Views

Description

Rendering HTML pages in Plone using the Zope 3 view pattern.

Introduction

Plone/Zope uses a view pattern to output dynamically generated HTML pages.

Views are the basic elements of modern Python web frameworks. A view runs code to setup Python variables for a rendering template. Output is not limited to HTML pages and snippets, but may contain JSON, file download payloads, or other data formats.

Views are usually a combination of:

  • a Python class, which performs the user interface logic setup, and a
  • corresponding ZPT page template, or direct Python string output.

By keeping as much of the view logic in a separate Python class as we can and making the page template as simple as possible, better component readability and reuse is achieved. You can override the Python logic or the template file, or both.

When you are working with Plone, the most usual view type is BrowserView from the Products.Five package, but there are others.

Each BrowserView class is a Python callable. The BrowserView.__call__() method acts as an entry point to executing the view code. From Zope's point of view, even a function would be sufficient, as it is a callable.

More information

View components

Views are Zope Component Architecture (ZCA) multi-adapter registrations.

Views are looked up by name. The Zope publisher always does a view lookup, instead of traversing, if the name to be traversed is prefixed with @@.

Views are resolved with three inputs:

context
Any class/interface for which the view applies. If not given, zope.interface.Interface is used (corresponds to a registration for="*"). Usually this is a content item instance.
request
The current HTTP request. Interface zope.publisher.interfaces.browser.IBrowserRequest is used.
layer
Theme layer and addon layer interface. If not given, zope.publisher.interfaces.browser.IDefaultBrowserLayer is used.

Views return HTTP request payload as the output. Returned strings are turned to HTML page responses.

Views can be any Python class taking in (context, request) construction parameters. Minimal view would be:

class MyView(object):

     def __init__(self, context, request):
          self.context = context
          self.request = request

     def __call__(self):
          return "Hello world. You are rendering this view at the context of %s" % self.context

However, in the most of cases

Views rendering page snippets and parts can be subclasses of zope.publisher.browser.BrowserView directly as snippets might not need acquisition support which adds some overhead to the rendering process.

Customizing views

To customize existing Plone core or add-on views you have different options.

  • Usually you can simply override the related page template file (.pt).
  • Sometimes you need to change the related Python view class code also. In this case, you override the Python class by using your own add-on which installs a view class replacement using add-on layer.

Overriding view template

Follow instructions how to use z3c.jbot to override templates.

Overriding view class

Here is a short introduction on finding how existing views are defined.

First, you go to portal_types to see what views have been registered for a particular content type.

For example, if you want to override the Tabular view of a Folder, you find out that it is registered as the handler for /folder_tabular_view.

So you look for both folder_tabular_view old-style page templates and @@folder_tabular_view BrowserView ZCML registrations in the Plone source tree — it can be either.

Example of how to search for this using UNIX tools (assuming that collective.recipe.omelette is in use, to keep included code together):

# find old style .pt files:
find parts/omelette -follow -name "folder_tabular_view*"
# find new style view registrations in ZCML files:
grep -ri --include="\*.zcml" folder_tabular_view parts/omelette

The folder_tabular_view is found in the skin layer called plone_content in the CMFPlone product.

More info:

Creating and registering a view

This shows how to create and register view in a Zope 3 manner.

Creating a view

First, create your add-on product using Dexterity project template.

Python logic code

Add the file yourcompany.app/yourcompany/app/browser/views.py:

""" Example view
"""

# Zope imports
from zope.interface import Interface
from Products.Five.browser import BrowserView
from Products.Five.browser.pagetemplatefile import ViewPageTemplateFile

class MyView(BrowserView):
    """ Render the title and description of item only (example)
    """
    index = ViewPageTemplateFile("myview.pt")

Warning

Do not attempt to run any code in the __init__() method of a view. If this code fails and an exception is raised, the zope.component machinery remaps this to a "View not found" exception or traversal error.

Additionally, view class may be instantiated in other places than where you intended to render the view. For example, plone.app.contentmenu does this when creating the menu to select a view layout. This will result in the __init__() being called on unexpected contexts, probably wasting a lot of time.

