Matrix Fields

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Matrix fields allow you to manage nested entries in a fluid way. Entries created within a Matrix field are “owned” by the element that field is attached to, and can represent anything from a slide in a gallery to an entire resources section, each record having its own URL.

During the Craft 5 upgrade process, Matrix blocks were converted to entries. Fields that were previously owned by a particular “block type” are now managed in (and assigned from) a global pool. You are now able to design entry types that exist as standalone content objects (in a section), or as nested entries (in a Matrix field)!

# Settings

Matrix fields have the following settings:

# Entry Types

Select from existing, globally-defined entry types, or create a new one on-the-fly.

# Propagation Method

Choose how nested entries are propagated to other sites. This applies only to new nested entries—changes to existing nested entries are propagated on a per-field basis.

# Site Settings New!

Nested entries can have their own URIs and templates.

Incorporate the owner’s URI in a nested element by using {owner.uri} in its URI Format object template!

# Min Entries

The minimum number of entries that can be created within the field. (Default is no lower limit.)

# Max Entries

The maximum number of entries that can be created within the field. (Default is no upper limit.)

# View Mode New!

Choose how the nested elements are represented within the field UI:

  • As cards: Read-only element cards that surface nested field data.

  • As inline-editable blocks: Manage nested entries as though they were part of the parent form. In prior versions of Craft, this was the only display option for Matrix fields.

  • As an element index: A simplified element index with sorting, searching, and filtering controls.

    When using the element index view mode, you can also allow authors to toggle between a card view and standard table view. Enabling the table view reveals controls for the columns that will be displayed, by default.

# The Field

The interface of a Matrix field depends on its selected view mode.

Traditionally, Matrix fields have used the As inline-editable blocks view mode, which makes the nested entries appear as though they are a repeating or modular region the main entry’s form. An empty Matrix field shows a single button, which will either immediately create a new nested entry (if there is only a single available entry type), or present a menu of entry types to select from:

An empty Matrix field’s block types

A new entry of the chosen type will be appended to the list:

A newly-added Quote block

You can add as many blocks to your Matrix field as you’d like—or at least as many as the field’s Min Blocks and Max Blocks settings allow.

Each block has a menu that provides access to additional controls:

A Matrix block’s action menu

If multiple blocks are selected, the Collapse/Expand, Disable/Enable, and Delete options will apply to each of them.

You can collapse inline Matrix blocks by choosing the Collapse menu option or by double-clicking on a block’s title bar. When a block is collapsed, its title bar will show a preview of its content so you can still identify which block it is.

Blocks can also be reordered by dragging the “Move” icon (

Drag-and-drop handle icon
) at the end of the block’s title bar. If multiple blocks are selected, all the selected blocks will be going along for the ride.

You can quickly select all blocks by selecting one and pressing Ctrl/ + A, or selecting a range of blocks starting with the first and then Shift-clicking the last.

The As cards view mode provides many of the same management tools, but the entries are represented as read-only cards. Double-click any card to edit its content, or use the “Move” icon (

Drag-and-drop handle icon
) to drag them into a new order.

Finally, the As an element index view mode behaves just like a normal element index—except it only ever shows the entries owned by that field. This mode is perfect for large data sets that may span multiple pages, need to be sorted by nested fields, or that would otherwise be unwieldy as blocks or cards.

# Nesting Matrix Fields

A Matrix field can include an entry type that has another Matrix field (or the same Matrix field) in its field layout. Those Matrix fields can use the same view mode, or different view modes, depending on how they’re composed. Take care when designing your authoring experience to avoid confusing, infinitely-recursive data structures.

# Development

# Querying Elements with Matrix Fields

When querying for elements that have a Matrix field, you can filter the results based on the Matrix field data using a query param named after your field’s handle.

Possible values include:

Value Fetches elements…
':empty:' that don’t have any Matrix blocks.
':notempty:' that have at least one Matrix block.
{# Fetch entries whose Matrix field `myFieldHandle` has at least one nested entry: #}
{% set entries = craft.entries()
  .myFieldHandle(':notempty:')
  .all() %}

If you have a reference to a nested entry, you can get the owner element via entry.owner.

# Working with Matrix Field Data

If you have an element with a Matrix field in your template, you can access its nested entries via the field’s handle:

{% set nestedElements = entry.myFieldHandle %}

That will give you an Entry query, ready to load all the nested entries for a given field.

To fetch the nested elements, call one of the query execution methods, or use it in a loop:

{% set nestedEntries = entry.myFieldHandle.all() %}

{% if nestedEntries|length %}
  <ul>
    {% for nestedEntry in nestedEntries %}
      {# ... #}
    {% endfor %}
  </ul>
{% endif %}

All the code you put inside the for-loop will be repeated for each nested entry. Each time, nestedEntry will be a craft\elements\Entry (opens new window) model populated with that nested entry’s content.

