Tutorials

Magically Disappearing Default Search Text

Keeping a site's design as clean as possible is something all (well, okay, maybe not "all") designers and developers strive for. One relatively easy thing that you can do towards this goal is removing the supporting (and often unnecessary) text around your site's search field. I'm talking about the "Enter search terms" or "Search this site" text that floats innocently above or next to the text input box. Is this really necessary? I don't think so.

default Drupal search block

A much cleaner way of presenting a search box is with some default text inside the input field that automatically disappears when the user moves the cursor into the field.

Event Registration with Ubercart

Ubercart is arguably the leading ecommerce module suite for Drupal. It allows site admins to sell virtually just about anything online, including physical products, downloadable products, and event admissions. Often, when selling event admissions, it is desirable for the registrant to be able to fill out a profile during the checkout process that can be posted on the site once the transaction is complete. The UC Node Checkout module was built for this purpose. This is the way last year's Do It With Drupal conference handled registrations - with these exact modules.

UC Node Checkout page at drupal.org

Setting it up can be a little tricky, as it is not entirely a straight-forward process. Ryan Szrama, the de-facto leader of the Ubercart project, demoed this module during the recent DrupalCon DC. I thought I'd take the time to reproduce what Ryan did, as it is a great introduction to this module. Keep in mind it won't be an exact reproduction, but it should be pretty close.

This article will assume you're familiar with some very basic Ubercart concepts, if you're not, don't worry, this isn't rocket science. One thing you'll need to do if you're playing along at home is to create the "keys" directory for test credit card payments - full info on this is located at admin/store/settings/payment/edit/methods in your Drupal install (assuming you already have Ubercart enabled).

Capture (the power of) the Flag (module)

The Flag module is one of those modules that in its previous incarnation (as the Views Bookmarks module) was a bit inflexible and often (at least in my cases) required some manual tweaking of the code to get it to do exactly what I wanted (no offense to the original authors, I actually used it a surprising number of times).

The updated and renamed module is a breath of fresh air - it is an ease to install and configure for any number of use cases - in this article, I'll demonstrate how you can set up a list of the best comments on your site.

The Flag module is extremely useful mainly due to its excellent integration with other Drupal modules - specifically Views and Actions (part of Drupal 6 core). It's also chock-full of AJAX-y goodness (flagging items doesn't require a full page refresh) and a plethora of configuration options.

Displaying Hierarchical Content

This article is also available in French.

Displaying hierarchical content is a common request of database-driven web sites. Drupal gives you great flexibility in doing this without writing a single line of code, using a couple of battle-tested modules. As an example, let's say you're building an automotive web site. Your site is going to have a list of automotive brands and the vehicles they build. You'd like to only have to enter each brand's information into the database once, then simply refer to that brand whenever you add one of their vehicles to the site. In this example, I have 2 brands, Chevy and Jeep, and each brand has 3 vehicles.

content hierarchy example

Drupal's powerful CCK module allows you to define different content types for your web site. The Node Reference module, included with the rest of CCK, allows you to set up hierarchical relationships between content types.

Using Display Attachments to Provide a Consistent Summary in Views 2

The "summary" list is Views is a really handy feature, but unless it is properly configured, it can lead to an inconsistent experience for end-users. The goal of this post is to demonstrate how a little bit of configuration can provide a very consistent user experience.

Here's a quick example of what I'm trying to avoid: consider the following content type called, "Food":

As you can see, it is a very simple content type, with only a single added field, "field_food_type". This text field is set up to require the user to select one of its options.

When creating a view to show all "Food" nodes, there might be too many to display all at once - you'd like to break up the view by food type in order to allow the user to drill down to the food they're looking for. Using a single Views 2 "Page" display, this is easy to do - just add an argument for the food type and have it display a summary when no argument is present:

This will result in the showing only the food types when the page is displayed with no arguments:

When one of the food types is clicked on, you'll see a list of matching foods:

This works great and is easy to set up if this is what you're looking for. However, I find that often I'd like the summary and a listing of matching content to be displayed at all times. When there is no argument present, then I want a paged list of all the content as well as the summary. When an argument is present, I want the filtered content but I still also want the summary. This can be quite easily done using a display attachment.

