Monthly Archives: November 2009

How To Create News Items in Drupal – Part 2

This is a continuation of the previous post that explained how to create a custom content type called News, and show News items using the Views module.

Creating A News Page with a Monthly News Archive Block

This post explains how to create a page showing just the News content type, how to link that page to the Primary menu, and how to show a block with a list of archived News items. It assumes you’ve already followed the steps in the previous post.

We accomplish all these tasks using the Views contributed module.

  • First, we use the Views module to create a page view to show most recent 10 news items on the page, as follows:
    • Login as site admin again
    • Go to Administer/Site building/Views.
    • Click Add to create a new View
    • View name: News_page , View description: Page showing recent news, View tag: News, View type: Node. Click Next.
    • Select ‘page’ in dropdown box, click ‘Add Display’. This is what creates a whole page, instead of a block, for example.
    • We want the user to be able to page back and forth through each set of 10 news items, so in the first column, click on ‘no’ next to ‘Use pager’ . Scroll down to the radio buttons for this option and click on ‘full pager’.
    • Next, we’ll repeat a lot of the steps we took for creating a block view – selecting the fields for the view, and the filter to choose only published News content:
      • Click on the ‘+’ sign next to Fields. Scroll down and select Node: Post date and Node: Title, then click the Add button . The next steps take you through more options for each of these fields.
      • Remove the label of ‘Post date’ (clear the text). This prevents the words ‘Post date’ showing next to the date. Click ‘Update default display’. You should now see an interface asking you to configure the field ‘Node:Title’.
      • Remove the label of ‘Title’ (clear the text). Check the box ‘Output this field as a link’ , scroll down and check ‘Link this field to its node’. This makes the News item’s Title a clickable link that links to the full article (node). Click ‘Update Default display’.
    • You should see a ‘Live preview of all content you’ve created. Let’s filter it by ‘news’ only.
      • Cick the ‘+’ sign next to Filters. Scroll down and check Node: Published and Node: Type. These options let us choose to display only Published content (Node: Published = Y), and only news (Node: Type = ‘news’). Then click Add.
      • Select ‘Yes’ for Published items, click Update, then select ‘Is one of’ and check ‘News’, then click Update.
      • Now let’s sort the news items by most recent first (descending order). Click on the ‘+’ sign next to Sort criteria.
      • Check Node: Post date, click Add.
      • Select Descending, click Update.
    • Let’s place this page on the Primary Menu.  This is the menu that (generally) appears at the top of your page, depending on your active Drupal theme.
      • Scroll down until you see the heading Page Settings in the first column.
      • Click on None (next to Path), and type: news . This is appended to the rest of your site’s url to make the full path for this page.  We will also refer to this name when we create our News Archive block.
      • The next option lets you link the page to a menu item:
      • Click on ‘No Menu’ (next to Menu)
      • Scroll down and click on Normal menu entry. A set of input controls appears to the right of this option. Proceed…
      • Type the title for this menu entry. I chose ‘News’ because I like short menu item text, but feel free to choose whatever you want- perhaps, Latest News.
      • Type a description. This appears when a user hovers over the menu item. It might appear somewhere else, too, I’m not sure.
      • Click on the dropdown box under the word ‘Menu:’
      • Select Primary Menu.  That’s it!
    • Finally, click the Save button (just above the words ‘Live Preview’.)

Create The News Archive Block

Ok – the next step is to create a block of Archived news articles – much like the standard Archive block that comes with Drupal. The only difference is that block includes all content types, while we want to include just our news content type. So this is really easy- we clone the existing Archive view that comes with the Views module and just add a filter to include only news content. Here are the steps in detail:

