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Extension to facilitate import from PIM to TYPO3 records.

Step-by-step guide to configuring imports

An import consists of the following components:

  1. A Server configuration with one or more modules
  2. At least one Module which configures a named PIM connector
  3. A mapping class implementing \Crossmedia\Fourallportal\Mapping\MappingInterface
  4. Registration of the mapping class and optional column mapping information

The following sections describes how to configure and create each of those components

Furthermore, to import Entities you must of course set up everything required to operate this Entity in Extbase: SQL schema, TCA, PHP class, proper annotations, and a Repository. This documentation does not cover the Entity setup (but you may refer to the official TYPO3 documentation for further information about this subject).

The Server component

In order to communicate with the remote API, a Server configuration is required. To create a Server configuration you can use the 4AllPortal backend module and click the plus icon.

The Server needs to be configured with the following information:

  • A customer domain
  • A customer name
  • A username for login
  • A password for login
  • At least one Module

All of the above information will be delivered by the PIM service administrator.

Adding a Module component

When configuring a Server you must add one or more Module components. Each Module may present different configuration fields depending on the type of the Module but all share a few common fields:

  • A connector name
  • A mapping class selection box
  • A storage folder selection box

Only the first of these values, the connector name, is provided by the PIM service admin. The possible values are not documented here and depend entirely on the PIM service.

The remaining fields are used to configure how TYPO3 handles the connector.

Additional fields may be shown based on the selected mapping class.

The mapping class

In order to perform imports from a given connector, a mapping class is needed. This class contains a few basic instructions for how to store the data (essentially, it knows the class name of the Repository and therefore Entity it handles) as well as a handful of methods which can be implemented if it is necessary to change the way the mapping happens by default.

A vanilla mapping class can look as simple as this:

namespace Crossmedia\Products\Fourallportal;

use Crossmedia\Products\Domain\Repository\ProductRepository;
use Crossmedia\Fourallportal\Mapping\AbstractMapping;

class ProductMapping extends AbstractMapping
     * @var string
    protected $repositoryClassName = ProductRepository::class;

Which is all that is needed in order to import data from the PIM service. Once the class is created it must be registered:

// ext_localconf.php of custom extension adding a mapper class

By default, a mapping class will attempt to map properties onto local Entity objects when the names of columns in the PIM data set matches the property names of the Entity. For example, a field named title in the PIM data will automatically be assigned to the title property of the Entity handled by the mapping class.

As far as possible, local columns and property names should match the PIM data columns except where this conflicts with naming schemes.

However, it isn't always possible to rely on a 1:1 mapping of columns - which is why the mapping class registration method takes a second argument that is a column map:

// Still in ext_localconf.php of custom extension
        'emission_class' => 'emissionclass',
        'product_cat' => 'categories',
        'ignored_property' => false, // Mapping any incoming column name to FALSE ignores the column

The second argument is an associative array where the keys are the PIM data column names and the value is the target property name on the Entity.

Conversion of input data to proper TYPO3 data types is then done based on 1) the type of the PIM input value and 2) the expected type of the property on the Entity.

Mapping class check() method

A special method exists on the MappingInterface which can be implemented to perform checks on the mapping routines or objects specific to the mapping, in the backend module's server inspection view.

A mapping class with a check method could be as simple as the following:

namespace Crossmedia\Products\Fourallportal;

use Crossmedia\Products\Domain\Repository\ProductRepository;
use Crossmedia\Fourallportal\Mapping\AbstractMapping;
use Crossmedia\Fourallportal\Service\ApiClient;
use Crossmedia\Fourallportal\Domain\Model\Module;

class ProductMapping extends AbstractMapping
     * @var string
    protected $repositoryClassName = ProductRepository::class;
    public function check(ApiClient $client, Module $module, array $status)
        // Perform a check that the Module is configured correctly to map this type.
        // The called method is an example, not an API method. You can do these checks
        // any way you prefer, as long as 
        if (!$this->myMethodToCheckModuleConfiguration($module)) {
            $status['class'] = 'danger'; // Overrides the CSS class for the Module info.
            $status['message'] .= '<p class="text-danger">The module was misconfigured!</p>';
            // Normally you'd provide more feedback - this is just an example. String
            // is simply appended to previous message(s), as HTML.
        // Also, perform standard checks that the mapping configuration array is
        // consistent and targets existing properties which have setter methods.
        return parent::check($client, $module, $status);
        // Note: if you do not return parent::check() output, instead return $status

Implement this method if your mapping class needs to do additional verification of things like comparing the Module's configuration with API responses to detect misconfiguration.

