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I am going to show you different ways that you can split up data that you already have. The way you split it up, defines how much work it takes to get the data in but it also defines how much you can get out of the data later. The examples we will use are only for this video. We are going to start with a fresh installation of Drupal right after we are done with this. So don't worry if your site doesn't look like this. We are not going to continue on with it during the course. I have already put some information into the site from the exercise files. If you have them you can do the same, using information from the video using the exercise files.
I have set this up so that we see the same information in three different ways. First, in what I call a flat format, where you have the name then just all of the other information. Then we have it split out a little bit more so we have the name, separate from the Home address, from the Office address and then from the Office phone. The third version breaks it out even further. We have the First name, Last name and so forth. Each of these three methods has its advantages and disadvantages. And this video, is mostly to talk about what they are so you can plan your own site a little bit better.
When we look at this flat format, it's very easy. We have all of the information there in one place. However, there's no way to sort by let's say last name or first name. You just have the information as it is. Unfortunately, you might have existing information already in your company or organization and you have to massage it a little bit in order to separate which the home address is and the office address and so forth. If we go to Employees with addresses, this is a little bit better and in fact, it is useful information now. But again, since we haven't split out the names into first name and last name, we can't sort based on only the last name.
However, the advantage of an intermediate step like this is that it's fairly simple to read and understand. In this version, we have split out the bits of information quite a bit more but we could still go even further if we wanted. For example, we could split out the number of the street from the street itself. And so would have to ask ourselves, is that really useful to us or would it just mean that we're going to have difficulty when we start entering this information, because the more fields you have the more fields you have to fill out. Now in our application since this is an Employee directory, it's not really so useful for us to sort, for example, on the street number.
But if we were the county assessor, we might find that more useful. We might want to see who is between street number 20 and 40 on East Lorain Street. One nice thing about Drupal is the way that we created these tables is the same. It's actually quite simple once you get into using views as you will throughout the rest of this course. Another nice thing about it, is that sorting comes built-in. So no matter how you split up your data, you can then sort it however you like. For example, you could sort by city or by state or even by Extension in the company phone system.
So how much detail do you need for your data? I am afraid I can't answer that. You will have to balance the amount of work it takes to enter the data, along with your ability to keep it all straight, against what you hope to get out of it, because once more the more fields you add the more you have to fill in. You might also have to deal with data that you already have and measure how hard it would be to split it up the way you want before importing it. In general, the more detailed the data, the better. You can always combine it later into useful formats using views, as I will show you later in this course.
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