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Creating ExpressionNodes

To understand what an ExpressionNode is and which cases can be solved by implementing custom ones, first read the chapter about implementing Fluid. Once you grasp what an ExpressionNode is and how it works, a very brief example is all you need.

First: an ExpressionNode is always one PHP class. Where you place it is completely up to you - but to have the class actually be detected and used by Fluid, the class name must be returned from a custom ViewHelperResolver. This concept is also explained in the implementation chapter.

In Fluid's default ViewHelperResolver, the following code is responsible for returning expression node class names:

 * List of class names implementing ExpressionNodeInterface
 * which will be consulted when an expression does not match
 * any built-in parser expression types.
 * @var string
protected $expressionNodeTypes = array(

 * @return string
public function getExpressionNodeTypes() {
    return $this->expressionNodeTypes;

You may or may not want the listed expression nodes included, but if you change the available expression types you should of course document this difference about your implementation.

The following are fairly normal ways of replacing or extending this array of class names:

  • Override the property $expressionNodeTypes and define your own array
  • Override the getExpressionNodeTypes method and return a complete array
  • Override the getExpressionNodeTypes method and modify/append the array from parent::getExpressionNodeTypes

Once you are ready to create your ExpressionNode class, all you need is a very simple one. The following class is the ternary ExpressionNode from Fluid itself which detects the {a ? b : c} syntax and evaluates a as boolean and if true, renders b else renders c. To get this behavior, we need a (relatively simple) regular expression and one method to evaluate the expression while being aware of the rendering context (which stores all variables, controller name, action name etc).

namespace TYPO3Fluid\Fluid\Core\Parser\SyntaxTree\Expression;

use TYPO3Fluid\Fluid\Core\Parser;
use TYPO3Fluid\Fluid\Core\Rendering\RenderingContextInterface;

 * Ternary Condition Node - allows the shorthand version
 * of a condition to be written as `{var ? thenvar : elsevar}`
class TernaryExpressionNode extends AbstractExpressionNode {

     * Pattern which detects ternary conditions written in shorthand
     * syntax, e.g. {checkvar ? thenvar : elsevar}.
    public static $detectionExpression = '/
            {                                # Start of shorthand syntax
                (?:                          # Math expression is composed of...
                    [a-zA-Z0-9.]+            # Check variable side
                    [a-zA-Z0-9.\s]+          # Then variable side
                    [a-zA-Z0-9.\s]+          # Else variable side
            }                                # End of shorthand syntax

     * @param RenderingContextInterface $renderingContext
     * @param string $expression
     * @return mixed
    public static function evaluateExpression(RenderingContextInterface $renderingContext, $expression) {
        $parts = preg_split('/([\?:])/s', $expression); // split our expression on "?" and ":" characters
        $parts = array_map(array(__CLASS__, 'trimPart'), $parts); // parent::trimPart() is a utility method to trim
        list ($check, $then, $else) = $parts; // we expect *exactly* three parts, nothing more, nothing less
        // we evaluate the "check this" side of the expression as boolean...
        $checkResult = Parser\SyntaxTree\BooleanNode::convertToBoolean(parent::getTemplateVariableOrValueItself($check, $renderingContext));
        // ...then render the appropriate variable reference or string output depending on that decision.
        if ($checkResult) {
            return parent::getTemplateVariableOrValueItself($then, $renderingContext);
        } else {
            return parent::getTemplateVariableOrValueItself($else, $renderingContext);


Taking from this example class the following are the rules you must observe:

  1. Your ExpressionNode class name must be returned from your custom ViewHelperResolver
  2. You must either subclass the AbstractExpressionNode class or implement the ExpressionNodeInterface (subclassing the right class will automatically implement the right interface).
  3. You must provide the class with an exact property called public static $detectionExpression which contains a string that is a perl regular expression which will result in at least one match when run against expressions you type in Fluid. It is vital that the property be both static and public and have the right name - it is accessed without instantiating the class.
  4. The class must have a public static function evaluateExpression taking exactly the arguments above - nothing more, nothing less. The method must be able to work in a static context (it is called this way once templates have been compiled).
  5. The evaluateExpression method may return any value type you desire, but like ViewHelpers, returning a non-string-compatible value implies that you should be careful about how you then use the expression; attempting to render a non-string-compatible value as a string may cause PHP warnings.