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10 free Drupal modules that make development easier

By Brian Proffitt
January 16, 2013 06:00 AM ET

Custom Contextual Links

Sponsor: ImageX Media
Version tested: 7.x-1.5
Certified for: Drupal 7
Price: Free

Anyone who's administered a Drupal site for any length of time knows that moving around the administrative tools, even in Drupal 7, can sometimes be a long process.

Even the little context menus that you can click in the upper corner of content nodes don't help much if you're trying to get to a setting that's not on the menu. Wouldn't it be nice to actually get a menu command to show up on that context menu as a shortcut?

If you said yes, then you'll be happy to download and install the Custom Contextual Links (CCL) module, which enables you to do precisely that.

 Custom Contextual Links
Custom Contextual Links (CCL) lets you build your own menu commands.

Easy to use, this is a nifty little module that can make life much simpler for admins who are tired of digging around Drupal's admin links.


Lead developers: Jake Strawn, ThemeGeeks
Version tested: 7.x-3.0-beta11
Certified for: Drupal 6
Price: Free

Delta is a very iterative module, in that it adds a really cool feature to Context's feature set.

Delta lets admins configure theme settings based on node types, context or groups of paths. You can then save those theme adjustments in Delta and have them get displayed when a particular context for your site -- such as a special sign-on page -- is shown.

In other words, it lets you create custom themes for Context to use when it needs to.

The interface with Delta is very similar to that of Context's. This is a good thing in that you can create and edit templates in Delta much the same way as you can in Context. It's not so good because there's still that learning curve for Context.

Delta help you create custom themes to use with Context.

Delta and Context, working together, can give your site a lot of visual flexibility for different sections, without a lot of theming hassle.

Display Suite

Lead developer: Kristof De Jaeger
Version tested: 7.x-2.0
Certified for: Drupal 6/7
Price: Free

Because Drupal lays out site content in boxes and nodes, one of the things that's tricky for Drupal site admins is the capability to create more interesting ways to lay out pages.

This is typically done by using template files and configuring them just so, one by one, until you get the look and feel you're shooting for. This is one area where Drupal's granularity can just get in the way -- tweaking a site's layout should not involve a lot of digging through configuration screens.

This is where the Display Suite module can be really helpful. The module will let you quickly apply custom layout settings to the site as a whole or to individual content nodes, such as articles. That level of detail is very useful, because depending on the article's length or importance, you may want to display it differently from other articles on the site.

Display Suite
Display Suite can customize the display of individual content nodes easily.

You can tweak the positioning of elements of the article node, and if you're using Drupal 7 there are even preconfigured layout settings that you can choose from the Layout drop-down menu. That feature alone makes this module a must-get for any serious Drupal admin.

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