Understanding node-list pages in Drupal

9 Dec 2007

First a question: Is there some Drupal name for "pages that list nodes"? Like the front page on many sites (including this one) – any web page that lists nodes, as opposed to a web page that is a specific node. For lack of a name, I'll call these "node-list pages".

Whatever the name, I responded to a couple of Drupal.org forum posts on the same issue around which I initially had to wrap my newbie head before Drupal "opened up" to me. It's this: How do you place nodes onto a given page? It's pretty clear how to do so for the front page, but how do you create, say, this site's "Question Bank" page, which is a page listing all of my "question" nodes?

The short answer is easy: You don't create the page. You give Drupal the instructions for creating it.

In more detail:

Other than the built-in mechanism for populating a front page in Drupal with nodes, you don't "promote" a node to a given page (or "place" a node on a given page, etc.). Rather, your desired page listing nodes is created by Drupal on the fly, out of nodes that match some specified criteria. It might be all nodes containing a taxonomy term like "question". Or it might be all nodes of a given content type. (My Question Bank node-list page? All the nodes are a custom CCK type I made. The Question Bank page is a list of all nodes of that type, called up using Views.)

I don't know whether the following is a canonical way to explain what Drupal does, but the way I think of it is this: A node-list page doesn't exist as a "container" for the nodes you'll later place in it. A node-list page doesn't even exist as a standalone page at all!

All that exists is a link, which you've probably placed in a menu. That link is an instruction to Drupal to call up all nodes of some given criteria (such as nodes with a taxonomy certain term), or call up a View that lists all nodes of some given criteria, and create a node-list page on the fly.

Which is to say: The key to understanding Drupal node-list pages is that it's all about creating the links, i.e., the instructions for calling up nodes (as well as preparing the taxonomies, Views, etc. that the instructions will make use of). And not about creating the pages themselves.

Think link. At least, that's the mindset that worked for me when I first stumbled over the issue of "but... how do I make the page?" It may be a helpful reminder for other newbies, or those coming over from CMSes that, unlike Drupal, do have you "place" a node onto a pre-existing "container" page.


Here's a good related resource: Content, the Drupal Way. Highly recommended for anyone new to Drupal.

Also, on this site, see Placing Content on Pages


Swiftarrow's picture


I was beginning to come to this understanding... but reading this post has saved me perhaps 2 days of pondering. I hope there' smore on this site!

drupalace's picture

Great, glad it was helpful! I myself would have liked some short enlightenment on this topic when I was starting out. : ) (I was approaching Drupal from a short fling with Mambo, which, if I recall correctly, used a more easy-to-guess-at method of assigning nodes to specified, named pages.)

musuan's picture

Thanks. I was looking for pages. Your article made things clear. I want to use Taxonomy to group related nodes together, calling them from a link. Now, if only I could find the path to a vocabulary and an place it it the the path field of the Menu settings, our online community is in business. :D

drupalace's picture

Glad it was helpful! FYI, I added pages along a similar vein at http://www.drupalace.com/EDAM/placing_content .

Thanks for writing!

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