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Using taxonomies to categorize and group data

From: Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data

Video: Using taxonomies to categorize and group data

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.

Using taxonomies to categorize and group data

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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This video is part of

Image for Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data
Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data

50 video lessons · 11242 viewers

Tom Geller
Author

 
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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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