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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.
In the Drupal Essential Training course from lynda.com, we learned how to add content to a site using Drupal's two basic Content types, that is, Story and Page. We also saw how to enable the other three that are included with Drupal's core download: Forums, Posts, and Blogs. But one of Drupal's big advantage is that it let's you create your own Content types with as many fields as you like, in any order you like, and with certain display features that will help present your information better. In this video, we'll show you how to do that using a Module called Content Construction Kit, or it's almost always called and as we'll call it throughout the course, CCK. But first let's review what CCK is.
If you create a Content type without CCK, you're pretty much stuck with the two fields that Drupal provides, that is the Title and the Body, along with any fields made available by contributed Modules. By adding CCK, you can create Content types with multiple arbitrary custom fields. These Content types are the templates from which you create nodes and the nodes contain the actual data for your site. I know that's a bit confusing right now, but it will become clear as we do it over the next few videos. Here's an example though. You might create a Content type called Person that includes separate fields for first names, last names, birth dates, and so on.
In fact, this is part of the example, we'll use throughout the course. Then to add a person to your Drupal site, you would click on the Create Content link and then you would select the Person Content type that you just created. That will bring up a new screen where you fill in a form based on that template you created when you created the Person template form. When you fill in that form, you'll have your new node and it will have information in all of those fields that you specified: first name, last name, and so forth. So you have gone beyond that simple Title and Body paradigm. If you were then to add any new fields to that Content type after you have added some data, all nodes that you already created of that type will have simply blank spaces in them for the new fields.
You could fill in those fields later if you like. However, if you delete any fields in a Content type, you'll also delete all of the information in every node of that Content type. CCK is important to Drupal. It's so useful that it's become the second most popular Drupal Module, second only to the other Module we'll be examining in detail in this course, Views. If you would like to see those statistics, you can see them at drupal.org/project/usage. Both the CCK and the Views Modules were introduced in 2005 and they really changed the way that Drupal is used. Both of them are included as part of Acquia Drupal which is a commercially supported version of Drupal that's available from acquia.com.
When Drupal 7 comes out, which will be either in late 2009 or early 2010, CCK's functions will be built into the core download so you won't need to install the Module separately. I expect it will work almost exactly the same though, so the instructions you get in this video should work just fine with very little modification. Keep an eye on upcoming videos from lynda.com and my website at tomgeller.com for help when that happens. But assuming you are working with Drupal 6 as I am, you will first have to download and install the Module. As with all Modules, you'll find it at drupal.org/project/, followed by the name of the project, in this case, CCK.
We're going to go and download and install the CCK Module. To do so go to drupal.org/project/cck. Scroll down a little bit. And then download the most recent version for your version of Drupal. In our case, since we're using 6, we'll download this one. Save that. It comes down very quickly. Go back to the Finder. Double-click on it to open it up. Now uncompressed as the CCK folder, I'll go to where I have Drupal installed, which in my case is in the Sites folder, in lynda. Go to the sites folder, to All. And I've already created a folder here called modules. If you haven't done this, you'll have to do that as well. Open that up, and then just drop that folder in. And you can close these windows if you like.
Now I'll go back to my site. All the Modules in CCK are contained in this section up at the top labeled CCK, and there are quite a few of them. We'll talk about many of them as we go along, but for right now we're only going to turn on two: Content and Text. The Content one is necessary to use CCK. It's basically the core part of CCK. Text let's you create the fields that contain simple text information. We'll then scroll to the bottom of the screen and click Save configuration. And there, CCK is installed. That's the basic theory behind the Content Construction Kit and how to install it.
Now let's move on and actually create a Content type with some custom fields. Once that's done, we'll have everything we need to eventually start manipulating how these fields are presented on your Drupal site.
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