Feature: #85389 - Context API for consistent data handling

See Issue #85389

Description

A new Context API is introduced, which encapsulates various information for data retrieval (e.g. inside the database) and analysis of current permissions and caching information.

Previously, various information was distributed inside globally accessible objects ($TSFE or $BE_USER) like the current workspace ID or if a frontend or backend user is authenticated. Having a global object available was also dependent on the current request type (frontend or backend), instead of having one consistent place where all this data is located.

The context is currently instantiated at the very beginning of each TYPO3 entry point, keeping track of the current time (formally known as $GLOBALS['EXEC_TIME'], if a user is logged in, and which workspace is currently accessed.

This information is separated in so-called “Aspects”, each being responsible for a certain area:

  • VisibilityAspect, holding information if hidden/deleted records should be fetched from the database
  • DateTimeAspect, keeping the current date as immutable datetime object
  • UserAspect, holding frontend/backend user IDs, usernames and usergroups
  • WorkspaceAspect, holding the currently visible workspace (default to “0”/ live)
  • LanguageAspect, holding information about the currently used language/overlay/fallback strategy

Extensions can add their own Aspects as well, as they only need to implement the AspectInterface.

The Context object is used as a Singleton, available via GeneralUtility::makeInstance(Context::class).

Adding or replacing an aspect has implications on the whole further request. The recommended way on doing so is using a PSR-15 middleware. In the future (TYPO3 v10), the global context will have a “frozen” state after all PSR-15 middlewares are run through, to ensure a consistent object throughout all renderings within a backend.

However, if, for a certain retrieval part a custom context is needed, the necessary PHP classes, like PageRepository can receive a custom Context object. For this to work, a new Context object can be created via new Context() or cloned from the master context via $myContext = clone GeneralUtility::makeInstance(Context::class); to keep all existing aspects and only to override a certain aspect locally.

A huge benefit when using the Context API is a strong decoupling of various architectural failures within TYPO3 Core, which are now “Context aware” and do not depend on a certain global object being available.

This will not only unify the code quality, but also introduce a better standard, where hard intermingling within Extbase, PageRepository and TypoScriptFrontendController can be found.

Impact

The new Context API replaces lots of places known for a very long time:

  • DateTimeAspect replaces $GLOBALS['SIM_EXEC_TIME'] and $GLOBALS['EXEC_TIME']
  • VisibilityAspect replaces $GLOBALS['TSFE']->showHiddenPages and $GLOBALS['TSFE']->showHiddenRecords
  • WorkspaceAspect replaces $GLOBALS['BE_USER']->workspace
  • LanguageAspect replaces various properties related to language Id, overlay and fallback logic, mostly within Frontend
  • UserAspect replaces various calls and checks on $GLOBALS['BE_USER'] and $GLOBALS['TSFE']->fe_user options when only some information is needed.

TYPO3 Core comes with the following Aspects within the global context:

  • date
  • frontend.user
  • backend.user
  • workspace
  • visibility
  • language

Usage

As for TYPO3 v9, the old properties can be used the same way as before, but will trigger a PHP E_USER_DEPRECATED error.

It is recommended to read data from the current global Context for custom extensions:

$context = GeneralUtility::makeInstance(Context::class);

// Reading the current data instead of $GLOBALS['EXEC_TIME']
$currentTimestamp = $context->getPropertyFromAspect('date', 'timestamp');

// Checking if a user is logged in
$userIsLoggedIn = $context->getPropertyFromAspect('frontend.user', 'isLoggedIn');

If an aspect needs to be added, or a middleware replaces an aspect, the main context object can be altered.

However, if custom DB queries need to be made, it is strongly recommended to clone the context object:

// Current global context
$context = GeneralUtility::makeInstance(Context::class);
$localContextWithoutFrontendUser = clone $context;
$localContextWithoutFrontendUser->setAspect('frontend.user', GeneralUtility::makeInstance(UserAspect::class, null);

// Fetch a page which is publicly available, but not accessible when logged in
$sysPage = GeneralUtility::makeInstance(PageRepository::class, $localContextWithoutFrontendUser);
$pageRow = $sysPage->getPage($pageId);

As a rule of thumb: - If new code is written that depends on external factors for querying data, ensure that a context object can be handed in via e.g. the constructor. - If you are sure, that the consuming class is NOT altering the context object, the main context object can be used - If the consuming class, e.g. ContentObjectRenderer is altering the context object, it is recommended to hand in a clone of a context.

Further development

There will be additional aspects that will be introduced in TYPO3 Core. Also see PSR-15 middlewares shipped with TYPO3 Frontend or Backend to see how aspects can be modified and set.

Aspects eventually will become the successor of Database Restrictions, as they contain all information necessary to restrict a database query.