Monday, October 22, 2018

Using tokens in Sitecore SXA variant data attributes

Sitecore SXA variant definitions

Variants are an important part of SXA. Although SXA is so much more, learning how to use these is rather crucial for anyone who want to create sites with SXA. If you need more information on this, a good place to start are these official docs:
You can do a lot with these variants. Especially when you discover the power of the "Reference" in a variant definition, lots of scenario's become possible...  and there are some hidden gems. 

Our case

We had to create a rendering that displayed blocks of content - so far no problem, this is just displaying fields from a list of items. But the editor had to be able to set a background on each individual block (and some other properties). Short version: we had to be able to set a css class on every block. We could have asked our editors to create a rendering for each block they needed and set parameters on that rendering, but as we had reasons not to do that.

So we started looking at the variant definitions options, tried a few things without luck and ended up asking help on Stack Exchange:

As usual, the SXA dev team came to the rescue (- thx Dawid for this one) and showed me a little hidden gem.

Using tokens in data attributes

Apparently you can use some tokens in the data attrbutes that are available in each part of the variant definition. As shown in the answer on SSE, we can use "class" as data attribute and fill that with a value from a field on the current item by using the $(fieldName) notation.

This means we can use a Reference in our variant to loop over a set of items, and for each of those items render a section (e.g. "div") with a class on it. That'll do it..

But.. we had one small issue. The default implementation will work with text fields. But for link-type fields it will generate a link to the target item. We don't want our editors to type values for fields like this - it should be a selection. So we got a patch from Support that extended this functionality to ValueLookupFields to fetch the value.

Now we could give our editors a dropdown selection of styles and use those in our variant. That's what we needed! (as soon as the site goes live, I can add a screenshot of the result)

I had a look at what Support provided for us and although it is not designed to be expanded easily, we can do even more with this (and so we did).

public class RenderSection : Sitecore.XA.Foundation.RenderingVariants.Pipelines.RenderVariantField.RenderSection
 protected override string GetAttributeTokenValue(string fieldName, Item item)
   Field field = item.Fields[fieldName];
   if (field == null)
  return string.Empty;
   return base.GetAttributeTokenValue(fieldName, item);
        <processor patch:instead="*[@type='Sitecore.XA.Foundation.RenderingVariants.Pipelines.RenderVariantField.RenderSection, Sitecore.XA.Foundation.RenderingVariants']" type="Sitecore.Support.XA.Foundation.RenderingVariants.Pipelines.RenderVariantField.RenderSection, Sitecore.Support.00000" resolve="true" />

We noticed they had overwritten the function that handles the tokens in case of a variant section (if you want this to work on other variant options like text or field, you need to overwrite those too). Where Sitecore/SXA is designed to be extended, they usually make it easier for us :)

So as mentioned, it is not (yet) designed to be expanded but it can. You could write any logic you want in the above funtion based on the "fieldName" (which propable doesn't even need to be an existing field name).

This opens a new set of possibilities to render everything we need with SXA variants!

Just one little request for a future version:  make this easier to extend.. ;)

1 comment:

  1. I might have misunderstood the problem, but...

    Sounds like something that could have been solved using a Droplist field, that would provide you with the ability to list and yet put the name of the item in the field.