Extension:Page Forms/Linking to forms

How do you get users to forms? The standard way is via the #forminput parser function call, which displays a single input for users to enter the name of a page; if they enter such a name and click the button, they are sent to a form to create that page - unless a page with that name already exists, in which case they are sent to a form for editing the existing page. This is what is known as the "two-step process". The reason for the initial step, of having the user first enter the page name, is to ensure that users don't accidentally overwrite existing pages. This process is so standard that it is built into the default forms produced by Page Forms' Special:CreateForm and Special:CreateClass helper pages: any form-definition page created by Page Forms includes, at the top, a call to #forminput, so that users who go to that form page can automatically start to use the form.

However, it's also possible to have users skip the first step, of entering the page name - that's what you should do if the form contains a formula for setting the page title based on the user input. That's the "one-step process", and it uses the parser function #formlink instead of #forminput.

Query forms, which use Special:RunQuery, have their own linking method, using the parser function #queryformlink.

The two-step process


The two-step process, i.e. the standard way to get users to forms, is done using the #forminput parser function.

Using #forminput


Here is the syntax of the #forminput parser function:

{{#forminput:form=|size=|default value=|button text=|query string=query string parameters|autocomplete on category=|autocomplete on namespace=|placeholder=|namespace selector=|super_page=|popup|reload|no autofocus|returnto=}}

All arguments are optional. An explanation of the parameters:

Parameter Description
form= The name of the Page Forms form to be used. If a comma-separated list of forms is passed in, a dropdown will appear, letting the user choose among those forms. If this parameter is left empty, a dropdown will appear letting the user choose among all existing forms.
size= The size of the text input. This parameter is unfortunately ignored, since the change to use OOUI in Page Forms v5.0.
default value= The starting value of the input.
button text= Text that will appear on the "submit" button.

(By default, "Create or edit page".)

query string= you can use this option to pass information to the form; this information generally takes the form of templateName[fieldName]=value. It should look like a typical URL query string; an example would be "query string=namespace=User&User[Is_employee]=yes".

additionally, any query string values can be passed directly in as parameters - so the values above could instead be passed in as "|namespace=User|User[Is_employee]=yes".

a query string can also be used to add an edit summary automatically |query string=wpSummary=Text for edit summary.

autocomplete on category= Adds autocompletion to the input, using the names of all pages in a specific category.
autocomplete on namespace= Adds autocompletion to the input, using the names of all pages in a specific namespace (only one of these two can be used). For the main namespace use Main
placeholder= "Placeholder" text that appears in the form input before the user types anything.
namespace selector= Specifies that a dropdown should be placed before the input for the page name, letting the user choose from a set of possible namespaces for this page; the value for this parameter holds that set of namespace names, separated by commas. (For the main namespace, just have a blank value, like ,User,Project.)
popup Opens the form in a popup window.
no autofocus By default, the form input gets autofocus, i.e., the cursor is placed in the input when the page loads; this parameter specifies not to do this.
returnto= The name of a page that the user will be sent to after submitting the form, instead of simply going to the saved page.
reload If "popup" or "returnto" are specified, causes the page that the user ends up on after submitting the form to get reloaded with 'action=purge'.
super_page= This will prepend a "current-page-name/" at the beginning of the page name that the user types in. See #Adding sub-pages

Adding pages of a specific namespace


You can have a page-input form create pages within a specific namespace (like 'User:') by default, without forcing users to type in that namespace every time. To do that, add "namespace=namespace-name" to the "query string=" parameter.

An example call to #forminput would be:

{{#forminput:form=ExampleForm |query string=namespace=ExampleNamespace&={{PAGENAME}} }}

(Note that, if you want to use SMW on a custom namespace, you need to add the namespace to $smwgNamespacesWithSemanticLinks.)

Adding sub-pages


In MediaWiki, you can create subpages by including a slash in the page name. To have the page that's added automatically be a subpage, you can add a value for "super_page=" in the query string. To make it a subpage of the current page, you can set this value to "super_page={{FULLPAGENAME}}". This will prepend a "current-page-name/" at the beginning of the page name that the user types in.

