Views: Drupal’s Killer App

Like the Great Man theory of history, there’s a Killer App theory of software success. Dan Bricklin came up with VisiCalc and Apple II computers began to show up on corporate desktops. Lotus 1-2-3 did the same thing for the IBM PC.

In my web development practice, I work with two content management systems, WordPress and Drupal. I’ve written about them before. An experience the other day helped me define the killer app when deciding between WordPress and Drupal. It’s Drupal’s Views module.

The Views module is a point and click, no coding required, content generator for Drupal. Maybe a simple example will help explain it. The Prussing Elementary School website is a Drupal site. Most of the site’s content is maintained by a traditional webmaster. Each teach is responsible for maintaining a classroom page and updating it weekly. Each teacher has a login and each login has an associated email address.

Given that their teacher information is already in Drupal’s database, how does one build a page for the contact menu that lists teachers and has clickable email addresses? It’s done via a view.

Views Module The steps are fairly simple:

  1. Create a new view on content type “user”
  2. Establish a relationship between “user” and “profile” to pick up first and last names.
  3. Select the fields to be used: first name, last name, and email.
  4. Check the box to output email as a mailto link.
  5. Select the grid format and choose a two column layout.
  6. Set the sort fields to be last name, then first name, ascending.
  7. Set the filter criteria for role and choose only the role “teacher”.

The final step is to hook the resulting page on to the contact menu.