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DrupalCon DC - Business Analytics in Drupal with Views

One of the interesting sessions that I attended at DrupalCon DC was one entitled: Business Analytics in Drupal with Views. In it, the presenters showcased two of their modules. One was a charts display plugin for views, and one was a 'group by' views field.

Views charts

This was a simple module to take the output of a views query and pump it into a flash charting framework. Being able to display the output of your views with charts is really nothing new, and the presenters admitted to duplicating existing modules. Hopefully a module will emerge from the mess that will be simple enough, yet flexible enough to take the lead so that we can standardise on that one. There's no sense in having lots of module that all run across the same problems but have slightly different limitations, I'd much rather see a standard views output plugin that can support different charting frameworks for the actual rendering.

The 'meat' of the session was much more interesting...

Views Group By

By itself views can't perform any aggregate queries against tables, but with the Views Group By module it can!

You add it as a field, and it allows you to group by a field, and perform an sql aggregate function on another. Now it currently only supports COUNT and is waiting on a views patch before other functions can be added.

Now I haven't looked at the code, and I'm not even sure views is capable of producing the queries required by most clients for business analytics, but it certainly might help!

In his keynote, Dries mentioned that he'd like to see some kind of activity log in core, and if there's something logging activity, then we're going to want to produce reports of the activity, maybe views can be part of toolset to do that?