Solving Menu Import Issue when Featuring Sample Data in Drupal

[UPDATE] – alias menu import module was rolled into “Sample Data” module that is of newer version. it is listed on Drupal site
Here is post about it –

Currently, if you would like to export and import the sample data( like kickstart) via features, then the menus for your data breaks because it uses the hard coded path(i.e. node/id) and the new instance has different path for the nodes imported. To my understanding there is a work in place to fix this in future release of features by using the path uuid but of January, 2014 that is not available at least in stable version

The solution presented here utilizes ‘pathauto’ and its generated alias path for each node to do the mapping between the same nodes on two different Drupal instances. In another words, we export existing menu structure with alias path as reference. Once these nodes are imported(before menu import script is run) on the another Drupal instance, it automatically generates the default alias path(for custom alias, please, section ‘If Custom Path Alias…’ below). Since these alias path are the same between the drupal instances, the installation script looks up the mapping when structuring and building menu.

To maintain the existing menu structure, you will have to run a script that will generate the structure used by the menu importer script as showed in this post. This may be improved in future but author didn’t have time at this time and may not be a value since there is path uuid project in progress that will be the better solution in long run

In addition, the path for nodes has to be unique as well.


  1. Pathauto module has to be installed and enabled
  2. Each node have to have path alias or setting ‘Generate automatic URL alias’ selected under ‘Url path settings'(this is default behavior once ‘pathauto’ enabled, so you should need to do anything unless you have nodes present and you just installed/enabled ‘pathauto’. In that case, you have to go into each node and check the setting ‘Generate automatic URL alias’)
  3. The nodes has to be already imported before running the menu_import on the new Drupal instance
  4. (Recommended) When importing Nodes via features, ensure the StrongArm variable or configuration of ‘pathauto_node_pattern’ is also imported. This ensures that for imported nodes the generated alias path is the same as the one in current Drupal instance. This is especially important if the alias pattern for nodes is not the default one

The solution consists of two parts:

Part I: Build Exportable Menu

To build current menu structure for menu of your choice run the following script in “PHP Execute” block on Drupal instance you want to export the menu from(copy/past and then specify menus to export on line 3):

include_once DRUPAL_ROOT . '/includes/';
//specify menues to export
$menus = array('menu-bottom-menu', 'main-menu');
$mainMenuArray = array();
//mlid to alias map
$alias_map = array();
$menu_items = array();

$output = "function _menus_altered(){ \n";
$output .= "return array (\n";

foreach ($menus as $menu) {
    $links = db_select('menu_links', 'ml', array('fetch' => PDO::FETCH_ASSOC))
        ->condition('ml.menu_name', $menu)
        ->condition('ml.hidden', '0')

    foreach ($links as $key => $link) {
        $links[$key]['options'] = unserialize($link['options']);
    $mainMenuArray = array_merge($mainMenuArray, $links);

    $mlid_ins = db_select('menu_links', 'ml')
        ->fields('ml', array('mlid', 'link_path'))
        ->condition('ml.menu_name', $menu)
        ->condition('ml.hidden', '0')
        ->execute()->fetchAllAssoc('mlid', PDO::FETCH_ASSOC);

    $menu_items = $menu_items + $mlid_ins;

    $menu_ins = menu_load($menu);
    if ($menu_ins) {
        $menu_item = 'array(';
        $menu_item .= "'menu_name' => '" . $menu_ins['menu_name'] . "',";
        $menu_item .= "'title' => '" . str_replace("'", "\'", $menu_ins['title']) . "',";
        $menu_item .= "'description' => '" . str_replace("'", "\'", $menu_ins['description']) . "'";
        $menu_item .= ")";
        $output .= $menu_item . ",\n";
    } else {
        watchdog(WATCHDOG_NOTICE, "menu: $menu not found");
$output .= "    );\n";
$output .= "}\n\n\n";

//generate the map between mlid and alias path
foreach ($menu_items as $mlid => $options) {
    $alias_map[$mlid] = drupal_get_path_alias($options['link_path']);
$output .= "function _menu_installed_items() {\n";
$output .= "return array (\n";
foreach ($mainMenuArray as $key => $link) {
    $alias_path = drupal_get_path_alias($link['link_path']);

//prepare link to pass in menu_link_save()
    $link_export = $link;
    $link_export['link_path'] = $alias_path;
    $link_export['plid'] = ($link_export['plid']) ? $alias_map[$link_export['plid']] : $link_export['plid'];
    $link_export['p1'] = ($link_export['p1']) ? $alias_map[$link_export['p1']] : $link_export['p1'];
    $link_export['p2'] = ($link_export['p2']) ? $alias_map[$link_export['p2']] : $link_export['p2'];
    $link_export['p3'] = ($link_export['p3']) ? $alias_map[$link_export['p3']] : $link_export['p3'];