  • Go to Administer/Site building/views again.
  • Look for the existing view called Monthly Archive (it has a path of archive) – it’s the first one in the list in my install of Drupal. Click on the Clone link on the right.
  • Change the view name from archive to newsarchive, and change the view description similarly.
  • Click the next button to continue on to configure the block view.
  • Add the filter for news content only:
    • Click on the + sign next to Filters. Scroll down to see the list of available filter fields, find the Node: type field, and select it.
    • Scroll down to configure the Node type and select the news content type.
  • You can click the Live Preview button now, and you should see something like November 2009 (9) – at least that’s what I see, because that’s the only month I have any news items published in. If you haven’t written any news content yet, then nothing will show here.
  • Before we exit this page, there is, as Columbo would say, just one more thing.  You may have noticed that the Archive list we cloned has 3 vertical tabs on the left – Default, Page and Block.  In the previous steps we were changing the default settings, which essentially ripples them through to both the Page and Block settings. Personally, I intensely dislike this interface. It is quite confusing, because different options appear depending on which tab is active, and it’s not self-evident which tab is active. Anyway, we are going to make a minor change to the block view, so click on the block tab .
  • Scroll down until you see Block settings. If you do not see this heading then you did not click on the block tab in the previous step, so try again!
  • Click on the text next to Admin, and type ‘News Archive List’ . This is text appears when we are placing blocks on our pages, and if we don’t change it we will have two blocks with the same title – the one we cloned from, and this one – which makes it a pain to know which one we want to place somewhere.
  • Save your work – click the Update button, followed by the Save button below it.

Place the News Archive Block on The News Page

You may want to place your News Archive block on every page, but just for the sake of this tutorial, let’s place it only on the news page.

  • Go to Administer/Site Building/Blocks
  • Find your News Archive List block. It should be in the list with the heading Disabled, the last list on the page. Click on the Dropdown box next to it, and select the area on the page you want it to appear. The names of the areas will depend on the active theme you are using. There may be one called ‘right sidebar,’ which would be appropriate. If not, choose some other area.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Blocks  (IMPORTANT!!! – click Save Blocks before doing the next step – otherwise you may lose your ‘change’).
  • Ok – now you have to find your block in the lists on the page, because it has moved from the ‘disabled’ list to whatever area title you chose. Once you find it, click on the Configure link.
  • Scroll down to Show Block on Specific Pages, click the  ‘Show on only the listed pages’ radio button, then type news in the text area below. (news- not News, not ‘news’, not <news>).  If you recall, this is the node name of our news page, which we specified when we created the News page view (above).
  • Save your work.

Ok – we are done.If you  go to my Drupal sandbox site, you’ll see the News menu item at the top. Click on it and you’ll see some bogus news items, along with the News Archive List in a block on the right hand side. Notice that this block only appears on the news page, as per our specs.

Whew- this is a lot of text to explain something reasonably simple. Maybe next time I’ll make a youtube video instead.

How To Create News Items and a News List in Drupal

Drupal does not come with an out-of-the-box news content type. You could use a story or a blog entry, but these are not an exact fit for what I wanted.  Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to create your own ‘News’ content type. You probably have your own idea of what a ‘news item’ should be, and how it should display. Here are the features I wanted for news items:

Requirements

  • News items to be their own ‘content type’ so I can create user roles just for posting news items.
  • Latest 5 news items to show in a block on the first page.
  • Separate ‘news’ page that lists all news items, most recent first, with paging (eg. show 10 at a time).
  • ‘news’ page should be a Primary menu item
  • List to show date of item and title of item, with the title being a link to the full article
  • News items to support ‘teasers’
  • Have an Archive block on the News page to show an archive of news items by month

Summary of Process

Here’s an overview of  how you do it, followed by detailed instructions.

  • Install Views contributed module (if you haven’t already done so).
  • Install Advanced Help module (this provides a great example of using Views to create a block or page that presents lists of information)
  • Create a content type of ‘news’
  • Check the options to add, change or delete own news items for the appropriate users or roles.
  • Create a ‘block’ view to display news items
  • Place the block somewhere on the first page
  • Create a ‘page’ view to display news items.  You choose which Primary menu item you want to use for this page when you create the view.
  • Create an ‘archive’ block view to display archives by cloning the provided Archive view and changing it
  • Place the archive block somewhere on your news page.

Details For Creating The News Block

In this section of the post I take you through every step in detail.

(In order to get this post published, without being too long, I’ll explain in another post how to create a separate page of news items with teasers, and how to create the Archive block.)

  • Install Views and Advanced Help modules. Views is one of two very popular contributed (non-core) modules. CCK (Custom Content Kit) is the other one- it lets you create your own data values or content types. Views lets you display lists of information from the Drupal database. It’s essentially a user-driven SQL statement generator, along with some list formatting options. Advanced Help is useful because it gives you detailed examples on using Views. One of those uses content type of ‘Story’, which is really not much different than the ‘news’ content type we are using here. Here are the URLs for each of these modules:

I use Views 2 for Drupal 6.x in this example.

