WoltLab Suite’s event system allows manipulation of program flows and data without having to change any of the original source code. At many locations throughout the PHP code of WoltLab Suite Core and mainly through inheritance also in the applications and plugins, so called events are fired which trigger registered event listeners that get access to the object firing the event (or at least the class name if the event has been fired in a static method).

This page focuses on the technical aspects of events and event listeners, the eventListener package installation plugin page covers how you can actually register an event listener. A comprehensive list of all available events is provided here.

Introductory Example

Let’s start with a simple example to illustrate how the event system works. Consider this pre-existing class:

<?php
namespace wcf\system\example;
use wcf\system\event\EventHandler;

class ExampleComponent {
	public $var = 1;
	
	public function getVar() {
		EventHandler::getInstance()->fireAction($this, 'getVar');
		
		return $this->var;
	}
}

where an event with event name getVar is fired in the getVar() method.

If you create an object of this class and call the getVar() method, the return value will be 1, of course:

<?php

$example = new wcf\system\example\ExampleComponent();
if ($example->getVar() == 1) {
	echo "var is 1!";
}
else if ($example->getVar() == 2) {
	echo "var is 2!";
}
else {
	echo "No, var is neither 1 nor 2.";
}

// output: var is 1!

Now, consider that we have registered the following event listener to this event:

<?php
namespace wcf\system\event\listener;

class ExampleEventListener implements IParameterizedEventListener {
	public function execute($eventObj, $className, $eventName, array &$parameters) {
		$eventObj->var = 2;
	}
}

Whenever the event in the getVar() method is called, this method (of the same event listener object) is called. In this case, the value of the method’s first parameter is the ExampleComponent object passed as the first argument of the EventHandler::fireAction() call in ExampleComponent::getVar(). As ExampleComponent::$var is a public property, the event listener code can change it and set it to 2.

If you now execute the example code from above again, the output will change from var is 1! to var is 2! because prior to returning the value, the event listener code changes the value from 1 to 2.

This introductory example illustrates how event listeners can change data in a non-intrusive way. Program flow can be changed, for example, by throwing a wcf\system\exception\PermissionDeniedException if some additional constraint to access a page is not fulfilled.

Listening to Events

In order to listen to events, you need to register the event listener and the event listener itself needs to implement the interface wcf\system\event\listener\IParameterizedEventListener which only contains the execute method (see example above).

The first parameter $eventObj of the method contains the passed object where the event is fired or the name of the class in which the event is fired if it is fired from a static method. The second parameter $className always contains the name of the class where the event has been fired. The third parameter $eventName provides the name of the event within a class to uniquely identify the exact location in the class where the event has been fired. The last parameter $parameters is a reference to the array which contains additional data passed by the method firing the event. If no additional data is passed, $parameters is empty.

Firing Events

If you write code and want plugins to have access at certain points, you can fire an event on your own. The only thing to do is to call the wcf\system\event\EventHandler::fireAction($eventObj, $eventName, array &$parameters = []) method and pass the following parameters:

  1. $eventObj should be $this if you fire from an object context, otherwise pass the class name static::class.
  2. $eventName identifies the event within the class and generally has the same name as the method. In cases, were you might fire more than one event in a method, for example before and after a certain piece of code, you can use the prefixes before* and after* in your event names.
  3. $parameters is an optional array which allows you to pass additional data to the event listeners without having to make this data accessible via a property explicitly only created for this purpose. This additional data can either be just additional information for the event listeners about the context of the method call or allow the event listener to manipulate local data if the code, where the event has been fired, uses the passed data afterwards.

Example: Using $parameters argument

Consider the following method which gets some text that the methods parses.

<?php
namespace wcf\system\example;
use wcf\system\event\EventHandler;

class ExampleParser {
	public function parse($text) {
		// [some parsing done by default]
		
		$parameters = ['text' => $text];
		EventHandler::getInstance()->fireAction($this, 'parse', $parameters);
		
		return $parameters['text'];
	}
}

After the default parsing by the method itself, the author wants to enable plugins to do additional parsing and thus fires an event and passes the parsed text as an additional parameter. Then, a plugin can deliver the following event listener

<?php
namespace wcf\system\event\listener;

class ExampleParserEventListener implements IParameterizedEventListener {
	public function execute($eventObj, $className, $eventName, array &$parameters) {
		$text = $parameters['text'];
		
		// [some additional parsing which changes $text]
		
		$parameters['text'] = $text;
	}
}

which can access the text via $parameters['text'].

