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Drupal - a complex beast

While experimenting with Drupal 7 here on Frihost I start to realize what a complex beast it is. Simple things I want to achieve are not possible to achieve just intuitively, you need to google a lot or better grab a book trying to understand Drupal. And even then it might be difficult.

After I used the Aggregator module to add some RSS feeds to my site I actually wanted them to show up on an extra page / view / whatever ? All the components available in Drupal are confusing on its own: what to use for what ? For now you can see my feeds when you select Feed Aggregator -> Sources in the left hand navigation bar. I added another feed by the way to show my bookmarks I have on delicious.

I started reading The Definitive Guide to Drupal 7 by Benjamin Melancon. After reading some introduction I started reading chapter 3 "Building Dynamic Pages Using Views".

The author writes:

The Views module allows you to easily specify the criteria for displaying a subset of content, even combining multiple content types. It also allows you to massage the format in which the data is displayed. As new content is added to your web site, the resulting View is dynamically updated to reflect the new content. It helps you to do all of this—without asking you to write a single line of code

The name Views comes from database terminology. A database view is a complex stored query that you use like a table in the database. When you request items from a database view, you get the things that you need in exactly the way you need them.

So far, so good !
The first thing I noticed: my native Drupal 7 install doesn't allow to manage views and pages. Shocked
I learned I first have to install the CTools (Chaos Tools Suite) module, then the View module. Both are listed here on the Drupal Download Page under Most Installed Drupal Modules. Those two important modules are actually the first two on the list, and I believe with Drupal 8 they will be part of the base install.

New modules should be installed thru the Drupal Admin GUI: Modules -> Install New Modules.
After installing those modules they need to be enabled before they can be used. And they need to be enabled in the right sequence; dependencies are actually shown on the Module Page. For example the Views module requires the CTools module, the Views UI module which is actually used to configure views requires the Views module. Thus those module need to be enabled in the right order and it is also necessary to Save Configuration after each step so that subsequent modules can be enabled then.

After having done all of this new artefacts became available in the Structures Admin view which haven't been there before, like Views and Pages:

I now are able to add views, but so far I wasn't able to achieve what I mentioned before: I simply can not define a view which would contain only my RSS feeds.

So may be Views are not the right approach here. At least I made some progress to enhance my Drupal site with the capability to manage Views and Pages, but much more googling or reading will be needed until I can achieve having an extra page just with my RSS feeds which can be opened thru a menu entry.

1 blog comments below

WOW! Sounds very complex. Must be very time consuming to puzzle through all of the challenges. If one should want to use Drupal one day though this is a great blog post for adding in those modules. Well done! Cool
deanhills on Wed Nov 12, 2014 7:24 pm

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