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Custom Plugins

CMS Plugins are reusable content publishers that can be inserted into django CMS pages (or indeed into any content that uses django CMS placeholders). They enable the publishing of information automatically, without further intervention.

This means that your published web content, whatever it is, is kept up-to-date at all times.

It's like magic, but quicker.

Unless you're lucky enough to discover that your needs can be met by the built-in plugins, or by the many available 3rd-party plugins, you'll have to write your own custom CMS Plugin. Don't worry though - writing a CMS Plugin is rather simple.

Why would you need to write a plugin?

A plugin is the most convenient way to integrate content from another Django app into a django CMS page.

For example, suppose you're developing a site for a record company in django CMS. You might like to have a "Latest releases" box on your site's home page.

Of course, you could every so often edit that page and update the information. However, a sensible record company will manage its catalogue in Django too, which means Django already knows what this week's new releases are.

This is an excellent opportunity to make use of that information to make your life easier - all you need to do is create a django CMS plugin that you can insert into your home page, and leave it to do the work of publishing information about the latest releases for you.

Plugins are reusable. Perhaps your record company is producing a series of reissues of seminal Swiss punk records; on your site's page about the series, you could insert the same plugin, configured a little differently, that will publish information about recent new releases in that series.

Overview

A django CMS plugin is fundamentally composed of three things.

  • a plugin editor, to configure a plugin each time it is deployed
  • a plugin publisher, to do the automated work of deciding what to publish
  • a plugin template, to render the information into a web page

These correspond to the familiar Model-View-Template scheme:

  • the plugin model to store its configuration
  • the plugin view that works out what needs to be displayed
  • the plugin template to render the information

And so to build your plugin, you'll make it from:

A note about :class:`cms.plugin_base.CMSPluginBase`

:class:`cms.plugin_base.CMSPluginBase` is actually a subclass of :class:`django.contrib.admin.options.ModelAdmin`.

It is its :meth:`render` method that is the plugin's view function.

An aside on models and configuration

The plugin model, the subclass of :class:`cms.models.pluginmodel.CMSPlugin`, is actually optional.

You could have a plugin that doesn't need to be configured, because it only ever does one thing.

For example, you could have a plugin that only publishes information about the top-selling record of the past seven days. Obviously, this wouldn't be very flexible - you wouldn't be able to use the same plugin for the best-selling release of the last month instead.

Usually, you find that it is useful to be able to configure your plugin, and this will require a model.

The simplest plugin

You may use python manage.py startapp to set up the basic layout for you plugin app. Alternatively, just add a file called cms_plugins.py to an existing Django application.

In there, you place your plugins. For our example, include the following code:

from cms.plugin_base import CMSPluginBase
from cms.plugin_pool import plugin_pool
from cms.models.pluginmodel import CMSPlugin
from django.utils.translation import ugettext_lazy as _

class HelloPlugin(CMSPluginBase):
    model = CMSPlugin
    render_template = "hello_plugin.html"

plugin_pool.register_plugin(HelloPlugin)

Now we're almost done. All that's left is to add the template. Add the following into the root template directory in a file called hello_plugin.html:

<h1>Hello {% if request.user.is_authenticated %}{{ request.user.first_name }} {{ request.user.last_name}}{% else %}Guest{% endif %}</h1>

This plugin will now greet the users on your website either by their name if they're logged in, or as Guest if they're not.

Now let's take a closer look at what we did there. The cms_plugins.py files are where you should define your subclasses of :class:`cms.plugin_base.CMSPluginBase`, these classes define the different plugins.

There are three required attributes on those classes:

  • model: The model you wish to use for storing information about this plugin. If you do not require any special information, for example configuration, to be stored for your plugins, you can simply use :class:`cms.models.pluginmodel.CMSPlugin` (We'll look at that model more closely in a bit).
  • name: The name of your plugin as displayed in the admin. It is generally good practice to mark this string as translatable using :func:`django.utils.translation.ugettext_lazy`, however this is optional. By default the name is a nicer version of the class name.
  • render_template: The template to render this plugin with.

In addition to those three attributes, you can also define a :meth:`render` method on your subclasses. It is specifically this render method that is the view for your plugin.

The render method takes three arguments:

  • context: The context with which the page is rendered.
  • instance: The instance of your plugin that is rendered.
  • placeholder: The name of the placeholder that is rendered.

This method must return a dictionary or an instance of :class:`django.template.Context`, which will be used as context to render the plugin template.

By default this method will add instance and placeholder to the context, which means for simple plugins, there is no need to overwrite this method.

Storing configuration

In many cases, you want to store configuration for your plugin instances. For example, if you have a plugin that shows the latest blog posts, you might want to be able to choose the amount of entries shown. Another example would be a gallery plugin where you want to choose the pictures to show for the plugin.

To do so, you create a Django model by subclassing :class:`cms.models.pluginmodel.CMSPlugin` in the models.py of an installed application.

Let's improve our HelloPlugin from above by making its fallback name for non-authenticated users configurable.

In our models.py we add the following:

from cms.models.pluginmodel import CMSPlugin

from django.db import models

class Hello(CMSPlugin):
    guest_name = models.CharField(max_length=50, default='Guest')

If you followed the Django tutorial, this shouldn't look too new to you. The only difference to normal models is that you subclass :class:`cms.models.pluginmodel.CMSPlugin` rather than :class:`django.db.models.base.Model`.

Now we need to change our plugin definition to use this model, so our new cms_plugins.py looks like this:

from cms.plugin_base import CMSPluginBase
from cms.plugin_pool import plugin_pool
from django.utils.translation import ugettext_lazy as _

from models import Hello

class HelloPlugin(CMSPluginBase):
    model = Hello
    name = _("Hello Plugin")
    render_template = "hello_plugin.html"

    def render(self, context, instance, placeholder):
        context['instance'] = instance
        return context

plugin_pool.register_plugin(HelloPlugin)

We changed the model attribute to point to our newly created Hello model and pass the model instance to the context.

As a last step, we have to update our template to make use of this new configuration:

<h1>Hello {% if request.user.is_authenticated %}{{ request.user.first_name }} {{ request.user.last_name}}{% else %}{{ instance.guest_name }}{% endif %}</h1>

The only thing we changed there is that we use the template variable {{ instance.guest_name }} instead of the hardcoded Guest string in the else clause.

Warning

:class:`cms.models.pluginmodel.CMSPlugin` subclasses cannot be further subclassed at the moment. In order to make your plugin models reusable, please use abstract base models.

Warning

You cannot name your model fields the same as any installed plugins lower-cased model name, due to the implicit one-to-one relation Django uses for subclassed models. If you use all core plugins, this includes: file, flash, googlemap, link, picture, snippetptr, teaser, twittersearch, twitterrecententries and video.

Additionally, it is recommended that you avoid using page as a model field, as it is declared as a property of :class:`cms.models.pluginmodel.CMSPlugin`, and your plugin will not work as intended in the administration without further work.

Handling Relations

If your custom plugin has foreign key or many-to-many relations you are responsible for copying those if necessary whenever the CMS copies the plugin.

To do this you can implement a method called :meth:`cms.models.pluginmodel.CMSPlugin.copy_relations` on your plugin model which gets the old instance of the plugin as an argument.

Let's assume this is your plugin:

class ArticlePluginModel(CMSPlugin):
    title = models.CharField(max_length=50)
    sections =  models.ManyToManyField(Section)

    def __unicode__(self):
        return self.title

Now when the plugin gets copied, you want to make sure the sections stay:

def copy_relations(self, oldinstance):
    self.sections = oldinstance.sections.all()

Your full model now:

class ArticlePluginModel(CMSPlugin):
    title = models.CharField(max_length=50)
    sections =  models.ManyToManyField(Section)

    def __unicode__(self):
        return self.title

    def copy_relations(self, oldinstance):
        self.sections = oldinstance.sections.all()

Advanced

Plugin form

Since :class:`cms.plugin_base.CMSPluginBase` extends :class:`django.contrib.admin.options.ModelAdmin`, you can customize the form for your plugins just as you would customize your admin interfaces.

Note

If you want to overwrite the form be sure to extend from admin/cms/page/plugin_change_form.html to have a unified look across the plugins and to have the preview functionality automatically installed.

Handling media

If your plugin depends on certain media files, javascript or stylesheets, you can include them from your plugin template using django-sekizai. Your CMS templates are always enforced to have the css and js sekizai namespaces, therefore those should be used to include the respective files. For more information about django-sekizai, please refer to the django-sekizai documentation.

Sekizai style

To fully harness the power of django-sekizai, it is helpful to have a consistent style on how to use it. Here is a set of conventions that should be followed (but don't necessarily need to be):

  • One bit per addtoblock. Always include one external CSS or JS file per addtoblock or one snippet per addtoblock. This is needed so django-sekizai properly detects duplicate files.
  • External files should be on one line, with no spaces or newlines between the addtoblock tag and the HTML tags.
  • When using embedded javascript or CSS, the HTML tags should be on a newline.

A good example:

{% load sekizai_tags %}

{% addtoblock "js" %}<script type="text/javascript" src="{{ MEDIA_URL }}myplugin/js/myjsfile.js"></script>{% endaddtoblock %}
{% addtoblock "js" %}<script type="text/javascript" src="{{ MEDIA_URL }}myplugin/js/myotherfile.js"></script>{% endaddtoblock %}
{% addtoblock "css" %}<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="{{ MEDIA_URL }}myplugin/css/astylesheet.css"></script>{% endaddtoblock %}
{% addtoblock "js" %}
<script type="text/javascript">
    $(document).ready(function(){
        doSomething();
    });
</script>
{% endaddtoblock %}

A bad example:

{% load sekizai_tags %}

{% addtoblock "js" %}<script type="text/javascript" src="{{ MEDIA_URL }}myplugin/js/myjsfile.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript" src="{{ MEDIA_URL }}myplugin/js/myotherfile.js"></script>{% endaddtoblock %}
{% addtoblock "css" %}
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="{{ MEDIA_URL }}myplugin/css/astylesheet.css"></script>
{% endaddtoblock %}
{% addtoblock "js" %}<script type="text/javascript">
    $(document).ready(function(){
        doSomething();
    });
</script>{% endaddtoblock %}

Plugin Context Processors

Plugin context processors are callables that modify all plugins' context before rendering. They are enabled using the :setting:`CMS_PLUGIN_CONTEXT_PROCESSORS` setting.

A plugin context processor takes 2 arguments:

  • instance: The instance of the plugin model
  • placeholder: The instance of the placeholder this plugin appears in.

The return value should be a dictionary containing any variables to be added to the context.

Example:

def add_verbose_name(instance, placeholder):
    '''
    This plugin context processor adds the plugin model's verbose_name to context.
    '''
    return {'verbose_name': instance._meta.verbose_name}

Plugin Processors

Plugin processors are callables that modify all plugins' output after rendering. They are enabled using the :setting:`CMS_PLUGIN_PROCESSORS` setting.

A plugin processor takes 4 arguments:

  • instance: The instance of the plugin model
  • placeholder: The instance of the placeholder this plugin appears in.
  • rendered_content: A string containing the rendered content of the plugin.
  • original_context: The original context for the template used to render the plugin.

Note

Plugin processors are also applied to plugins embedded in Text plugins (and any custom plugin allowing nested plugins). Depending on what your processor does, this might break the output. For example, if your processor wraps the output in a div tag, you might end up having div tags inside of p tags, which is invalid. You can prevent such cases by returning rendered_content unchanged if instance._render_meta.text_enabled is True, which is the case when rendering an embedded plugin.

Example

Suppose you want to wrap each plugin in the main placeholder in a colored box but it would be too complicated to edit each individual plugin's template:

In your settings.py:

CMS_PLUGIN_PROCESSORS = (
    'yourapp.cms_plugin_processors.wrap_in_colored_box',
)

In your yourapp.cms_plugin_processors.py:

def wrap_in_colored_box(instance, placeholder, rendered_content, original_context):
    '''
    This plugin processor wraps each plugin's output in a colored box if it is in the "main" placeholder.
    '''
    # Plugins not in the main placeholder should remain unchanged
    # Plugins embedded in Text should remain unchanged in order not to break output
    if placeholder.slot != 'main' or (instance._render_meta.text_enabled and instance.parent):
        return rendered_content
    else:
        from django.template import Context, Template
        # For simplicity's sake, construct the template from a string:
        t = Template('<div style="border: 10px {{ border_color }} solid; background: {{ background_color }};">{{ content|safe }}</div>')
        # Prepare that template's context:
        c = Context({
            'content': rendered_content,
            # Some plugin models might allow you to customize the colors,
            # for others, use default colors:
            'background_color': instance.background_color if hasattr(instance, 'background_color') else 'lightyellow',
            'border_color': instance.border_color if hasattr(instance, 'border_color') else 'lightblue',
        })
        # Finally, render the content through that template, and return the output
        return t.render(c)
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