  • Create Content type of ‘news’.
    • Login as Site admin
    • Go to Administer/Content Management/Content Types, click Add.
    • Name: News, Type: news (I use all lower-case for the type), Description: News items.
    • Workflow settings: Check ‘Published’ and ‘Promoted to front page’. I also enabled Attachments, but you may not want to do that. Make your choice for comments, too. You probably don’t want people commenting on your news items – “hey – that was really boring!” – in which case, disable comments.
    • Save the content type.
  • Set up a User who can create, change or delete News items. First we’ll create a new role, specifically for just working with news items:
    • Go to Administer/User Management/Roles
    • Click on Add Role. Call it Reporter (you can always delete this later if you really don’t want it)
    • Click on Edit Permissions
    • Scroll down the list of permissions until you get to ‘Node Module’. Check ‘Create news content’, ‘edit own news content’ and ‘delete own news content’ then click ‘Save permissions.
    • Create a user with a role of reporter: Go to Administer/Users and click on ‘Add User’. Type a Username, unique e-mail address (if you are like me, you have many alias email addresses pointing to the same account- almost a must for testing anything with Drupal or Joomla), password, and check the role of ‘reporter’.
  • Add some News!
    • Logout of Drupal
    • Login with the User just created (role of reporter)
    • Click on the ‘Create content’ link and create some news items.
  • Create a block view to show most recent 5 news items in a block.
    • Login as site admin again
    • Go to Administer/Site building/Views.
    • Click Add to create a new View
    • View name: News_list , View description: block listing recent news, View tag: News, View type: Node. Click Next.
    • Select ‘block’ in dropdown box, click ‘Add Display’.
    • Click on ’10’ next to ‘Items to display’ and change it to 5.
    • Click on the ‘+’ sign next to Fields. Scroll down and select Node: Post date and Node: Title, then click the Add button . The next steps take you through more options for each of these fields.
    • Remove the label of ‘Post date’ (clear the text). This prevents the words ‘Post date’ showing next to the date. Click ‘Update default display’. You should now see an interface asking you to configure the field ‘Node:Title’.
    • Remove the label of ‘Title’ (clear the text). Check the box ‘Output this field as a link’ , scroll down and check ‘Link this field to its node’. This makes the News item’s Title a clickable link that links to the full article (node). Click ‘Update Default display’.
    • You should see a ‘Live preview of all content you’ve created. Let’s filter it by ‘news’ only.
    • Cick the ‘+’ sign next to Filters. Scroll down and check Node: Published and Node: Type. These options let us choose to display only Published content (Node: Published = Y), and only news (Node: Type = ‘news’). Then click Add.
    • Select ‘Yes’ for Published items, click Update, then select ‘Is one of’ and check ‘News’, then click Update.
    • Now let’s sort the news items by most recent first (descending order). Click on the ‘+’ sign next to Sort criteria.
    • Check Node: Post date, click Add.
    • Select Descending, click Update.
    • Finally, click the Save button (just above the words ‘Live Preview’.)
  • Add Block To First Page
    • Depending on your active theme, you may want to add your news block to the left or right side of the page. I’m (currently) using Acquia Marina, which supports a right-hand column, so that’s where I’ll place my block:
    • Go to Administer/Site Building/Blocks
    • Scroll down to the list of inactive blocks and find the one named ‘News_list’. This is what we created when we built our view in the previous steps. Click on the dropdown box and select ‘Sidebar last’ (or maybe ‘Sidebar right’ or ‘Sidebar left’ – depending on your active theme).
    • Click the ‘Save blocks’ button at the bottom of the page.
    • The list of blocks will be refreshed. The news_list block now appears under the ‘sidebar last’ heading. Click on the ‘configure’ link.
    • Type a ‘block title’ of Latest News
    • Scroll down to ‘Page specific visibility settings’ and click on ‘Show on only the listed pages’ and type <front> in the text box. This ensures that our block of listed news items only appears on the front page, on the right side of the page.
    If you want to see a sample of how this implementation appears, go to my Drupal sandbox installation.
    The next post will explain how to create a page of News items, with a primary menu link, and an Archive block showing news items by month.