How to Create a Custom Form Field Type

How to Create a Custom Form Field Type

Symfony comes with a bunch of core field types available for building forms. However there are situations where you may want to create a custom form field type for a specific purpose. This recipe assumes you need a field definition that holds a person's gender, based on the existing choice field. This section explains how the field is defined, how you can customize its layout and finally, how you can register it for use in your application.

Defining the Field Type

In order to create the custom field type, first you have to create the class representing the field. In this situation the class holding the field type will be called GenderType and the file will be stored in the default location for form fields, which is <BundleName>\Form\Type. Make sure the field extends AbstractType:

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// src/Acme/DemoBundle/Form/Type/GenderType.php
namespace Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type;

use Symfony\Component\Form\AbstractType;
use Symfony\Component\OptionsResolver\OptionsResolverInterface;

class GenderType extends AbstractType
{
    public function setDefaultOptions(OptionsResolverInterface $resolver)
    {
        $resolver->setDefaults(array(
            'choices' => array(
                'm' => 'Male',
                'f' => 'Female',
            )
        ));
    }

    public function getParent()
    {
        return 'choice';
    }

    public function getName()
    {
        return 'gender';
    }
}

Tip

The location of this file is not important - the Form\Type directory is just a convention.

Here, the return value of the getParent function indicates that you're extending the choice field type. This means that, by default, you inherit all of the logic and rendering of that field type. To see some of the logic, check out the ChoiceType class. There are three methods that are particularly important:

  • buildForm() - Each field type has a buildForm method, which is where you configure and build any field(s). Notice that this is the same method you use to setup your forms, and it works the same here.
  • buildView() - This method is used to set any extra variables you'll need when rendering your field in a template. For example, in ChoiceType, a multiple variable is set and used in the template to set (or not set) the multiple attribute on the select field. See Creating a Template for the Field for more details.
  • setDefaultOptions() - This defines options for your form type that can be used in buildForm() and buildView(). There are a lot of options common to all fields (see form Field Type), but you can create any others that you need here.

Tip

If you're creating a field that consists of many fields, then be sure to set your "parent" type as form or something that extends form. Also, if you need to modify the "view" of any of your child types from your parent type, use the finishView() method.

The getName() method returns an identifier which should be unique in your application. This is used in various places, such as when customizing how your form type will be rendered.

The goal of this field was to extend the choice type to enable selection of a gender. This is achieved by fixing the choices to a list of possible genders.

Creating a Template for the Field

Each field type is rendered by a template fragment, which is determined in part by the value of your getName() method. For more information, see What are Form Themes?.

In this case, since the parent field is choice, you don't need to do any work as the custom field type will automatically be rendered like a choice type. But for the sake of this example, suppose that when your field is "expanded" (i.e. radio buttons or checkboxes, instead of a select field), you want to always render it in a ul element. In your form theme template (see above link for details), create a gender_widget block to handle this:

  • Twig
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    {# src/Acme/DemoBundle/Resources/views/Form/fields.html.twig #}
    {% block gender_widget %}
        {% spaceless %}
            {% if expanded %}
                <ul {{ block('widget_container_attributes') }}>
                {% for child in form %}
                    <li>
                        {{ form_widget(child) }}
                        {{ form_label(child) }}
                    </li>
                {% endfor %}
                </ul>
            {% else %}
                {# just let the choice widget render the select tag #}
                {{ block('choice_widget') }}
            {% endif %}
        {% endspaceless %}
    {% endblock %}
    
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    <!-- src/Acme/DemoBundle/Resources/views/Form/gender_widget.html.php -->
    <?php if ($expanded) : ?>
        <ul <?php $view['form']->block($form, 'widget_container_attributes') ?>>
        <?php foreach ($form as $child) : ?>
            <li>
                <?php echo $view['form']->widget($child) ?>
                <?php echo $view['form']->label($child) ?>
            </li>
        <?php endforeach ?>
        </ul>
    <?php else : ?>
        <!-- just let the choice widget render the select tag -->
        <?php echo $view['form']->renderBlock('choice_widget') ?>
    <?php endif ?>
    

Note

Make sure the correct widget prefix is used. In this example the name should be gender_widget, according to the value returned by getName. Further, the main config file should point to the custom form template so that it's used when rendering all forms.