Instead, use a pattern where you have a setup() or similar method which __call__() or view users can explicitly call.

Registering a view

Zope 3 views are registered in ZCML, an XML-based configuration language. Usually, the configuration file, where the registration done, is called yourapp.package/yourapp/package/browser/configure.zcml.

The following example registers a new view (see below for comments):

<configure
      xmlns="http://namespaces.zope.org/zope"
      xmlns:browser="http://namespaces.zope.org/browser"
      >

    <browser:page
          for="*"
          name="test"
          permission="zope2.Public"
          class=".views.MyView"
          />

</configure>
for
specifies which content types receive this view. for="*" means that this view can be used for any content type. This is the same as registering views to the zope.interface.Interface base class.
name
is the name by which the view is exposed to traversal and getMultiAdapter() look-ups. If your view's name is test, then you can render it in the browser by calling http://yourhost/site/page/@@test
permission
is the permission needed to access the view. When an HTTP request comes in, the currently logged in user's access rights in the current context are checked against this permission. See Security chapter for Plone's out-of-the-box permissions. Usually you want have zope2.View, cmf.ModifyPortalContent, cmf.ManagePortal or zope2.Public here.
class
is a Python dotted name for a class based on BrowserView, which is responsible for managing the view. The Class's __call__() method is the entry point for view processing and rendering.

Note

You need to declare the browser namespace in your configure.zcml to use browser configuration directives.

The view in question is not registered against any layer, so it is immediately available after restart without need to run Add/remove in Site setup.

Page template

Then create a page template for your view.. Create a file myview.pt file in yourcompany.app/yourcompany/app/browser/templates and add the template:

<html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml"
      xmlns:metal="http://xml.zope.org/namespaces/metal"
      xmlns:tal="http://xml.zope.org/namespaces/tal"
      xmlns:i18n="http://xml.zope.org/namespaces/i18n"
      metal:use-macro="context/main_template/macros/master">

    <metal:block fill-slot="content-core">
            XXX - this text comes below title and description
    </metal:block>

</html>

Now when you restart to Plone (or use auto-restart add-on) the view should be available through your browser.

Accessing your newly created view

Now you can access your view within the news folder:

http://localhost:8080/Plone/news/myview

... or on a site root:

http://localhost:8080/Plone/myview

... or on any other content item.

You can also use the @@ notation at the front of the view name to make sure that you are looking up a view, and not a content item that happens to have the same id as a view:

http://localhost:8080/Plone/news/@@myview

More info

Content slots

Available slot options you can use for <metal fill-slot=""> in your template which inherits from <html metal:use-macro="context/main_template/macros/master">:

content
render edit border yourself
main
overrides main slot in main template; you must render title and description yourself
content-title
title and description prerendered, Plone version > 4.x
content-core
content body specific to your view, Plone version > 4.x
header
A slot for inserting content above the title; may be useful in conjunction with content-core slot if you wish to use the stock content-title provided by the main template.

Relationship between views and templates

The ZCML <browser:view template=""> directive will set the index class attribute.

The default view's __call__() method will return the value returned by a call to self.index().

Example: this ZCML configuration:

<browser:page
    for="*"
    name="test"
    permission="zope2.Public"
    class=".views.MyView"
    />

and this Python code:

from Products.Five.browser import BrowserView
from Products.Five.browser.pagetemplatefile import ViewPageTemplateFile

class MyView(BrowserView):

    index = ViewPageTemplateFile("my-template.pt")

is equal to this ZCML configuration:

<browser:page
    for="*"
    name="test"
    permission="zope2.Public"
    class=".views.MyView"
    template="my-template.pt"
    />

and this Python code:

class MyView(BrowserView):
    pass

Rendering of the view is done as follows:

from Products.Five.browser.pagetemplatefile import ViewPageTemplateFile

class MyView(BrowserView):

    # This may be overridden in ZCML
    index = ViewPageTemplateFile("my-template.pt")

    def render(self):
        return self.index()

    def __call__(self):
        return self.render()

