05.01.2010. For our diehard Drupal clients, we thought it might be nice to give a quick review of Drupal 7. Here are some of the new features.
Drupal 7 setup now includes 2 install profiles: one for a ready-to-go installation that enables most modules so you can get started immediately; the other profile is a minimal installation that only enables a few core modules and is geared towards people who will develop a site from the ground up.
In the Drupal 7 administration area, you will notice a bunch of new useful features and many key differences in how your site works. At the top there is now a content menu with administrative links. This menu is "stuck" to the top of the page and will move when scrolling. Admin links now display in an overlay over your main site. This feature helps separate your actual site from the admin sections and allows access to admin functions without ever having to navigate away from your currently loaded page.
Previous versions of Drupal contained ambiguous categorization for various tasks. Modules had a tendency to install themselves into various arbitrary categories which made configuration a confusing mess. This categorization has been improved so each task goes into a clear, accurate category like "content," "appearance," "people," etc. Hopefully this will help you find what you need more easily and aid in reducing the number of clicks you need to get from one task to another.
Dashboards & Shortcuts
Dashboards are a new feature to Drupal 7. They are fully configurable sets of blocks that present various bits of pertinent info to the user such as the last 10 pieces of submitted content, lists of new or online users, and management links. Each user can tweak their own dashboard as they see fit so they have a one-stop overlay of any site information they desire. Shortcuts are simple commonly visited links that users can pin to the top menu (and also to the dashboard). On big, multi-admin sites its usefulness really comes into play if you have various admins that concentrate on specific parts of the site.
Content Creation & Editing
The new overlay system makes editing a breeze. All blocks and content can now be edited and saved in place. Those of you that used the "vertical tabs" module for previous versions will love the new Drupal default behavior of dealing with content options. Instead of endless lists of collapsible (or non-collapsible) fieldsets, all options are now tabbed for quick access. A similar set of options applies to block edit overlays as well.
Drupal's powerful Content Construction Kit (CCK) has finally been upgraded to a core module. CCK (now simply called "Fields") allows you to attach various pieces of information to a content type. You can then use pieces in your themes to do things like display an image or video, create a list of footnotes, or allow for different types of summary text for different pages of your site. Integration a core module means that now every input box is treated in the same manner (whereas before, some fields were CCK and some were not and thus had different display variables).