Moving the comment form without hacking core

One of the most frustrating things about Drupal's current architecture is that comments, and the form to post them, are attached to nodes and don't easily allow you to move them around in your TPL files. There really should be an easier way to just place them anywhere you'd like. Most times this doesn't get in your way, until you want to do some fancy layouts where your content is split into multiple columns on the page.

Rebuild your node_comment_statistics table

If you're like me, most of your projects are redesigns of existing sites. And if the site is already on some kind of CMS, this means importing content from the old system into Drupal, and to make it easy you'll do it with MySQL directly.

There are pros and cons about this approach, which I am learning, and one of the cons is that content created by the database may not always get plugged into all of Drupal's various tables. Sure, you got the text into node, node_revisions, can your CCK tables, but there is more than meets the eye.

Import Hundreds of Taxonomy Terms using AWK

Today's challenge: your editors just handed you almost 200 taxonomy terms to add to the site, and you don't have the time or inclination to hit the taxonomy/n/add/term page for the next 2 hours or so... AWK to the rescue!

Doing a simple CSV export of the term_data and term_hierarchy tables, you've got a pretty simple structure:

term_data
tid,vid,name,description,weight

term_hierarchy
tid,parent

What you'll ultimately generate here is a file that stores everything you need to know about importing these terms via a CSV - the term names, the weights, good IDs, and the TID of the parents.

2048,#the current value of the sequences for term_data
term,34,Blogs,#a helper line
x,1,Drupal,All about Drupal,-5
x,1,Modules,Ways to extend Drupal,-4
x,1,Themes,Making your install pretty,-3
term,35,News,#a second helper line
x,1,International,,0
x,1,Local,,0
x,1,Hyperlocal,,0

In this file, we've got 3 types of data:

  1. The starting value for sequences
  2. The id of the parent term for the next several rows, starting with the word "term" followed by the TID and the plain English name just to help us get organized
  3. The new terms, with an "x" where the new TIDs will be placed, and the VID, Description and Weight all filled out.

Custom GMap Solution for Dynamically Updated Markers (Part 1) (Drupal 6)

I recently upgraded OffRoadAtlas.com with a custom map interface based on the GMap module. I was able to do this while leaving the GMap module is virtually un-hacked (with the exception of modifying the "GMAP_API_VERSION" variable) - all of the customizations were made via an additional "helper" module that was written specifically for this site.

Drupal Theming: $path vs. base_path and path_to_theme

When developing Drupal themes, there is one bit of code you type over and over again:

sites/all/themes/blueprint/images/whatever.jpg

Where images/whatever.jpg could be a css file, or other file, but is normally an image.

However, since clean URLs in Drupal appear to make fake directories, the web browser thinks your image is located in:

node/345/sites/all/themes/blueprint/images/whatever.jpg

When it's not. Luckily Drupal has tools to help you in this case.

Using Views 2 and Drupal 6 to Create a Related Pages Block

Today's question comes from Dale at NFi Studios in Orlando, FL - my home town:

Essentially:, what i'm trying to do is
1. Determine the current nodes taxonomy terms
2. Determine all other pages that share taxonomy terms
3. Display the title (and link) to those pages in a block

Using Drupal 6.2 and Views - Looked at a few modules, but nothing quite
exact - Reviewing some module snippets right now to see if I can
potentially use an argument to do it.

Using AWK to Download and Unpack Drupal Modules

Security Update RequiredWhen installing a new Drupal site (or when your list of available updates gets nice and long), you'll often have to download tons of modules, unpack them, and copy all of the resulting directories to your sites/all/modules directory. Personally, I'm not a fan of all the clicking, downloading, unzipping and most of all waiting!

Today I finally settled on a workflow that gets the job done, and it's called the UNIX command line. If your server doesn't use some flavor of UNIX or Linux, or if your web host doesn't allow you shell access, you may want to stop reading after the next paragraph.