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4 Δεκ 2013 (πριν από 3 χρόνια και 6 μήνες)

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by blair wadman
available for purchase at
Master Drupal 7 Module Development 1
Lesson One - Introduction

In this section, you will be introduced to the core Drupal concepts required to develop
• Gain a basic understanding of core Drupal concepts like Nodes, Entities and
Forms API
Drupal Concepts included
• Nodes
• C o m m e n t s
• B l o c k s
• E n t i t i e s
• H o o k s y s t e m
• M e n u a n d R o u t i n g
• T h e m e s y s t e m
• F o r m s A P I
• U s e r s
• D e v e l
• D r u s h
D r u p a l c o d e
D r u p a l ’ s c o d e i s s p l i t i n t o t h r e e m a i n a r e a s: c o r e, c o n t r i b u t e d a n d c u s t o m.
Drupal Core
When you download Drupal, you are downloading Drupal core. It consists of a set of
library files and core modules. It is relatively lean and provides the base level of
functionality. The library provides a set of tools for interacting with database, form
building, translating etc. The core modules are essential modules that cannot be turned
off. Core modules include node, taxonomy and user modules.
Lesson One - Introduction
Master Drupal 7 Module Development 2
You might have heard the phrase
Do not hack core
before. This simply means, do not
change any of the core code. In Drupal, if you want to add functionality, or change the
way Drupal behaves, you do this either by downloading a contributed module or
creating your own custom module.
Contributed Projects
Drupal core is extended via contributed modules and themes. There are thousands of
modules on
and they offer a huge variety in extra functionality. Contributed
modules are developed by Drupal developers who are “contributing” back to the
community. They maintain, develop further and deal with the issue queues on a
voluntary basis. This forms an important part of the essence of the Drupal community.
Custom Modules
A custom module is a module that you (or your team) have developed yourself. It may
become a contributed module if you make it generic enough so that it is not tied to your
specific instance of Drupal.
Drupal Structure
When you download Drupal, you will find all the folders and files shown below, with the
exception of sites/all/modules and sites/all/themes. You have to create those manually.
Lesson One - Introduction
Master Drupal 7 Module Development 3
Figure 1-1: Drupal files and folders
Lesson One - Introduction
Master Drupal 7 Module Development 4
Library of common functions
Javascript, icons and images
Core modules
Installation profiles
Various scripts for syntax checking etc
Contributed & custom modules, themes, settings
Default themes and template engines
Runs periodically for specific tasks
Entry point for all requests
Installer file
Robot exclusion standard, used to instruct search engines
Run to update the database during Drupal core and module
Receives XML-RPC requests
Table 1-1: Description of main files and folders
As you can see, modules other than core modules go inside the sites folder. You will
probably see variations on this in other books and online, but the pattern of sites/all/
contrib and sites/all/custom is one that I have seen the most success with on real
A note on multi-sites
Drupal has the ability to run more than one website from the same code base. This is
known as a multi-site. If you are running a multi-site, you would create a folder per site
inside the sites folder. For example, if your site was called, you would
create a folder inside sites called Inside that folder, you would create a
folder for modules, themes and files. It would also contain a settings file. Any modules
and themes that relate to all sites running off this code base live in sites/all.
In Drupal, a node is a primary piece of content. When you create content in Drupal, you
are in fact creating a new node.
Lesson One - Introduction
Master Drupal 7 Module Development 5
Figure 1-2: Add content
If you view that content at its URL, you are viewing the full node.
Figure 1-3: Viewing full node
Different types of nodes can be created. These are often referred to as content types.
Lesson One - Introduction
Master Drupal 7 Module Development 6
Each content type can have its own set of fields. For example, you could have a Blog
post content type, with title and body and an Image content type with title and image
Nodes are stored in the node table in the database and this is one of the most important
tables. Each node has a unique ID called the Node ID, or nid for short. When you view a
Drupal page, even if you are using an alias, you are actually calling
. For
example, the first node will be node/1.
When developing modules, it is important to understand the node object. The node
object contains all of the important information about a particular node. If you know the
node ID, you can get the node object by calling
, as follows:
$node = node_load($nid);
We will talk more about this when you start developing your own module.
Comments are generally attached to nodes and are an integral part of encouraging user
engagement. In its simplest form, comments can be made against blog posts. But it
does not end there. The Drupal Forum module is actually a collection of nodes and
comments. Each topic is a node and replies are comments.
