Technology Services

Basic Drupal Concepts and Terminology


Content management software used widely in Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, as well as the larger Duke University community.


Information (text, images, media, etc.) provided to site visitors.


A data element that stores a particular type of information. Field types include text, image, file, date, and email, among others.

Content type

A collection of fields that describes a specific type of content. For example, an 'Event' content type might have the following fields:

  • Title (plain text)
  • Description (rich text)
  • Speaker (plain text)
  • Start/End date (date field)
  • Contact (plain text)
  • Contact email (email field)
  • Contact phone (plain text)

A 'News' content type might include fields for:

  • Headline (plain text)
  • Byline (plain text)
  • Published date (date field)
  • Body (rich text)
  • Image (image field)

A 'Basic page' might only have a Title (plain text) field and a Body (rich text) field.

Editors use the available content types to add content (i.e. 'nodes') to their site. Editors do not create or manipulate content types, but a good understanding of the concept will facilitate discussions around functional enhancements.


A distinct piece of content that is created using (and thus modeled after) an existing content type. Nodes can be created manually by an editor or via an import from an external source such as the Duke Events Calendar.


The state of a node which allows it to be viewed by site visitors. This state can be changed to not published, effectively hiding the content from site visitors other than authenticated uses with permission to view unpublished nodes.


A view is a collection of nodes that match specified criteria. These criteria may be as simple as "all published nodes of a certain content type", but can take other filters into account such as dates, taxonomy, and so on, depending on the fields available. These filters can be exposed to site visitors, allowing the user to dynamically change which nodes are included in the view.

The way a view is displayed is configurable, both in terms of the format (e.g. slideshow, table, unordered list) and which fields are included. Content editors do not create or manipulate views, but should be familiar with the concept and the capabilities in order to facilitate discussions around functional enhancements.


Drupal's system of categorization. A site's taxonomy is made up of vocabularies, which are made up of individual terms. For example, most department sites have a vocabulary called 'Job Class', which includes the terms 'Faculty', 'Staff', and 'Student'.


A snippet of content which can be displayed on one or more pages throughout a site. A typical use case for a block is contact information shown in the footer on every page. When modifying a block, the change will be apparent everywhere the block is used.


A list of links that provides site visitors the means of navigating through the site. The 'Main menu' typically includes a link to every page of the site, organized in a hierarchical fashion. Depending on the content type, the content editor can provide a menu link to nodes created using that content type. Not all content types allow their nodes to be assigned to a menu, as these nodes will be accessed via a view. An example of this is the 'Event' content type: nodes of this type are not typically assigned to a menu, but are displayed in an 'Upcoming Events' view.


An assembly of one or more content elements (i.e. a node, view, block, and/or menu) that are rendered together when a site visitor accesses one of your site's URLs (or web address, e.g., whether from an external link or search result, via one of the site's menus, or in rare cases by direct input.


An area defined by the site's theme in which content elements (nodes, views, blocks, and menus) may be placed.


An individual's presence on a Drupal site.

Anonymous user

A site visitor who is not logged in.

Authenticated user

A site visitor who has logged into the site and is identified by Drupal by thier account, or 'user account'. A visitor may not have elevated privileges simply by the fact they are authenticated. Typically, their account must also have been given an additional role or roles for which permissions have been assigned, for example the ability to edit nodes of a particular content type.


A set of permissions that defines what an individual is capable of doing when logged-in to a Drupal site. Roles are assigned to user accounts, thereby giving a user permission to edit content, for example. Roles can be assigned to multiple users, and users can have multiple roles.