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Drupal 6: Online Presentation of Data: Part 4 of 10

Managing CCK field placement By Tom Geller

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.

Topics include:

  • Importing and manipulating data in Drupal
  • Presenting date-formatted information in calendars
  • Understanding Drupal's data-query interface, "Views"
  • Improving view appearances with grid, list, and table formatting
  • Importing, exporting, and cloning views
  • Extending views with arguments and relationships

Managing CCK field placement

Now we're going to take a look at some settings that seem small, but can make a big difference in how your information appears. It's annoying that these settings are so hidden in Drupal because pretty much every time I design a site I wonder, "Where are those settings again?" Well, I'll show you.

 


The first thing that we're going to do is we're going to edit that Person Content type that we've been working with. To go it, click on Administer and Content management and then Content types. While I do this, I'm also going to open up a new window by pressing Command+N in the Mac or Ctrl+N in the PC, so that I could see what the site actually looks like to everybody else. I often do this when I'm editing a site. I'll have an administrative window open and also a window that shows me the results of what I've done. I'll switch among those windows on the Mac by holding down Command and hitting the Tilde key, on Windows you'll use Alt+Tab. So you can see I switch back and forth between the two.


But for now, we're going to go back to the administrative interface. We go over here to edit the Person type by clicking on Edit. But actually on this screen, there's not very much that we can do to change the way the fields appear. To do that, we have to go to Manage fields. We can either do that by clicking on Manage fields at the top of this screen, or if we go back to the Content type screen, there is also the Manage fields link right here. Either one brings us to the same place.


Now let's go back to our user screen, what a user sees when they enter information. So I switch over, click on the node and Edit. Now you remember we previously hidden automated the title field. So we don't see that anymore. But we do see this big form entry field at the top, Notes about this person and that all comes up before we enter their name, first name and last name.

Click PLAY or press spacebar to start or stop video


So I'm going to go back to my admin interface and fix that. I do that by dragging Personal name up to the top here and then Family name right after it. These other three fields you actually can't get rid of and you can move them around, but you can't edit them in the same way because they're built into Drupal. The title is hidden, so we don't have to worry about it. Menu settings, I usually don't mess around with. That's if you wanted to add a menu item for any particular node and we're not going to be doing that. So I'm just going to drag that to the bottom and get it out of the way.


Now we have Personal name, Family name and the notes all in one place, click Save. We'll go back to our interface to enter a node and reload that page. Now it's much better. We can enter our name first before we enter the notes about the person. That makes it better for the person who's entering information into a node. But if we go back to our front screen we can do even more. In this node, we have a lot of extra information. We have when it was posted, I don't really care about that, who posted it, we have Personal name labeled. We don't really need all of that stuff.


So I'm going to go back to edit that content type and change that around. Here instead of clicking on Manage fields, you click on Display fields. Then you get several options. The first one is whether you want the label to appear, should it be above, inline, or hidden? I'm just going to change both of these to Inline. So you can see exactly what that looks like. Then I click on Save.


Once again I'll switch to the way that people see it from the outside, not the administrative interface. Reload that page. You see how it changed Personal name and Tom to be in the same line. That's what that Inline means. I'm going to switch back to the administrative interface to explore some of the other options now. You can also hide that by changing the label to hidden. Save it, go back and take a look. Now it just has the name without any kind of label.


We'll now go back to our administrative interface and take a look at some of the other options. These other two here, Teaser and Full node. Those have to do with whether or not you're seeing the entire record, or just what you see when it's promoted to the front page. To demonstrate this, I'm going to go back to out User interface and edit that node. I'm going to change the notes about this person. So, This is me, hooray! blah blah blah. Make that lots of text there. So now we have a very long body in that note. Click on Save. Go back to our front page.


Now you see how we only see a very small amount here, but when we click to read more, either by clicking on the title or clicking on Read more, we see the full mount. That's the difference between the Teaser and the Full node. Now we go back to our administrative interface and our next settings will make more sense.


Let's say that you want to show the Personal name and Family name only on the full node, but not on the teaser. Let's change this to hidden on the Teaser, but leave it in default on the Full node. Click on Save. Go back to our user and go back to the front page. Now we don't see Tom de Nada here like we did before, but we do when we come into the full node.


There are two more small settings that often puzzle people that I'm going to explain by going back to the administrative interface. The first one is this default. What exactly does that mean? Well, it has to do with what you set on another screen. I'll go there by creating a new window, go to localhost/admin/content/node-settings. You can also get there by going to Administer, Content management and Post settings.


The settings that you make here are what are affected when you set default in that earlier content type setting. So going back to that screen, I'm just going to close out here. Whatever you had set there is what will appear if you set it as default here. You can also change it to trimmed plain text that is to get rid of some of the HTML and so forth. The final setting that puzzles some people is this little Exclude here. That prevents the field from being visible to Drupal itself. It not only hides it, but it hides it from internal Drupal operations.


I don't recommend using this unless you're absolutely sure you know what you're doing because as I say, it takes away some of your power. I'm just going to keep these hidden for now and click on Save. Now let's go back to our user and see what exactly that node looks like. Good! We now have the name here as the title. Remember we created that automatically with Automatic nodetitle. So we don't have to repeat it. If we click through, we still have it here. So I'm going to get rid of it there. Once again I switch back to my administrative interface and hide the Personal name and Family name and save it. Just to be sure, we go back and reload and it disappeared. Very good.


The final thing I want to do is to get rid of this post information because then I create a person, I don't really want to know when I created it or who created it. To change that it's again hidden at rather unusual place. We'll go back to our administrative interface, go to Administer, Site building and Themes. If you go to Configure, you can then decide where the post information appears. In our case we don't want it to appear on the person. So we'll uncheck that, scroll to the bottom, save configuration and once more we'll switch back to our user screen and reload and it's gone. Now if we go to our front page, we have a much cleaner display. We see only the name as the title, the Teaser body and Read more if we need it, but nothing else.


That was a pretty dense group of settings to change a very small amount on your screen and believe me, it took me quite a while to work it out. I wouldn't be surprised if a future version of Drupal reworks exactly how this information appears on the page, but for now you might want to return to this video whenever you have problems with the way fields are placed on a Drupal page. The good news is it is all solvable once you work through these difficulties.


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Tom Geller became involved in computers in 1976, playing "Hunt the Wumpus" on a hardwired terminal that spewed tractor-feed paper onto the floor. He later became a computer journalist, first providing shareware reviews to Apple's "eWorld" online service, and later serving as a reviews editor at MacWEEK. Since returning to freelance writing in 2006 after a five-year hiatus, his work has been published by Apple, Nature Magazine, the IEEE Computer Society, and Chemical Heritage Foundation. He lives in San Francisco. http://www.tomgeller.com
Related Keywords:drupal, data presentation, online data, online data presentation, content construction kit, maps, charts, web design, site development

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