What is the difference between a node and a view?

There is a very big difference between a node and a view, one that often confuses people who are new to Drupal.

A node is a single entry that uses some content type submission form.  This can be a Page, a Book Page, a Story, etc.  If you were to draw a visual map of your Drupal site, where each piece of content was a point that was connected to other points, each point would be a node.  The term node is specific to Drupal.

A view, on the other hand, is a term that is used commonly in the Relational Database Management field.  A view, in general, is a collection of data that is lumped together and displayed as a group.  A good, general example of a view is a basic data report.  In Drupal, a view can be a collection of nodes that are somehow related, a collection of data about users of the site, or a collection of data about the site system - among other things.

By default, in OSU Drupal, the Author role is permitted to create and edit all default node types.  This includes the following:

  • Announcement
  • Biblio
  • Book Page
  • Page
  • Poll
  • Story

Conversely, by default, in OSU Drupal, Authors can not create or edit a view.  View development using the Views module is actually an advanced topic that requires either some type of training or previous experience.

How to Tell the Difference Between a Node and a View

One easy way to spot a view is the presence of a list of something that automatically updates.  For example, if you have a list of employees on your Drupal site that automatically updates when you create an Employee node, then the list that you're looking at is a view.

Another way to spot a view is if you are logged in and permitted to create a particular content type, but you do not see the standard View and Edit tabs used for a node.  A view does not have these.  If you see, for example, an error in an entry that is displaying in a view, you will need to track down the node either through a link to the node that may be supplied in the view, or through the content list at Admin menu > Content management > Content.