ProcessWire core updates (2.5.16)

Before we jump into core updates for this week, I just wanted to mention the great new ProcessWire developer directory, built by Pete. Check it out, and please add yourself to it if you aren't already there.

In addition, we're very excited that this week ProcessWire was awarded Best Free PHP CMS in the Critic's Choice awards by CMSCritic! Now for the core updates…

Blank versus zero

This week we fixed something that a few of you have run into over the years. ProcessWire's number types (like FieldtypeInteger) didn't differentiate between the number 0 and the lack of a value. So if you performed a $pages->find("some_field=0") you would get all pages that had the value 0 specified, as well as pages that had no value specified. Essentially a some_field=0 and some_field='' were equivalent queries, and there was no way to differentiate between them.

Very often that's exactly what you want (and it can save you a lot of content input). But there are also cases where it is not what you want at all. For example, consider a score or rating value. A rating of 0 is something very different from "not yet rated". That's just one example of many.

With the dev branch updates put in place this week, you can now differentiate between empty (blank) values versus zero (0) values. It is a configurable option with each number field:

If blank and 0 mean different things, then you can query them separately. For instance, if you wanted to find all pages that had no value present for some_field, you could do a $pages->find("some_field="). Or if you wanted all pages that literally had the value 0 present, then you could do a $pages->find("some_field=0").

Yes, it's a small thing, but it's a good thing that you'll be glad to have when the need strikes.

Configurable URL segments in template settings

If you have used URL segments in ProcessWire, you may have noticed that when enabled, your page will receive and process any valid URL that starts with your page URL (assuming it isn't a URL already handled by a child page). Meaning, if your page lived at /path/to/page/ and you had URL segments enabled, then it would be loaded for any URL that started with /path/to/page/. For example, hitting any one of these URLs would load the same page:

  • /path/to/page/
  • /path/to/page/photos/
  • /path/to/page/something/
  • /path/to/page/hello/world/
  • /path/to/page/foo/foo/bar/foo/bar/

Now it may have been that you really only wanted to support /path/to/page/ (no URL segments) and /path/to/page/photos/ (1 URL segment). That left the responsibility on your template file to detect invalid segments and throw a 404 when a URL segment other than 'photos' was present. If your template file isn't fulfilling that responsibility, then you've got potential problems:

  • Accepting undefined URL segments means the same page content is accessible at multiple (possibly unlimited) URLs, which may be an SEO problem (potential duplicate content, for starters).
  • If caching output like with template cache or ProCache, then accepting undefined URL segments means there are no constraints on the cache. A single page has the potential to create an unlimited quantity of cacheable pages–worst case filling up your hard drive.

So how do you prevent that? You have to differentiate when you've received a valid URL segment string and when you've not. Here's one way we've seen it done:

if($input->urlSegment1 == 'photos') {
  // valid! display photo gallery

} else if(strlen($input->urlSegment1)) {
  // invalid! throw 404
  throw new Wire404Exception();

} else {
  // no URL segment: render normal page

Looks good… but wait, there's a problem here. Can you spot it?

The code above only considers URL segment #1. If it gets a valid segment #1 of "photos" then everything else is fair game. Meaning, /path/to/page/photos/kung/pao/chicken/ is still valid, and the two issues we mentioned above have not been solved at all.

Using the $input->urlSegmentStr property makes this easier to solve, because it includes all URL segments in a slash-separated string. So if we compare it to the string photos then it would not match photos/kung/pao/chicken.

if($input->urlSegmentStr == 'photos') {
  // valid! display photo gallery

} else if(strlen($input->urlSegmentStr)) {
  // invalid! throw 404
  throw new Wire404Exception();

} else {
  // no URL segment: render normal page

So with the above, we've got something safe and relatively easy. But it is still a pain to have to consider and think about this every time we want to use URL segments. What if we could just define ahead of time what's valid rather than having to code around it? Today's commit to the dev branch lets you do that. Now you can optionally specify what are the valid URL segment strings right in your template settings. If you are so inclined, you can even use regular expressions.

So that we can continue with the same example above, please ignore what's configured in the screenshot and pretend it was just configured to handle the single "photos" URL segment. The URL segment could now be safely handled with just this code:

if($input->urlSegmentStr == 'photos') {
  // valid! render photo gallery

} else {
  // no URL segment: render normal page

Furthermore, with the above example, it doesn't matter if we check $input->urlSegmentStr or $input->urlSegment1, as both are equally safe in this instance since all URL segments other than "photos" are automatically sent to a 404 before the template file even gets to look at it.