Lesson One - Introduction
Master Drupal 7 Module Development 7
Figure 1-4: A comment attached for a simple node
A block is a secondary piece of content that is usually displayed in regions around the
main content, such as the header, sidebars and footer.
Common examples of blocks
• Navigation menu
• Search form
• Logo
• C o p y r i g h t m e s s a g e
Y o u m i g h t o c c a s i o n a l l y c o m e a c r o s s a g r e y a r e a w h e r e y o u a r e n o t s u r e i f a p a r t i c u l a r
p i e c e o f c o n t e n t s h o u l d b e d e f i n e d a s a b l o c k o r a n o d e. A s a g e n e r a l r u l e o f t h u m b, i f a
p i e c e o f n o d e i s m e a n t t o b e d i s p l a y e d o n m u l t i p l e p a g e s ( n o t n e c e s s a r i l y e v e r y p a g e ),
i t p r o b a b l y s h o u l d b e a b l o c k.
Lesson One - Introduction
Master Drupal 7 Module Development 8
Figure 1-5: Blocks
Entities, Fields and Bundles
Entities, Fields and Bundles are all new to Drupal 7.
Entities provide a mechanism to create types of data that are not nodes. In times past,
you might hear developers saying “everything is a node”. This no longer holds true.
Nodes, comments, taxonomy and users are all types of entities that come with Drupal.
You can create your own entities and some contributed Drupal projects come with their
own. For example, Drupal Commerce defines its own entities such as Product entity,
Customer profile entity, Line item entity, Order entity and Payment transaction entity. In
these examples, using a simple Node entity would have been too restrictive.
Fields are re-usable pieces of content which can have validators, widgets and
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A bundle is a sub-type of an entity and you can attach fields to it. An example of a
bundle is an Article, which is a subtype of the node entity. This is similar to a
in Drupal 6.
To illustrate the concept of entities,bundles and fields, take a look at the illustration
below. This is an example of the node entity which contains two bundles, Article and
Gallery. Article has two fields, title and body. Gallery has three fields, title, image and
Figure 1-6: Entity, bundles and fields
Comparison to Drupal 6
Fields and bundles are closely related to
in Drupal 6. An Article would be a
in Drupal 6 and it would have fields attached to it.
Request and Reponse
When a user requests a page on a Drupal site, a lot happens behind the scenes to
generate that page. The following illustration is a summary of the steps Drupal goes
through to generate a node page.
Lesson One - Introduction
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Theme system
- format & style data
Node Module
- load node
- load libraries &
initialise Drupal
Menu System
- decide how to handle path
- does user have access?
- map to callback function
Figure 1-7: Request and response process
Hook system
The hook system is central to Drupal. Pretty much anything and everything that
happens in Drupal happens because of a hook.
During the request and response lifecycle, Drupal and modules fire off events and
listens for a response through its hook system. It checks all enabled modules and looks
Lesson One - Introduction
Master Drupal 7 Module Development 11
for functions that follow certain patterns. For example, if it is checking for blocks, it
checks all modules with the <modulename>_block(). After finding these functions,
Drupal executes them and uses the data they return as part of the response to the page
You can listen for an event by calling a specific function, and then adding something that
will happen when that event is fired. Let’s take another look at the Drupal request and
response process with hooks added in.
Theme system
- format & style data
Node Module
- load node
- load libraries &
initialise Drupal
Menu System
- decide how to handle path
- does user have access?
- map to callback function
Figure 1-7: Request & response & hooks
The best way to understand this is by way of an example. A user logs on the website.
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The act of logging in is an event. You can call a function called
your module which will listen for this event. You add some code to display a hello
message if a particular user logs in.
logs in
Figure 1-8: Hook user login example
Modules can either define or implement a hook.
Implementing hook:
A hook has been defined by another module and you are
implementing it. In our previous example, we implemented
is defined by the User module. In most cases, you will be
implementing a hook.
Invoking a hook:
When you write a module, you can define a new hook. By doing so,
you are allowing other modules to implement the hook and further extend functionality.
Lesson One - Introduction
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Menu & Routing
The Drupal menu system is one of the most import concepts to understand in order to
develop Drupal modules.
The menu system handles 3 areas:
1. Callback mapping (menu router)
2. Access control
3. Menu customisation
Menu Router & Callback Mapping
You were introduced to hooks in the previous section. Like most of Drupal, the Menu
System uses hooks. One of the most important parts of the Menu System for module
development is hook menu (
). Hook Menu is a function that we use to
define menu items and callback functions.
allows your module to register
paths and information on how it will handle requests to that path.
