TYPE: “flex”

Rendering a FlexForm element - essentially this consists in a hierarchically organized set of fields which will have their values saved into a single field in the database, stored as XML.

Property details

type

Key

type

Datatype

string

Description

[Must be set to “flex”]

ds_pointerField

Key

ds_pointerField

Datatype

string

Description

Field name(s) in the record which point to the field where the key for “ds” is found. Up to two field names can be specified comma separated.

ds

Key

ds

Datatype

array

Description

Data Structure(s) defined in an array.

Each key is a value that can be pointed to by ds_pointerField. Default key is “default” which is what you should use if you do not have a ds_pointerField value of course.

If you specified more than one ds_pointerField, the keys in this “ds” array should contain comma-separated value pairs where the asterisk * matches all values (see the example below). If you don’t need to switch for the second ds_pointerField, it’s also possible to use only the first ds_pointerField’s value as a key in the “ds” array without necessarily suffixing it with “,*” for a catch-all on the second ds_pointerField.

For each value in the array there are two options:

  • Either enter XML directly
  • Make a reference to an external XML file

Example with XML directly entered:

'config' => array(
    'type' => 'flex',
    'ds_pointerField' => 'list_type',
    'ds' => array(
        'default' => '
            <T3DataStructure>
              <ROOT>
                <type>array</type>
                <el>
                  <xmlTitle>
                    <TCEforms>
                        <label>The Title:</label>
                        <config>
                            <type>input</type>
                            <size>48</size>
                        </config>
                    </TCEforms>
                  </xmlTitle>
                </el>
              </ROOT>
            </T3DataStructure>
        ',
    )
)

Example with XML in external file:

(File reference is relative)

'config' => array(
    'type' => 'flex',
    'ds_pointerField' => 'list_type',
    'ds' => array(
        'default' => 'FILE:EXT:mininews/flexform_ds.xml',
    )
)

Example using two ds_pointerFields:

'config' => array(
    'type' => 'flex',
    'ds_pointerField' => 'list_type,CType',
    'ds' => array(
        'default' => 'FILE:...',
        'tt_address_pi1,list' => 'FILE:EXT:tt_address/pi1/flexform.xml', // DS for list_type=tt_address_pi1 and CType=list
        '*,table' => 'FILE:EXT:css_styled_content/flexform_ds.xml', // DS for CType=table, no matter which list_type value
        'tx_myext_pi1' => 'FILE:EXT:myext/flexform.xml', // DS for list_type=tx_myext_pi1 without specifying a CType at all
    )
)

ds_tableField

Key

ds_tableField

Datatype

string

Description

Contains the value “[table]:[field name]” from which to fetch Data Structure XML.

ds_pointerField is in this case the pointer which should contain the uid of a record from that table.

This is used by TemplaVoila extension for instance where a field in the “tt_content” table points to a TemplaVoila Data Structure record:

'tx_templavoila_flex' => array(
    'exclude' => 1,
    'label' => '...',
    'displayCond' => 'FIELD:tx_templavoila_ds:REQ:true',
    'config' => array(
        'type' => 'flex',
        'ds_pointerField' => 'tx_templavoila_ds',
        'ds_tableField' => 'tx_templavoila_datastructure:dataprot',
    )
),

ds_pointerField_searchParent

Key

ds_pointerField_searchParent

Datatype

string

Description

Used to search for Data Structure recursively back in the table assuming that the table is a tree table. This value points to the “pid” field.

See “templavoila” for example - uses this for the Page Template.

ds_pointerField_searchParent_subField

Key

ds_pointerField_searchParent_subField

Datatype

string

Description

Points to a field in the “rootline” which may contain a pointer to the “next-level” template.

See “templavoila” for example - uses this for the Page Template.

Pointing to a Data Structure

Basically the configuration for a FlexForm field is all about pointing to the Data Structure which will contain form rendering information in the application specific tag “<TCEforms>”.

