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Drupal 7 Entities: What is it All About?

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At present, Drupal CMS is a very well known web application in the entire web arena. In today’s post we are going to provide you with an inside story of latest Drupal version. Well, Drupal 7 entities are the subject matter which is going to be described in this post. When we talk about the last Drupal version, i.e. Druapal 6, module developer frequently uses nodes as a multitasking method for having the objects that can be saved in the database. For your kind information, nodes in D6 are the robust tool when blended with the suppleness of CCK’s custom fields and a simple incorporation with contrib modules. On the other hand, using nodes for every piece of content results to large overhead, the contrib module frequently amend nodes & added hooks which are operated on them. This is the chief concern as far as the performance is concerned.

Now when we come to Druapl 7, the latest version of Drupal, we get some more updates. In Drupal 7 core all the common objects, like nodes, users, comments, and terms, are called entities. Entities not only provide you with all functionality available with nodes D6, there are so many Drupal modules which are using entities for storing their database, including node.module and user.module. Up to here, you might have been entangled in some confusion while carving out the insights of Drupal 7 entities. So, let’s get into the basics of entity, so that you can understand Drupal 7 entity and its significance.

What is an Entity?

Entities can be considered as the parent class of nodes. They are the generalization of functionalities common in nodes, users, terms and taxonomy. This can be noticeably seen on the Drupal 7 of user_load_multiple () and node_load_multiple ().
For example
<?php
function user_load_multiple( $uids = array(),
$conditions = array(),
$reset = FALSE) {
return entity_load(‘user’, $uids, $conditions, $reset);
}
function node_load_multiple( $nids = array(),
$conditions = array(),
$reset = FALSE) {
return entity_load(‘node’, $nids, $conditions, $reset);
}
?>

As it is displayed above that loading pattern of nodes and users is almost same. This results to the easy maintenance of various codes with more clarity. One of the major advantages that you can have is that, you can define your own custom entities and they all can be easily managed. In a nutshell, you are getting all sorts of convenience and that too without overhead and avoidable code. Furthermore, Entities are having a revision tracking support, as in node module. This helps you to have various versions of entity saved in the database.

Few Examples of entities

Some of the noteworthy entities are nodes, taxonomy and users, as mentioned above; however there are few contributed modules that move to entities as far this functionality is concern. Below are given some worth mentioning modules that use entities.

1)    Organic groups: This module uses entities for groups and memberships.
2)    Field Collection: This module use entities for ‘Field collection items’, and allows adding fields.
3)    Wysiwyg: Uses entities for profiles.
4)    Commerce: This module uses entities for commerce like products, customers, payment and all that.
5)    Relation: This module uses entities for relations and let the entities link two other entities together.

Advantages of Entities

1)    Consistent functionality.
2)    More flexible and reliable code.
3)    Avoiding Boilerplate loading logic and SQL.
4)   It separates the Node functionality from your own module’s functionality and hence results to more stable codes.

These entities are biggest feature of Drupal 7. Hence in Drupal terms we can say that Entities are the latest nodes which are the base class if you define the types of data.

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Varun Bhagat is a technology geek and works in PixelCrayons as a Sr. Technology Consultant. He possesses in-depth knowledge of different web development technology and helps our clients to choose the best technology as per their needs.

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