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BlockTools provides a simple programatic interface for retrieving individual blocks from the block system while retaining Drupal's block caching mechanism. Additionally, BlockTools provides per block caching that can be configured through each block's configuration form.

To invoke blocktools, simply call it like so:

  $my_var = blocktools_get_block($module, $delta, $cache_skip);

Where module and delta string representations of the module providing the block and the block name (the delta) and an option third argument which, if true, skips all block caching mechanisms. This returns the entire block array returned when providing hook_block with the view operation argument. An additional cached_result key is added to the block array if the block was retreived from the cache.

You may also call blocktools_get_block_content($module, $delta, $cache_skip)> if you all you want is a block body.

How does BlockTools interact with Drupal's block cache?

  • If global caching is turned off, and a block's individual cache is turned on, caching will be used for that block.
  • If global caching is enabled, anything cached by the traditional block system will be shared with blocktools, and vice versa.
  • Currently, if the expiration set by the block in hook_block varies from the administrator set expiration, the expiration will be set by the version that gets called first. This is a bug, and it will be fixed in a subsequent release.
  • Calling up blocks with BlockTools always adds a little overhead compared to calling them directly. This potentially affects Views-generated blocks and very simple blocks if caching is enabled for those blocks. The overhead is not significant, and potentially the module will include a short circuit for views-provided blocks.

Development sponsored by The Chicago Technology Cooperative.