays there. We're going to create a view that's very similar to that Who's new view. It's not only going to tell us that they're new; it's going to tell us how long they've been on the system and it will sort so the newest one is at the top. First, let's turn off those blocks. Go to Administer > Site building and Blocks, scroll down to the right column, what in Drupal is called the right sidebar and take those blocks out of the right sidebar. Scroll to the bottom and click Save. Now, we're ready to go and build our own version of that Who's new block. We go to Administer > Site building and Views and we'll create a new view and call it recently_active.

For a View description, I'll just say Recently active. I'll leave the View tag alone and scroll down to make it a User view rather than a Node view, then click Next. As you see, the interface is pretty much exactly the same as you're used to when you set up a Node view. However, when you start to add fields and filters and so forth, that's when you'll start to see the differences. Let's add a field. Scroll down to the bottom and the first thing that you'll notice is that all of the groups that were there before, they aren't there.

There's only a few: User, File and Global. Let's filter it just so we see the user choices. There are actually quite a few. I'm going to keep this simple and show only the user name. Remember, we're adding fields here; we're not filtering it. I just want to see a list of user names. So, we click there, click Add, we take a look at the different options we have. As usual I'm going to get rid of that label and link the field to its user and click Update. Then when we go down, we see a list of users. There is one interesting thing about this list. It includes the user anonymous and you'll notice that it's not linked to itself.

That's because the anonymous user in Drupal is a special case. I don't want them showing up in that list. So I'm going to go up to the Filter area and add a filter. Scroll down, change the groups to users, so I filter out all of this other stuff and scroll down and filter it out by User: Roles. Now, this isn't going to work, but I want to show you why and how to fix it. Click on Add and we see the configuration page, but you'll notice we actually can't select any particular role. We have the anonymous and authenticated roles, but those are actually built- in to Drupal and really not considered roles in the same way as those that you create.

So, this won't work. I'll click on Remove and try something a little different. Scroll back up to the top and instead I'll add a filter only for those users who are active. Scroll down to see more and click Add. Yes, I want to see only those who are active and update it. That got rid of our anonymous user. My point here is not to teach you the nitty-gritty of how to work with users, but to point out that each one of those other types of views, Users, Files, Taxonomy, they all have their little quirks and they'll take a little bit of figuring out.

If you ever have any problems that you can't solve, your best place to ask them as always is on Drupal.org. So, we have a group of users here. Let's add a little bit more information. The first thing that we want to do is sort it so that the ones who access the site most recently float to the top. To do so, we scroll to the top and add a Sort criteria. Scroll down again and let's scroll through and we have this User: Last access option. That seems about right so we'll select it and add. Once again, when you're dealing with time, it's hard to remember which is ascending and descending. We've been through this once before already, so we know that it's descending that we want. That is, going from the present time backwards is descending.

Click on Update, and we believe we have it sorted, but we're not really sure because we don't know exactly when these people accessed the site. We can change it though. Let's go up and add the Field, User: Last access. Again, we sorted on that and now we're going to show the value in the Fields. Scroll down, Add. We have many options here of course. The only one I'm going to change, and this is personal preference, is I'm going to say how long ago they actually accessed the site. We could add a custom date format if we like, but I'm just going to leave it as it is and click Update.

There. Now we actually have useful information and in fact, we see that we set up the Sort correctly. The administrator accessed it about a minute ago. Gracias accessed it about a half hour ago and so on. Let's save that and add one more piece of information. That is, the Title. We're going to call this Most-recent visitors, click Update and Save. Finally, remember why we wanted to set this up in the first place. We wanted to put a block in the right-hand column that gives us a little bit more information about who was last on the site. We'll add the block display like this.

Add an administration tag to it, so we'll know how to use it when we get to the Blocks page. Scroll down and we'll call it Most-recent visitors, click Update, and there we go. We can now preview it by going to our Display, Block and Preview. Let's save it and make sure that it actually has that title. Drupal can be sort of strange about what information it shows where and the best way to check is actually to look at the block itself. The preview doesn't always give you all the information. So, we'll click Save and then turn on that block by going to Administer > Site building > Blocks. Scroll to the bottom, where we have the inactive blocks and there's the one we created. We'll put it in the right-hand sidebar for now and click Save. There it is. It does have our title. It shows our Users and it's sorted by how recently they accessed the site.

I actually think I'm going to make it a little bit cleaner by putting this all on one line. Click Edit, click on the gear for Row style fields and scroll down a little bit and put those inline with a slash between them. Scroll down again, Update default display. Now we can see it's looking a little better, but we really don't need the last access. You know how to do all of this. As you can see at this point, when you create views, you go ahead and you do the new thing and then there's always a little bit of clean-up left over. But you do it faster and faster each time you work with views.

I'll go up and I'll remove that last access tag, scroll down, remove it, scroll down further, Update and Save. Now, if I go to my Home page, I have a really good sense of exactly how the site is taking shape. I'm actually going to remove that block from the right-hand column, because we're going to continue working with views and it's best to have as wide a page as possible. So, I go to Administer > Site building > Blocks and scroll down until I find the block and then remove it back to the None area and finally save. I know we're not using all of these blocks that we're building, but we will. When it's time, we'll bring this altogether for a really strong impactful data-driven Drupal site.

So, now you've seen how to set up a user based view, but as you saw, there's also file based views and taxonomy based views. The fact is they all operate pretty much the same. To understand them better, your task is just to practice creating those views, trying out different fields, filters, sorts and other options.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data.


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Q: The exercise files for the course appear to be missing.

A: Full exercise files for this course were not provided because of the unusually large amount of images, modules, and other files that would have to be installed in specific places, in addition to the database. We hope to have a solution for future Drupal courses that installs all items in their correct places.

Q: During the course the author makes reference to being able to add data via the exercise files; however, the data is not in the exercise files.
A: During the recording of the title, some of the exercise files were removed, since the frequent updates to Drupal itself and to the modules that are needed to run the exercise files cause them to break.

The data referenced in the video consists mostly of names and addresses, which will need to be typed by hand.
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