I have just finished a project where I had to make serious use of Drupal 7 for the first time. I’ve basically jumped from version 5 to version 7. Several features have been placed in the core which used to be add-ons. I’ve heard of a few of them but only now can appreciate how nice some of these features are. I’d like to mention three.
Views have been around for a while but beside the odd table listing I didn’t have much need for them. Views are an extremely powerful feature. A great variety of lists can be created quickly. The views setup screen is a bit overwhelming and the concept behind views requires a little time to absorb. But the time learning views is time well spent. Used together wit the content custom display setup it’s possible to create nice professional looking lists without writing a line of PHP. All one has to do is creating the view and and the rest can be done with CSS. If one needs to go further than the theming override features are excellent. And views helps enormously in this regard in that it helps you get started by selecting the proper template file to manipulate for your goals.
Content structures the descendant of the Content Construction Kit is another feature I had not seriously used before. But wow, it is cool. On the fly you can define complex records (nodes) and control much of the display behavior of the data. This too takes a little getting used to. The separation of fields types which are quasi-global with those that are used in a particular node can be confusing. It would also be sensible to include a wider variety of field types in the core as well (Link and date fields come to mind).
Image styles is another core feature of Drupal 7 that has its roots in a past add-on. The nice thing about Image styling is that you can define a set of virtual image types that are automatically generated from every image that is uploaded into Drupal. For instance if you want to generate a list of nodes with a constant thumbnail size of 140×140 pixels, this is all taken care of by image styling. Now, let’s say you discover that 140×140 is to big and you need to reduce the size to 100×100. This is no problem. Simply redefine the thumbnail size in the Image styling config and it takes care of the rest. All the 140×140 images are removed and the 100×100 are recreated as they are referenced by the system. Nice. Not a cutting edge concept but something that works very well and eliminates a lot of detail work.
I’m looking forward to getting better acquainted with a number of Drupal features. …