The one-step process


You can have the name of the page created by the form be set automatically, by adding a page name parameter within the form definition's info tag. There are two types of "variables" one can include in the value for this parameter:

  • <template-name[field-name]> - gets replaced with the value for the specified field field-name in the specified template template-name. Note: this will not work when the for template tag is declared as multiple.
  • ‎<unique number> - by default, gets replaced by the lowest number for which the page title that's generated is unique. Normally, this value starts out as blank, then goes to 2, then 3, etc. However, one can manually set the starting number for this value, by adding a start= parameter; this number must be 0 or higher. For instance, to have the number start at 1 and go upward, you should set the tag to be "<unique number;start=1>". You can also instead set it to be a random six-digit number, by adding the "random" parameter, so that the tag looks like "<unique number;random>". You can also set the number of digits to be something other than 6, by adding a number after "random", like "<unique number;random;4>". Note that the parameters in all these cases are delimited by semicolons.
    • Note that the page name= value cannot contain the character #, because MediaWiki does not allow that character in page titles.

See here for an example of a form that uses a page name formula.

As another example, imagine a form for storing notable quotes. Its {{{info}}} tag could have a parameter of "page name=<Quote[Author name]> quote <unique number;start=1>". This would include the author's name in the name of every quote page, as well as a number to guarantee the uniqueness of every opinion-item page added. A user could then go to the URL "http://mywiki.com/Special:FormEdit/Quote" and fill out the form; if they set the author to be "Ernest Hemingway", and no other quotes in the wiki had him as an author, then hitting the "Save page" button would result in a new page called "Ernest Hemingway quote 1" .

The start value can have leading zeroes; a value of 001, for instance, would lead to pages that had the value 001, then 002, etc.

The page name= value gets parsed by the MediaWiki parser, so you can also add parser functions, pre-defined variables, etc. into the value. Note that users must be sent to the page Special:FormEdit/form-name for this automatic page-setting to work; if they somehow end up at a #forminput call and are prompted for a page name, that name will override whatever the automatic page name would be.


If you want, you can generate this link using the #formlink parser function, instead of creating the URL directly. This function is called as:

{{#formlink:form=|link text=|link type=|query string=query string parameters|target=|tooltip=|popup|reload|new window|returnto=}}

The form=, query string and popup arguments work in #formlink much the same way that their equivalents in #forminput work. An explanation of the other parameters:

link text= works like button text= (see above).
link type= sets the display of the link:
  • if it's set to button, the link will show up as a button;
  • if it's set to post button, it will be a button that sends the query-string value(s) using "POST" instead of via the URL — this is helpful when a lot of data has to be preloaded, and it is more robust with special characters like line breaks in the query string;
  • if it's set to blank or anything else, it will show up as a regular link.
target= Should not usually be used, but it sets the "target" page to be edited, if you want to link to the editing of a specific page.
tooltip= Displays a tooltip, displayed if a user hovers the link.
popup Opens the form in a popup window. (Note: popup forms may not work if you have the ConfirmEdit extension installed - users might not see the CAPTCHA they need to fill out.)
new window Opens the form in a new window or tab, depending on the browser.
returnto= The name of a page that the user will be sent to after submitting the form, instead of simply going to the saved page.
reload If "popup" or "returnto" are specified, causes the page that the user ends up on after submitting the form to get reloaded with 'action=purge'.

An example call to #formlink would be:

{{#formlink:form=Quote|link text=Add a quote for this author|link type=button|query string=Quote[Author]={{PAGENAME}} }}

This will link from the page, via a button, to a form for adding a quote, with the "Author" field filled in with the current page name. If there are multiple values, they should be separated by &.

{{#formlink:form=Quote|link text=Add a quote for this author|link type=button|query string=Quote[Author]={{PAGENAME}}&Quote[Editor]=The MIT Press }}

Note that if any part of your query string — such as a page name or anything else — contains characters such as apostrophes ('), ampersands (&), or plus signs (+), you will need to URL-encode that value. For that, you can use the urlencode function from the ParserFunctions extension. The example above, for instance, would need to change to: Quote[Author]={{urlencode:{{PAGENAME}}}}.

You may want to have the link to the form be an image, instead of text or a button. For that, you could call something like:

{{#formlink:form=Quote|link text=[[File:edit.png|link=]]}}

Linking to query forms


You can link to query forms, i.e. forms run within the page Special:RunQueryx, by using the #queryformlink parser function. This is called in the same way as #formlink, except that there's no "target" parameter. For a more complete explanation, see Creating links to query forms .


In MediaWiki, links to nonexistent pages are called 'red links', because they are usually colored red. By default, these links go to a page for adding the article to the wiki using the standard edit interface. However, you can instead set red links to link directly to a form to create that page, if the correct form is known in advance; and you can additionally have all other red links point to a helper page that lets the user choose which of the wiki's forms to use (if any).