For example, the FalMapping mapper checks if the shell path trimming and asset downloads function correctly - and skips the check for mapping configuration because there is no true model instance that can be analysed (FAL mapping happens through FAL, not Extbase models).

Data type conversion

All conversion of data types happens through the TypeConverter pattern in TYPO3. To know how to convert a value, the mapping class looks at the Entity's property and attempts to determine the type based on various Reflection analysis. It understands the following type declaration strategies ranging from most to least trustworthy:

  • Method signature of setter method demanding a specific type (including PHP7 strict types)
  • If it exists, a @param annotation on the setter method is the second best option given that the setter will be used to set the value (thus potentially accepting a different type than the actual property it sets)
  • If it exists, a @var annotation on the property of the Entity

If none of the above yields a result the import fails with an exception.

Once the desired target data type is determined, the mapping class uses a limited subset of the features of the PropertyMapper to detect a TypeConverter that accepts the input data type and yields the expected output type.

Edge case per-property conversion

It is not always the case that the standard Extbase/TYPO3 property types fit exactly with the desired input- and output data types - and sometimes, not even a TypeConverter is flexible enough to handle input values.

For these edge cases a special ValueSetterInterface is added which can be implemented by a class and then configured in the mapping array:

// In ext_localconf.php of custom extension
        'description' => \My\Special\ValueSetterImplementation::class,
// The class used in that mapping array
namespace My\Special;

use Crossmedia\Fourallportal\Mapping\MappingInterface;
use Crossmedia\Fourallportal\Mapping\ValueSetterInterface;

class ValueSetterImplementation implements ValueSetterInterface
    public function setValueOnObject($value, $sourcePropertyName, array $inputData, $object, MappingInterface $mappingClass)
        // Do something to the input property value that normal TypeConverters can't.
        // Or call special setters or other methods on the object to set values in ways
        // standard setters can't, for example when using non-standard setter methods
        // or methods which toggle multiple other properties based on data from the API.
        // There is no return value since $object gets updated by reference. 

Note that such properties are ignored when building dynamic properties. This means that if the property you handle requires either a domain object property, TCA or SQL schema, then you must manually define all of these things since they will not be added automatically.

The purpose of TypeConverters

The choice of TypeConverters to do the actual conversion is a way to approximate how TYPO3 itself would attempt to convert a value - and supporting any third party converters through the TYPO3 API instead of inventing a new API solely for this purpose.

TypeConverters are fairly simple to create in that they have one main method and two properties that govern which types it accepts and yields. For convenience, a shared base class for PIM-aware type conversion is added, making new converters excessively simple:

namespace Crossmedia\Products\TypeConverter;

use Crossmedia\Products\Domain\Model\Product;

class ProductTypeConverter extends AbstractUuidAwareObjectTypeConverter implements PimBasedTypeConverterInterface
     * @var string
    protected $targetType = Product::class;

This TypeConverter only needs to declare which target type it supports - everything else is handled by the base class.

The base class provides a few essential features:

  • It supports loading a record by remote_id column as well as uid
  • It will attempt to load first by remote_id then by uid
  • If neither method is successful it creates a new object and sets the remoteId attribute

These behaviors when combined result in a very specific way of operation. It makes relations between objects completely transparent - even if the input data refers to an object by its remote ID, the correct object either gets resolved or created on-the-fly to ensure that no invalid relations will ever be written.

All that is required for a relation to work, is annotating it correctly in the Entity class and making sure it has the appropriate setter methods. Compound types are automatically detected and processed, e.g. if the PIM data set contains an array of references to other objects and the local Entity is correctly annotated, the mapping class knows to resolve each of those references and yield an ObjectStorage that can be persisted by Extbase.

However, this choice has a few implications:

  • One TypeConverter must be registered for every possible data type or Entity from PIm
  • If no converter can be detected for a given type, the import fails.
  • If another TypeConverter exists with a higher priority then it gets used. The default priority for any TypeConverter using the shared base class is a very high 90 for this very reason.

Developer note: null is handled by bypassing all of the regular mapping. Deleting a property value is possible by passing null as the value in the PIM data set.