For general information about the backbone of a Data Structure, please refer to the <T3DataStructure> chapter in the Core API manual <t3coreapi:t3ds>.

FlexForm facts

FlexForms create a form-in-a-form. The content coming from this form is still stored in the associated database field - but as an XML structure (stored by \TYPO3\CMS\Core\Utility\GeneralUtility::xml2array())!

The “TCA” information needed to generate the FlexForm fields are found inside a <T3DataStructure> XML document. When you configure a FlexForm field in a Data Structure (DS) you can use basically all column types documented here for TCA. The limitations are:

  • “unique” and “uniqueInPid” evaluation is not available
  • You cannot nest FlexForm configurations inside of FlexForms.
  • Charset follows that of the current backend (since TYPO3 CMS 4.7, the only accepted character encoding is UTF-8. When storing FlexForm information in external files, make sure that they are using UTF-8 too).

<T3DataStructure> extensions for “<TCEforms>”

For FlexForms the DS is extended with a tag, “<TCEforms>” which define all settings specific to the FlexForms usage.

Also a few meta tag features are used.

Sometimes it may be necessary to reload flexform if content of the field in the flexform is changed. This is accomplished by adding “<onChange>reload</onChange>”inside <TCEforms>. A typical example for that is a field that defines operational modes for an extension. When the mode changes, a flexform may need to show a new set of fields. By combining the <onChange> tag for mode fields with <displayCond> tag for other fields, it is possible to create truly dynamic flexforms.

Notice that changing the mode does not delete hidden field values of the flexform. Always use the “mode” field to determine which parameters to use.

The tables below documents the extension elements:

Array Elements

<meta>

Element

<meta>

Description

Can contain application specific meta settings. For FlexForms this means a definition of how languages are handled in the form.

Child elements

<langChildren>

<langDisable>

<[application tag]>

Element

<[application tag]>

Description

In this case the application tag is “<TCEforms>”

Child elements

A direct reflection of a [‘columns’][‘field name’][‘config’] PHP array configuring a field in TCA. As XML this is expressed by array2xml()’s output. See example below.

<ROOT><TCEforms>

Element

<ROOT><TCEforms>

Description

For <ROOT> elements in the DS you can add application specific information about the sheet that the <ROOT> element represents.

Child elements

<sheetTitle>

<sheetDescription>

<sheetShortDescr>

Value Elements

<langDisable>

Element

<langDisable>

Format

boolean, 0/1

Description

If set, then handling of localizations is disabled. Otherwise FlexForms will allow editing of additional languages than the default according to “sys_languages” table contents.

The language you can select from is the language configured in “sys_languages” but they must have ISO country codes set - see example below.

<langChildren>

Element

<langChildren>

Format

boolean, 0/1

Description

If set, then localizations are bound to the default values 1-1 (“value” level). Otherwise localizations are handled on “structure level”

<sheetTitle>

Element

<sheetTitle>

Format

string or LLL reference

Description

Specifies the title of the sheet.

<sheetDescription>

Element

<sheetDescription>

Format

string or LLL reference

Description

Specifies a description for the sheet shown in the flexform.

<sheetShortDescr>

Element

<sheetShortDescr>

Format

string or LLL reference

Description

Specifies a short description of the sheet used in the tab-menu.

Sheets and FlexForms

FlexForms always resolve sheet definitions in a Data Structure. If only one sheet is defined that must be the “sDEF” sheet (default). In that case no tab-menu for sheets will appear (see examples below).

FlexForm data format, <T3FlexForms>

When saving FlexForm elements the content is stored as XML using \TYPO3\CMS\Core\Utility\GeneralUtility::array2xml_cs() to convert the internal PHP array to XML format. The structure is as follows:

Array Elements

<T3FlexForms>

Element

<T3FlexForms>

Description

Document tag

Child elements

<meta>

<data>

<meta>

Element

<meta>

Description

Meta data for the content. For instance information about which sheet is active etc.

