Magento has become one of the best open source commerce systems for the web but sadly (and frustratingly) it is one of the most poorly documented beasts.
Therefore, to add to the documentation around, here is a simple guide to creating a custom module in Magento. It does not overwrite any core code so upgrades are nicer.
In the next couple of posts we are going to do the following:
- organise our folder structure
- add custom fields to the customer objects
- customise our customer controller
Organising your custom code
We do not want to change the core Magento code. If we do then all our change will be lost when we upgrade Magento. So we have to first copy the files we want to change into our own ‘local’ folder structure. The standard Magento folder structure looks like this:
. |-- app | |-- code | | |-- core | | | |-- Mage | | | `-- Zend | | `-- local | | `-- Seconddrawer | |-- design | | |-- adminhtml | | | `-- default | | |-- frontend | | | `-- default | | `-- install | | `-- default | `-- etc | `-- modules `-- skin `-- frontend `-- default `-- default
Notice the ‘Seconddrawer’ folder under app/code/local. This is where we will copy the files from app/code/core/Mage that we wish to edit. For instance, we will be editing the customer account controller from app/code/core/Mage/Customer/controllers/AccountController.php so we would copy it to app/code/local/Seconddrawer/SDCustomer/controllers/AccountController.php for a structure like this:
. `-- app `-- code |-- core | `-- Mage | `-- Customer | |-- controllers | | |-- AccountController.php | | `-- ...etc... | `-- ...etc... `-- local `-- Seconddrawer `-- SDCustomer `-- controllers `-- AccountController.php
Notice that we have used our company name (Seconddrawer) in place of ‘Mage’ and our own module name (SDCustomer) in place of the core ‘Customer’. While it is not essential to create a different name for ‘customer’ it really helps avoid naming conflicts for routing etc. in the future. Don’t name it the same. Don’t add the ‘AccountController.php’ file just yet.
Adding additional fields
Our first goal is to add fields to the customer object. We will put all this into our Seconddrawer/SDCustomer module. To do this we need to add a configuration file to our module that contains all the extra fields. This belongs in app/code/local/Seconddrawer/SDCustomer/etc/config.xml. All this does is tell Magento about the extra fields.
Tell Magento about the extra fields
We can copy the file from the equivelant place in the core folder and then remove all the XML nodes that don’t interest us, adding additional ones also. The resulting app/code/local/Seconddrawer/SDCustomer/etc/config.xml file will look something like this:
The important points to notice here are the section at the top under ‘modules’. Here is where we define the module name and version. The module name must match that of the folder structure under app/code/local. We have also added the 4 extra custom fields to the end of the global/fieldset/customer_account XML node.
The rest of the config.xml file from the core section is not needed due to the way that Magento will merge in config files. The details in our own local copy will be merged (not replaced) with the existing core one.
Create the extra fields
We now need to actually put the fields in the database for Magento to find. This only needs to be done once. Place the following code in the root index.php file and hit any page within Magento. For development this is fine. Once the database fields have been created you should comment out or remove the extra code.
(There is a way to get this to work by creating SQL files within your module but lets go with this simpler hack!)
So we put this at the end of /index.php:
You can read the documentation on the parameters for ‘addAttribute’ to see what else can be included. Remember to comment or delete this code once it has been run!
Tell Magento about your module
Magento will still not be showing any extra fields. They should be in the database but the module has not yet been loaded. To do this we need to tell Magento about our module. We add an extra XML file in the app/etc/modules folder called Seconddrawer_All.xml:
The naming scheme needs to be exactly the same as the module's config file we added earlier. It tells Magento where to find the module (by the naming scheme and folder structure) and that it is active. Once this file has been added Magento should show these extra fields in the customer section in the admin backend.
These are the files used in this example:
. |-- app | |-- code | | `-- local | | `-- Seconddrawer | | `-- SDCustomer | | `-- etc | | `-- config.xml | `-- etc | `-- modules | `-- Seconddrawer_All.xml `-- index.php
Continue on to see how to customise the customer account controller.