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Field Tools as a replacement for Features

One of my new favorite modules recently has been Field Tools. What I love about it is that it presents you with the ability to export all of the fields on a particular bundle (or even just a single field).

Then, you can just use field_create_field or field_create_instance in a little loop.

Take for example (in a module's .install file):

function mymodule_install() { 
  $fields = mymodule_get_some_fields();
  foreach ($fields as $name => $field) {

Then, inside of mymodule_get_some_fields() you just put the output of Field Tool's export:

function mymodule_get_some_fields() {
  $fields = array();
  // Start export.
  $fields['field_name'] = array(
    'field' => array(...),
    'instance' => array(...),
  $fields['another_field_name'] = array(
    'field' => array(...),
    'instance' => array(...),
  // End export.
  return $fields;

See, the magic is that the $fields export includes two sub-arrays: 'field' and 'instance'. That's what then powers the ability to just run it through the foreach above and it create your bases and your instances.

A couple of caveats:

  • You should probably check to see if the field exists before creating it. Otherwise, it'll throw an Exception.
  • It dumps everything in the exports, and so you might need to clean them up a bit by checking to ensure that you're not adding them to extra bundles or something like that.

But for most cases, this is way simpler than using Features and having to bring it in as a dependency.