Understanding Filters

Hooks and filters are the two ways to modify and extend Omeka’s capabilities. Filters are a way for data in Omeka to be passed among different plugins that want to add to it or modify it in some way before final processing by Omeka. Typical examples include adding navigation links and changing default behaviors.

Filter Basics

Filters work similarly to hooks, but are focused on modifying data rather than simply executing code or producing output in some particular place. Filter functions always receive two parameters.

The first parameter is always the value being filtered. The documentation page for a filter will describe this parameter under the heading “Value.” A filter function is expected to take the value passed in that parameter, modify it somehow (though this can include completely replacing it or leaving it unchanged), and return the result. That returned value is what’s passed to any later functions attached to the same filter, and eventually back to the code that applied the filter in the first place. Since filters work this way, there’s a clear distinction from how hooks work in this case: filter functions must return a value.

The second parameter to a filter function is conventionally called $args. Just like with hooks, $args is an array of arguments, optional useful pieces of extra data passed along with the hook to provide context or access to objects that might likely be needed by the filter function. The arguments passed with a filter are documented under the heading “Arguments.”

Using Filters in Plugins

There are two basic ways plugins can use filters, and both work fairly similarly to hooks: the plugin defines a function and attaches it to the filter being used.

Using Omeka_Plugin_AbstractPlugin

The usual and current way of using filters is to use the features built into the Omeka AbstractPlugin class. You add the name of the filter you want to use to the $_filters array in the plugin class, and then add a public method to the class with the CamelCased name of the filter and filter prepended. As an example, to use the search_form filter, the code you would add would look like this:

protected $_filters = array(

// ...

public function filterSearchForm($form, $args)
    // Modify or replace $form and return the results

Using add_filter directly

Though the preferred method is to use the AbstractPlugin when using filters in a plugin, plugins that are built with the old legacy plugin.php-based code or that need to add filters dynamically may need to directly use Omeka’s add_filter function.

add_filter works very similarly to add_plugin_hook: you simply pass it the name of the filter to attach to and the name of a function you’ve defined. Using the same search_form example, the code for adding a filter this way is pretty similar:

add_filter('search_form', 'myplugin_search_form');

function myplugin_search_form($form, $args)
    // Modify or replace $form and return the results

One added wrinkle is that you can also pass in the third argument a “priority” that determines when your attached function is run relative to other functions attached to the same filter. Priority is an integer, and passing a lower priority means your function will run earlier. For most cases, the default priority setting is fine and you can simply omit the third argument.