Overriding a view template at run-time

Below is a sample code snippet which allows you to override an already constructed ViewPageTemplateFile with a chosen file at run-time:

import plone.z3cform
from zope.app.pagetemplate import ViewPageTemplateFile as Zope3PageTemplateFile
from zope.app.pagetemplate.viewpagetemplatefile import BoundPageTemplate

# Construct template from a file which lies in a certain package
template = Zope3PageTemplateFile(
        'subform.pt',
        os.path.join(
                os.path.dirname(plone.z3cform.__file__),
                "templates"))

# Bind template to context:
# make the template callable with template() syntax and context
form_instance.template = BoundPageTemplate(template, form_instance)

Several templates per view

You can bind several templates to one view and render them individually. This is very useful for reusable templating, or when you subclass your functional views.

Example using five.grok:

class CourseTimetables(grok.View):

    # For communicating state variables from Python code to Javascript
    jsHeaderTemplate = grok.PageTemplateFile("templates/course-timetables-fees-js-snippet.pt")

    def renderJavascript(self):
        return self.jsHeaderTemplate.render(self)

And then call in the template:

<metal:javascriptslot fill-slot="javascript_head_slot">
    <script tal:replace="structure view/renderJavascript" />
</metal:javascriptslot>

View __init__() method special cases

The Python constructor method of the view, __init__(), is special. You should never try to put your code there. Instead, use helper method or lazy construction design pattern if you need to set-up view variables.

The __init__() method of the view might not have an acquisition chain available, meaning that it does not know the parent or hierarchy where the view is. This information is set after the constructor have been run. All Plone code which relies on acquisition chain, which means almost all Plone helper code, does not work in __init__(). Thus, the called Plone API methods return None or tend to throw exceptions.

Layers

Views can be registered against a specific layer interface. This means that views are only looked up if the specified layer is in use. Since one Zope application server can contain multiple Plone sites, layers are used to determine which Python code is in effect for a given Plone site.

A layer is in use when:

  • a theme which defines that layer is active, or
  • if a specific add-on product which defines that layer is installed.

You should normally register your views against a certain layer in your own code.

For more information, see

Register and unregister view directly using zope.component architecture

Example how to register:

import zope.component
import zope.publisher.interfaces.browser

zope.component.provideAdapter(
    # Our class
    factory=TestingRedirectHandler,
    # (context, request) layers for multiadapter lookup
    # We provide None as layers are not used
    adapts=(None, None),
    # All views are registered as IBrowserView interface
    provides=zope.publisher.interfaces.browser.IBrowserView,
    # View name
    name='redirect_handler')

Example how to unregister:

# Dynamically unregister a view
gsm = zope.component.getGlobalSiteManager()
gsm.unregisterAdapter(factory=TestingRedirectHandler,
                      required=(None, None),
                      provided=zope.publisher.interfaces.browser.IBrowserView,
                      name="redirect_handler")

Content type, mimetype and Template start tag

If you need to produce non-(X)HTML output, here are some resources:

Zope ViewPageTemplateFile vs. Five ViewPageTemplateFile

Warning

There are two different classes that share the same ViewPageTemplateFile name.

Difference in code:

from Products.Five.browser.pagetemplatefile import ViewPageTemplateFile

vs.:

from zope.app.pagetemplate import ViewPageTemplateFile

The difference is that the Five version supports:

  • Acquisition.
  • The provider: TAL expression.
  • Other Plone-specific TAL expression functions like test().
  • Usually, Plone code needs the Five version of ViewPageTemplateFile.
  • Some subsystems, notably the z3c.form package, expect the Zope 3 version of ViewPageTemplateFile instances.

Overriding a view class in a product

Most of the code in this section is copied from a tutorial by Martin Aspeli (on slideshare.net). The main change is that, at least for Plone 4, the interface should subclass plone.theme.interfaces.IDefaultPloneLayer instead of zope.interface.Interface.

In this example we override the @@register form from the plone.app.users package, creating a custom form which subclasses the original.

