How to define JCR node types and workspaces

This page provides an overview of all ways to define custom JCR node types and create new workspaces with Magnolia.

Even though it has always been possible to define node types and create workspaces within Magnolia Maven modules, the Content Types module brings this functionality also to the light modules. Both approaches are valid.

Whichever approach you choose, we recommend not to develop and refine these definitions in a productive environment.

Editing node type and workspace definitions can lead to new node type definitions and workspaces which are registered again, whereas the system keeps the old ones which become obsolete.

With content types

By utilizing the Magnolia Content Types module you can define custom JCR content types and workspaces within light modules.

Defining content types within light modules can be accomplished on a running Magnolia system without redeploying the WAR file of your Magnolia instances and without restarting the instance or a module. This makes it a perfect approach if you have a Magnolia Cloud subscription package.

A content type definition in one file

You can define all of the following in just one file:

  1. JCR workspace

  2. JCR nodetype
    This node type inherits from the Magnolia node type mgnl:content. To define more sophisticated node types, you can create a node type definition file in a light module.

  3. JCR namespace


  $type: jcrContentTypeDatasource
  workspace: tourguides
  autoCreate: true

  nodeType: mt:tourGuide
    - name: birthday
      type: Date
    - name: gender
    - name: shortBio

If a node type inheriting from mgnl:content complies with your requirements, we recommend defining all of the items – namespace, node type and workspace – in the content type definition, all in one file.

Defining and using a node type definition

You can define JCR namespaces and nodetypes in a CND file.

What is CND - Compact Namespace and Node Type Definition

Applies to JCR-oriented definitions only.

The Compact Namespace and Node Type Definition (CND) notation provides a compact standardized syntax for defining node types and making namespace declarations. The notation is intended both for documentation and for programmatically registering node types. See for more details.

While XML-based node type definitions are still supported, we recommend using CND.

Since this definition must be readable as a Magnolia Resource, it can be a file in a light module or in a JAR file or in the resources JCR workspace.

The CND node type definition resource is loaded only if the CND resource is referenced in the Content type Data source definition of a Content type definition.

Once the resource is loaded, the system registers the defined JCR node types and namespaces. If required and Jackrabbit allows it, the system may update the definitions.


  1. Create a CND file in your light module and define a namespace and node types:

    <mt = ''>
    [mt:traveller] > mgnl:content
    [mt:tourGuide] > mt:traveller
    [mt:happyCustomer] > mt:traveller
  1. Reference the node type definition from a content type definition:

      $type: jcrContentTypeDatasource
      workspace: happycustomers
      autoCreate: true
      nodeTypeDefinition: /content-type-examples/jcr-node-type-files/travellers-node-types.cnd (4)
      nodeType: mt:happyCustomer
        - name: country
        - name: age
          type: Double

Line 4: References the node type definition resource via nodeTypeDefinition.

With a Magnolia Maven module descriptor

With Magnolia Maven modules you can register new JCR workspaces and node types. The registration involves the XML-based module descriptor.

Magnolia registers workspaces and node types during a module’s start-up phase in case they have not yet been registered.

Example of a module descriptor:


<!DOCTYPE module SYSTEM "module.dtd" >





In the XML-based module descriptor you can add a <workspace /> section in /repositories/repository/workspaces.


Node types

To define and register new node types requires two things:

  1. Creating a node type definition file (CND or XML) where you define the required node types and name spaces. Create the file in the my-maven-module/src/main/resources/mgnl-nodetypes/ folder.

    <'mgnl' = ''>
    [mt:product] > mgnl:content
  1. Referencing the node type file in the XML-based module descriptor:




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