Using Zend_Form in Magento

As we all know, Magento is built using some of the Zend Framework library. However, that doesn’t mean you can go straight into a controller and start programming like you would ZF. However, preparing your Zend_Form in order to work in Magento is pretty straigtforward.

Magento’s controllers do not have a view! So your form will fail to render! To fix this, we override the __toString() method:

 *  Overridden because Magento doesnt have the zend view
public function __toString()
    return  $this->render(new Zend_View());

Now your form will work in your magento controller.  If you are new to Magento like I am, you’ll also need to know how to instantiate the form, send the form to the view, and how to display it once we are in the view! In the controller:

public function indexAction()
 // new My_Form_Class(); also works here, but this is how Magento does it, from the xml config.
 $this->form = Mage::getModel('madskull_feedback/form'); 

   $data = $this->getRequest()->getPost();
     // get sanitised data
     $data = $this->form->getValues();

  $this->getLayout()->getBlock('madskull_feedback.form')->setData('form', $this->form);

On the .phtml file, it’s a piece of cake:

echo  $this->getData('form');

There you go! Full Zend_Form goodness! Have fun!

Getting Started with Pimcore

I’ve only just started using Pimcore, but of all the CMS’es out there, this looks the best. Anyway, in the admin panel, you can create new pages etc. As the developer, we can create the templates and views, but restrict to just the editable areas for standard cms users. These editable areas are called areablocks.

For instance, in my homepage.phtml, I have the following:

<?= $this->areablock('some-id-or-other'); ?>

Once there is an areablock on a view, when you are in the admin panel, you can select an area block from the collapsible menu and literally just drag it into place, and start editing.

Customised Area files go in the website/views/areas folder. I’m making a Carousel, so in website/views/areas, I created a gallery-carousel folder, and inside that I created a view.phtml file (or .php, depending on your pimcore prefs), and a area.xml:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<zend-config xmlns:zf="">
    <name>Slider (Tabs/Text)</name>
<section class="area-tabbed-slider-text">

    <?php if($this->editmode) { ?>
        <div class="alert alert-info">
            How many tabs you want to show?

                // prepare the store
                $selectStore = [];
                for($i=2; $i<6; $i++) {
                    $selectStore[] = [$i, $i];
            <?= $this->select("slides",[
                "store" => $selectStore,
                "reload" => true,
                "width" => 60
            ]); ?>
    <?php } ?>

        $id = "tabbed-slider-" . uniqid();
        $slides = 2; // default value
            $slides = (int) $this->select("slides")->getData();
    <div id="<?= $id ?>" class="tabbed-slider carousel slide">
        <div class="carousel-inner">
            <?php for($i=0; $i<$slides; $i++) { ?>
                <div class="item <?= ($i==0 ? "active" : "") ?> item-<?= $i ?> <?= $id . "-" . $i ?>">
                    <?php if(!$this->image("image_" . $i)->isEmpty() || $this->editmode) { ?>
                        <?= $this->image("image_" . $i, [
                            "dropClass" => $id . "-" . $i,
                            "thumbnail" => ""
                        ]); ?>
                    <?php } ?>
                    <div class="carousel-caption">
                        <h1><?= $this->input("headline_" . $i) ?></h1>
                        <p><?= $this->textarea("description_" . $i, ["nl2br" => true]) ?></p>
            <?php } ?>
        <!-- End Carousel Inner -->
        <ul class="nav nav-pills nav-justified">
            <?php for($i=0; $i<$slides; $i++) { ?>
                <li data-target="#<?= $id ?>" data-slide-to="<?= $i ?>" class="<?= ($i==0 ? "active" : "") ?> item-<?= $i ?>">
                    <a href="#">
                        <?= $this->input("pill-title_" . $i) ?>
                        <small><?= $this->input("pill-small_" . $i) ?></small>
            <?php } ?>


The customised area blocks must be enabled before they will appear in Pimcore. Click on Extras -> Extensions in the Admin section, and you will see each folder you have added. Click the icon to enable/disable the area. Now if you refresh your page with the $this->areablock(…) code, you should see your customised area available to use!

Last thing! Pimcore has all manner of caching going on! Go into Settings > Cache in order to clear it and see your changes!

Custom Navigation in Pimcore

Pimcore looks to be a great CMS! I haven’t played around with it much but if you are a fan of Zend Framework 1 then you’ll be right at home using it!

Right now, I’m designing the front end for a small promotional site that requires a CMS admin panel etc, and I’m rendering a customised Navigation view, in order to get the Bootstrap classes that I want.

Pimcore allows you to run multiple sites from the one system. So first we put a check in our layout.phtml :

$navStartNode = $this->document->getProperty("navigationRoot");
    if(!$navStartNode instanceof Document_Page) 
            $site = Site::getCurrentSite();
            $navStartNode = $site->getRootDocument();
            $navStartNode = Document::getById(1);

The root site always has Document ID 1. In the Pimcore admin panel, you right click and add a new page, then right click and you can tell it to use that page as an actual site, so you can add as many as you like!

In the layout.phtml (or view partial like header.phtml), I have the following:

<div class="navbar-collapse collapse">
        $navigation = $this->pimcoreNavigation()->getNavigation($this->document, $navStartNode);;
        echo $this->navigation()->menu()->renderPartial($navigation, 'elements/theme-nav.phtml', array(
                "maxDepth" => 1,
                "ulClass" => "nav navbar-nav"

Pimcore checks in the views folder for the partial (elements/theme-nav.phtml in my example). In my project the views folder is located in /website/views/scripts, so create an elements folder, and create theme-nav.phtml:

<ul class="nav navbar-nav"  data-0="margin-top:20px;" data-300="margin-top:5px;">
    foreach ($this->container as $page) 
        echo '<li>'.$this->navigation()->menu()->htmlify($page).'</li>';

And that’s it! Your Navigation is now rendered in the way we want!

Customising Zend_Form Views

Sometimes, you’ll want the same form in more than one place in your application, however occasionally, that means your forms look terrible! However you can specify a different view script to use (I put mine in a forms subdirectory):

    array('ViewScript', array('viewScript' => 'view_folder/different-looking-form.phtml'))

And the bit that confdused me for a while, accessing the form in that view is strangle called $this->element:

<?= $this->element; ?>

Of course, as you may know, you don’t have to render the form like that, which is kind of the point of this:

$form = $this->element;
$supply = $form->getSupply();
$fueltype = $form->getFueltype();


<form id = "<?=$form->getAttrib('id') ?>"
    name = "<?=$form->getName() ?>"
    method = "<?=$form->getMethod(); ?>"
    enctype = "<?=$form->getEnctype(); ?>"
    <dl class="zend_form">

        <dt><label>Supply / Meter</label></dt>
        <dd><?=$supply->getMeterNumber() ?></dd>

        <dt><label>Fuel Type</label></dt>
        <dd><?=$fueltype->getFueltype() ?></dd>

        <dd><?=$supply->getDescription() ?></dd>

    foreach ($form->getElements() as $element)
        echo $element;

Sorted! No need to encase your form in more divs and mess around with CSS! 🙂

Passing variables to a layout from the controller in Zend Framework

This is easier than it seems, and pretty cool too!
A great use for this type of thing would be for instance a Navigation Breadcrumbs section.

In your controller, you would add something similar to the following:

Zend_Layout::getMvcInstance()->assign('nav', '<a href="/home">Home</a> | <a href="/something">Something Else</a>');

Then in your layout.phtml or view partial, you can say:

if(isset($this->layout()->nav)){echo $this->layout()->nav; }

More awesomeness! We hope you enjoyed your meal. Be sure to drop by again!