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Unpublish nodes programmatically

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Lesson Goal

Unpublish all nodes that match certain criteria (for example, older than 30 days) during a cron run.

Implementation Method

Drupal Version Method
Drupal 7 Use hook_cron with node_save
Drupal 8 Use hook_cron with Node::save()

Drupal 7 method

Implement the following functions in lotus.module:

  1. Implement a custom function that loads the set of nodes you want to unpublish. The following example will load all nodes that are more than 30 days old:

    function lotus_load_old_nodes()
        $query = new EntityFieldQuery();
        $query->entityCondition('entity_type', 'node')
        ->propertyCondition('created', strtotime('-30 days'), '<');
        $result = $query->execute();
        if (!$result)
          // Query failed. @todo implement error handling as needed
          return array();
        return node_load_multiple(array_keys($result['node']));
  2. In an implementation of hook_cron(), call the previous function and operate on the returned nodes to unpublish them, as follows:

    function lotus_cron()
        $old_nodes = lotus_load_old_nodes();
        foreach ($old_nodes as $node)
          $node->status = NODE_NOT_PUBLISHED;

After this is complete and the Lotus module is enabled, every cron run will result in the targeted nodes being unpublished.

Drupal 8 method

The strategy in Drupal 8 is similar to Drupal 7, but with some differences in the specifics of the code. Drupal 8 introduces the concept of Service classes, which capture application-wide behaviors (including database access, sending emails, and translating text) in PHP classes instead of global functions. Our lookup function is a good candidate for this kind of implementation.

  1. In lotus/src/OldNodesService.php, implement the service class as follows:

    namespace Drupal\lotus;
    use Drupal\Core\Entity\EntityTypeManager;
    class OldNodesService
        protected $entityTypeManager;
        public function __construct(EntityTypeManager $entity_type_manager)
            $this->entityTypeManager = $entity_type_manager;
        public function load()
            $storage = $this->entityTypeManager->getStorage('node');
            $query = $storage->getQuery()->condition('created',
            strtotime('-30 days'), '<');
            $nids = $query->execute();
            return $storage->loadMultiple($nids);
  2. Register your service and describe its dependencies (in this case, an instance of the EntityTypeManager service) in lotus/

    class: \Drupal\lotus\OldNodesService
    arguments: ["@entity_type.manager"]
  3. Implement hook_cron() similar to how you did with Drupal 7:

    function lotus_cron()
      $old_nodes = \Drupal::service('lotus.old_nodes')->load();
      foreach ($old_nodes as $node)