How to use Bulk Operations


          Help and Guidance 2021: Modified Page: Version 1.1



Maintainers have the facility to edit multiple nodes using the Bulk Ops option on the Shortcuts  tab. This enables you to apply the same search and replace operation on all of a set of nodes that you select.

Search and replace can be a dangerous operation! There is often no way of reversing some changes and you will need to rely on reverting to earlier versions of each of the changed nodes. Check the advice under Warnings.


There are  four main stages:

  1. Choose  a broad set of nodes based on general factors such as type of node, county etc
  2. Refine the choice within that chosen set by tick boxes to select each node (or all of them)
  3. Configure the detailed operation you wish to perform.
  4. Practice or Perform the action.

Warnings and Advice


There is no undo function: unlike many text editors there is no simple "undo" option. Thus if you search for "Some Text" and replace it with either nothing "" or a very common word such as "and"  you almost certainly cannot create a search and replace pair that will get you back to the original. You can use the revision list on each page to go back to the version immediately prior to the search and replace. That has to be done separately for each node.

It can take time: nodes can be cached by the Drupal system. The changes you make may not be immediately visible on the pages derived from the nodes or found be a search. Wait before concluding that there is a problem or attempting to apply a change a second time if you think it has failed.

Either start with a small number of nodes or use the practice option: particularly if the change is likely to apply to large number of nodes select only a few at stage 2 (Refine) to start with. This will run more quickly and any mistakes will be easier to correct. Using Practice can help ensure that the search aspect is finding something correctly.

Beware how html works in your browser: sometimes what is see in the WYSIWYG editor may not show the exact text including the HTML tags that you need to change. See more on this here.


Choosing Nodes (Stage 1)

When you first arrive on this page the lower part of the page lists all nodes. It is highly unlikely that you will want (or be able) to operate on all nodes so you will need to choose a smaller set by entering conditions. If you return to this page after a previous Search and Replace process the page will list the nodes you selected for that operation

You can select from the set of all nodes using five conditions:

  • Content type 
  • County
  • Author
  • Title
  • Content in any topic field

Once you have entered the criteria click on the green "Choose Nodes" button.

If you have settings you wish to clear press the red "Reset" button.

The set of nodes resulting from the conditions will be presented lower down.

Refining the selection (Stage 2)

Again you may want to operate on only some of those shown. If you find that you have chosen a very long list you may wish to review the criteria at stage 1 to get you closer to the set on which you wish to apply search and replace.

If there are more than [20] nodes chosen the list will be paginated. There will be an option to select all the chosen nodes (even those on the other pages) 

Select / deselect all results in this view (all pages, NN total)

You can make more fine grain selections using the check boxes on the left of the node list. Either select all of those visible on the page using the tick box in the header or tick individual items. If your chosen set is more than one page long you can use the pagination option at the bottom of the list and make further selections or deselections on each page of results.

There is a message showing how many you nodes you have selected. This is particularly useful if you are selecting them on several pages of a long list.

Press either of the blue "Search and Replace" buttons to move onto the next stage

Configure Search and Replace (Stage 3)

You will be taken to a new page "Configure "Search & Replace" action applied to the selection"

This will show a list of the entities (nodes) that you have selected in the previous stage.

There are two collapsed menus:

  • Specify Fields (The exact list of available fields will depend on the node type you have chosen}
    • Footer
    • Introduction
    • Title
    • Topic - with a drop down box to select the topic
  • Options
    • Search and Replace using regular expressions
    • Match Case
    • Practice only (no update)

You can open these and select any or all of these items in any combination.

There are then two text entry boxes to specify the text to be found and the text with which to replace it.

Specify Fields

It is desirable to be as specific as possible about the field in which you wish to make change. These comments are on the main fields you will find in Place and Plain/Topic nodes  

  • Footer

This is not the automatically generated footer that you see on all pages with the maintainer name etc). However it can sometimes be useful  for example you may have  footnotes such as "These pages were compiled with the assistance of......"


  • Introduction

Similarly this field has not been used routinely in Place pages.

  • Title

The title of the node: it is rare that this will need to be changed on Place pages but there may be a need to do so on Plain/Topic pages.

  • Topic

This is where the bulk of likely changes might be made: in one or more of the topic fields making up the bulk of the information for a node. There is a separate dropdown menu provided showing all the topics currently used on GENUKI nodes. It is highly desirable to select one of these to avoid difficulties as the text you want to change could appear in various topics and you only want to change one instance. You can select none or one of the topics.


The first two impact on how the search is performed. The third gives you the choice of a trial run

  • Search and Replace using regular expressions

Regular expressions offer a much richer way of identifying complex combination of text. There is separate guidance on how to do this

  • Match Case

Search will normally find text irrespective of case eg Colvelly and clovelly would be returned if you searched for either form. You can select this to get strict case matching by selecting this option

  • Practice only (no update)

As it says: you can proceed to the next stage. The text will be searched and nodes identified for action. The subsequent message will indicate whether the replace would have been performed on the right nodes.

Search and Replace

You can enter plain text and html tags in either box.  More detail of some of the specific considerations of how you enter text are covered here.

In addition to the obvious simple substitutions you can in practice create and delete some fields.

If you have:

  • selected a single field (Footer, Introduction, a particular topic)
  • entered no text in the search box
  • and that field is currently empty in the node selected

then that field will be created in that node using the text/code in the replace box.

If you have:

  • selected a single field;
  • entered all the existing text in that field in the search box; 
  • and enter nothing in the replace box;

the field will be deleted

Click on apply to go to next screen



Perform Operation (Stage 4)

The next screen is headed

Are you sure you wish to perform "Search & Replace" action on [N] entity

There will be a listing of entities ( the nodes from your choice and selection in Stages 1 and 2)

But it does not repeat whether you are a practice or real action. Nor does it repeat what changes have been specified.

If you press Execute Action you will see a progress bar screen and then you will be taken back to the first selection screen. There will be a success message (green) [or error message (red)]



The message reporting the action at the top of the page will indicate if this is a PRACTICE run (ie nothing has really been changed).

It will show which nodes would  have had changes made.

You then need to go through stage 2 and 3 again to create a real (non-practice) run. The configuration you have made in Stage 3 will be retained so that you can if you wish carry on to a real run.


The message will  show which nodes  have had changes made.

You will find that the chosen (Stage 1)  set of nodes is still listed on this page. You may find that helpful if you want to make a number of distinct changes to the same chosen set - simply move on to stage 2.

If not you can press the red rest button and start again at Stage 1.