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Creating Menus: The Basics

Let's face it, creating menus sucks. Menus - a common aspect of any site - can range from being simple and mundane to giant monsters that become a headache to code and maintain.

This bundle solves the issue by giving you a small, yet powerful and flexible framework for handling your menus. While most of the examples shown here are simple, the menus can grow arbitrarily large and deep.

Creating a menu

The menu framework centers around one main interface: Knp\Menu\ItemInterface. Items are created by a factory implementing Knp\Menu\FactoryInterface. It's best to think of each ItemInterface object as an <li> tag that can hold children objects (<li> tags that are wrapped in a <ul> tag). For example:


use Knp\Menu\Matcher\Matcher;
use Knp\Menu\MenuFactory;
use Knp\Menu\Renderer\ListRenderer;

$factory = new MenuFactory();
$menu = $factory->createItem('My menu');
$menu->addChild('Home', ['uri' => '/']);
$menu->addChild('Comments', ['uri' => '#comments']);
$menu->addChild('Symfony', ['uri' => '']);

$renderer = new ListRenderer(new Matcher());
echo $renderer->render($menu);

The above would render the following html code:

  <li class="first">
    <a href="/">Home</a>
  <li class="current">
    <a href="#comments">Comments</a>
  <li class="last">
    <a href="">Symfony</a>

NOTE The menu framework automatically adds first and last classes to each <li> tag at each level for easy styling. Notice also that a current class is added to the "current" menu item by uri and current_ancestor to its ancestors (the classes are configurable) The above example assumes the menu is being rendered on the /comments page, making the Comments menu the "current" item.

When the menu is rendered, it's actually spaced correctly so that it appears as shown in the source html. This is to allow for easier debugging and can be turned off by passing the true as the second argument to the renderer.


// ...

$renderer = new ListRenderer(new Matcher(), ['compressed' => true]);
echo $renderer->render($menu);

You can also compress (or not compress) on a menu-by-menu basis by using the compressed option:


// ...

$renderer = new ListRenderer(new Matcher());
echo $renderer->render($menu, ['compressed' => true]);

Note: You can customize the rendering by extending the ListRenderer and overwrite some of its methods. If you use the TwigRenderer, you can overwrite templates. Or you can provide your own implementation of the RendererInterface.

Working with your menu tree

Your menu tree works and acts like a multi-dimensional array. Specifically, it implements ArrayAccess, Countable and Iterator:


use Knp\Menu\MenuFactory;

$factory = new MenuFactory();
$menu = $factory->createItem('My menu');
$menu->addChild('Home', ['uri' => '/']);

// ArrayAccess
$menu['Comments']->addChild('My comments', ['uri' => '/my_comments']);

// Countable
echo count($menu); // returns 2

// Iterator
foreach ($menu as $child) {
  echo $child->getLabel();

As you can see, the name you give your menu item (e.g. overview, comments) when creating it is the name you'll use when accessing it. By default, the name is also used when displaying the menu, but that can be overridden by setting the menu item's label (see below).

Customizing each menu item

There are many ways to customize the output of each menu item. Each property can be customized in two ways: either by passing it as an option when creating the item, or by using the setter of an existing item.

The label

By default, a menu item uses its name when rendering. You can easily change this without changing the name of your menu item by setting its label:

// Setting the label when creating the item
$menu->addChild('Home', ['uri' => '/', 'label' => 'Back to homepage']);

// Changing the label of an existing item
$menu['Home']->setLabel('Back to homepage');

The uri

If an item isn't given a url, then text will be output instead of a link:

$menu->addChild('Not a link');
$menu->addChild('Home', '/');
$menu->addChild('Symfony', '');

You can also specify the uri after creation via the setUri() method:


NOTE If you want to remove the uri of an item, set it to null.