To have a specific link (either on its own, or within a template) point to a form if the page it is pointing to does not exist, use the #formredlink parser function. A typical call to #formredlink will go inside a template, and will look like:


The overall syntax of #formredlink is:

{{#formredlink:form=|link text=|existing page link text=|link type=|query string=query string parameters|target=|tooltip=|popup|reload|new window|create page}}

These parameters are very similar to those of #formlink (see above). It has two additional parameters:

  • "existing page link text=" - sets the text of the link when the target page being pointed to exists already (the "link text=" parameter takes effect only when the target does not exist).
  • "create page" - causes red-linked pages to get automatically created by the system. It should be noted that it may take a while for each page to be created, since page creation is done through MediaWiki "jobs ", which can take anywhere from a few seconds to several hours or more to run, depending on the length of the job queue. Pages created with this method will be associated with user ID 1 (the first user created on the wiki), unless you set $wgPageFormsAutoCreateUser to another username.

There may be times when you are not sure which form a linked-to page will use; it could be one of a number of choices. You can set it so that the user gets other possibilities when they click on the red link, by adding one or more alt_form query string parameters to the #formredlink call, each with its own number.

As an example, see this page. Both the author and the source are red-linked, but the links take you to forms for adding these two pages (please do not actually fill out and submit these forms, because that would ruin the example). When you get to the forms for each page, you can see, at the top, that there are alternative forms that you can select for adding each page. That is enabled by the following two calls to #formredlink in the template where those links are defined:

For the source:

 {{#formredlink:target={{{source|}}}|alt_form[0]=Source|alt_form[1]=Magazine|alt_form[2]=Online magazine}}

For the author:

 {{#arraymap:{{{author|}}}|,|xx|{{#set:Was written by=xx}}{{#formredlink:target=xx|form=Author|alt_form[0]=Editorial board}}}}

In the example page, the "source" call creates a link to Special:FormEdit/The_Denver_Post?alt_form[0]=Source&alt_form[1]=Magazine&alt_form[2]=Online magazine&redlink=1. Note that no main/default form is specified; only alternate forms.

The "author" call is more complex because that field can hold a list of values. #arraymap is used to put in a call to #formredlink for each individual value; as well as to store each individual value using an SMW property.

Note that the internal "variable" used for this #arraymap call is "xx", not "x" - "x" could have been used here too, but if the #formredlink call had used its "link text=" or "existing link text=" parameters, those would have failed, because they contain the letter "x"; "xx" is safer here.

Form-associated namespaces


If you've defined a namespace as having a default form , red-links that go to a page within that namespace will also go to the right 'add data' form, without any extra work needed.


For red links not defined by #formredlink and not pointing to a form-associated namespace, you can have every such link point to a helper page, that lets the user choose which of the wiki's forms to use to create this page - or to use no form at all. You can enable this functionality simply by adding the following to LocalSettings.php, below the inclusion of Page Forms:

$wgPageFormsLinkAllRedLinksToForms = true;

You can see an example of this interface by clicking on the red link here (please do not create this page).

Preloading data


You may want a form to already contain some data when the user goes to it. (Note that this only applies to adding new data, or to query forms; for editing an existing page, there is no way to set the contents of the form to anything other than the current contents of that page.) There are various ways to do this:

  • Specify a "default" value for whatever fields you want to have a value for in the form.
  • Specify a "preload" page for the "free text" input, which will preload the free text field with the contents of that page.
  • Add preload=preload-page-name to the query string value in the 'forminput' call; this will preload the entire form with the contents of that page.
  • Similarly, you can add a "preload=..." value to the query string for a 'FormStart' or 'FormEdit' URL.
  • Add template-name[field-name]=field-value to the query string value in the 'forminput' call, to set the value for a specific field. To preload values for more than one field use "&": template-name[field-name-1]=field-value-1&template-name[field-name-2]=field-value-2
  • To preload values for multiple-instance templates, add the instance number after the template name. So you could have something like template-name[1][field-name]=field-value&template-name[2][field-name]=field-value for two instances.
  • Similarly, you can add a value for a specific field to the URL query string for 'FormStart' or 'FormEdit'.
  • Finally, you can create your own custom handling, using the 'sfEditFormPreloadText' hook. If another extension calls this hook, it can preload data however it wants. The function registered with this hook should have a header like function-name(&$page_contents, $page_title, $form_title).

Passing in a "context"


A call to #forminput or #formlink can include arbitrary query string parameters, which the form can then use to modify aspects like the display, autocomplete values, etc. This can be done with the UrlGetParameters extension, which provides a parser function, #urlget, that can read the query string parameter(s) in question.

