Developing a custom content editor app - 5 UI

This page has been created for the Magnolia 5 UI framework. For the 6 UI framework page, see Developing a custom content editor app instead.

This page describes how to develop a custom content editor app based on the Magnolia Content editor.

Before you start

This section mentions what you should be aware of before creating an implementation of the content editor.

Understanding the content model: block, composition

A block is a well-defined page section which, together with other blocks and additional meta information, can form a single content composition.

In the context of the content editor app, each item (e.g. a story in the stories-app) is a composition of N blocks of editable content, such as headings and paragraphs, complemented by meta information such as the required fields for the lead and title of the story:

Example of a story showing the block and composition

Required node types

The content editor UI expects nodes of the type mgnl:composition and mgnl:block. These node types are defined in the file content-editor-nodetypes.xml which resides in the magnolia-content-editor submodule.

Hoewever, registration of these node types is handled by the stories-app or the article-editor via the XML-based module descriptor.

Dependencies on the content editor modules

In any case, your implementation of the content editor depends on the following modules:

  • magnolia-content-editor

  • magnolia-block-api

  • magnolia-block-templating

Besides the requirement for these base modules, you must also ensure that the system registers the required node types.

If your custom content editor is created with a light module, your bundle must contain either the stories-app or the article-editor module. If created with a Magnolia Maven module, you can register the node types within your custom module.

If you are using a preconfigured DX Core webapp or bundle (see the list of preconfigured Magnolia bundles), it already contains the stories-app and all the required modules.

Read Content Editor module - Installing for a deeper understanding of the dependencies between the content editor submodules.


To store new content items with your custom content editor, you can use

  • the stories workspace provided by the stories-app module,

  • the articles workspace provided by the article-editor module,

  • or a custom workspace defined by your custom module.

Multilingual content

The Content editor and the Stories app don’t yet support multi-language content.

Defining a custom content editor app

Developing a custom content editor app is similar to creating a content app because it is also based on the info.magnolia.ui.contentapp.ContentApp app class.

You can build your custom content editor app within a light module.

Here is an overview how to define a content editor app:

  • Create a YAML app descriptor with its subapps.

  • Make sure the contentConnector is using the mgnl:composition nodetype.

  • Specifiy the contentDefinition with the outline and the blocks section.

Creating the descriptor and subapps

Create a YAML app descriptor.

Typically, you need at least the following two subapps:

  • The browser subapp. Use a regular browser subapp class info.magnolia.ui.contentapp.browser.BrowserSubApp.

  • The editor subapp, which is a variant of the detail subapp. It implements content editor’s class (see also ContentEditorSubApp descriptor).
    The editor subapp must also implement the ActionDefinition of the Content Editor module.

ContentEditorSubAppDescriptor and ActionDefinition(s)
    class: info.magnolia.editor.action.CloseContentEditorActionDefinition
    class: info.magnolia.editor.action.SaveContentActionDefinition
    class: info.magnolia.editor.action.SaveContentActionDefinition
      class: info.magnolia.ui.framework.action.ActivationActionDefinition
      command: activate

Using the mgnl:composition nodetype in the contentConnector

Set the mgnl:composition nodetype for the contentConnector property in the subapp descriptors of your content editor:

contentConnector of the browser subapp
  includeProperties: false
  workspace: <workspace-name>
  rootPath: /
  defaultOrder: jcrName
    - icon: icon-node-content
      name: mgnl:composition
      strict: true
    - icon: icon-folder-l
      name: mgnl:folder
      strict: true
contentConnector of the editor subapp
  workspace: <workspace-name>
    - icon: icon-node-content
      name: mgnl:composition
      strict: true
    - icon: icon-folder-l
      name: mgnl:folder
      strict: true

Instead of <workspace-name> use stories, articles or the name of your custom workspace.

Setting the contentDefinition properties

Add the contentDefiniton node to your editor subapp’s descriptor and define in it what content is allowed (i.e. editable).

You must specify outlineFields, initialBlock, defaultBlock and linkableApps.


With outlineFields you define the static, structured information which you want on every content item.

The example below has the following properties: title, lead, image, created, author and jcrName.


This property defines the block types that are allowed.

Example definition of allowed blocks

  - text
  - image

The Content Editor module comes with four predefined types of block you can use in your editor: text, image, video and externalLink. You can also define your own content block(s).


Specifies what will be created as the initial, automatically added block when creating new content (or when no block is available).

Example definition of the initialBlock

initialBlock: text

Initial text block

Example definition of the initialBlock

initialBlock: image

Initial image block


Defines the block type that will be selected by BlockPickerField.

Example definition of the defaultBlock

defaultBlock: image

Default image block

Example definition of the defaultBlock

defaultBlock: text

Default text block


Defines the app(s) whose resources you can link to from the text block.

Example definition of the linkableApps

  - pages
  - assets
  - contacts

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