    $output .= "'" . $alias_path . "' => " . drupal_var_export($link_export) . ",\n";
$output .= ");\n";
$output .= "}\n";

drupal_set_message("<textarea rows=100 style=\"width: 100%;\">" . $output . '</textarea>');

First copy and past the above code in to “PHP Execute” block. Second, specify the menus you like to export in the line 3 variable ‘$menus’
This script generates two arrays encapsulated in functions _menu_installed_items() and _menus_altered() that you will have to supply in your custom module installation file in next step

Part – II : Build Custom Module to Import Menus

Create a custom block with the following .install script:

function MODULE_NAME_install(){
    $t = get_t();

   // clear menus and create new ones if doesn't exist
    foreach(_menus_altered() as $menu){
        //remove menu links for clean install
        drupal_set_message($t('Links deleted from menu - ' . $menu['menu_name']));

           //doesn't exist...lets create one
           drupal_set_message($t('Missing menu '.$menu['menu_name'].'...creating'));

    //map containing the structure of the menu
    $alias_map = array();

    //shuffle so that parents are always above the children menu items
    //this is important so when building the $alias_map child is not being inserted without parent already present
    $all_items = _menu_installed_items();
    $parents_p1 = array();
    $parents_p2 = array();
    $parents_p3 = array();
    $parents_p4 = array();
    $parents_p5 = array();

    foreach($all_items as $key => $item){
        if($key == $item['p1']){
            $parents_p1[$key] = $item;
        if($key == $item['p2']){
            $parents_p2[$key] = $item;
        if($key == $item['p3']){
            $parents_p3[$key] = $item;
        if($key == $item['p4']){
            $parents_p4[$key] = $item;
        if($key == $item['p5']){
            $parents_p5[$key] = $item;

    $sorted_menu_list = array_merge($parents_p1,$parents_p2,$parents_p3,$parents_p4,$parents_p5);

    //add links
    foreach ($sorted_menu_list as $key => $item) {
        $alias_link_path = $item['link_path'];
        //look up node based on the alias path of existing drupal instance
        $item['link_path'] = drupal_get_normal_path($alias_link_path);

        //drupal_set_message('plid: '.$item['plid']. ' alias_map:' . $alias_map[$item['plid']] );
        $item['plid'] = ($item['plid'] !== 0 && !empty($alias_map[$item['plid']])) ? $alias_map[$item['plid']] : $item['plid'] ;
        $item['p1'] = ($item['p1'] !== 0 && !empty($alias_map[$item['p1']])) ? $alias_map[$item['p1']] : $item['p1'] ;
        $item['p2'] = ($item['p2'] !== 0 && !empty($alias_map[$item['p2']]) ) ? $alias_map[$item['p2']] : $item['p2'] ;
        $item['p3'] = ($item['p3'] !== 0 && !empty($alias_map[$item['p3']])) ? $alias_map[$item['p3']] : $item['p3'] ;

        $installed = menu_link_save($item);
        if($installed !== FALSE) {
            drupal_set_message($t('Menu Item : '. $key . ' installed'));
            //drupal_set_message('INSERT: link_path: '.$alias_link_path. ' mlip:' . $installed );
            $alias_map[$alias_link_path] = $installed;
            drupal_set_message($t('Menu Item : '. $key . ' was not installed'));
    drupal_set_message($t('Installed Menu'));


Make sure you add the two functions generated in Part I (i.e._menus_altered(),_menu_installed_items() ) in the .install file where it says ‘//ADD THE TWO FUNCTIONS FROM PART I HERE’. These are used by the script to build the new menus

Thats all….in future we hope to automize the above process by creating module if the problem is not solved soon by the features,uuid modules.

If Custom Path Alias…

The features module currently does not export/import path_alias for nodes. This is okey if you are using path alias of the node that were generated by default by pathauto module, however. If not, then your custom alias path for nodes are not exported/imported via features and the above menu export/import solution will not work. We have created module to export/import path alias published at By enabling this module, your custom path alias is going to be exported and then imported for all nodes.


All of the menu items does not import

Make sure all the menu items imported are pointing to path alias that are unique. If not unique, then you have to break into more than one menu import to work.

3 thoughts on “Solving Menu Import Issue when Featuring Sample Data in Drupal

  1. This is a great article, I have been looking for something like this for a long time.
    However I would like to point out that Part-I and Part-II can be accomplished by the module ‘menu_import’ ( It can be done with drush (from terminal) like this:
    drush menu-export $(pwd)/main-menu.txt main-menu
    drush menu-import $(pwd)/main-menu.txt main-menu –clean-import

    The module that you have created for custom aliases ( is great as well. However I think that it should go as a patch to the module ‘node_export’:

  2. Pingback: Import URL Alias with Node | Question and Answer

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