Set page references from title (string)

You can now populate page reference fields simply by populating a title from one of the possible page references.

$page->some_page_field = "Trends and Research";

That essentially says "find a page with the title 'Trends and Research' and cross reference it with this field." You can also set multiple values:

$page->some_page_field = "
  Trends and Research
  Timely Publications

The above example uses a newline separated string, but you can also use pipes "|" to separate values.

In order to use this, the page reference field (some_page_field) must either have a parent or template specified in its settings.

I'm not suggesting you use this as the ideal way to set Page reference values from the API. But where this comes in handy is when it comes to importing from another source. For instance, maybe you are importing from a spreadsheet, and the only thing you've got to use are titles of categories, companies or the like.

That was exactly the case I ran into this week. So I updated the ImportPagesCSV module to support import of Page fields (to be posted soon), used Adrian's Batch Child Editor module to create all the possible pages that would be referenced, and then imported my spreadsheet. That made for a very easy import job!

More system notifications updates

There were a few minor updates to the SystemNotifications module this week:

  • Now you can separate the runtime notices from the persistent notifications. If using AdminThemeReno, they even display in different locations. Whether this is desirable to you or not will depend on your use case, but it's nice to have the option. This is configurable in the module settings (see the last option).
  • You can now specify what order you want notifications to appear in: newest-to-oldest or oldest-to-newest.
  • You can now enable or disable notifications with an on/off switch accessible in the module settings. This enables you to temporarily disable notifications if all the ajax activity is interfering with JS debugging or some other activity, without having to uninstall the module (and thus losing your settings).
  • The icons are now configurable with the InputfieldIcon we introduced last week. Speaking of which, the icons in AdminThemeReno are now configurable with that as well.


  • David Karich

    David Karich

    • 9 years ago
    • 43

    I think it would be helpful if you could also define the position of the segments. For example, in a news system. /path/to/page/SEGMENT/page-title/. In order to improve the URL from SEO reasons. For example, with the year or category. /news/(CATEGORY)/(2015)/page-title/

    • Ryan


      • 9 years ago
      • 33

      I'm not sure I'd necessarily recommend pushing the URL further from the root, or that this would be beneficial for SEO, but you can accomplish this pretty easily. Keep in mind that URL segments represent the parts after the actual page URL, so if you want to re-map something, you'd make the template file with the closest "real" page the handler of the URL segments.

      In your example, the template used by your /news/ page would be the handler, with (CATEGORY) as URL segment 1, (2015) as URL segment 2 and the page-title as URL segment 3. Be sure to use canonical link tags in your document head for the URL that you want Google to consider the main one when remapping URLs like this.

      While it's easy to accomplish the above, I think it's better to structure your site in a way that makes sense with the URLs both front-end and back-end, rather than structuring it one way, and then attempting to deliver front-end URLs some other way. A typical situation where I might setup remapping like this is to accommodate a legacy URL structure, like from an older site being replaced. But the closer you can keep your URLs to the actual structure, the less ambiguous things will be in the long term. For instance, in the example above, if that structure is the most desirable for a given site, I might suggest having the (CATEGORY) be a page where news articles are children. That's assuming a news article can have just one category, or a primary category. You could do the same with the year of course, if you wanted to.

      • David Karich

        David Karich

        • 9 years ago
        • 33

        Ha, Ryan. Of Course. Sometimes the solution is much simpler and you cannot see the wood for the trees. The segments associate with the news makes a lot more sense. Thanks for the thought.


PrevProcessWire core updates (2.5.15)


Blogging about Logging–New log viewing feature in the ProcessWire admin, new capabilities added to $log API variable, new ability to create fields from your template editor and new core module for icon selection. More 

Latest news

  • ProcessWire Weekly #489
    In the 489th issue of ProcessWire Weekly we'll check out what's new in the core this week, share a brand-new recipe of the week, and more. Read on! / 23 September 2023
  • ProcessWire 3.0.226 new main/master version
    After 8 months in development we are excited to bring you ProcessWire 3.0.226 main/master. This version has a ton of great new features, improvements and optimizations, plus more than 100 issue fixes. This post takes an in-depth look at highlights from this great new version.
    Blog / 25 August 2023
  • Subscribe to weekly ProcessWire news

“We were really happy to build our new portfolio website on ProcessWire! We wanted something that gave us plenty of control on the back-end, without any bloat on the front end - just a nice, easy to access API for all our content that left us free to design and build however we liked.” —Castus, web design agency in Sheffield, UK