For example, let's say there is a form called "Document" that contains a field, "Owner", which you want to have autocomplete with different names depending on the company department for which the form is being called. A call to #forminput or #formlink for that form could then contain the parameter |query string=department=Finance. If you are using the Cargo extension, the tag for that field in the form could then look like:

{{{field|Owner|input type=combobox|cargo table=Employees|cargo field=_pageName|cargo where=Department='{{#urlget:department}}' }}}

If you are using this approach, it is probably best not to have an "Edit with form" tab for pages created with this form; instead, each page should display (via its template) a set of #formlink calls to edit the page, one for each possible value (in this case, each department).

Modifying pages automatically


Using #autoedit


You can create links that, when clicked on, create or edit pages automatically in the background, with a preloaded set of values, using the #autoedit parser function. This function is called, and is displayed, in a very similar manner to #formlink - the difference is that the link only performs an action in the background, instead of bringing the user to a form. The syntax for #autoedit is:

{{#autoedit:form=|target=|link text=|link type=|summary=|minor|tooltip=|query string=query string parameters|reload|confirm}}

All these parameters work in the same way as they do in #formlink, with four exceptions:

  • minor - if added to the call, marks any edit made with this link as a minor edit.
  • reload - if added to the call, reloads the current page after the link is clicked.
  • confirm - if added to the call, pops up a confirmation window for the user before doing the actual edit.
  • Like with #formlink, link type sets the type of display and can be set to "link" or "button" ("post button" is not an option). However, for #formlink, a missing value for "link type" is the same as setting the value to "link"; while for #autoedit, the two are different. In #autoedit, a missing value for "link type" will display the text as text, without a link, while setting "link type=link" will display it as a link.



As an example, let's say you want to create a simple voting scheme, letting users vote between "Vanilla", "Chocolate" and "Strawberry". You have a page for each, and each one contains a template called "Flavor", with a field called "Num votes" - that field, in turn, sets a Cargo field called Num_votes. And there is also a form, also called "Flavor", to edit such pages. To create a link that, when clicked, increments the number of votes in the "Vanilla" page by one, you could place the following call on the page:

{{#autoedit:form=Flavor|target=Vanilla|link text=Vote for Vanilla|link type=link|query string=Flavor[Num votes]={{#expr:{{#cargo_query:table=Flavors| field=Num_votes |no html}} + 1}}|summary=Adding vote {{#expr:{{#cargo_query:table=Flavors| field=Num_votes |no html}} + 1}}.}}

Modifying a list of values


You can add, or remove, a value from a list of values, for fields that hold a list of values (such as fields editable with the checkboxes or tokens input types). To add a value to such a list, instead of having a call like template name[field name]=value in the query string, use a call like template name[field name]+=value. And to remove a value, use a call like template name[field name]-=value.

Unfortunately, this functionality currently only works for fields whose delimiter is a comma.

If, when adding a value to a list, that value was already there; or when removing a value, that value was not there, this call will have no effect.

Modifying multiple-instance templates


You can use #autoedit to modify existing, or create new, instances of a multiple-instance template. To do that, instead of putting in the query string something like template name[field name]=value, put in something like template name[instance number][field name]=value, where instance number is an integer that's 0 or higher. If the instance number corresponds to an instance that is already on the page, the existing template instance will be modified; if it's higher than that, a new instance will be created, with that value for that field.

For additional namespaces


By default, autoedit functionality is only available for any of the so-called 'content namespaces', which by default is just the main namespace. However, this can be changed by modifying the global variable $wgPageFormsAutoeditNamespaces in LocalSettings.php. For instance, to let autoedit also apply to pages in the "User:" namespace, you should add the following line:

$wgPageFormsAutoeditNamespaces[] = NS_USER;

Using #autoedit_rating


Another parser function that works similarly to #autoedit is #autoedit_rating - although, instead of displaying a link or button, it displays a rating-style row of stars; and the number of stars the user selects is what is sent to populate or update the target page. A listing of the allowed parameters for #autoedit_rating:

  • form - the form to be used
  • target - the target page to be modified
  • rating field - the field to be modified in the target page; its name should follow the syntax template-name[field-name]
  • num stars - the number of stars to show (default is 5)
  • allow half stars - if added to the call, allows the user to select half-star values
  • star width - the width of each star, in pixels (default is 24)
  • summary - the edit summary for any such edit
  • minor - if added to the call, marks any edit made with this link as a minor edit.
  • confirm - if added to the call, pops up a confirmation window for the user before doing the actual edit.

Autoedit functionality is also available via the MediaWiki API, as the pfautoedit action - this enables outside scripts, and bots, to easily modify template calls within wiki pages. You can read the full documentation on this here.