Developing an MVC Component/Adding a Request Variable in the Menu Link

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Adding a Request Variable to the Menu Link

This article is part of the tutorial "Developing an MVC Component for Joomla 4.x". It is intended to be a follow-along programming tutorial, so if you have not read the previous parts of the tutorial you are encouraged to do so.

We now have a page in our Joomla installation's public front-end that can render a greeting message, provided by a data model. Now we will add a request variable to the menu link we created earlier, and learn how to read the request variable inside the data model. Depending on the value of the variable, we will show a different greeting.

Required Changes[edit]

There are two primary changes we will need to make:

  • Adding the request variable and its possible values to the menu link's XML definition
  • Adding code to the model to read the request variable and choose an appropriate greeting

1 Update: site/tmpl/hello/default.xml Add the new parameter to the menu link's definition
2 Update: site/src/Model/MessageModel.php Have the view's data model decide which greeting to return
3 Update: admin/language/en-GB/en-GB.com_helloworld.sys.ini Add the new language strings needed when configuring the menu link
4 Update: site/language/en-GB/en-GB.com_helloworld.ini Swap our existing greeting string for two greetings we can choose between
5 Update: helloworld.xml For consistency, we'll bump the component's version number

File Details[edit]


While this change may look fairly verbose, it's actually very straightforward. We're adding a configurable request variable (called a "field") to our menu link. When editing the menu entry in the Joomla control panel, this field and its options will be displayed in the configuration form.

Menu fields are organised into fieldsets, though we only need the one here. We'll call our field greetingType, which will be appended to the URL when the link is clicked. We're also pre-defining what values are allowed for this field, as we want to be able to rely on their values in the data model. We do this by using type="list" to tell Joomla it has a list of values, and then providing them as <option /> child elements.

The value attribute of each <option /> is the actual value that will be appended to the URL (such as &greetingType=1). The language string name inside the <option /> element represents the label that will be shown in the configuration form.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
    <fields name="request">
        <fieldset name="request">
            <field  name="greetingType"
                <option value="1"><![CDATA[COM_HELLOWORLD_MENU_HELLO_WORLD_PARAM_VALUE_HELLO]]></option>
                <option value="2"><![CDATA[COM_HELLOWORLD_MENU_HELLO_WORLD_PARAM_VALUE_GOODBYE]]></option>


Here we read in the new request variable via the Joomla framework, and decide which of our two greeting messages to show. This code illustrates how to read request variables in Joomla 4:

  1. Factory::getApplication() returns the Joomla application object. You will use this code a lot when writing in Joomla, as your entry point to the Joomla runtime.
  2. ->getInput() returns the \Joomla\Input\Input object for this request. This object can be used to read request variables in a safe and sanitised manner.
  3. $input->getInt('greetingType', 1); fetches the value of the 'greetingType' request variable we defined earlier. If no value is defined, we have specified that it should return a default value of 1.

NOTE: You should never use superglobals like $_GET or $_POST to access request variables or other inputs. Use Joomla's framework to access any passed or submitted data, to ensure that it is properly handled and sanitised.

With the request variable read, we simply choose which of our two possible greetings to return to the template.


namespace JohnSmith\Component\HelloWorld\Site\Model;

defined('_JEXEC') or die;

use Joomla\CMS\Factory;
use Joomla\CMS\MVC\Model\ItemModel;
use Joomla\CMS\Language\Text;

 * @package     Joomla.Site
 * @subpackage  com_helloworld
 * @copyright   Copyright (C) 2020 John Smith. All rights reserved.
 * @license     GNU General Public License version 3; see LICENSE

 * Hello World Message Model
 * @since 0.0.5
class MessageModel extends ItemModel {

     * Returns a message for display
     * @param integer $pk Primary key of the "message item", currently unused
     * @return object Message object
    public function getItem($pk= null): object {
        // This gives us a Joomla\Input\Input object
        $input = Factory::getApplication()->getInput();
        $greetingType = $input->getInt('greetingType', 1);

        $item = new \stdClass();
        switch($greetingType) {
            case 2:
                $item->message = Text::_('COM_HELLOWORLD_MSG_GREETING_GOODBYE');
            case 1:
                $item->message = Text::_('COM_HELLOWORLD_MSG_GREETING_HELLO');
        return $item;


Here we define the language strings that will be used in the configuration form for our menu link. Remember, even though the menu link is defined in the site part of the component, the strings are defined here because it is used in the Joomla control panel.

; Hello World Sys.ini
; Copyright (C) 2020 John Smith. All rights reserved.

COM_HELLOWORLD_MENU_HELLO_WORLD_PARAM_DESC="Select which type of greeting to show"


Here we switch out our existing greeting for two different greetings, which the model will choose between based on the value of the greetingType request variable.

; Hello World Public Site Strings
; Copyright (C) 2020 John Smith. All rights reserved.

COM_HELLOWORLD_MSG_GREETING_GOODBYE="Goodbye from the item model!"
COM_HELLOWORLD_MSG_GREETING_HELLO="Hello from the item model!"


As before, our last job is to bump the component's version number. None of the changes made here require the version number to be bumped before re-importing it, but we'll do it for consistency.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<extension type="component" version="4.0" method="upgrade">

    <name>Hello World</name>
    <!-- The following elements are optional and free of formatting constraints -->
    <creationDate>December 2020</creationDate>
    <!-- Dummy author, feel free to replace anywhere you see it-->
    <author>John Smith</author>
    <copyright>John Smith</copyright>
    <license>GPL v3</license>
    <!--  The version string is recorded in the components table -->
    <!-- The description is optional and defaults to the name -->
        A hello world component!

    <!-- This is the PHP namespace under which the extension's
    code is organised. It should follow this format:

    "Vendor" can be your company or your own name
    The "ComponentName" section MUST match the name used 
    everywhere else for your component. Whatever the name of 
    this XML file is, the namespace must match (ignoring CamelCase). 
    <namespace path="src/">JohnSmith\Component\HelloWorld</namespace>

    <files folder="site/">

        <language tag="en-GB">site/language/en-GB/en-GB.com_helloworld.ini</language>

        <!-- The link that will appear in the Admin panel's "Components" menu -->
        <menu link="index.php?option=com_helloworld">Hello World</menu>
        <!-- List of files and folders to copy, and where to copy them -->
        <files folder="admin/">

            <language tag="en-GB">admin/language/en-GB/en-GB.com_helloworld.ini</language>
            <language tag="en-GB">admin/language/en-GB/en-GB.com_helloworld.sys.ini</language>


Testing the Extension[edit]

Just as before, zip up your new component version and upload it into your Joomla! install's admin panel. Once it has updated, open the main menu setup from the left menu as you did before, then click your "Hello World" link in the list of link on the right.

Link to the main menu configuration in the Joomla control panel

You should see the menu link configuration form once again, but now there should be a brand new drop-down selection box:

Menu link configuration with custom fields added

Here you can see our new configuration option, "Greeting Type". This is the field we defined in XML earlier, using the language strings we also defined. To test your change, select one of the possible greeting types and save the menu link. Once the link is saved, visit the public section of your Joomla install and click the link. You should see the appropriate greeting!

The greeting from the data model that matches the field in the menu link

To make sure that the request variable is working correctly, make sure to switch the menu link's configuration back and forth a few times. The message in the public page should change as appropriate.

Great! Now we have a page taking simple data from a model, and that model can respond to request variables. Next, we'll finally get to setting up our database, and wiring our data model up to it.