Views Bulk Operations and Taxonomies – school of hard knocks

Views Bulk Operations is a great tool for making batched changes to large amounts of data. I have been using it for the last couple of days to add taxonomy terms to the around 17,000 new nodes that I added recently. And I just learned something the hard way.

Take care if you make bulk changes to taxonomies. It is not too difficult to inadvertently add the same term to a specific vocabulary over and over this way. Vocabs are meant to be updated dynamically; as the user add new terms to content, they are added to the vocab. On a individual basis, the autocomplete or dropdowns would ensure that the same term is reused if supplied instead of adding a new term for the SAME TERM. Which is what I did by mistake yesterday. And it was a mess.

Because I didn’t approach the VBO operation properly, I added the same term over and over again, to the tune of 8,000 times. Yuck. So, when I realized what I had done, I used VBO Delete to remove the extraneous terms. But what I didn’t consider was the overall impact of such a move. When I deleted all the individual terms that way, I deleted the nodes as well. 8,000 of them. Ouch.

A quick call to the BEST HOSTING COMPANY EVER – Blackmesh – and a restore was underway and the lesson was absorbed with tail between legs. I lost a whole day’s work, yes. But I gained a lot of insight as to how not to make this mistake again.

This is a fairly high level approach to what I did:

  • Created a vocabulary for the Content type
  • Created all the terms that I plan to use for this project
  • Added a term reference on the content type linked to the vocab
  • Used the autocomplete widget for the field
  • In the VBO View for this, chose the field for that content type that will hold the tax term
  • When running the VBO, I made sure the choose the predefined tax term. Since I used the autocomplete widget, i would type the first letters and wait for the complete choice to appear. This ensured that the existing term was being used
  • There was one node that needed its own term. I ran the VBO against this one node and added a new term to make sure that I was correct about new terms being added automatically. I was correct. This also confirmed that previously I had added what the system thought was a new term, every time the VBO changed a node
  • as I went through this, I checked the vocab to make sure that the number of terms was consistent with the original terms I had added.

Drupal Site indexing – MySQL Errors, CRON timeouts

Since I recently dumped almost 17,000 new nodes into my DB in a relatively short time, I have been keeping a close eye on how the back end is responding. The main concern that I have is the indexing process for the new data. I began receiving errors from MySQL as seen in the SS.

In the Drupal Admin UI, check the number of nodes that are indexed per


CRON run. In my case, I had it set to 500, the maximum. This was a bit of overkill and I ended up making the value lower. I also increased the PHP memory, which you can check under “status reports”.

…PHP 5.3.27 (more information)
PHP extensions Enabled
PHP memory limit 512M
PHP register globals Disabled…

I really had simply to tweak the settings. I ended up at 100 nodes per run, one run per hour and PHP mem allocation as seen above. From the Search Options UI, you can see the status of the indexing, how fast, how many nodes, etc.