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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.
I want to talk about one area of Drupal that's somewhat hard for beginning users to understand but that becomes especially useful in the data driven site. That's taxonomy. Taxonomy is just a fancy catchall word for any system of categorization and we use taxonomy all the time in our everyday life. For example, let's say you are standing with a friend and you see a car coming down the road. You ask what kind of car it is and your friend says it's a Ford. Your friend has defined the car based on the company that makes it. In Drupal terms, the group of companies is called the vocabulary while individual entries in the vocabulary, such as Ford, Chevy and Honda, are all called terms. Your friend might have said it's blue. In which case it's a vocabulary based on color and the terms are red, blue, orange, and so forth.
From this example, you can see how the same item can be defined by terms in multiple vocabularies and that setting up relevant and efficient vocabularies can involve some very difficult decisions. In this video, we'll take a simple example of defining people by their relationship to the family. Later in the series, we'll apply what we do here to separate out friends from family members, from pets, and so forth. To set up a taxonomy, the first thing you do is go to Administer > Content management, and Taxonomy. When you first install Drupal, there are no vocabularies installed. However, if you've created any forums, you would see a taxonomy setup for those because the forum module actually uses the Taxonomy Module to separate out one forum from another. But you can also do it manually and that's exactly what we are going to do.
We start by adding a vocabulary. Our vocabulary is going to be called Relationship to family. Description isn't really necessary. Help text in our case isn't necessary. There aren't very many options on this page really. It's just to identify the taxonomy. The only kind of node that might have a relationship to the family is the Person. That is, nodes of the Person type might be related to this de Nada family in one way or another. At the bottom, these three check boxes determine how you will interact with these taxonomy selections when creating or editing content. The Help text explains them pretty well. But if you need more guidance, see the video "Exploring Content Categories," which is part of the Drupal Essential Training series from lynda.com.
In our case, we are going to allow people to have multiple selections, so someone could be a friend and married into the family, for example. And we save it and there is our vocabulary there at the bottom. Now we are going to list terms within that vocabulary. Again, to go to our earlier example, the vocabulary might be car manufacturers and the terms would be Ford, Chevy, and so forth. I'm going to add terms. The first one is going to be Raised. That's someone who has had the name "de Nada" since at least childhood. And save it.
Once you create a term, you are actually then asked to create another term. Of course, you could cancel out at any time. But very often, when you are creating a vocabulary, you create many terms at once. So Drupal is smart this way. It works the way that it expects you are going to work. The next term will add as Married, and that's someone who fell in love with a de Nada, lucky you. And save it. Next group is going to be Friend. Not technically a de Nada, but we don't hold it against you. And Save. And the last group is Pet and that's all the benefits, but no voting rights, kind of like the District of Columbia. And save it. Good.
So now if we go back to List up here, we can see there are our terms and in fact we can move them around if we want. If we have moved them, we can also reset them to alphabetical so that they are in the original order. It doesn't really matter for us. So I'm just going to say Save. I should mention that taxonomies can actually get more complex than that and if you click on Edit, and go to the bottom, this Advanced options link will show you some of the options available. I won't be going into those now but they are worth learning if you decide to do multi-level taxonomies and have one word that's equivalent to another and so forth. But we are just going to skip over that for now.
The next step is to go and take a look at how that taxonomy actually affected our nodes. Let's go back to our front page and click on Dani's link let's say and Edit it. We now have this Relationship to family choice. In her case, I'm going to say that she married into the family, she married Eli, scroll to the bottom, and Save. So now you could go through the entire database and just update everybody to say whether they are Pet, a Friend, Married, Raised, or some combination of all of those. I'll do that after the video is done, so if you want to use this database that I've using you can just load it up if you have the Exercise Files.
The process of re-tagging nodes after they have been created can be quite time consuming. So you are much better off creating taxonomies when you first setup a data-driven Drupal site. But there is a catch 22. You often don't know exactly how you are going to use the data before you start and it's a waste of time to mis-tag everything. Consider our earlier example. If we were running an auto-sales site, we would want to tag cars by the company that produced them, Ford and Chevy and so forth. But what if we were running a company that provides prop cars for movie productions? Then the color might be more important, along with the condition of the car, and the year of production, and so forth. So it all depends on your application.
In any case, you don't lose anything but the time it takes to add tags when you create a taxonomy. In our site's case, it might not yet be clear exactly what this taxonomy is going to be used for but it will be clear as we go on. And in particular, for our case when we start talking about Views.
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