In order to register a TypeConverter you need a single line in ext_localconf.php:


"Complex Types"

Certain properties from the remote API have a so-called complex type, which means the value consists of the value itself, along with meta-information about the nature of the value. For example, CEMetric types exist to cover length in millimeters and inches, weight in kilos and pounds, and so on.

Usage of these types is automatic (and happens via a special TypeConverter, see above). You can of course also map such ComplexType properties manually but the creation of the instances themselves happens automatically and internally.

The way complex types work requires each possible complex type to be configured before it can be used. An annotated example of such a configuration:

// in ext_localconf.php of an extension
    'CEMetric', // The name this shared type has in the remote API
    'performance', // An internal name identifying what the value describes
    'hp', // A label that can be rendered after the value, such as "kg", "g", "mm" etc.
    'performance_imperial', // The specific property name (on any parent object type) which uses this complex type as value
    // The final parameter is a special matching array which contains a subset of the
    // field configuration array returned from the remote API. This array is then checked
    // when detecting a ComplexType to use for a certain field: if all values in this
    // array match the corresponding settings in the API's responses, then this complex
    // type will be used.
        'type' => 'CEMetric',
        'name' => 'performance_imperial',
        'metric' => [
            'name' => 'performance',
            'defaultUnit' => 'hp'

When a complex type value is saved it gets saved as a 1:1 related record in the database. This record contains information how to process the value (which type to cast) and is unique for each property on each parent (parents never share complex type values: they are not value objects as such!). Before saving it, the value coming from the remote API gets assigned along with the data type the value had when it was received. The value getter method then casts the value to the right type before returning it.

Accessing complex type values in templates and code

In order to "read" the value stored in a complex type, dotted path access can be used to reference the value (or the label, or the name) of the type.

Example Fluid template accessing:

<!-- Assuming the variable {product} has a property "weight" that is a valid ComplexType -->

Product: {}
Weight: <f:format.number decimals="1">{product.weight.normalizedValue}</f:format.number> {product.weight.label}

<!-- Which could for example output in the last line: "Weight: 5.0 kg" -->

Example PHP access:

$weight = $product->getWeight();
$weightString = 'Weight: ' . number_format($weight->getNormalizedValue(), 2) . ' ' . $weight->getLabel();

// $weightString value for example: "Weight: 5.0 kg"

Alternatively, the special TYPO3\CMS\Extbase\Reflection\ObjectAccess class can be used to extract a specific value by path (which is useful if the path comes from external sources):

$weightAsDouble = ObjectAccess::getProperty($product, 'weight.normalizedValue');

Contrary to the chained PHP method calls, using ObjectAcceess throws an exception if the path does not exist (which happens if the chain links can't be accessed with getter methods).

Note: for exactly things like determining how many decimal places to render, the remote API actually returns this information, but stored in separate properties. So, for example, you may be calling another getter method first to get $decimalPlaces then use that when formatting the value you read from the complex type. Since these are stored separately there is unfortunately no way to return an already formatted value directly from the ComplexType instance.

Dynamic domain models

The Fourallportal extension features dynamic models on the TYPO3 side, which basically means that if you construct the model classes in a specific way, there is a command line command you can execute to generate a base class using properties returned from the remote API.

Opting in to dynamic model properties requires the following steps:

  1. The model class file must include a special call to load a dynamically generated base class before using it as base class for the model.
  2. The TCA file for the model must create the columns array using array_merge to put together the basic properties and the output from a function call which reads the remote API's properties for the connector that handles the model class.

Note that the function call which generates the TCA should only be used in the array-returning TCA definition file for the model's table - since it calls the remote API it would impact performance negatively if the output was not allowed to be cached, which is the case if it were used in a so-called Overrides TCA file (which directly modifies the TCA array instead of returning an array).

The rest of the requirements are automatically handled:

  1. SQL schema gets generated based on configured Modules and can be updated using the normal schema update approaches (install tool or via third party CLI commands).
  2. The TCA gets generated automatically based on responses from the remote API.
  3. Whenever possible, dynamic model classes are regenerated on-the-fly. If this cannot be done an exception is thrown informing the administrator to use the command line.

The system generates dynamic model classes in two steps: first, a safe fallback class is generated to ensure that if runtime errors happen during custom properties processing, there will be no fatal errors that classes cannot be found. Second step is to generate the actual class with all the custom properties.

