Content Elements

This covers the documentation on how to create content elements in Contao 4.6 and up. In previous Contao version, Content elements must extend from \Contao\ContentElement and then be registered via the $GLOBAL['TL_CTE'] array.

In Contao, Content Elements are the fundamental content blocks. In its simplest form it is a fragment controller which receives data in form of a content model and returns a response.

These elements are implemented as so called fragment controllers which Contao then renders into the main content, using their defined renderer. See the caching documentation for more information.

Creating a content element is very similar to creating front end modules.

Definition

To create a new content element, the following things must be defined and implemented:

  • Fragment Controller
    The actual implementation of the content element is done via a class that extends from AbstractContentElementController of the Contao core.

  • Service Tag
    To identify the controller as a Contao content element, the service must be tagged with service tag contao.content_element.

    • Type
      The type of a content element is a specifig string which is used to identify the element’s template and DCA palette. The type can be set in the service tag. If ommitted the type will be automatically generated by converting the class name of the controller from pascal case to snake case and removing a possible Controller postfix.

    • Category
      All content elements are categorised within the type dropdown of the content element’s palette. A category must be defined in the service tag for each content element.

  • Template
    The template name follows the naming convention mentioned beforehand. It prepends the type of the element with the prefix ce_.

Example

Usually a content element is based on a specific palette in the tl_content DCA configuration.

// contao/dca/tl_content.php
$GLOBALS['TL_DCA']['tl_content']['palettes']['my_content_element'] = 
    '{type_legend},type;{text_legend},text'
;

This very simple palette enables a back end user to fill the (pre-existing) field text via the create and edit view of this content element.

The controller for this content element could look like this:

// src/Controller/ContentElement/MyContentElementController.php
namespace App\Controller\ContentElement;

use Contao\ContentModel;
use Contao\CoreBundle\Controller\ContentElement\AbstractContentElementController;
use Contao\CoreBundle\ServiceAnnotation\ContentElement;
use Contao\Template;
use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Request;
use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Response;

/**
 * @ContentElement(category="texts")
 */
class MyContentElementController extends AbstractContentElementController
{
    protected function getResponse(Template $template, ContentModel $model, Request $request): ?Response
    {
        $template->text = $model->text;
        
        return $template->getResponse();
    }
}

In this example the service tag was implemented via annotations.

Using the naming convention for templates mentioned above, the final template name for this content element will be ce_my_content_element:

<!-- contao/templates/ce_my_content_element.html5 -->
<div class="my-content-element">    
    <?= $this->text; ?>
</div>

A template instance of this template will automatically be generated and passed to the controller’s main method. The controller returns the parsed template as a response.

Options

The contao.content_element tag can be configured further more. The following options are available.

Option Type Description
name string Must be contao.content_element.
category string Defines in which option group this content element will be placed in the content element selector.
template string Optional: Override the generated template name.
type string Optional: The type mentioned in Type can be customized.
renderer string Optional: The renderer can be changed to inline or esi. Defaults to forward.
method string Optional: Which method should be invoked on the controller.

A more complex example of a Content Element could look like this.

# config/services.yaml
services:
    App\Controller\ContentElement\MyContentElementController:
        tags:
            -
                name: contao.content_element
                category: texts
                template: ce_my_content_element
                method: getCustomResponse
                renderer: esi
                type: my_custom_type

Translations

In order to have a nice label in the back end, we also need to add a translation for our content element - otherwise it will only be named my_content_element. The translation needs to be set as follows:

// contao/languages/en/default.php
$GLOBALS['TL_LANG']['CTE']['my_content_element'] = [
    'My Content Element', 
    'A Content Element for testing purposes.',
];

Annotation

This feature is only available in Contao 4.8 and later.

Instead of tagging the content element controller service via the service configuration, the service tag can also be configured through annotations, as already used in the code example above. The annotation can be used on the class of the content element, if the class is invokable (has an __invoke method) or extends from the AbstractFragmentController. Otherwise the annotation can be used on the method that will deliver the response.

The following example uses the annotation and only defines the category under which the module should be displayed within the type select of the back end, as this is the only required property that needs to be set.

// src/Controller/ContentElement/ExampleController.php
namespace App\Controller\ContentElement;

use Contao\CoreBundle\Controller\ContentElement\AbstractContentElementController;
use Contao\CoreBundle\ServiceAnnotation\ContentElement;
use Contao\ContentModel;
use Contao\Template;
use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Request;
use Symfony\Component\HttpFoundation\Response;

/**
 * @ContentElement(category="texts")
 */
class ExampleController extends AbstractContentElementController
{
    protected function getResponse(Template $template, ContentModel $model, Request $request): ?Response
    {
        return $template->getResponse();
    }
}

Every other property is inferred from the class name or uses the default. The element type in this case will be example, the template will be ce_example and the renderer will be forward.

The following example sets the type of the element to my_example, puts it in the texts category, sets the template name to ce_some_example and defines the renderer to be forward (which is the default):

/**
 * @ContentElement("my_example",
 *   category="texts", 
 *   template="ce_some_example",
 *   renderer="forward"
 * )
 */
class ExampleController extends AbstractContentElementController
{
}

You can also use class constants within annotations. This can be helpful to make the module’s type a reusable reference:

/**
 * @ContentElement(ExampleController::TYPE, category="miscellaneous")
 */
class ExampleController extends AbstractContentElementController
{
    public const TYPE = 'my_element';
}
// contao/dca/tl_module.php
use App\Controller\ContentElement\ExampleController;

$GLOBALS['TL_DCA']['tl_content']['palettes'][ExampleController::TYPE] = 
   '{type_legend},type;{text_legend},text'
;
// contao/languages/en/default.php
use App\Controller\ContentElement\ExampleController;

$GLOBALS['TL_LANG']['CTE'][ExampleController::TYPE] = [
    'My Example Element', 
    'A Content Element for testing purposes.',
];

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