  • Create an interface in interfaces.py:

    from plone.theme.interfaces import IDefaultPloneLayer
    
    class IExamplePolicy(IDefaultPloneLayer):
        """ A marker interface for the theme layer
        """
    
  • Then create profiles/default/browserlayer.xml:

<layers>
  <layer
    name="example.policy.layer"
    interface="example.policy.interfaces.IExamplePolicy"
  />
</layers>
  • Create browser/configure.zcml:
<configure
    xmlns="http://namespaces.zope.org/zope"
    xmlns:browser="http://namespaces.zope.org/browser"
    i18n_domain="example.policy">
  <browser:page
      name="register"
      class=".customregistration.CustomRegistrationForm"
      permission="cmf.AddPortalMember"
      for="plone.app.layout.navigation.interfaces.INavigationRoot"
      layer="example.policy.interfaces.IExamplePolicy"
      />
</configure>

Note

We've retained the permissions and marker interface of the original view. You may provide a specific permission or marker interface instead of these as your product requires.

  • Create browser/customregistration.py:

    from plone.app.users.browser.register import RegistrationForm
    
    class CustomRegistrationForm(RegistrationForm):
        """ Subclass the standard registration form
        """
    

Helper views

Not all views need to return HTML output, or output at all. Views can be used as helpers in the code to provide APIs to objects. Since views can be overridden using layers, a view is a natural plug-in point which an add-on product can customize or override in a conflict-free manner.

View methods are exposed to page templates and such, so you can also call view methods directly from a page template, not only from Python code.

More information

Historical perspective

Often, the point of using helper views is that you can have reusable functionality which can be plugged in as one-line code around the system. Helper views also get around the following limitations:

  • TAL security.
  • Limiting Python expression to one line.
  • Not being able to import Python modules.

Note

Using RestrictedPython scripts (creating Python through the ZMI) and Zope 2 Extension modules is discouraged. The same functionality can be achieved with helper views, with less potential pitfalls.

Reusing view template snippets or embedding another view

To use the same template code several times you can either:

  • create a separate BrowserView for it and then call this view (see Accessing a view instance in code below);
  • share a ViewPageTemplate instance between views and using it several times.

Note

The Plone 2.x way of doing this with TAL template language macros is discouraged as a way to provide reusable functionality in your add-on product. This is because macros are hardwired to the TAL template language, and referring to them outside templates is difficult.

Also, if you ever need to change the template language, or mix in other template languages, you can do it much more easily when templates are a feature of a pure Python based view, and not vice versa.

Here is an example of how to have a view snippet which can be used by subclasses of a base view class. Subclasses can refer to this template at any point of the view rendering, making it possible for subclasses to have fine-tuned control over how the template snippet is represented.

Related Python code:

from Products.Five import BrowserView
from Products.Five.browser.pagetemplatefile import ViewPageTemplateFile

class ProductCardView(BrowserView):
    """
    End user visible product card presentation.
    """
    implements(IProductCardView)

    # Nested template which renders address box + buy button
    summary_template = ViewPageTemplateFile("summarybox.pt")


    def renderSummary(self):
        """ Render summary box

        @return: Resulting HTML code as Python string
        """
        return self.summary_template()

Then you can render the summary template in the main template associated with ProductCardView by calling the renderSummary() method and TAL non-escaping HTML embedding.

<h1 tal:content="context/Title" />

<div tal:replace="structure view/renderSummary" />

<div class="description">
    <div tal:condition="python:context.Description().decode('utf-8') != u'None'" tal:replace="structure context/Description" />
</div>

The summarybox.pt itself is just a piece of HTML code without the Plone decoration frame (main_template/master etc. macros). Make sure that you declare the i18n:domain again, or the strings in this template will not be translated.

<div class="summary-box" i18n:domain="your.package">
    ...
</div>

Accessing a view instance in code

You need to get access to the view in your code if you are:

  • calling a view from inside another view, or
  • calling a view from your unit test code.

Below are two different approaches for that.

By using getMultiAdapter()

This is the most efficient way in Python.

Example:

from Acquisition import aq_inner
from zope.component import getMultiAdapter

def getView(context, request, name):
    # Remove the acquisition wrapper (prevent false context assumptions)
    context = aq_inner(context)
    # May raise ComponentLookUpError
    view = getMultiAdapter((context, request), name=name)
    # Add the view to the acquisition chain
    view = view.__of__(context)
    return view

By using traversal

Traversal is slower than directly calling getMultiAdapter(). However, traversal is readily available in templates and RestrictedPython modules.