Properties which require custom types or special overrides can be handled in two different ways depending on the desired outcome:

  1. The model class property, getter and setter added in the dynamically generated parent class can be overridden (as long as the method signatures are compatible; the signatures on the parent class are intentionally as loose as possible)
  2. Properties can be mapped to other properties, which for example makes it possible to create relations and values which don't come from the remote API.

The first strategy can be used when the property names are compatible and for example the getter method should transform the value before returning it. The second strategy can be used when field names are incompatible or when the field is using a data type that doesn't come from the remote API (for example, a relation to a TYPO3-only record like a domain, a user, a page, etc.).

The following sections describe how to integrate the three main requirements

The model class file

The model file looks like any other domain model class you find in TYPO3 with one exception: before the class is defined, a special API is used to load the parent class. This class is then loaded separately from the normal class loading (since the class file exists as a pseudo cache file containing a class definition).

If the parent class for some reason cannot be loaded a specific error message is used instead of just reporting a missing class.

In other words: the dynamic parent class is used instead of AbstractEntity but in all other ways the model works like a normal Extbase domain model.

An annotated domain model class example:

// Load the class, and generate the fallback and attempt to generate the dynamic
// class file if this is possible (config complete, API responding) and if not already
// generated. Any inclusion generates all classes for all modules since relations may
// point to other models.

 * Product
 * The implementation using the dynamic parent class.
 * This class can contain custom properties or overrides
 * of properties on the parent class.
class Product extends AbstractProduct
     * Example of a property which needs a special instance
     * type. This property is overridden here and annotated
     * with a different property type than the one coming
     * from the remote API. This annotation is then read and
     * assuming you have a so-called "TypeConverter" that can
     * convert from the data type the remote API returns, to
     * this class type, the value from the remote API gets
     * converted to an instance of `My\Special\Class` before
     * it is passed to the setter method.
     * @var \My\Special\Class
    protected $specialProperty;
    // Imagine a standard getter and setter method for $this->specialProperty here

     * Overridden getter for a dynamically added property.
     * Useful if the value must be transformed before display,
     * for example to preserve only some tags in HTML that
     * you display in the template without escaping it.
     * The property name in the remote API in this case is
     * "my_property" which in TYPO3 gets converted to the
     * lowerCamelCase format and becomes "myProperty".
     * @return string
    public function getMyProperty()
        return strip_tags($this->myProperty, '<a><em><i><strong><b>');

Note: in order to make these classes visible to an IDE, the file system path must be included and not excluded. The default folder in which classes get generated is:


Normal practice is to exclude scanning files in typo3temp but in the context of fourallportal it is very helpful to not exclude this specific folder.

You can also inspect the generated classes in this folder. They use a shared-hash filename with a suffix to identify the fallback version.

Preventing use of the automatic model

In some cases it may be necessary to opt out from dynamic model generation. There are two ways in which this can be done, both of which are equally valid:

  1. You can manually create the AbstractXyz class in the namespace where it is expected. When the class already exists there, attempting to load the class returns that implementation instead of the dynamic one even if you called the special loadClass API method in a model class file!
  2. You can configure a toggle in the Module settings in TYPO3 to disable the dynamic model feature on a per-connector/module basis. Doing this implies you must manually create the parent class and simply not use the parent class nor API related when creating your model class and TCA for the entity.

Using the extension to generate static TCA, SQL and Model classes

In addition to all of the above described dynamic model capabilities, three shell commands have been added which can be used to generate TCA, SQL and Model as static files in the extension that handles the entity. This is useful if instead of generating these resources on-the-fly you wish to generate them in development, commit them to version control and have them run without needing to generate them on the production system (and not be sensitive to unexpected changes in schema).

To do this, you only need to do the following:

  • Prepare the model class file as explained above, but without the call to DynamicModelGenerator. in every sense, just create an entity class file which extends an abstract class file that will be generated by the commands.
  • Call ./typo3/cli_dispatch.phpsh extbase fourallportal:generateabstractmodel to generate the abstract model class files for your entities. The command can accept an entity class name as the only parameter, which makes it generate only that particular entity's abstract class.
  • Call ./typo3/cli_dispatch.phpsh extbase fourallportal:generatetableconfiguration to create TCA files in the conventional path for TCA files in extensions. Like the first command, it too can accept an entity class as parameter to only generate one file.
  • Call ./typo3/cli_dispatch.phpsh extbase fourallportal:generatesqlschema to generate a static SQL schema file in extensions. Note that this path is not a conventional SQL schema path but is used to separate the dynamically generated schema from the (one and only) normal schema. The schema in these unconventional files still gets analysed in the install tool's compare schema command, and in the CLI command that updates the schema from TYPO3 Console. This last command however does not accept the name of an entity since it generates the schema in bulk, always.

