Drupal

Form API Changes for Drupal 7, Part 1: $form_state changes

You may know that lots of delicious things have happened to Drupal's Form API in Drupal 7. (Only a geek can say "delicious" and "Form API" in the same sentence. Try it!) The finest minds in the business have been working on it, I can assure you. Give effulgentsia, fago, frando, and chx a big hug when you see them, because Form API is much improved. (Sorry to those of you I forgot to name, but THANKS!)

I'm going to do a series covering Form API changes, starting with this one. I won't attempt to cover the deep details, just the things that ordinary developers might use:

  1. $form_state changes and form builder function signature changes
  2. AJAX Forms changes
  3. New properties (#attached and many friends)

Let me know if you have other topics to suggest.

OK, to business. This article is mostly parroted from the api.drupal.org topic: Form Generation. Thanks to Alex Bronstein (effulgentsia) for his reviews and contributions to that doc.

Don't forget that the form builder function signature changed!

In Drupal 6 the form builder function looked like this:

function my_module_funky_form(&$form_state) { ... }

but in Drupal 7 it's

function my_module_funky_form($form, &$form_state, ... ) { ... }

$form_state in Drupal 7

Mostly the members of the $form_state array are the same ones you know and love from Drupal 6:

  • $form_state['values']: An associative array of values that have been submitted to the form. The validation and submit functions use this array for nearly all their decisionmaking. (Note that #tree determines whether the values are a flat array or an array whose structure parallels the $form array.) This is nearly the same as it was in D6.
  • $form_state['rebuild']: If the submit handler sets $form_state['rebuild'] to TRUE, submission is not completed and instead the form is rebuilt using any information that the submit function has made available to the form builder function via $form_state. This is commonly used for wizard-style multi-step forms, add-more buttons, and the like. For further information see drupal_build_form(). This is the same as D6.
  • $form_state['redirect']: a URL that will be used to redirect the form on submission. See drupal_redirect_form() for complete information. This should always be used instead of drupal_goto() in a forms context. Note that $form['#redirect'] went away in Drupal 7 and no longer has any effect.
  • $form_state['storage']: $form_state['storage'] is no more! It used to be the place for application-specific values, but now it has no specific meaning. Now nearly all $form_state keys persist in a multi-step form, so the recommended approach is to use $form_state['your_module']['whatever']. ($form_state['storage'] still works for persistent storage, just like $form_state['timbuktu'] works.)
  • $form_state['triggering_element': (read-only) The form element that triggered submission. This is the same as the deprecated $form_state['clicked_button']. It is the element that caused submission, which may or may not be a button (in the case of AJAX forms.) This is often used to distinguish between various buttons in a submit handler, and is also used in AJAX handlers.
  • $form_state['cache']: The typical form workflow involves two page requests. During the first page request, a form is built and returned for the user to fill in. Then the user fills the form in and submits it, triggering a second page request in which the form must be built and processed. By default, $form and $form_state are built from scratch during each of these page requests. In some special use-cases, it is necessary or desired to persist the $form and $form_state variables from the initial page request to the one that processes the submission. A form builder function can set 'cache' to TRUE to do this. One example where this is needed is to handle AJAX submissions, so ajax_process_form() sets this for all forms that include an element with a #ajax property. (In AJAX, the handler has no way to build the form itself, so must rely on the cached version created on each page load, so it's a classic example of this use case.) Note that the persistence of $form and $form_state across successive submissions of a multi-step form happens automatically regardless of the value for 'cache'. You probably won't need to use $form_state['cache']. And note that $form['#cache'] is gone in D7 and now has no effect on anything.
  • $form_state['input']: The array of values as they were submitted by the user. These are raw and unvalidated, so should not be used without a thorough understanding of security implications. In almost all cases, code should use the data in the 'values' array exclusively. The most common use of this key is for multi-step forms that need to clear some of the user input when setting 'rebuild'.

Drupal 7 FAPI Resources:

Next time: Part 2: AJAX forms changes.

In this example, we just use checkboxes to determine whether textboxes are displayed.

One of the fundamental ideas of having a form change based on selections within the form is that the form is reconfiguring itself based on $form_state. So here, the generation of the form is driven by $form_state['values']. If the checkbox for last name is checked, then we generate a textfield for last name.

(Experiment with this one at http://d7.drupalexamples.info/examples/ajax_example/autotextfields or see the current code at http://api.drupal.org/api/function/ajax_example_autotextfields/7.)

<?php
/<strong>
 *
Show/hide textfields based on AJAX-enabled checkbox clicks.
 */
function
ajax_example_autotextfields($form, &$form_state) {

 
$form['ask_first_name'] = array(
   
'#type' => 'checkbox',
   
'#title' => t('Ask me my first name'),
   
'#ajax' => array(
     
'callback' => 'ajax_example_autotextfields_callback',
     
'wrapper' => 'textfields',
     
'effect' => 'fade',
    )
  );
 
$form['ask_last_name'] = array(
  
'#type' => 'checkbox',
  
'#title' => t('Ask me my last name'),
   
'#ajax' => array(
     
'callback' => 'ajax_example_autotextfields_callback',
     
'wrapper' => 'textfields',
     
'effect' => 'fade',

    ),
  );

 
$form['textfields'] = array(
   
'#title' => t("Generated text fields for first and last name"),
   
'#prefix' => '<div id="textfields">',
   
'#suffix' => '</div>',
   
'#type' => 'fieldset',
   
'#description' => t('This is where we put automatically generated textfields'),
  );

   if (!empty(
$form_state['values']['ask_first_name']) && $form_state['values']['ask_first_name']) {
   
$form['textfields']['first_name'] = array(
     
'#type' => 'textfield',
     
'#title' => t('First Name'),
    );
  }
  if (!empty(
$form_state['values']['ask_last_name']) && $form_state['values']['ask_last_name']) {
   
$form['textfields']['last_name'] = array(
     
'#type' => 'textfield',
     
'#title' => t('Last Name'),
    );
  }


 
$form['submit'] = array(
   
'#type' => 'submit',
   
'#value' => t('Click Me'),
  );


  return
$form;
}


/</
strong>
 *
Selects the piece of the form we want to use as replacement text and returns
 
* it as a form (renderable array).
 *
 * @return
renderable array (the textfields element)
 */
function
ajax_example_autotextfields_callback($form, $form_state) {
  return
$form['textfields'];
}
?>
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