Drupal uses a few main tools to display information on pages. Three of the most common are content types (aka nodes), views, and blocks.
- A content type is a type of node that defines and stores a specific set of data (such as all the information about a specific event). You can add and edit content types in Drupal.
- A view displays information about a group of related nodes (such as all the events associated with a specific event series). An administrator (such as webguys) set up views, but many views are designed so you can manipulate them using variants, or with arguments.
- Blocks are used to display related information on a node or view. They usually appear off to the side, and can display information pulled from other nodes or views.
You use content types every time you add or update a page, an image, a file, an event, or anything else in Drupal.
Content types consist of a related group of information about a particular subject, and display as what we'd normally think of as a "web page."
Each content type has fields that allow you to record information that is important for that specific type of content — such as captions for photos, or times and location for events — and are used to standardize and simplify management of web content.
You can edit most fields in most content types, and these nodes are what you'll be editing to update your pages.
Some content types are designed to work together—such as publications, issues, and articles. They often use views, blocks or other Drupal components to automatically create tables of content, paged lists of programs, and more. Some of these views are designed so you have some control over how they work. See the help section for each content type for more information.
Views are aggregations (often in list form) of nodes, with the nodes selected based on some logical criteria.
If you use databases a lot, you can think of a view as, essentially, a query of nodes and a way of displaying the results.
Administrators (such as the webguys) create the primary views, but several have been specifically designed so you can easily add them to your pages and use "arguments" (general tags) to determine what shows up or how it appears.
- Event Series (with many events)
- Publications (with multiple issues with many articles)
- Faculty/Staff Listings
- External Resources
- Exhibition Listings (on Faulconer Gallery)
- Almost everything on the Front Page (Top News Stories, Grinnell in the News, News Releases, Sports Schedules and Scores)
- and more!
Getting a View for You
What are views good for? They are especially good for:
- Automatically creating and updating lists (list of newsletters, staff members, departmental news, etc.)
- Helping you give folks a way to filter a large amount of information to find just what they are looking for.
- Letting you update information at a node, but having that update appear in several related areas. (Blocks can also be good for this.)
- If you find yourself maintaining lists of links to other material, you may also be ripe for a view.
If you want to take advantage of views:
- Check the help text for the content type — Some content types have built-in views, and many have variants you can take advantage of.
- Contact a site administrator (such as webguys) — We can probably build the view you need. Give us a description of what you'd like to see. Many views don't take very long to set up, and can save you a lot of time in the long run.
Blocks are set up by site administrators. If they are used excessively, they can cause problems for the site. However, they come in very handy when you need the same information displayed on all of your pages, or the same type of information displayed on many nodes.
Contact a site administrator (such as webguys) if you have questions or would like to use a block.