When using Twig this is:

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    # app/config/config.yml
    twig:
        form_themes:
            - 'AcmeDemoBundle:Form:fields.html.twig'
    
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    <!-- app/config/config.xml -->
    <twig:config>
        <twig:form-theme>AcmeDemoBundle:Form:fields.html.twig</twig:form-theme>
    </twig:config>
    
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    // app/config/config.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('twig', array(
        'form_themes' => array(
            'AcmeDemoBundle:Form:fields.html.twig',
        ),
    ));
    

For the PHP templating engine, your configuration should look like this:

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    # app/config/config.yml
    framework:
        templating:
            form:
                resources:
                    - 'AcmeDemoBundle:Form'
    
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    <!-- app/config/config.xml -->
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
    <container xmlns="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services"
        xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
        xmlns:framework="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/symfony"
        xsi:schemaLocation="http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services http://symfony.com/schema/dic/services/services-1.0.xsd
        http://symfony.com/schema/dic/symfony http://symfony.com/schema/dic/symfony/symfony-1.0.xsd">
    
        <framework:config>
            <framework:templating>
                <framework:form>
                    <framework:resource>AcmeDemoBundle:Form</twig:resource>
                </framework:form>
            </framework:templating>
        </framework:config>
    </container>
    
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    // app/config/config.php
    $container->loadFromExtension('framework', array(
        'templating' => array(
            'form' => array(
                'resources' => array(
                    'AcmeDemoBundle:Form',
                ),
            ),
        ),
    ));
    

Using the Field Type

You can now use your custom field type immediately, simply by creating a new instance of the type in one of your forms:

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// src/Acme/DemoBundle/Form/Type/AuthorType.php
namespace Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type;

use Symfony\Component\Form\AbstractType;
use Symfony\Component\Form\FormBuilderInterface;

class AuthorType extends AbstractType
{
    public function buildForm(FormBuilderInterface $builder, array $options)
    {
        $builder->add('gender_code', new GenderType(), array(
            'placeholder' => 'Choose a gender',
        ));
    }
}

But this only works because the GenderType() is very simple. What if the gender codes were stored in configuration or in a database? The next section explains how more complex field types solve this problem.

2.6The placeholder option was introduced in Symfony 2.6 in favor of empty_value, which is available prior to 2.6.

Creating your Field Type as a Service

So far, this entry has assumed that you have a very simple custom field type. But if you need access to configuration, a database connection, or some other service, then you'll want to register your custom type as a service. For example, suppose that you're storing the gender parameters in configuration:

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    # app/config/config.yml
    parameters:
        genders:
            m: Male
            f: Female
    
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    <!-- app/config/config.xml -->
    <parameters>
        <parameter key="genders" type="collection">
            <parameter key="m">Male</parameter>
            <parameter key="f">Female</parameter>
        </parameter>
    </parameters>
    
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    // app/config/config.php
    $container->setParameter('genders.m', 'Male');
    $container->setParameter('genders.f', 'Female');
    

To use the parameter, define your custom field type as a service, injecting the genders parameter value as the first argument to its to-be-created __construct function:

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    # src/Acme/DemoBundle/Resources/config/services.yml
    services:
        acme_demo.form.type.gender:
            class: Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type\GenderType
            arguments:
                - "%genders%"
            tags:
                - { name: form.type, alias: gender }
    
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    <!-- src/Acme/DemoBundle/Resources/config/services.xml -->
    <service id="acme_demo.form.type.gender" class="Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type\GenderType">
        <argument>%genders%</argument>
        <tag name="form.type" alias="gender" />
    </service>
    
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    // src/Acme/DemoBundle/Resources/config/services.php
    use Symfony\Component\DependencyInjection\Definition;
    
    $container
        ->setDefinition('acme_demo.form.type.gender', new Definition(
            'Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type\GenderType',
            array('%genders%')
        ))
        ->addTag('form.type', array(
            'alias' => 'gender',
        ))
    ;
    

Tip

Make sure the services file is being imported. See Importing Configuration with imports for details.

Be sure that the alias attribute of the tag corresponds with the value returned by the getName method defined earlier. You'll see the importance of this in a moment when you use the custom field type. But first, add a __construct method to GenderType, which receives the gender configuration:

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// src/Acme/DemoBundle/Form/Type/GenderType.php
namespace Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type;

use Symfony\Component\OptionsResolver\OptionsResolverInterface;

// ...

// ...
class GenderType extends AbstractType
{
    private $genderChoices;

    public function __construct(array $genderChoices)
    {
        $this->genderChoices = $genderChoices;
    }

    public function setDefaultOptions(OptionsResolverInterface $resolver)
    {
        $resolver->setDefaults(array(
            'choices' => $this->genderChoices,
        ));
    }

    // ...
}

Great! The GenderType is now fueled by the configuration parameters and registered as a service. Additionally, because you used the form.type alias in its configuration, using the field is now much easier:

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// src/Acme/DemoBundle/Form/Type/AuthorType.php
namespace Acme\DemoBundle\Form\Type;

use Symfony\Component\Form\FormBuilderInterface;

// ...

class AuthorType extends AbstractType
{
    public function buildForm(FormBuilderInterface $builder, array $options)
    {
        $builder->add('gender_code', 'gender', array(
            'placeholder' => 'Choose a gender',
        ));
    }
}

Notice that instead of instantiating a new instance, you can just refer to it by the alias used in your service configuration, gender. Have fun!

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