Basic Widget

Create a widget that will display “Hello, World!” and optionally any text the user wants.

In Elgg, widgets are those components that you can drag onto your profile or admin dashboard.

This tutorial assumes you are familiar with basic Elgg concepts such as:

You should review those if you get confused along the way.

Adding the widget view code

Elgg automatically scans particular directories under plugins looking for particular files. Views make it easy to add your display code or do other things like override default Elgg behavior. For now, we will just be adding the view code for your widget. Create a file at /views/default/widgets/helloworld/content.php. “helloworld” will be the name of your widget within the hello plugin. In this file add the code:


echo "Hello, world!";

This will add these words to the widget canvas when it is drawn. Elgg takes care of loading the widget.

Registering your widget

Elgg needs to be told explicitly that the plugin contains a widget so that it will scan the widget views directory. This is done by calling the elgg_register_widget_type() function. Edit /start.php. In it add these lines:


function hello_init() {
        'id' => 'helloworld',
        'name' => 'Hello, world!',
        'description' => 'The "Hello, world!" widget',

return function() {
    elgg_register_event_handler('init', 'system', 'hello_init');

Now go to your profile page using a web browser and add the “hello, world” widget. It should display “Hello, world!”.


For real widgets, it is always a good idea to support Internationalization.

Allow user customization

Click on the edit link on the toolbar of the widget that you’ve created. You will notice that the only control it gives you by default is over access (over who can see the widget).

Suppose you want to allow the user to control what greeting is displayed in the widget. Just as Elgg automatically loads content.php when viewing a widget, it loads edit.php when a user attempts to edit a widget. Put the following code into /views/default/widgets/helloworld/edit.php:

        //This is an instance of the ElggWidget class that represents our widget.
        $widget = $vars['entity'];

        // Give the user a plain text box to input a message
        echo elgg_view('input/text', array(
            'name' => 'params[message]',
            'value' => $widget->message,
            'class' => 'hello-input-text',

Notice the relationship between the values passed to the ‘name’ and the ‘value’ fields of input/text. The name of the input text box is params[message] because Elgg will automatically handle widget variables put in the array params. The actual php variable name will be message. If we wanted to use the field greeting instead of message we would pass the values params[greeting] and $widget->greeting respectively.

The reason we set the ‘value’ option of the array is so that the edit view remembers what the user typed in the previous time he changed the value of his message text.

Now to display the user’s message we need to modify content.php to use this message variable. Edit /views/default/widgets/helloworld/content.php and change it to:


$widget = $vars['entity'];

// Always use the corresponding output/* view for security!
echo elgg_view('output/text', array('value' => $widget->message));

You should now be able to enter a message in the text box and see it appear in the widget.