Drupal Gardens adds custom date fields, external links, automatic redirects and more!

This release of Drupal Gardens has something for every site builder.  In particular, support for custom date/time fields has been one of the most requested features.  As is the Drupal Gardens norm, we kept the bar high and only added these modules after putting in enough design, engineering and testing to deliver a UX that was easier, but not watered down.  

So that all Drupal users could benefit, the Drupal Gardens' designers and engineers worked closely with several prominent Drupal community module maintainers to contribute our changes back to drupal.org.   Special thanks to community rockstars Karen Stevenson and Arlin Sandbulte (date module), Eric Duran (fivestar module), and Dave Reid (url redirect module), who took time out of their busy schedules to help us with these modules.

Last week we completed this release and updated over 60,000 sites on the Drupal Gardens service with the following new features and enhancements:

  • Added support for custom date/time fields
    You can now add custom dates/time fields to your blog posts or other content with the addition of the powerful Drupal Date module (enabled by default). With the features in this module you can:
    • Configure dates with a simplified and improved user interface
    • Provide date entry as a text field, pop-up calendar, or select list
    • Specify the date format used to enter dates and times
    • Control date/time granularity, such as year, month, day, or just minutes and seconds
    • Collect start and end dates
    • Specify default dates
    • Control time zone handling
    • Use dates in Views to filter or sort lists of content based on any date or time field. Optionally, expose these filters and sorts so site visitors can click to choose how they want to filter or sort lists of content, by date or time.

    To add one or more date fields to any content type, simply go to Structure > Content Types > manage fields, add a field of type Date, and then follow the rest of the prompts.

  • Added support for external links
    Handle internal links (links to pages within your site) differently than external links (e.g. to nytimes.com) with the addition of the External Links module. With this module you can:
    • Add icons to either mailto: or external links, or both.
    • Configure external links to open in a new window (or tab depending on the browser used).
    • Display a confirmation message when visitors leave your site (for Section 508 compliance).
    • Define regular expressions to include or exclude certain external links from this behavior.

    To use external links, click Modules and enable the External Links module. Then configure the behavior you want at Configuration > External links.

  • New SEO settings with automatic URL redirects
    When editing content, you’ll now see a new Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tab at the bottom of the form that lets you manage URL aliases and automatic URL redirects with help from the awesome URL redirects module (enabled by default). More SEO features will be added to this tab over time. There are several new benefits:
    • Before you even save your draft, you can see the URL alias that is automatically generated for your content (based on your content’s title).
    • After you publish your content, all future changes of your content’s title creates a URL redirect from the previous path to the new path. Your visitors will be properly redirected from old URLs to new URLs as you change the title of your content. The benefit to your users is less ‘page not found’ errors. Once a redirect is created, it appears in the SEO tab’s ‘URL redirects’ section where you can also see a count of how many times a redirect has been used, when last accessed, and more.
    • With additional settings in Configuration > URL redirects, you can:
      • Bulk delete redirects and see which ones are used the most, or when they are used
      • List all invalid paths that visitors have tried to access that don’t exist and result in a 404 error. These are paths for which you should consider adding a URL redirect.
      • Turn off the creation of automatic path directs on the Setting tab, define when unused redirects should be removed (default is 6 months), and more.
  • Simplified the configuration of Fivestar ratings
    It's easier to configure Fivestar, now that the voting category field has been eliminated. Also, you can set the star display styling by field, instead of globally, so you can use a default display on the node and a different display on the teaser. In addition, there are new ways your visitors can vote when you create a new field:
    • Stars (rated while viewing): Visitors vote when they view content by clicking on the star value. For example, visitors can vote on the quality of service at different restaurants. (This widget was previously called ‘Stars’.)
    • Stars (rated while editing): For future use. This option is not recommended at this time.
    • Select list (rated while editing): Visitors vote while viewing content, but use a pull-down list to vote instead of clicking the star values

    For detailed instructions, see the Drupal Gardens Fivestar documentation.