Changing the widget used to render a field

Like most form libraries, z3c.form separates a field – a representation of the value being provided by the form – from its widget – a UI component that renders the field in the form. In most cases, the widget is rendered as a simple HTML <input /> element, although more complex widgets may use more complex markup.

The simplest widgets in z3c.form are field-agnostic. However, we nearly always work with field widgets, which make use of field attributes (e.g. constraints or default values) and optionally the current value of the field (in edit forms) during form rendering.

Most of the time, we don’t worry too much about widgets: each of the standard fields has a default field widget, which is normally sufficient. If we need to, however, we can override the widget for a given field with a new one.

Selecting a custom widget using form directives

plone.directives.form provides a convenient way to specify a custom widget for a field, using the form.widget() directive:

from five import grok
from plone.supermodel import model
from plone.directives import form

from zope import schema

from plone.app.z3cform.wysiwyg import WysiwygFieldWidget


class IPizzaOrder(model.Schema):


    form.widget('notes', WysiwygFieldWidget)
    notes = schema.Text(
            description=_(u"Please include any additional notes for delivery"),

The argument can be either a field widget factory, as shown here, or the full dotted name to one (plone.app.z3cform.wysiwyg.WysiwygFieldWidget in this case).

Updating widget settings

All widgets expose properties that control how they are rendered. You can set these properties by passing them to the widget directive:

class IPizzaOrder(model.Schema):


    form.widget('postcode', size=4)
    postcode = schema.TextLine(


Support for specifying widget properties was added in plone.autoform 1.4.

Some of the more useful properties are shown below. These generally apply to the widget’s <input /> element.

  • klass, a string, can be set to a CSS class.
  • style, a string, can be set to a CSS style string
  • title, a string, can be used to set the HTML attribute with the same name
  • onclick, ondblclick, etc can be used to associate JavaScript code with the corresponding events
  • disabled can be set to True to disable input into the field

Other widgets also have attributes that correspond to the HTML elements they render. For example, the default widget for a Text field renders a <textarea /> , and has attributes like rows and cols. For a TextLine, the widget renders an <input type=“text” />, which supports a size attribute, among others.

Take a look at z3c.form’s browser/interfaces.py for a full list of attributes that are used.

Supplying a widget factory

Later in this manual, we will learn how to set up the fields attribute of a form manually, as is done in “plain” z3c.form, instead of using the schema shortcut that is provided by plone.autoform. If you are using this style of configuration (or simply looking at the basic z3c.form documentation), the syntax for setting a widget factory is:

class OrderForm(Form):

    fields = field.Fields(IPizzaOrder)
    fields['notes'].widgetFactory = WysiwygFieldWidget


Widget reference

You can find the default widgets in the browser package in z3c.form. The z3c.form documentation contains a listing of all the default widgets that shows the HTML output of each.

In addition, the Dexterity manual contains an overview of common custom widgets.