Creating custom parameter types

Netgen Layouts ships with around 15 parameter types which you can use in your custom blocks and queries and which fulfill most of the everyday usecases.

However, if you need custom validation on some of your parameters, or custom display in Symfony forms, you need to create a custom parameter type.

We will show how to create a custom parameter type on an example of a parameter which stores and validates dates in Google Analytics format.

There are two parts to implementing a parameter type in Netgen Layouts:

  • Implementing a main parameter type service which deals with parameter value conversion and validation
  • Implementing a form mapper which takes care of creating a Symfony form for the parameter type

Implementing the parameter type service

Parameter type service needs to implement Netgen\BlockManager\Parameters\ParameterTypeInterface. Since this interface has a handful of methods, there is a handy abstract class from which you can extend so you don’t have to write boilerplate code in your parameter types.

This cuts down the number of required methods to implement to 2. Let’s create an empty class extending the abstract class:



namespace AppBundle\Parameters\ParameterType;

use Netgen\BlockManager\Parameters\ParameterDefinition;
use Netgen\BlockManager\Parameters\ParameterType;

final class GoogleAnalyticsDateType extends ParameterType
    public static function getIdentifier(): string

    protected function getValueConstraints(ParameterDefinition $parameterDefinition, $value): array

As you can see, only two methods need to be implemented for basic parameter type to work: getIdentifier, which should return a unique identifier of a parameter type, and getValueConstraints, which should return an array of Symfony validator constraints which validate the value.


Every parameter type needs to allow null as its value, since parameters are by default optional in blocks and queries. Because of that, take care not to include constraints which validate that the value is not null, like NotNull or NotBlank.

To specify constraints when the parameter is required, you can use the getRequiredConstraints method. It already has a default implementation which you can override to suit your needs.

Let’s implement getIdentifier and getValueConstraints methods:

public static function getIdentifier(): string
    return 'ga_date';

protected function getValueConstraints(ParameterDefinition $parameterDefinition, $value): array
    return [
        new Constraints\Type(['type' => 'string'])

With the above implementation, we specified that the unique identifier of our parameter type is ga_date and that the value of the parameter should be a string.

This is a good time to add any custom validations you want, for example, you can implement a validator and a constraint that validates the date as a Google Analytics date.

The purpose of other methods in ParameterTypeInterface is detailed below:


This method uses the Symfony OptionsResolver component to specify any custom options your parameter type might have. Here, you can use the full power of the component to define required and optional options, custom validation and so on. For example, you might specify the minimum year your parameter accepts and then use the option in getValueConstraints method to modify the value constraints accordingly. An example implementation might look like this:

public function configureOptions(OptionsResolver $optionsResolver): void
    $optionsResolver->setDefault('min_year', null);
    $optionsResolver->setAllowedTypes('min_year', ['int', 'null']);


This method by default takes the constraints from getValueConstraints and getRequiredConstraints method, and merges them together. Notice that this method has public visibility, while getValueConstraints and getRequiredConstraints are protected. This means that this method is the one used by Netgen Layouts when validating the parameter value and if you override it, you will effectively override any constraints implemented in the two protected methods.


This method is responsible for converting the parameter value to a hash format (scalar or an array of scalars). Since every parameter value is stored in the database encoded into JSON, this method must not return any data that cannot be safely encoded into JSON. Default implementation does not convert the value and simply returns it as is.


This method does the opposite of toHash method. That is, it converts the JSON decoded data stored in the database to a value that will be used by the rest of Netgen Layouts code as well as your custom code. This can be anything really: a scalar, an array, on object or a whole object graph. Default implementation does not convert the value and simply returns it as is.


This method has the exact same purpose as toHash method, but with one important difference. It returns the parameter value ready for exporting with Netgen Layouts export/import feature. Usually, this means exporting various IDs (for example location ID in eZ Publish), not as IDs, but as remote IDs of the same domain object.


This method has the exact same purpose as fromHash method, but with one important difference. It returns the parameter value ready for importing with Netgen Layouts export/import feature. Usually, this means that import procedure will provide to this method various IDs (for example location ID in eZ Publish), not as IDs, but as remote IDs of the same domain object, which then will be converted to IDs suitable for storing in the database.


This method is used to signal to the system when the value of the parameter is considered empty. For example, a date can be empty if the value of the parameter is null or an empty string. By default, this method uses empty PHP language construct to check emptiness of the value.

Implementing the form mapper

Form mapper object is responsible for specifying how the parameter will look like on a Symfony form. The interface Netgen\BlockManager\Parameters\Form\MapperInterface provides three methods for you to implement. There is also an abstract class which you can extend to ease the implementation, so you need to implement only one method.

Basic form mapper needs to only specify which Symfony form type to use:



namespace AppBundle\Parameters\FormMapper;

use Netgen\BlockManager\Parameters\Form\Mapper;
use Symfony\Component\Form\Extension\Core\Type\TextType;

final class GoogleAnalyticsDateMapper extends Mapper
    public function getFormType(): string
        return TextType::class;

The purpose of other methods in MapperInterface is detailed below:


If your parameter type has custom options which need to be forwarded to Symfony form type, you can use this method to do so. For example, if you implemented a custom Symfony form type for your Google Analytics date, you could transfer your min_year option to the Symfony form, so it does not allow specifying any year lower than what is defined in your option.


This method is a generic method which receives the form built from the information in getFormType and mapOptions methods and makes it possible to do anything you wish with the form, like attaching custom data mappers or data transformers, adding event listeners to the form and so on.

Basically, anything you can do in Symfony form type class with a form field, you can do here too.

Registering the Symfony services

To activate both the parameter type and the form mapper, you need to specify them as Symfony services.

Parameter type service needs to have a netgen_block_manager.parameters.parameter_type tag in its service definition, while the form mapper needs to have a netgen_block_manager.parameters.form.mapper tag, together with the type attribute whose value is equal to the parameter type identifier.

Our parameter type and form mapper service definitions should look like this:

        class: AppBundle\Parameters\ParameterType\GoogleAnalyticsDateType
            - { name: netgen_block_manager.parameters.parameter_type }

        class: AppBundle\Parameters\FormMapper\GoogleAnalyticsDateMapper
            - { name: netgen_block_manager.parameters.form.mapper, type: ga_date }