The Ultimate Drupal Site Builder's Toolkit and the #IslandOfDrupal Test
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What if you had to go build a Drupal site on a remote island without WiFI? Yes that's right, no internet connection at all? What modules would you bring with you?
For some random reason, I posed this question to myself and came up with these 4 modules. Because I believe these modules can be used to build a multitude of complex Drupal sites, I think of these modules as the "Ultimate Site Builders Toolkit". Become an expert in these modules and you will be able to build some wicked awesome and complex Drupal 7 sites.
Module #1: Views
The Views module was, of course, my first choice. How can it not be? I use this module in every Drupal 7 website I build. Most people know that the Views module is great for creating lists of content. However, not everyone knows the intricacies and complexities of views. Once you start learning about relationships, contextual filters, and aggregation, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.
If you are going to build a complex Drupal website on a remote island... you are going to want to take Views with you.
Module #2: Panels
This one will be the most controversial. After all, everyone has their site building layout tool of choice. For some, it might be Display Suite, Context, or some other Drupal module... but for me, it's Panels hands down, without a doubt. I know it can be a little heavy-handed at times, but it's packed with a plethora of features that make any site builders worst layout nightmare a breeze.
If you are just getting started with Panels it can seem a little intimidating at first. There are so many things you can do with the module. Once you master the basics and start understanding contexts, relationships, variants, and visibility rules, the options really start to open up. If you know what these are and how they are used, you can master almost any layout with ease.
I am packing the Panels module in my suitcase when I head for that remote island. Quick question... does this remote island have a nice beach? I sure hope so...
Module #3: Rules
When you say to yourself, "when this happens, then I want to do this" that is usually a solid foundation for a rule. Rules can do so much that sometimes the true test is to learn when to not use them. I can't tell you how many developers have contacted me asking me to help them get the rules module to do something that could easily be accomplished with views, panels, and entity references.
If you do master Drupal rules, you can accomplish some pretty awesome things.
Remote island... Check. Rules module... Check. What to do when my laptop battery runs out.... Unknown.
Module #4: Entity Reference
Used correctly, the entity reference module allows you to build complex and interconnected data structures. This one module helps turn Drupal into a content and data modeling tool. You might be wondering what is so great about relating content with entity reference? Well, content doesn't live on an island (even though I am on one in this figurative thought exercise). This means content is connected to other entities (nodes, users, etc) on your site in sometimes complex ways. The Entity Reference module makes this possible.
The Ultimate Site Builders Toolkit Summary
Arming yourself with great working knowledge of these modules will make you absolutely lethal when it comes to completing complex website requirements. Did I mention you can do this without having to write a single line of PHP code?
How do you rate yourself on knowledge with these modules? If you want to become a better Drupal site builder (without having to write code), then leveling up your skills with these modules is one of the best ways to spend your time.
It's your turn to take the #IslandOfDrupal Test
So now I pose the question to you, if you had to go build a Drupal site on a remote island without WiFI, what modules would you take with you?
Go ahead and take the #IslandOfDrupal test yourself and post your answer in the comments below (and try to keep the number of modules below 5)... This should be interesting!
Also, please share this post with others in the Drupal world.