Here’s an example of what the template might look like for a Matrix field that has four entry types (Heading, Text, Image, and Quote). We can treat each entry type separately by checking its handle:

{% for nestedEntry in entry.myFieldHandle.all() %}
  {# Grab the entry type’s handle for comparison: #}
  {% set typeHandle = nestedEntry.type.handle %}

  {% if typeHandle == 'heading' %}
    <h3>{{ nestedEntry.heading }}</h3>
  {% elseif typeHandle == 'text' %}
    {{ nestedEntry.text|markdown }}
  {% elseif typeHandle == 'image' %}
    {% set image = nestedEntry.image.one() %}

    {% if image %}
      {{ image.getImg('thumb') }}
    {% endif %}
  {% elseif typeHandle == 'quote' %}
    <blockquote>
      <p>{{ nestedEntry.quote }}</p>
      <cite>{{ nestedEntry.cite }}</cite>
    </blockquote>
  {% else %}
    {# Uh oh! This entry type isn’t support yet... #}
    <p>You can output something here to remind yourself to handle additional cases!</p>
  {% endif %}
{% endfor %}

This code can be simplified using the switch tag.

# Other Query Methods

If you only want the first nested entry, call one() (opens new window) instead of all(), and make sure it returned something:

{% set firstNestedEntry = entry.myFieldHandle.one() %}
{% if firstNestedEntry %}
  {# ... #}
{% endif %}

If you only want to know the total number of blocks, call count() (opens new window).

{% set total = entry.myFieldHandle.count() %}
<p>Total nested entries: <strong>{{ total }}</strong></p>

If you just need to check if there are nested entries added to a field (but don’t need to actually load them), call exists() (opens new window):

{% if entry.myFieldHandle.exists() %}
  <p>Here be nested content!</p>
{% endif %}

Read more about query execution methods on the element query page.

You can set parameters on the query, as well. For example, to only fetch nested entries that use a specific entry type, set the type param:

{% set nestedTextEntries = entry.myFieldHandle
  .type('text')
  .all() %}

# Eager Loading

Nested entries can be eager-loaded with their owners using the special .with() query method. Eager-loading can greatly improve performance if you need to output one or more blocks within a list of other elements—like generating summaries from the first block of content in a list of blog posts.

The new .eagerly() method simplifies this in situations where you need to output or act on nested entry information within a query for their owners. Take this list of recipes, for example:

{% set latestRecipes = craft.entries()
  .section('recipes')
  .orderBy('postDate DESC')
  .limit(5)
  .all() %}

{% for recipe in latestRecipes %}
  <article>
    <h2>{{ recipe.title }}</h2>

    {{ recipe.summary|md }}

    <div>
      {{ recipe.estimatedTotalTime }}{{ recipe.steps.eagerly().count() }} Step(s)
      —
      {{ recipe.difficulty }}
    </div>
  </article>
{% endfor %}

# Saving Matrix Fields

This section has not been adapted for Craft 5. Working with Matrix field data has changed dramatically.

Working with nested entries is significantly more complex than other field types. The form examples that follow assume some familiarity with how Craft routes and handles requests, as well as a willingness to adapt and extend the provided HTML to suit your needs.

If you have an element form (such as an entry form (opens new window)) that needs to manage content within a Matrix field, you will need to submit your Matrix field’s data in a specific structure. We’re using JSON for the sake of its simple syntax, but the following examples will show you how to build a similarly-structured request with normal form elements:

{
  "sortOrder": [
    321,
    654,
    "new:1"
  ],
  "blocks": {
    "321": {
      "type": "myFirstTypeHandle",
      "fields": {
        "myTextFieldHandle": "...",
        "myAssetField": [
          4,
          5,
          6
        ]
      }
    },
    "654": {
      "type": "myOtherTypeHandle",
      "fields": {
        "myNumberField": 42,
        "myDateField": {
          "date": "2023-01-01",
          "time": "00:00",
          "timezone": "America/Los_Angeles"
        }
      }
    },
    "new:1": {
      "type": "myFirstTypeHandle",
      "fields": {
        "myTextFieldHandle": "...",
        "myAssetField": []
      }
    }
  }
}

# Entry Order

sortOrder should be submitted as an array of all the entry IDs you wish to persist (as well as any new entry identifiers), in the order they should be saved.

If you want all existing entries to persist in the same order they are currently in, then use this template to define your sortOrder array:

{% if entry is defined %}
  {% for nestedEntryId in entry.myFieldHandle.anyStatus().ids() %}
    {{ hiddenInput('fields[myFieldHandle][sortOrder][]', nestedEntryId) }}
  {% endfor %}
{% endif %}

The sortOrder input elements do not need to be adjacent in the DOM or as POST params—you are free to distribute and collocate them with each block’s data, if you wish.