This example can also be perfectly used to illustrate how to name multiple events in the same method. Let’s assume that the author wants to enable plugins to change the text before and after the method does its own parsing and thus fires two events:

<?php
namespace wcf\system\example;
use wcf\system\event\EventHandler;

class ExampleParser {
	public function parse($text) {
		$parameters = ['text' => $text];
		EventHandler::getInstance()->fireAction($this, 'beforeParsing', $parameters);
		$text = $parameters['text'];
		
		// [some parsing done by default]
		
		$parameters = ['text' => $text];
		EventHandler::getInstance()->fireAction($this, 'afterParsing', $parameters);
		
		return $parameters['text'];
	}
}

Advanced Example: Additional Form Field

One common reason to use event listeners is to add an additional field to a pre-existing form (in combination with template listeners, which we will not cover here). We will assume that users are able to do both, create and edit the objects via this form. The points in the program flow of AbstractForm that are relevant here are:

  • adding object (after the form has been submitted):
    1. reading the value of the field
    2. validating the read value
    3. saving the additional value after successful validation and resetting locally stored value or assigning the current value of the field to the template after unsuccessful validation
  • editing object:
    • on initial form request:
      1. reading the pre-existing value of the edited object
      2. assigning the field value to the template
    • after the form has been submitted:
      1. reading the value of the field
      2. validating the read value
      3. saving the additional value after successful validation
      4. assigning the current value of the field to the template

All of these cases can be covered the by following code in which we assume that wcf\form\ExampleAddForm is the form to create example objects and that wcf\form\ExampleEditForm extends wcf\form\ExampleAddForm and is used for editing existing example objects.

<?php
namespace wcf\system\event\listener;
use wcf\form\ExampleAddForm;
use wcf\form\ExampleEditForm;
use wcf\system\exception\UserInputException;
use wcf\system\WCF;

class ExampleAddFormListener implements IParameterizedEventListener {
	protected $var = 0;
	
	public function execute($eventObj, $className, $eventName, array &$parameters) {
		$this->$eventName($eventObj);
	}
	
	protected function assignVariables() {
		WCF::getTPL()->assign('var', $this->var);
	}
	
	protected function readData(ExampleEditForm $eventObj) {
		if (empty($_POST)) {
			$this->var = $eventObj->example->var;
		}
	}
	
	protected function readFormParameters() {
		if (isset($_POST['var'])) $this->var = intval($_POST['var']);
	}
	
	protected function save(ExampleAddForm $eventObj) {
		$eventObj->additionalFields = array_merge($eventObj->additionalFields, ['var' => $this->var]);
	}
	
	protected function saved() {
		$this->var = 0;
	}
	
	protected function validate() {
		if ($this->var < 0) {
			throw new UserInputException('var', 'isNegative');
		}
	}
}

The execute method in this example just delegates the call to a method with the same name as the event so that this class mimics the structure of a form class itself. The form object is passed to the methods but is only given in the method signatures as a parameter here whenever the form object is actually used. Furthermore, the type-hinting of the parameter illustrates in which contexts the method is actually called which will become clear in the following discussion of the individual methods:

  • assignVariables() is called for the add and the edit form and simply assigns the current value of the variable to the template.
  • readData() reads the pre-existing value of $var if the form has not been submitted and thus is only relevant when editing objects which is illustrated by the explicit type-hint of ExampleEditForm.
  • readFormParameters() reads the value for both, the add and the edit form.
  • save() is, of course, also relevant in both cases but requires the form object to store the additional value in the wcf\form\AbstractForm::$additionalFields array which can be used if a var column has been added to the database table in which the example objects are stored.
  • saved() is only called for the add form as it clears the internal value so that in the assignVariables() call, the default value will be assigned to the template to create an “empty” form. During edits, this current value is the actual value that should be shown.
  • validate() also needs to be called in both cases as the input data always has to be validated.

Lastly, the following XML file has to be used to register the event listeners (you can find more information about how to register event listeners on the eventListener package installation plugin page):

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<data xmlns="http://www.woltlab.com" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.woltlab.com http://www.woltlab.com/XSD/vortex/eventListener.xsd">
	<import>
		<eventlistener name="exampleAddInherited">
			<eventclassname>wcf\form\ExampleAddForm</eventclassname>
			<eventname>assignVariables,readFormParameters,save,validate</eventname>
			<listenerclassname>wcf\system\event\listener\ExampleAddFormListener</listenerclassname>
			<inherit>1</inherit>
		</eventlistener>
		
		<eventlistener name="exampleAdd">
			<eventclassname>wcf\form\ExampleAddForm</eventclassname>
			<eventname>saved</eventname>
			<listenerclassname>wcf\system\event\listener\ExampleAddFormListener</listenerclassname>
		</eventlistener>
		
		<eventlistener name="exampleEdit">
			<eventclassname>wcf\form\ExampleEditForm</eventclassname>
			<eventname>readData</eventname>
			<listenerclassname>wcf\system\event\listener\ExampleAddFormListener</listenerclassname>
		</eventlistener>
	</import>
</data>