<data>

Element

<data>

Description

Contains the data; sheets, language sections, field and values

Child elements

<sheet>

<sheet>

Element

<sheet>

Description

Contains the data for each sheet in the form. If there are no sheets, the default sheet “<sDEF>” is always used.

Child elements

<sDEF>

<s_[sheet keys]>

<sDEF>

Element

<sDEF>

<[sheet keys]>

Description

For each sheet it contains elements for each language. If <meta><langChildren> is false then all languages are stored on this level, otherwise only the <lDEF> tag is used.

Child elements

<lDEF>

<l[ISO language code]>

<lDEF>

Element

<lDEF>

<[language keys]>

Description

For each language the fields in the form will be available on this level.

Child elements

<[field name]>

<[field name]>

Element

<[field name]>

Description

For each field name there is at least one element with the value, <vDEF>. If <meta><langChildren> is true then there will be a <v*> tag for each language holding localized values.

Child elements

<vDEF>

<v[ISO language code]>

Value Elements

<vDEF>

Element

<vDEF>

<v[ISO language code]>

Format

string

Description

Content of the field in default or localized versions

Example: Simple FlexForm

The extension “examples” provides some sample FlexForms. The “simple FlexForm” plugin provides a very basic configuration with just a select-type field to choose a page from the “pages” table.

A simple FlexForm field

A plugin with a simple, one-field flexform

The DS used to render this field is found in the file “flexform_ds1.xml” inside the “examples” extension. Notice the <TCEforms> tags:

<T3DataStructure>
        <meta>
                <langDisable>1</langDisable>
        </meta>
        <sheets>
                <sDEF>
                        <ROOT>
                                <TCEforms>
                                        <sheetTitle>LLL:EXT:examples/locallang_db.xml: examples.pi_flexform.sheetGeneral</sheetTitle>
                                </TCEforms>
                                <type>array</type>
                                <el>
                                        <pageSelector>
                                                <TCEforms>
                                                        <label>LLL:EXT:examples/locallang_db.xml: examples.pi_flexform.pageSelector</label>
                                                        <config>
                                                                <type>select</type>
                                                                <items type="array">
                                                                        <numIndex index="0" type="array">
                                                                                <numIndex index="0">LLL:EXT:examples/locallang_db.xml:examples.pi_flexform.choosePage</numIndex>
                                                                                <numIndex index="1">0</numIndex>
                                                                        </numIndex>
                                                                </items>
                                                                <foreign_table>pages</foreign_table>
                                                                <foreign_table_where>ORDER BY title</foreign_table_where>
                                                                <minitems>0</minitems>
                                                                <maxitems>1</maxitems>
                                                        </config>
                                                </TCEforms>
                                        </pageSelector>
                                </el>
                        </ROOT>
                </sDEF>
        </sheets>
</T3DataStructure>

It’s clear that the contents of <TCEforms> is a direct reflection of the field configurations we normally set up in the $TCA array.

The Data Structure for this FlexForm is loaded in the “pi_flexform” field of the “tt_content” table by adding the following to the ext_tables.php file of the “examples” extension:

$TCA['tt_content']['types']['list']['subtypes_addlist'][$_EXTKEY . '_pi1'] = 'pi_flexform';
\TYPO3\CMS\Core\Utility\ExtensionManagementUtility::addPiFlexFormValue($_EXTKEY . '_pi1', 'FILE:EXT:examples/flexform_ds1.xml');

In the first line the tt_content field “pi_flexform” is added to the display of fields when the Plugin type is selected and set to “examples_pi1”. In the second line the DS xml file is configured to be the source of the FlexForm DS used.

If we browse the definition for the “pi_flexform” field in “tt_content” using the Admin > Configuration module, we can see the following:

Checking the configuration

Checking the TCA configuration for the newly added Flexform

As you can see there are quite a few extensions that have added pointers to their Data Structures. Towards the bottom we can find the one we have just been looking at.

