The Definitive Guide to Drupal 7

Implementing Preprocess and Process Hooks

Preprocess functions are implemented by creating a function that is named in a certain way. Listing 16–4 shows an example of this naming convention.

Listing 16–4. Naming Convention for Preprocess and Process Hooks
  1. <?php
  2. /**
  3.  * Implements template_preprocess_THEMEHOOK().
  4.  */
  5. function HOOK_preprocess_THEMEHOOK(&$variables) {
  6. // Changes go here.
  7. }
  9. /**
  10.  * Implements template_process_THEMEHOOK().
  11.  */
  12. function HOOK_process_THEMEHOOK(&$variables) {
  13. // Changes go here.
  14. }

There are four points to consider in naming these functions:

  1. The hook of a default implementation, usually created by a module, is “template.” In all other implementations, the hook is replaced by the system name of the module or theme implementing it.
  2. Which stage of the process do you want to affect? There are two options: the preprocess, which runs first, or process, which runs after all of the preprocess functions have been executed.
  3. The theme hook matches the theme hook as defined in hook_theme(), which is ultimately output using either a theme function or a template file.
  4. The &$variables parameter contains data needed by the theme function or template file rendering it. Since preprocess functions run before templates are rendered, you can make all sorts of changes and additions to its contents.

Default Implementations

Listing 16–5 illustrates what a preprocess implementation for a default theme hook looks like, using template_preprocess_node(), which creates variables for the node.tpl.php template file as an example. This function resides in node.module along with a hook_theme() implementation, node_theme(), where it defines “node” as a theme hook.

Listing 16–5. Naming convention for default implementations of preprocess and process hooks
  1. <?php
  2. function template_preprocess_node(&$variables) {
  3. // Changes go here.
  4. // See for contents.
  5. }
  7. function template_process_node(&$variables) {
  8. // Changes go here.
  9. // See for contents.
  10. }

Theme and Module Implementations

Both modules and themes are able to use preprocess functions in the same way, and a given theme hook can have many preprocess implementations, originating from both modules and themes. This introduces the opportunity for conflicts to occur, so keeping that in mind and knowing the order in which these functions run is important. Preprocess implementations from modules run first, and implementations by themes run last. When dealing with base and subthemes, the base theme will run first and the subtheme will run last. A good way to remember this is that the active theme always wins.

Preprocess functions implemented by Drupal core and modules reside in various files, such as modulename.module or, and many others, while preprocess functions implemented by themes always reside in template.php.

As an example, implement a preprocess function for a theme called “dgd7” for the node theme hook. As shown in Listing 16–6, you simply place a function in template.php beginning with the theme name (the implementing hook), followed by _preprocess_ and the theme hook, which in this case is “node.” Finally, you pass in the &$variables parameter by reference (the & before the $ indicates a variable being passed by reference).

Listing 16–6. Implementation of template_preprocess_node() in a theme
  1. <?php
  2. /**
  3.  * Implements template_process_node().
  4.  */
  5. function dgd7_preprocess_node(&$variables) {
  6. // Changes go here.
  7. }

The code in Listing 16–6 is all that’s needed, along with a quick cache clear, for Drupal to pick up your preprocess function and run it before rendering a node. Now the fun can begin!

You are reading content from two chapters on Theme Development from The Definitive Guide to Drupal 7, written by Jacine Luisi and published by Apress on July 19, 2011. All rights reserved.