Creating a New Feature (Joomla)

In the Gantry framework, we use the term Feature to mean a specific bit of functionality. Features are flexible enough that they can be used to perform almost any type of logic you would need. The base GantryFeature class contains methods that can be implemented to control how your feature functions. Those methods are:

For WordPress, the equivalent tab is called Gizmos. Many of the features used in Joomla are represented by Widgets on WordPress. You can find out more about WordPress gizmos by visiting the Creating a New Gizmo guide.


  • By default, this gets its state from the enabled toggle in the admin. You can override this to force the enabling of a feature without any UI interaction.
  • Returns boolean (true / false)


  • This gets its position from the position element in the admin by default. Again, you can override this to force a position without any UI interaction.
  • Returns string [current position name]

isInPosition([string $position])

  • This is a method to determine if the feature is located in a specified position.
  • Argument (optional) string (position name to get compared with the current position of the feature).
  • Returns boolean (true / false) if the current position is the same as the argument.


  • A method that defaults to true, but can be overriden if the order of this position is not important.
  • Returns boolean (true / false)

setPrefix(string $prefix)

  • This sets a prefix for handling prefixed fields such as chained elements.
  • Argument string (prefix name - usually the name of the main chain param)

get($param [, $prefixed = true])

  • This gets a param from the feature's configuration. It can also take a prefix for more specificity.
  • Argument string (field name)
  • Argument [optional] boolean (true / false)
  • Returns mixed (the current value of the field)


  • Empty by default. It's the first method called on initialization of a feature. Used for setup or initialization.


  • This is used to render output in a particular position. It is empty by default.


  • Empty by default, this is called at the end of the feature.

All core features, and any custom feature you create, should extend this GantryFeature class. To create a new feature of your own, you would just have to create a new file in your features/ folder that extended the libraries/gantry/core/gantryfeature.class.php class. It will automatically get picked up by the Gantry framework and be processed. The best way to see what a feature can do for you is to examine a few of the core features located in the libraries/gantry/features/ folder.

ToTop Feature

First, let's take a look at totop.php, one of the core features. As you can imagine, the TopTop feature is intended to display a link at the bottom of your page which provides a smooth-scroll back to the top of the page. The most important part of a feature is the actual feature PHP file. The core features are located in the libraries/gantry/features/ folder. These should never be touched or changed.

If you want to override the behavior of a core feature, simply copy the core feature in your /templates/[YOUR_TEMPLATE]/features folder. Gantry will automatically pick up your version of the file and use it rather than the default version if you have created one with the same name. The other part of a feature, and one that is totally optional, is the configuration section. As with other parts of Gantry, the configuration is handled in template-options.xml.

For the totop feature the section in the template-options.xml looks like:

<fields name="totop" type="chain" label="TOTOP" description="TOTOP_DESC">
    <field name="enabled" type="toggle" default="0" label="SHOW"/>
    <field name="position" type="position" default="copyright-b" label="POSITION"/>
    <field name="text" type="text" default="Back to Top" label="TEXT" class="text-long" />

This means that there are going to be three fields rendered in the administrator interface. One is a toggle element that will control the 'enabled' state, and the second is position element which controls the position the feature is rendered in. The third field is a text field which allows you to enter custom text. By exposing these elements in the XML, we allow interaction with the user. If you wanted to add new elements in this XML section, you could. They would be available for you to use in your feature's PHP definition.

Next, let's look at the PHP for this feature:

 * @version   $Id: totop.php 2487 2012-08-17 22:04:06Z btowles $
 * @author    RocketTheme
 * @copyright Copyright (C) 2007 - ${copyright_year} RocketTheme, LLC
 * @license GNU/GPLv2 only
 * Gantry uses the Joomla Framework (, a GNU/GPLv2 content management system

defined('JPATH_BASE') or die();


 * @package     gantry
 * @subpackage  features
class GantryFeatureToTop extends GantryFeature
    var $_feature_name = 'totop';

    function init()
        /** @var $gantry Gantry */
        global $gantry;

        if ($this->get('enabled')) {

    function render($position)
    <div class="clear"></div>
    <div class="rt-block">
        <a href="#" id="gantry-totop" rel="nofollow"><?php echo $this->get('text'); ?></a>
        return ob_get_clean();

As you can see, the there are two methods implemented in the PHP definition of the feature. The first overrides the default init() method. This is used to setup the feature. In this case, we are simply using it to added some JavaScript that will provide the smooth scrolling. The second method that is used is render().

This method actually renders out the link and the custom text field that was defined in the administrator interface. The other methods from the base GantryFeature class are not overridden. That means the standard methods to get the enabled state, position, etc. are being used, and are pulling that data from the XML and admin settings. You can see how custom XML fields like text are easily available and are prefixed by the feature name, so you can just use get->("text") to retrieve the value of of the chained field.

Have a look through all the default features that come with Gantry to see how we achieved a wide variety of functionality with these features.