Example: FlexForm with two sheets

In this example we create a FlexForm field with two “sheets”. Each sheet can contain a separate FlexForm structure. We build it up on top of the previous example, so the first sheet still has a select-type field related to the “pages” table. In the second sheet, we add a simple input field and a text field.

<T3DataStructure>
        <meta>
                <langDisable>1</langDisable>
        </meta>
        <sheets>
                <sDEF>
                        <ROOT>
                                <TCEforms>
                                        <sheetTitle>LLL:EXT:examples/locallang_db.xml: examples.pi_flexform.sheetGeneral</sheetTitle>
                                </TCEforms>
                                <type>array</type>
                                <el>
                                        <pageSelector>
                                                <TCEforms>
                                                        <label>LLL:EXT:examples/locallang_db.xml: examples.pi_flexform.pageSelector</label>
                                                        <config>
                                                                <type>select</type>
                                                                <items type="array">
                                                                        <numIndex index="0" type="array">
                                                                                <numIndex index="0">LLL:EXT:examples/locallang_db.xml:examples.pi_flexform.choosePage</numIndex>
                                                                                <numIndex index="1">0</numIndex>
                                                                        </numIndex>
                                                                </items>
                                                                <foreign_table>pages</foreign_table>
                                                                <foreign_table_where>ORDER BY title</foreign_table_where>
                                                                <minitems>0</minitems>
                                                                <maxitems>1</maxitems>
                                                        </config>
                                                </TCEforms>
                                        </pageSelector>
                                </el>
                        </ROOT>
                </sDEF>
             <s_Message>
                     <ROOT>
                             <TCEforms>
                                     <sheetTitle>LLL:EXT: examples/locallang_db.xml:examples.pi_flexform.s_Message</sheetTitle>
                             </TCEforms>
                             <type>array</type>
                             <el>
                                     <header>
                                             <TCEforms>
                                                     <label>LLL:EXT: examples/locallang_db.xml:examples.pi_flexform.header</label>
                                                     <config>
                                                             <type>input</type>
                                                             <size>30</size>
                                                     </config>
                                             </TCEforms>
                                     </header>
                                     <message>
                                             <TCEforms>
                                                     <label>LLL:EXT: examples/locallang_db.xml:examples.pi_flexform.message</label>
                                                     <config>
                                                             <type>text</type>
                                                             <cols>40</cols>
                                                             <rows>5</rows>
                                                     </config>
                                             </TCEforms>
                                     </message>
                             </el>
                     </ROOT>
             </s_Message>
        </sheets>
</T3DataStructure>

The part that is different from the first Data Structure is highlighted in bold. The result from this configuration is a form which looks like this:

The first sheet

The first sheet of our more complex FlexForm

This looks very much like the first example, but notice the second tab. Clicking on “Message”, we can access the second sheet which shows some other fields:

The second sheet

The second sheet of our more complex FlexForm

If you look at the XML stored in the database field “pi_flexform” this is how it looks:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8" standalone="yes" ?>
<T3FlexForms>
    <data>
        <sheet index="sDEF">
            <language index="lDEF">
                <field index="pageSelector">
                    <value index="vDEF">9</value>
                </field>
            </language>
        </sheet>
        <sheet index="s_Message">
            <language index="lDEF">
                <field index="header">
                    <value index="vDEF">My Header</value>
                </field>
                <field index="message">
                    <value index="vDEF">And my message.

On several lines.</value>
                </field>
            </language>
        </sheet>
    </data>
</T3FlexForms>

Notice how the data of the two sheets are separated (sheet names highlighted in bold above).

Example: Rich Text Editor in FlexForms

Creating a RTE in FlexForms is done by adding “defaultExtras” content to the <TCEforms> tag:

<TCEforms>
        <config>
                <type>text</type>
                <cols>48</cols>
                <rows>5</rows>
        </config>
        <label>Subtitle</label>
        <defaultExtras>richtext[*]:rte_transform[mode=ts_css]</defaultExtras>
</TCEforms>