Menu attributes

In fact, you can add any attribute to the <li> tag of a menu item. This can be done when creating a menu item or via the setAttribute() and setAttributes() methods:

$menu->addChild('Home', ['attributes' => ['id' => 'back_to_homepage']]);
$menu['Home']->setAttribute('id', 'back_to_homepage');

NOTE setAttributes() will overwrite all existing attributes.

NOTE To remove an existing attribute, set it to null. It will not be rendered.

You can also add link attributes (displayed on the <a> element), label attributes (displayed on the <span> element when it is not a link) or children attributes (rendered on the <ul> containing the list of children):

$menu->addChild('', ['uri' => '']);
$menu['']->setLinkAttribute('class', 'external-link');

$menu->addChild('Not a link');
$menu['Not a link']->setLabelAttribute('class', 'no-link-span');

$menu->setChildrenAttribute('class', 'pull-left');

NOTE For the root element, only the children attributes are used as only the <ul> element is displayed.

NOTE In the 1.0 version of the library, the attributes were rendered on the root element instead of rendering the children attributes, which was inconsistent and has been changed for 1.1.

Rendering only part of a menu

If you need to render only part of your menu, the menu framework gives you unlimited control to do so:

// render only 2 levels deep (root, parents, children)
$renderer->render($menu, ['depth' => 2]);

// rendering everything except for the children of the Home branch

// render everything except for Home AND its children

Using the above controls, you can specify exactly which part of your menu you need to render at any given time.

Other rendering options

Most renderers also support several other options, which can be passed as the second argument to the render() method:

  • depth
  • matchingDepth: The depth of the scan to determine whether an item is an ancestor of the current item.
  • currentAsLink (default: true): Whether to render the "current" menu item as link or as span.
  • currentClass (default: current)
  • ancestorClass (default: current_ancestor)
  • firstClass (default: first)
  • lastClass (default: last)
  • compressed (default: false)
  • allow_safe_labels (default: false)
  • clear_matcher (default true): whether to clear the internal cache of the matcher after rendering
  • leaf_class (default: null): class for leaf elements in your html tree
  • branch_class (default: null): class for branch elements in your html tree

NOTE When setting the allow_safe_labels option to true, you can specify that a label should not be escaped by the renderer by adding the safe_label extra in the item. Use it with caution as it can create some XSS holes in your application if the label is coming from the user.

The Current Menu Item

If the menu item is matched as current, a current class will be added to the li around that item, as well as a current_ancestor around any of its parent li elements. This state can either be forced on the item by setting it explicitly or matched using several voters.

By default, the current item is rendered as link too. You can make the current item not a link by setting the currentAsLink option to false. The ListRenderer then renders the item with a <span> tag instead of an <a>.


use Knp\Menu\Matcher\Matcher;
use Knp\Menu\Matcher\Voter\UriVoter;
use Knp\Menu\MenuFactory;
use Knp\Menu\Renderer\ListRenderer;

$factory = new MenuFactory();
$menu = $factory->createItem('My menu');

// set the current state explicitly

// Use the voter
$menu['other_item']->setCurrent(null); // default value for items

$matcher = new Matcher();
$matcher->addVoter(new UriVoter($_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']));

$renderer = new ListRenderer($matcher);

The library provides 3 implementations of the VoterInterface:

  • Knp\Menu\Matcher\Voter\UriVoter matching against the uri of the item
  • Knp\Menu\Matcher\Voter\RouteVoter matching the _route attribute of a Symfony Request object against the routes extra of the item
  • Knp\Menu\Matcher\Voter\RegexVoter matching against the uri of the item using a regular expression

Here are some examples for instantiation of voters:


$regexVoter = new \Knp\Menu\Matcher\Voter\RegexVoter('/^StartOfUri/');

$routeVoter = new \Knp\Menu\Silex\Voter\RouteVoter();

Creating a Menu from a Tree structure

See Advanced Menu documentation page

Change the charset

$renderer = new ListRenderer(new Matcher(), [], 'ISO-8859-1');
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