# Entry Data

All of your entry data should be nested under a entries key, and indexed by their IDs. Each block must submit its type (using the desired block type’s handle) and custom field data nested under a fields key.

Here’s how you can output form fields for existing blocks, for a Matrix field with two block types (text and image):

{% if entry is defined %}
  {% for block in entry.myFieldHandle.all() %}
    {# Prefix the block's input names with `fields[myFieldHandle][blocks][<BlockID>]` #}
    {% namespace "fields[myFieldHandle][blocks][#{block.id}]" %}
      {{ hiddenInput('type', block.type) }}

      {% switch block.type %}
        {% case 'text' %}
          <textarea name="fields[myTextFieldHandle]">
            {{- block.myTextFieldHandle|raw -}}
          </textarea>
        {% case 'image' %}
          {% set images = block.myAssetFieldHandle.all() %}
          {% if images|length %}
            <ul>
              {% for image in block.myAssetFieldHandle.all() %}
                <li>
                  {{ image.getImg({ width: 100, height: 100 }) }}
                  {{ hiddenInput('fields[myAssetFieldHandle][]', image.id) }}
                </li>
              {% endfor %}
            </ul>
          {% endif %}
      {% endswitch %}
    {% endnamespace %}
  {% endfor %}
{% endif %}

Outputting form fields for existing blocks is completely optional. As long as the block IDs are listed in the sortOrder array, they will persist even if they are excluded from the form data.

# New Blocks

To add a block in a front-end form, you’ll need a unique, temporary identifier for it, prefixed with new:. Append that “ID” to the sortOrder array, and use it when constructing the block’s form inputs.

For example, the first new block that is added to the form could have an “ID” of new:1, so its type input name would end up looking like this (ignoring for a moment any namespace tags):

<input type="hidden" name="fields[myFieldHandle][new:1][type]" value="text" />

Then define the form inputs for any additional blocks that should be appended to the input.

{{ hiddenInput('fields[myFieldHandle][sortOrder][]', 'new:1') }}

{# Prefix the block's input names with `fields[myFieldHandle][blocks][new:1]` #}
{% namespace "fields[myFieldHandle][blocks][new:1]" %}
  {{ hiddenInput('type', 'text') }}
  <textarea name="fields[myTextFieldHandle]"></textarea>
{% endnamespace %}

If you want to make the new block optional, you will need to give the user an opportunity to remove the inputs so they are not included in the request.

The flexibility of Matrix fields often demands some client-side JavaScript—appending blocks of different types, generating temporary IDs, rearranging blocks and updating sort order, etc. are all difficult problems to solve with plain HTML. Craft’s UI relies on a host of control panel-specific scripts and markup—and therefore is generally not usable in the front-end.

However: as long as the data you ultimately POST to Craft conforms to the schema above, it will work! If you have a preferred view library like Vue or React, you may be better prepared than you think—your task then shifts from dealing with manipulating DOM elements to transforming your components’ state into a FormData object (opens new window) with the right parameter names and values.

# Validation Errors

Should you encounter validation issues within a Matrix field, Craft will set a flash and add errors to the main element (under the Matrix field’s handle)—as well as on each block with problems.

In these cases, it’s important to handle the Matrix block data appropriately—the blocks will be available directly on the main element as an array, and do not need to be fetched. In fact, trying to re-load the blocks from the database would mean you are working with the last-persisted state, rather than the blocks populated from the most recent request!

Instead, we’ll try three values:

  1. Attempt to use the field value as an element query (load the blocks fresh, assuming there are no pending changes hanging in-memory);
  2. Accept the value, verbatim (assuming Craft has left the in-memory blocks attached, and they don’t need to be queried);
  3. Default to an empty array (this ensures whatever uses the blocks variable later on can safely assume it’s an array);
{% set blocks = entry.myFieldHandle.all() ?? entry.myFieldHandle ?? [] %}

The null-coalescing operator (opens new window) swallows errors that occur when attempting to access variables, properties, or methods that don’t exist.

Temporary identifiers on new blocks do not need to stay the same between requests (say, if you created two blocks but changed their order, then submitted and hit a validation error); you may output “new” blocks in the order Craft has provided them, re-keying those blocks:

{% for block in blocks %}
  {% set id = block.id ?? "new:#{loop.index}" %}
  {{ hiddenInput('sortOrder[]', id) }}
  {{ hiddenInput("blocks[#{id}][type]", block.type.handle) }}
  {# ... #}
{% endfor %}