Drupal 7 review
It still isn’t exactly user-friendly, however, and the same is true of another Drupal 7 advance: the Dashboard. This is designed to act as an administrative landing page where you can quickly see recently added content and comments, web stats, who’s online and so on. For advanced site builders the ability to add any Drupal block to your dashboard and to customise what’s shown depending on the user should prove extremely useful. However, the bare dashboard screen may put many off.
Much of Drupal 7’s new power is found behind the scenes. Examples include Drupal 7’s deep RDF (Resource Description Framework) support for adding semantic metadata, the reworked Render API for controlling content display, greater abstraction of database handling, which also adds SQLite support, and the ability to automatically test new modules and patches. More eye-catching is Drupal 7’s out-of-box support for the uploading of images, complete with the ability to generate multiple image styles for thumbnails and previews.
Built-in image handling is welcome, though long overdue, but by default, it’s still pretty basic and limited to single images. However, as always with Drupal, the barebones default is only the starting point. The biggest new feature in Drupal 7 is its new support for fields. Simply create a new content type, such as a review or gallery, and you can then add any number of fields for handling all sorts of data such as text, integers, lists and images. You can then manage how these fields are displayed through customisable field widgets.
In fact, Drupal already had similar capabilities, enabled through its Content Construction Kit (CCK) add-on module, but by moving CCK into core, Drupal 7 extends the scope of field handling to comments, taxonomy terms and users. It also provides a stronger platform on which to build and there are already plenty of add-on modules, providing additional field types and widgets for handling dates, links, maps and so on. Even better, by combining Drupal 7’s new core field handling with the excellent Views module (effectively a smart query builder), you can take complete control of your content on the way into the database and on the way out.
Despite version 7’s major advances, Drupal still lags behind Joomla and WordPress for ease of use, and certainly isn’t the right choice if you are looking for a simple turnkey content management system. However, if you are looking for maximum content management power, the combination of Drupal 7 and its add-on modules certainly delivers, and moves it a step ahead of the competition.
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