Configuration Overview

A primary feature of TYPO3 is its configurability. Not only can it be configured by users with special user privileges in the backend, most configuration can also be changed by extensions or configuration files. Additionally, configuration can be extended by extensions.

This chapter will give you an overview of various configuration methods in TYPO3. We will not go into detail, but rather show a comparison of the various methods and resolve some common sources of confusion.

For a more extensive introduction we will refer you to the respective chapter or reference.


To differentiate between different configuration languages we use the terms syntax and semantics:

Syntax describes common rules for a language (e.g. how are lines terminated, how are values assigned, what are separators, etc.) while semantics define the meaning.

For example, using only the basic syntax of yaml, this is a syntactically correct snippet:

foo: bar

Most of the configuration languages used in TYPO3 basically assign values to variables in one way another. In its simplest form, these can be simple string assignments as in the yaml example, which may result in assigning the value ‘bar’ to a variable foo.

The assignment in TypoScript syntax would look like this:

foo = bar

However, without defining what are correct keys, values and data types, we have no idea about the meaning (semantics) of the file and cannot interpret it. We (or rather the TYPO3 core) have no idea, what foo means, whether it is a valid assignment, what data type can be used as value etc. We can only check whether the syntax is correct.

For this reason, we don’t just need a language with a predefined syntax (like XML, JSON, Yaml).

We also need to define the configuration schema: What are allowed variables and datatypes? What are the default values? What settings are mandatory and which are optional? And we define the semantics: What do these variables mean, how will they be interpreted? Additionally, we must define where the values are stored, who can change the values (privileges) and to what the values apply (scope). Are they global or do they only apply to certain pages, users or usergroups?

We refer to a configuration language, that only defines the syntax as configuration syntax. When we refer to semantics, where the values are stored, the scope etc. we use the term configuration method.

Configuration Syntax

These are the main languages TYPO3 uses for configuration:

  • TypoScript syntax is used for TypoScript and TSconfig.
  • TypoScript constant syntax is used for Extension Configuration and for defining constants for TypoScript.
  • Yaml is the configuration language of choice for newer TYPO3 system extensions like rte_ckeditor, form and the sites module. It has partly replaced TypoScript and TSconfig as configuration languages.
  • XML is used in FlexForms.
  • PHP is used for the $GLOBALS array which includes TCA ($GLOBALS['TCA'], Global Configuration (GLOBALS['TYPO3_CONF_VARS']), User Settings ($GLOBALS['TYPO3_USER_SETTINGS'], etc.

What is most important here, is that TypoScript has its own syntax. And the TypoScript syntax is used for the configuration methods TypoScript and TSconfig. The syntax for both is the same, while the semantics (what variables can be used and what they mean) are not.


Hence, the term TypoScript is used to both define the pure syntax TypoScript and the configuration method TypoScript. These are different things. To avoid confusion, we will use the term “TypoScript syntax” and “TypoScript configuration method”, at least on this page.

Main Configuration Methods

These are the main configuration methods used by TYPO3:

The $GLOBALS array consists:

  • Global Configuration $GLOBALS['TYPO3_CONF_VARS'] is used for system wide configuration. A subset of this is Extension Configuration ($GLOBALS['TYPO3_CONF_VARS']['EXTENSIONS']). It is used for configuration specific to one extension.
  • TCA GLOBALS['TCA'] is specific to database fields and how they behave and can be edited in the backend.
  • User settings $GLOBALS['TYPO3_USER_SETTINGS'] defines configuration for backend users
  • … you can find more in the TYPO3 backend SYSTEM > Configuration or by viewing the $GLOBALS array in a debugger. Read more about this on Global Variables.

Furthermore, we have:

  • TSconfig is used to configure and customize the backend on a page (page TSconfig) and a user or group basis (user TSconfig).
  • TypoScript configuration method is used to configure plugins (FE) and modules (BE), as well as some global settings (config). It is also used to define the rendering, but that is beyond the scope of this page, which focuses only on configuration. TypoScript is mostly used for configuration that affects the Frontend (FE).
  • Flexform is used to configure plugins and content elements.

Additionally, some system extensions use yaml for configuration:

  • Site configuration is stored in <project-root>/config/sites/<identifier>/config.yaml and can be configured in the sites module.
  • form
  • rte_ckeditor