Example:

def getView(context, name):
    """ Return a view associated with the context and current HTTP request.

    @param context: Any Plone content object.
    @param name: Attribute name holding the view name.
    """

    try:
        view = context.unrestrictedTraverse("@@" + name)
    except AttributeError:
        raise RuntimeError("Instance %s did not have view %s" % (str(context), name))

    view = view.__of__(context)

    return view

You can also do direct view look-ups and method calls in your template by using the @@-notation in traversing.

<div tal:attributes="lang context/@@plone_portal_state/current_language">
    We look up lang attribute by using BrowserView which name is "plone_portal_state"
</div>

Use a skin-based template in a Five view

Use aq_acquire(object, template_name).

Example: Get an object by its path and render it using its default template in the current context.

from Acquisition import aq_base, aq_acquire
from Products.Five.browser import BrowserView

class TelescopeView(BrowserView):
    """
    Renders an object in a different location of the site when passed the
    path to it in the querystring.
    """
    def __call__(self):
        path = self.request["path"]
        target_obj = self.context.restrictedTraverse(path)
        # Strip the target_obj of context with aq_base.
        # Put the target in the context of self.context.
        # getDefaultLayout returns the name of the default
        # view method from the factory type information
        return aq_acquire(aq_base(target_obj).__of__(self.context),
                          target_obj.getDefaultLayout())()

Listing available views

This is useful for debugging purposes:

from plone.app.customerize import registration
from zope.publisher.interfaces.browser import IBrowserRequest

# views is generator of zope.component.registry.AdapterRegistration objects
views = registration.getViews(IBrowserRequest)

Listing all views of certain type

How to filter out views which provide a certain interface:

from plone.app.customerize import registration
from zope.publisher.interfaces.browser import IBrowserRequest

# views is generator of zope.component.registry.AdapterRegistration objects
views = registration.getViews(IBrowserRequest)

# Filter out all classes which implement a certain interface
views = [ view.factory for view in views if IBlocksView.implementedBy(view.factory) ]

Default view of a content item

Objects have views for default, view, edit, and so on.

The distinction between the default and view views are that for files, the default can be download.

The default view ...

  • This view is configured in portal_types.
  • This view is rendered when a content item is called — even though they are objects, they have the __call__() Python method defined.

If you need to get a content item's view for page rendering explicitly, you can do it as follows:

def viewURLFor(item):
    cstate = getMultiAdapter((item, item.REQUEST),
                             name='plone_context_state')
    return cstate.view_url()

More info:

Allowing the contentmenu on non-default views

In general, the contentmenu (where the actions, display views, factory types, workflow, and other dropdowns are) is not shown on non-default views. There are some exceptions, though.

If you want to display the contentmenu in such non-default views, you have to mark them with the IViewView interface from plone.app.layout either by letting the class provide IViewView by declaring it with zope.component.implements or by configuring it via ZCML like so:

<class class="dotted.path.to.browser.view.class">
  <implements interface="plone.app.layout.globals.interfaces.IViewView" />
</class>

Views and automatic member variable acquisition wrapping

View class instances will automatically assign themselves as a parent for all member variables. This is because five package based views inherit from Acquisition.Implicit base class.

E.g. you have a Basket content item with absolute_url() of:

http://localhost:9666/isleofback/sisalto/matkasuunnitelmat/d59ca034c50995d6a77cacbe03e718de

Then if you use this object in a view code's member variable assignment in e.g. Viewlet.update() method:

self.basket = my_basket

... this will mess up the Basket content item's acquisition chain:

<Basket at /isleofback/sisalto/yritykset/katajamaan_taksi/d59ca034c50995d6a77cacbe03e718de>

This concerns views, viewlets and portlet renderers. It will, for example, make the following code to fail:

self.obj = self.context.reference_catalog.lookupObject(value)
return self.obj.absolute_url() # Acquistion chain messed up, getPhysicalPath() fails

One workaround to avoid this mess is to use aq_inner when accessing self.obj values: