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Creating a simple package#

Setup and Requirements#

This guide will help you to create a simple package that provides a simple test page. It is nothing too fancy, but you can use it as the foundation for your next project.

There are some requirements you should met before starting:

  • Text editor with syntax highlighting for PHP, Notepad++ is a solid pick
  • *.php and *.tpl should be encoded with ANSI/ASCII
  • *.xml are always encoded with UTF-8, but omit the BOM (byte-order-mark)
  • Use tabs instead of spaces to indent lines
  • It is recommended to set the tab width to 8 spaces, this is used in the entire software and will ease reading the source files
  • An active installation of WoltLab Suite 3
  • An application to create *.tar archives, e.g. 7-Zip on Windows

The package.xml File#

We want to create a simple page that will display the sentence "Hello World" embedded into the application frame. Create an empty directory in the workspace of your choice to start with.

Create a new file called package.xml and insert the code below:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<package xmlns="" xmlns:xsi="" xsi:schemaLocation="" name="com.example.test">
        <!-- com.example.test -->
        <packagename>Simple Package</packagename>
        <packagedescription>A simple package to demonstrate the package system of WoltLab Suite Core</packagedescription>
        <author>Your Name</author>
        <excludedpackage version="6.0.0 Alpha 1">com.woltlab.wcf</excludedpackage>
    <instructions type="install">
        <instruction type="file" />
        <instruction type="template" />
        <instruction type="page" />

There is an entire chapter on the package system that explains what the code above does and how you can adjust it to fit your needs. For now we'll keep it as it is.

The PHP Class#

The next step is to create the PHP class which will serve our page:

  1. Create the directory files in the same directory where package.xml is located
  2. Open files and create the directory lib
  3. Open lib and create the directory page
  4. Within the directory page, please create the file TestPage.class.php

Copy and paste the following code into the TestPage.class.php:

namespace wcf\page;
use wcf\system\WCF;

 * A simple test page for demonstration purposes.
 * @author  YOUR NAME
 * @license GNU Lesser General Public License <>
class TestPage extends AbstractPage {
     * @var string
    protected $greet = '';

     * @inheritDoc
    public function readParameters() {

        if (isset($_GET['greet'])) $this->greet = $_GET['greet'];

     * @inheritDoc
    public function readData() {

        if (empty($this->greet)) {
            $this->greet = 'World';

     * @inheritDoc
    public function assignVariables() {

            'greet' => $this->greet

The class inherits from wcf\page\AbstractPage, the default implementation of pages without form controls. It defines quite a few methods that will be automatically invoked in a specific order, for example readParameters() before readData() and finally assignVariables() to pass arbitrary values to the template.

The property $greet is defined as World, but can optionally be populated through a GET variable (index.php?test/&greet=You would output Hello You!). This extra code illustrates the separation of data processing that takes place within all sort of pages, where all user-supplied data is read from within a single method. It helps organizing the code, but most of all it enforces a clean class logic that does not start reading user input at random places, including the risk to only escape the input of variable $_GET['foo'] 4 out of 5 times.

Reading and processing the data is only half the story, now we need a template to display the actual content for our page. You don't need to specify it yourself, it will be automatically guessed based on your namespace and class name, you can read more about it later.

Last but not least, you must not include the closing PHP tag ?> at the end, it can cause PHP to break on whitespaces and is not required at all.

The Template#

Navigate back to the root directory of your package until you see both the files directory and the package.xml. Now create a directory called templates, open it and create the file test.tpl.

{include file='header'}

<div class="section">
    Hello {$greet}!

{include file='footer'}

Templates are a mixture of HTML and Smarty-like template scripting to overcome the static nature of raw HTML. The above code will display the phrase Hello World! in the application frame, just as any other page would render. The included templates header and footer are responsible for the majority of the overall page functionality, but offer a whole lot of customization abilities to influence their behavior and appearance.

The Page Definition#

The package now contains the PHP class and the matching template, but it is still missing the page definition. Please create the file page.xml in your project's root directory, thus on the same level as the package.xml.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<data xmlns="" xmlns:xsi="" xsi:schemaLocation="">
        <page identifier="com.example.test.Test">
            <name language="en">Test Page</name>

You can provide a lot more data for a page, including logical nesting and dedicated handler classes for display in menus.

Building the Package#

If you have followed the above guidelines carefully, your package directory should now look like this:

├── files
│   └── lib
│       ├── page
│       │   ├── TestPage.class.php
├── package.xml
├── page.xml
├── templates
│   └── test.tpl

Both files and templates are archive-based package components, that deploy their payload using tar archives rather than adding the raw files to the package file. Please create the archive files.tar and add the contents of the files/* directory, but not the directory files/ itself. Repeat the same process for the templates directory, but this time with the file name templates.tar. Place both files in the root of your project.

Last but not least, create the package archive com.example.test.tar and add all the files listed below.

  • files.tar
  • package.xml
  • page.xml
  • templates.tar

The archive's filename can be anything you want, all though it is the general convention to use the package name itself for easier recognition.


Open the Administration Control Panel and navigate to Configuration > Packages > Install Package, click on Upload Package and select the file com.example.test.tar from your disk. Follow the on-screen instructions until it has been successfully installed.

Open a new browser tab and navigate to your newly created page. If WoltLab Suite is installed at, then the URL should read

Congratulations, you have just created your first package!

Developer Tools#

This feature is available with WoltLab Suite 3.1 or newer only.

The developer tools provide an interface to synchronize the data of an installed package with a bare repository on the local disk. You can re-import most PIPs at any time and have the changes applied without crafting a manual update. This process simulates a regular package update with a single PIP only, and resets the cache after the import has been completed.

Registering a Project#

Projects require the absolute path to the package directory, that is, the directory where it can find the package.xml. It is not required to install an package to register it as a project, but you have to install it in order to work with it. It does not install the package by itself!

There is a special button on the project list that allows for a mass-import of projects based on a search path. Each direct child directory of the provided path will be tested and projects created this way will use the identifier extracted from the package.xml.


The install instructions in the package.xml are ignored when offering the PIP imports, the detection works entirely based on the default filename for each PIP. On top of that, only PIPs that implement the interface wcf\system\devtools\pip\IIdempotentPackageInstallationPlugin are valid for import, as it indicates that importing the PIP multiple times will have no side-effects and that the result is deterministic regardless of the number of times it has been imported.

Some built-in PIPs, such as sql or script, do not qualify for this step and remain unavailable at all times. However, you can still craft and perform an actual package update to have these PIPs executed.


Template Guessing#

The class name including the namespace is used to automatically determine the path to the template and its name. The example above used the page class name wcf\page\TestPage that is then split into four distinct parts:

  1. wcf, the internal abbreviation of WoltLab Suite Core (previously known as WoltLab Community Framework)
  2. \page\ (ignored)
  3. Test, the actual name that is used for both the template and the URL
  4. Page (page type, ignored)

The fragments 1. and 3. from above are used to construct the path to the template: <installDirOfWSC>/templates/test.tpl (the first letter of Test is being converted to lower-case).

Last update: 2021-01-08