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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.
Now we get to the meat of the matter, the Views module, which lets you deconstruct the content you created in Nodes and present it in new and interesting ways. To better understand what it does, let's revisit some points discussed in the earlier video, "Planning your Data Structure." By now we understand that records are broken up into fields, Name, Address, City and so on. We also know that we have to make decisions about how to breakup these fields, when we design a Drupal site. For example, we could have broken the Address field into three, one for the street number, one for the street name, and finally, one for street or avenue or road or whatever.
We saw in the video hiding and automating unnecessary fields that it's possible to use the Token module to combine fields in simple ways under very limited circumstances. But what if you want to combine those fields in more complex ways. For example, to create mailing labels of all of the nodes in your Drupal site. You can do that by creating a formula that mixes fields with text delimiter, such as commas and carriage returns, as it's shown here. By reaching directly into the SQL database. But doing that requires some advance knowledge of two things; SQL Syntax and the Drupal database structure itself. It's not easy stuff. That's why Views was created by a programmer named Earl Miles, known as Merlin of Chaos throughout the Drupal community.
Views is essentially an easier user interface to the SQL database that lives behind your Drupal site. While Views itself can be daunting at first, it's much easier, and safer, and ultimately more flexible than hand-coding SQL. I'll show you what I mean by creating a very simple view using the data we already have. First, of course, we have to get the Views module along with the Advanced help module, which provides lots of guidance. If you're using Acquia Drupal, you already have them. If not, you can download them from the URLs you see here.
Watch the video expanding your site's capabilities with modules in the Drupal Essential Training course, if you have any trouble with this. We've already installed the modules. Now we're just going to go turn them on. To turn on the modules, you go to Administer, Site building, and Modules. The Views module will have all of its parts in a group called Views, whereas the Advanced help module will have its parts in the Other section. So we scroll down, there is the Other section. I'll just add Advanced help. If you'd like, you could add the Advanced help example that will help you learn Advanced help. Scroll down further. I'm going to turn on all three of these, Views, Views exporter and Views UI.
Basically, Views is the most important part. It doesn't work without the Views module turned on. Views exporter gives you the ability to move Views from one Drupal installation to another. I'll show you how to do that later. The Views UI is also an essential module. If you don't have the Views UI module turned on, you can't actually get in and change your views or build new ones. We have all of those turned on, so now we'll click Save configuration. There is one other thing you might have to do, if you run into problems. That's to increase how much memory is available to your PHP installation. Views takes a lot of memory. Unfortunately, the default installations of WAMP for Windows and MAMP for Mac don't give PHP very much memory at all.
If you increase the memory size to at least 32 megabytes or better yet, 64 megabytes, your problems will probably go away. To learn how to increase that memory allocation, go to the video where we tell you what requirements you need for this course. Now we'll go to Views interface, which we can find at Administer > Site building > Views. The Views interface will be overwhelming, I promise you, and we're not going to take anytime to explain it now. Rather, I just want to show you a very basic example of what it does.
But don't worry, in the next dozen or so videos, we'll be going back and showing you how to do every last little thing that you see me doing here very quickly. So I'm going to create a View by adding it. It will be called people. The description will simply be People. It will be a view full of nodes. I'm going to Filter it, so it's only nodes that have been published and that are of a certain type. They are Published, Yes, and they are of the type Person, Update.
Very good; now I'll add some Fields. Scroll down a little bit so we can see what we're doing a little better. Add Date of birth, Headshot, Married to, and Node: Title. I'll have to go through a few windows to say exactly what I'm doing. Finally, I'm going to change the style of this view to a table with a few sortable columns. Again, don't worry if you don't know exactly what I'm doing. We'll be going through all of this in the upcoming videos.
I'm going to save that, just to be safe. Add a page display with a Path called people. Save it again. Preview it. Finally, I'm just going to reorder my Fields a little bit, so they make more sense. The name will go first, followed by a Headshot, followed by the Date of birth, and who they're Married to Save it. And now we can actually go and take a look at that page. There! We now see the data in our site in a much clearer way than we did before. This was a very, very simple example of what Views can do. As you saw, I was able to create this view in less than a minute. But I'm sure you can already see, how incredibly powerful it's going to be.
Now, programmers aren't known for their user interface design skills, and even a talented UI designer would have a hard time harnessing all of View's power. So a lot of the options require drilling down a bit to get to the part you want, or are in places you don't expect to find them. Fortunately, the current version of Views, that is Views 2, is much better than the first version. The next version promises to be even better. Furthermore, there is a simplified option for Views administration called Simple Views, and we'll show that elsewhere in this course.
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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.
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