Slicing the content bucket in Drupal – useful modules

Just like a wiki (any wiki), Drupal is simply a huge bucket of unorganized content. Some structure is imposed by the automatic time stamps and author fields, but beyond that you are on your own.

And for a good reason: everyone has different needs.

Several content types attempt to bring more structure: blogs, forums, image galleries, books, but the truly creative sites roll their own based on the infrastructure provided, especially the ever-powerful Taxonomy module.

Taxonomy is all about tagging (sorry for oversimplifying it a bit), so you still have to decide how to slice and dice your (now tagged) content.

Using Views is a whole special topic with a learning curve, but here are a few quick and dirty solutions:

Node Browser – truly quick and dirty, a poor man’s version of the content administration interface. You probably don’t want to expose it to the visitors “as-is”, but it is a wonderful way to get a feeling for where yo are going early in the design process. May make a nice “internal” UI for your site editors and executive types…

Monthly Archive – a nice, configurable block lists the last X months (with the number of posts and takes you to the respective node lists). The feature is built in by default in every blog I know, but Drupal is more of a platform, so you have to install the module. Once installed, it just works.

Taxonews – supposedly creates just the kind of blocks I need. Has a whole “news item life cycle” figured out. Requires PHP5 though. Ouch! – on the double-cheapo goDaddy hosting I went with PHP4 and left a note to myself saying that it was done “for a good reason”. What reason? What kind of a moron does not add a detailed explanation to a statement like that?!! Ah… eh… that was me. I guess it’s all right then…

Taxonomy Block – Yeah, Baby! Another one that just works! I love it when this happens. It enables you to create blocks based on your taxonomy terms. Very smart design too: instead of creating all possible blocks and clogging your admin/build/block page, it gives you a nice UI right where it belongs: at admin/build That’s where you define what blocks you want, and how they are constructed. The author is humble and recommends Views module. Some day I may try it out. For now Taxonomy Block is the perfect fire-and-forget solution for me.

There are more, but these will get you started and take you a loooooong way…

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