Views Demystified

I love Views! I might be a little exuberant, but seriously, it is by far, in my humble opinion, the best contributed module. And I'm not the only one that feels that way! Check out the module usage stats on Drupal.org. As the most-downloaded contributed module, Views gets a lot of well-deserved attention. We've published a new series of videos, Intro to Views for Drupal 7, to walk you through this wonderful Drupal tool. We've also made the first two videos in the series, Overview of Views and Overview of the Views user interface, available for FREE.

What is Views?

As we have learned in the Fields for Site Builders series, we can make content and create a menu item to find that content. But as we write more and more content and add those pages to the navigation, the menu tree will become unusable. If for every press release your company publishes you were to create a menu item, it wouldn't be long before you had a hundred items.

So, if we choose to not create links in the navigation, how will people find our press releases? The easiest answer would be to make a landing page and type in all of the links to your press releases. From a site visitor's perspective, this landing page is clearly ideal, however, what about from the content administrator's perspective? What happens when you create a new press release? Constantly updating the content to reflect the new press releases would be quite cumbersome!

Because Drupal is a content management system, it knows about all of your content. Drupal is not made up of static HTML pages that exist in a vacuum; it is a database that, if you ask it the right questions, will give you exactly what you want. Huh?

We can query Drupal to give us all press releases. And as we create new press releases on our site, those too would be included automatically. Back in the olden days of Drupal, that meant writing raw SQL. But for a few years now, the Views module has given us a graphical administrative interface to do just that.

When you create a new View, you get asked what type of content do you want to display. The answer could be press releases or images or staff bios. And with a couple clicks, Views will be able to return all of your press releases, from the most recent to the oldest ones.

As impressive as that is, the Views module takes it a step further. It then asks if you want the results to be a page with a unique URL or a block that you can place in any region on your site. But, wait! There's more! You can continue to customize the output so that your results display as a bullet-ed list or a grid or a table.

The Views module gives you so many options to customize that it can be a little intimidating. Drupalize.Me's newest series, Intro to Views for Drupal 7, aims to demystify the plethora of configuration settings. By using the Job Board example from Fields for Site Builders series, we will show you how to make your own dynamic content.

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