The second step on Figure 1-7 (Request and Response) is the Menu System. If it
wasn’t for the Menu System, Drupal would not know what to do with a request for a
URL. The Menu system decides what to do with the path and which callback function to
Access Control
When handling a request, the menu system must decide if the user has the necessary
permission to view the content being requested.
Menu Customisation
The menu system also helps with the structure of a Drupal site through menus. Menus
are hierarchical and a menu item can have any number of children.
Figure 1-9: Example of a menu, the navigation menu
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Master Drupal 7 Module Development 14
Theme System
The Theme System controls the display and presentation (look and feel) of content. The
theme system is not confined to just themes. Core libraries, modules and themes all
make up the theme system. The core library initialises themes and locates theme
functions and templates to use. Modules can define default theming for the content that
it is responsible for. A theme can then override that theming.
Figure 1-10: Files included with the bartik theme
Templates for content types
One of the templates that you can use is
. That is a node
template that is specific to a particular content type. For example, if we had a content
type called blog_post, the template file would need to be called
In theory, this file could exist in either the theme, or in the module that creates and
controls the content type. It is quite common for content types to be created in the
Drupal UI (CCK in Drupal 6, Fields in Drupal 7) and not controlled by a module. In those
cases, the templates tend to reside in the theme layer.
We are focusing on module development in these lessons, so we will not cover
developing in the theme itself. However, theming in the module will be included.
Render Arrays
Drupal’s theme system uses render arrays to generate HTML pages. This system allows
module developers or themers to change the page content or layout before it is
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Master Drupal 7 Module Development 15
displayed to the user. When creating a render array, you create a simple array with a
defined set or properties. Properties include a prefix, suffix and markup. Drupal takes
these arrays and converts them into raw HTML to return to the browser. Do not worry at
the moment if this does not make sense, it will be easier to understand when you
implement it for yourself in a later lesson.
Forms API
Forms are an essential part of most websites, and Drupal websites are no exception.
They are the primary method for users to submit data to the website, whether it be to
login, comment on an article or create a new article. In Drupal module development, you
use the Form API to define a form. Drupal then builds the form, displays it, validates it
and collects the data.
By using an established API and using it correctly, we are going a long way towards
protecting our application against a whole range of possible security vulnerabilities. It
also takes advantage of the hook system. When you create a form, another developer
can hook into your form and change it. And you can hook into any other form and
change it. That is an amazing powerful feature.
There is an extensive list of elements/properties you can use on
A user can be anyone who visits a Drupal website. Some users are registered with the
website and some are not. If a user is not registered with the website, they are called an
anonymous user. A user who is registered is called an authenticated user.
Roles and Permissions
Authenticated users may belong to one or more roles. A role is a set of permissions that
all users who belong to it share. For example, a publishing website might have content
editors who belong to the editor role. The editor role might have permission to add and
edit nodes of a certain type. All users who belong to the editor role will have that
Each user can have a profile and a profile can have any number of fields.
User Object
User data is stored in the database and is available in the user object.
Drupal as a social network
Many people think of Drupal as a CMS. It can be a CMS, but it can also be a lot more
than that. Drupal’s User system lends itself very well to that of a social network and it is
not uncommon for developers to build quite advanced social networks in Drupal.
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Master Drupal 7 Module Development 16
The Devel module is an essential part of a Drupal developer’s toolbox. It includes a
range of tools designed to make developers’ and themers’ lives easier. When you get
more experienced with module development, you will probably use it for things like
identifying slow database queries. But at this stage, we will use it for one really simple
time saver - Drupal Print Message. Give it an array or object and Drupal Print Message
will enable you to visually walk through its data in a message on the page.
As an example, consider this simple array:
$diet = array(pizza, fruit, beer, water, toast);
This will print out the following:
Figure 1-11: Devel dpm
This is a very simple example. When you start developing modules, you will have to
deal with some large arrays and objects, such as the node object. Visually walking
through them will help you pin point that data that you need.
Drush is a command line utility for Drupal. It provides developers with the ability to
manage a Drupal installation from the command line, rather than having to always use
the Drupal admin interface. Once you get used to it, it can be a real time saver. You will
be using Drush through this book.
In this section, you were introduced to some of the key Drupal concepts that are
required for developing modules. It is a very high level explantation and you will be
exposed to the technical implementation of these in the remaining lessons.
Form API elements and properties
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