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Magento 2 UI Form Components: 5,000 ft. View


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It surprised me that over a year after Magento 2’s introduction I haven’t had an opportunity to create a new form component using the UI Component system. In the extensions and themes I’ve helped folks port over it made a lot more sense to just convert the old PHP rendered HTML to the new extension. When time is money known technology trumps new, fancy, and undocumented technology.

Having a chance to touch the backend form generation code this week, any doubts I had about my previous approach with clients evaporated. Whether you call it a technology demo or a mess, form components perfectly encapsulate a lot of the the problems Magento developers face with Magento 2’s incomplete rendering layer.

This quickie’s intent is to provide a high level overview of how forms get setup in Magento2 ’s UI Component system. If there are concepts below that confuse you the Magento 2 UI Components and uiElement Internals series are a good place to start reading. Specifics here are Magento 2.1.3.

Server Rendered HTML

First off – although they’re created with UI Component XML

<uiComponent name="customer_form"/>


forms are a mix of server rendered HTML from the layout object and Magento’s RequireJS/KnockoutJS view models.

A form’s buttons are layout blocks – specifically a set of blocks added to the page-actions.toolbar blocks. These child blocks are created by the UI component class,

#File: vendor/magento/module-ui/Component/AbstractComponent.php
if ($this->hasData('buttons')) {
    $this->getContext()->addButtons($this->getData('buttons'), $this);

which eventually results in Magento calling this code. This code instantiates a MagentoUiComponentControlContainer object

protected function createContainer($key, UiComponentInterface $view)
    $container = $this->context->getPageLayout()->createBlock(
        'container-' . $view->getName() . '-' . $key,
            'data' => [
                'button_item' => $this->items[$key],
                'context' => $view,

    return $container;

These objects get added to the layout tree in the add method here, which grabs a reference to the block in the layout named page.actions.toolbar

const ACTIONS_PAGE_TOOLBAR = 'page.actions.toolbar';

public function getToolbar()
    return $this->context->getPageLayout()
        ? $this->context->getPageLayout()->getBlock(static::ACTIONS_PAGE_TOOLBAR)
        : false;

public function add($key, array $data, UiComponentInterface $component)
    $data['id'] = isset($data['id']) ? $data['id'] : $key;

    $toolbar = $this->getToolbar();
    if ($toolbar !== false) {
        $this->items[$key] = $this->itemFactory->create();
        $container = $this->createContainer($key, $component);
        $toolbar->setChild($key, $container);

I think I’ve speculated that UI Components could, theoretically, add blocks to the layout for you automatically. This practice appears to back that up.

One thing to watch out for here – these buttons end up wrapped in a <div/> with a data-mage-init script.

<div data-mage-init='{"floatingHeader": {}}' class="page-actions"  data-ui-id="page-actions-toolbar-content-header" >

This floatingHeader RequireJS module (an alias for the mage/backend/floating-header module) isn’t responsible for business-critical form functionality. Instead, it implements the UX-critical behavior that had the buttons follow you down a scrolling page.

Client Side

A form component still renders out an x-magento-init/Magento_Ui/js/core/app script node. Different forms use different sets of view-models/components, but the form handling logic in most (all?) of them revolves around a Magento_Ui/js/form/form view model. This model has a number of children that handle the work of rendering the form UI.

The Magento_Ui/js/form/form module pulls in the Magento_Ui/js/form/adapter module as a dependency, with the local variable name adapter

//File: vendor/magento/module-ui/view/base/web/js/form/form.js
    /* ... */,/* ... */,/* ... */,        
    /* ... */,/* ... */,/* ... */,        
], function (_, loader, resolver, adapter, Collection, utils, $, app) {
    /* ... */

This adapter is responsible for setting up the handlers that handle a save, save and continue, or a reset.

initAdapter: function () {
        'reset': this.reset.bind(this),
        'save':, true, {}),
        'saveAndContinue':, false, {})
    }, this.selectorPrefix, this.eventPrefix);

    return this;

If you take a look at the adapter’s source file, it does this by using three hard coded CSS selector like #save, #save_and_continue, or #reset.

#File: vendor/magento/module-ui/view/base/web/js/form/adapter.js    
/* ... */
var buttons = {
        'reset':            '#reset',
        'save':             '#save',
        'saveAndContinue':  '#save_and_continue'
    selectorPrefix = '',

/* ... */
var selector    = selectorPrefix ? selectorPrefix + ' ' + buttons[action] : buttons[action],
elem        = $(selector)[0];
/* ... */    
$(elem).on('click' + eventPrefix, callback);    

This is the only (is this true?) connection the RequireJS/KnockoutJS code has to the previously mentioned action buttons.

When it comes time to submit/save a form, Magento uses the Magento_Ui/js/form/form’s source object.

#File: vendor/magento/module-ui/view/base/web/js/form/form.js
submit: function (redirect) {
    var additional = collectData(this.additionalFields),
        source = this.source;

    _.each(additional, function (value, name) {
        source.set('data.' + name, value);
        redirect: redirect,
        ajaxSave: this.ajaxSave,
        ajaxSaveType: this.ajaxSaveType,
        response: {
            data: this.responseData,
            status: this.responseStatus
        attributes: {
            id: this.namespace

The source object is a built-in feature of uiElement objects. It’s populated via the registry key listed in the provider property

//File: vendor/magento//module-ui/view/base/web/js/lib/core/element/element.js
initModules: function () {
    /* ... */
    if (!_.isFunction(this.source)) {
        this.source = registry.get(this.provider);
    /* ... */

This provider registry key is part of the x-magento-init javascript – here’s an example from the CMS Page editing form

"cms_page_form": {
    "component": "Magento_Ui/js/form/form",
    "provider": "cms_page_form.page_form_data_source",
    "deps": "cms_page_form.page_form_data_source"

Trace this back to the UI Component XML for the RequireJS module, and it’s usually a Magento_Ui/js/form/provider. Again, the cms_page_form as an example.

#File: vendor/magento/module-cms/view/adminhtml/ui_component/cms_page_form.xml
<dataSource name="page_form_data_source">
    <item name="component" xsi:type="string">Magento_Ui/js/form/provider</item>

If you didn’t follow that – in the save method comes from the Magento_Ui/js/form/provider module. This source/provider object’s submit_url property will be the Magento MVC path that a form will post to. If you’re familiar with Magento 2 javascript conventions, you can see that here in the HEY! comments below. We’ll leave the exploration of the Magento_Ui/js/form/client module as an exercise for the reader.

#File: vendor/magento/module-ui/view/base/web/js/form/provider.js
], function (_, Element, Client, utils) {
    'use strict';

    return Element.extend({
        /* HEY!: sets clientConfig ...*/
        defaults: {
            clientConfig: {
                urls: {
                    save: '${ $.submit_url }',
                    beforeSave: '${ $.validate_url }'

/* ... */

            /* HEY!: and then Magento uses clientConfig data when 
               create a new object from the `Magento_Ui/js/form/client` 
               constructor function */

            this.client = new Client(this.clientConfig);

/* ... */

        save: function (options) {
            var data = this.get('data');

  , options);

            return this;

/* ... */

So that, in a very confusing (sorry!) nutshell, is how the form generating code is architected. Like a lot of Magento 2’s backend, it looks like a refactoring project that was halted mid-stream. I’ll likely have more to say on this as I wrangle my way through getting a pestle code generation command up and running for these complicated, but all-important, CRUD forms.

Copyright © Alan Storm 1975 – 2023 All Rights Reserved

Originally Posted: 9th February 2017