Today I want to introduce a new contrib module called Composite Reference. Why is it called like this? Because it’s meant to be used for strengthening the “bond” between entities that are meant to live and die together.
In many cases we use entity references to entities that are not reusable (or are not meant to be). They are just more complex storage vehicles for data that belongs to another entity (for the sake of explanation, we can call this the parent). So when the parent is deleted, it stands to reason the referenced entity (the child) is also deleted because it is not supposed to exist outside of the context of its parent. And this is a type of composite relation: the two belong together as a unit. Granted, not all parent-child relations are or have to be composite. But some can and I simply used them as an example.
So what does the module do? Apart from the fancy name, it does nothing more than make an entity reference (or entity reference revisions) field configurable to become composite. And when the relation is composite, the referenced entity gets deleted when the referencing one is deleted. And to prevent all sorts of chaos and misuse, the deletion is prevented if the referenced entity is referenced by yet another entity (making it by definition NOT composite). This should not happen though as you would mark relations as composite only in the cases in which the referenced entities are not reusable.
And that is pretty much it. You can read the project README for more info on how to use the module.
This project was written and is maintained as part of the OpenEuropa Initiative of the European Commission.