Exploring Drupal's Entity API: Tips and Tricks for Better Site Development

16 Feb 2024

Crafting the digital landscape has never been more intuitive than with Drupal's Entity API. Developers wield the power to forge bespoke content types and intricately weave data relationships for these types, all effortlessly. 
This is not just a system; it has a lot of capabilities and a comprehensive API that makes the art of form creation, data validation, configuration, and even the orchestration of routes. The web realm becomes a canvas for innovation, and Drupal stands as the master artist's palette, inviting exceptional content and curating unparalleled web experiences. 
For enterprises seeking the zenith of scalability, adaptability, and impregnable security, Drupal stands tall, its architecture a bastion of strength, integration as seamless as an artist's brushstroke. Ready to embark on your digital odyssey with us, the Golems team

What is Drupal entity API?

In order to provide a single approach for handling entities and their properties, Entity API is extending Drupal's core. In addition, it gives a CRUD controller that enables the creation of new types of entities more easily.
Additionally, the CRUD (create, show, update, delete) controller makes it possible to detect and repair errors swiftly. Developers prefer Drupal's Entity API because: 

  • The system provides structured data management and categorizes various types of information (articles, products, users, etc.)
  • Flexible in content customization. Developers have the opportunity to create specific fields and properties. 
  • Consistent programming interface. Drupal's Entity API allows interacting with various types of entities easily 
  • Entity relationships and connections. Entity API can establish relationships between different users, nodes, and taxonomy terms. 
  • Language variety. Drupal's Entity API has multilingual support, which is why developers have tools to translate and publish websites that are easily understandable for users worldwide.
  • Theming. The system is designed to be comfortable for developers, so it has a customizable interface and various themes. The developer has a lot of control over the appearance of content on a website.

Key types of entities available in Drupal

Entity API entity is a data unit (similar to object-oriented programming). Each of them has its own properties and set of fields. The main types of entities are:

  • Nodes. This type represents content items (articles, blog posts, pages)
  • Users. Those are individuals who interact with websites and their content. Users have certain traits: “roles,” and “permissions” to customize and determine access to a website and its parts.
  • Taxonomy terms. Tools to categorize and structure website content.
  • Custom entities. Developers can create entities with different properties that don`t belong to nodes, users, or taxonomy terms. 

5 useful Drupal Modules to Expose Your API

1. Drupal 8/9 Core Web Services (RESTful Web Services)
This module allows the use of RESTful resources and configures which content types are exposed. This module supports customization of output format (JSON, XML) and controls access to them.
This is a powerful module for creating API on Drupal 8 and later. The main feature is exposing entities as JSON data following specifications. The main advantage of this feature is a more structured approach to API creation.
3. Services 
This module is available from the Drupal 7 version. The main feature is exposing data types (REST, XML-RPC, JSON, etc.). Custom endpoints and controlled access are also included in this module.
4. GraphQL 
The module exposes GraphQL (as query language). Using query language gives the opportunity to reach and request needed data. GraphQL heavily improves data control and manipulation in terms of website development.
5. RESTful Web Services 
It includes RESTful services and additional functions such as data exposure using classic HTTP methods like GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE, resource configuration, additional output formats, and hooks.

Leveraging Entity API for Site Development

Drupal's Entity API includes a CRUD controller, which simplifies the querying of databases for each website. The advantage of using this featuIt'sIt's Core is that you're not dependent on additional investment modules. This is easy to handle programmatically, while views are a little tricky to handle in code. We haven't done any performance measurements, but EFQ is simpler than View. We consider it will have better performance overall.
You can make arbitrary connections and collect almost any kind of data. It is also relatively easy to expose new data to the View. There's a module to do it. It has a user interface and is much more user-friendly than doing everything in code.

Top Tips for Efficient Entity Querying

Queries are an essential part of any website development and performance plan. This feature increases usability and makes it easier to create complex queries. Using the Drupal Entity Query API, developers can efficiently structure query entities such as nodes, users, and taxonomy terms. Developers can optimize queries to ensure that users receive website content promptly. 
1. Using an entity loader 
Entities bundling can reduce the number of database queries compared to loading individual entities (e.g., using node_load() or user_load()). 
2. Specifying only required fields 
It reduces the data retrieved and facilitates development by identifying only required fields (using the fieldCondition() special method).
3. Caching
Use Drupal's built-in caching features to store and retrieve query results without re-accessing them.
4. Referential Optimization 
Filtering data by reference fields is very efficient using the entityCondition() method. This feature reduces the need for unused tables and generally improves query performance.
5. Avoid using too many compounds
Too many connections can negatively affect performance and cause the system to run slowly. Therefore, limiting the number of JOINs to what is needed for efficient queries is very important.
6. Use indexes
Developers should index all queries in the central database. For extensive databases, indexes can significantly speed up data retrieval.
7. Drupal is frequently updated and optimized 
New versions often include features that improve query performance. It's also good to keep an eye on new module releases as they can improve overall performance.


Gain more from Drupal's Entity API. Today, Drupal specialists briefly described the main tips to create a more robust and effective website, whether developing custom content, improving queries, or adjusting entity relationships.
In addition to modules, developers can use querying tips to improve and make more efficient databases for websites. 
Key takeaways of Drupal's Entity API:

  • Structured data management, which allows to put less time and effort to create and manage databases
  • Content customization and comfortable interface. Entity API is convenient for both the developer and the user
  • Queries efficiency
  • Flexibility 

We encourage you to put your newly acquired knowledge to use. Try out the Entity API, put the optimization methods to use, and watch how your Drupal projects improve. Do you have a query or a triumphant tale to share? Please feel free to remark below. Let's continue the discussion and work together to harness Drupal's Entity API's power to build outstanding web experiences.