Five Drupal 7 modules you should know about

With every major Drupal release comes an opportunity for contributors to repackage, rethink and invent new modules to provide functionality above and beyond Drupal’s core.  
Additions range from full fledged shopping carts to simple UI and display tweaks.  It’s these contributions that make Drupal so valuable and flexible as a groundwork for so many sites today.  Below is a list of just a few of the modules that are new or have been reworked from the ground-up, that deserve your attention.


1. Workbench

The Workbench module collection aims to replace the limitations of a web site’s content structure with a more flexible system for content handling.  This is achieved by providing a more robust means of defining groups of users to a certain set of editing powers.  For example, you could allow a predefined list of users to only edit content tagged with a particular taxonomy term.  Currently, the collection of modules provides you with the means of managing permissions for content, files, media and editorial workflows(i.e. custom workflows).  However, Workbench’s modular architecture leads to a greater extensibility that opens the door to future modules to incorporate workbench into their own process flow.

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2. Search API

Note: Screencast shows early build.

Search API and the many dependent modules are powerful replacements to Drupal’s core search functionality.  Search API provides fine grained controls for every aspect of content searching and also includes views integration and faceted searching. The many associated modules provide numerous additional functionalities including support for AJAX, MongoDB, multi-index searches, value ranges, spellcheck and saved searches.

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3. Commerce

The Drupal Commerce module aims to be the definitive answer to all commerce needs within Drupal.  Unlike previous commerce solutions, Drupal Commerce aims to be very lightweight and tightly integrated with Drupal’s core functionality.  With the increased flexibility of Drupal 7’s API and a blank slate to build on, the developers sought to make their module pliable to any commerce need, eliminating many of the barriers that restricted deviation from the standard checkout process in previous commerce solutions.

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4. Display suite

The Drupal 7 Display Suite module is the amalgamation of several previous modules, reworked to interact more seamlessly with Drupal’s core UI.   The biggest feature is the ability to apply different, unique, predefined layouts(i.e. multi-column display) to nodes, users, comments, views, taxonomy terms, etc... without having to modify any code.  The UI builds on Drupal’s core field display UI and allows you to assign a layout, then drag and drop fields wherever you want them to display.  Additional features allow you to create fields from blocks, custom view modes(instead of just Full/Teaser), pseudo-fields and more.

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5. Field group

Field group provides the very simple, but very necessary function of grouping fields together on any entity add/edit forms or on field display.  Group types include div wrappers, fieldsets, accordions and tabs.  It’s useful for anything from wrapping some fields with a div tag for themeing to cleaning up a node edit form that is overwhelmed by too many fields.

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Additional modules to keep an eye on:


The Relation module aims to solve one of Drupal’s biggest weaknesses; content relationships.  It does so by allowing users to create one-to-one, many-to-one, zero-to-many and many-to-many relationship types with various directions and hierarchy that users can apply to content.

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Developed by the guys from Aquia, the Media module combines all media handling into a single simple and clean interface.  This includes image display, file handling and internet media.  A 7.x-2.x was recently announced.

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Field Collection

Lastly, the Field Collection module looks to solve the problem of multi-field groups in Drupal.  In Drupal 6, the 3x branch of CCK had multi-group functionality, which unfortunately was left out when CCK was pulled into Drupal 7 core.  Field Collection is a promising start, but still lacks some major features such as a node form widget so that you may edit field collection content from the node form.  Currently you must edit this content in separate forms for each Field Collection item.

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