Any combination of or any one of the commands alone can be used to disable the on-the-fly config creation and replace those with static ones you can (re)generate manually and for example add to version control.

The TCA definitions file

TCA (Table Configuration Array) must be written for entities - just like any other Extbase model requires it - but the TCA array must be constructed with some parts using an API call to the fourallportal extension, to add the dynamic columns that are returned from the remote API. Without this TCA, the properties will simply be ignored when they are persited; the query to update the database will not contain the columns at all.

The following is a heavily truncated example TCA configuration file, like the ones you would place in your extension to configure your entities:

return [
    'ctrl' => [
        'title' => 'LLL:EXT:products/Resources/Private/Language/locallang_db.xlf:tx_products_domain_model_product',
    'interface' => [
        'showRecordFieldList' => 'brand, dyn1, dyn2',
    'columns' => array_merge(
            'brand' => [
                'exclude' => true,
                'label' => 'LLL:EXT:products/Resources/Private/Language/locallang_db.xlf:tx_products_domain_model_product.brand',
                'config' => [
                    'type' => 'input',

The important part to notice is that instead of hard-coding an array in the columns index, as is normally done with TCA, the PHP function array_merge() is called with two arrays as input to create a merged result:

  1. The dynamic array of TCA based on columns returned from the remote API.
  2. The associative array you would normally define in columns which describe all of the properties that you manually added or are required by TYPO3 itself. This array gets quite big and in this example only contains a single field; normally you have 10+.

Anything you define in the second array will overrule what is generated in the first array. If you need this to be different simply pass the API call as second array for array_merge.

The TCA generated this way gets cached by TYPO3 and will not be cleared unless the "all" or "system" caches are cleared, which fits perfectly with the rebuilding of the model class files.

Completely automated models

If your models are essentially duplicates of each other with different names, which often is the case when using the dynamic model feature, you may wish to have all of the schema sources generated for you using standard composition.

For models which have completely boilerplate TCA and SQL schemas you can use this API:


Combined with the following TCA file (which should be placed in the standard TCA file path):

return \Crossmedia\Fourallportal\DynamicModel\DynamicModelGenerator::generateAutomaticTableConfigurationForModelClassName(

Doing so causes the following to happen:

  1. You no longer have to define the entity's table in ext_tables.sql as the schema will be generated completely automatically.
  2. You need no other TCA, but can still override the properties by the standard TCA overrides file path convention.

Note that this strategy can be combined with custom domain model properties. When doing this you must add the custom fields only, in ext_tables.sql (e.g. a partial schema like when adding fields on pages or tt_content), and must add the TCA for that field using TCA override files - and must manually add the fields to the list of shown fields. It is highly recommended to use the TYPO3 API for adding TCA fields for this use case!

The model update command

There are two ways to force dynamic models to be updated.

From the command line (or as scheduler task executing the "Extbase Controller Command")

./typo3/cli_dispatch.phpsh extbase fourallportal:updateModels

This command force-updates all models by reading the remote API and then regenerating the classes (overwriting already generated ones if they exist).

The second way is to flush the TYPO3 system caches. This also triggers a model rebuild and is intended as a way to let developers quickly trigger the rebuild on demand. Note that the rebuild only happens if you flush the "all" or "system" caches.

Dimension Handling

This extension supports the import of Fields that contain differents dimension values. To map Dimension Values to specific TYPO3 Languages you need to configure Mappings in the Backend of TYPO3 in the Server Configuration. For each Language you want to map a Dimension to you need to create an Inline DimensionMapping Record that specifies the Language this Dimension should be mapped to and the Name/Value pairs to identify a specific Dimension.

Adding a scheduled task

In order to schedule the import command so it will execute at regular intervals, you have two main strategies available to you:

  1. Directly running the import command from crontab
  2. Creating a scheduled task in TYPO3 which executes the command controller

The first option is covered in extensive detail in man crontab on any UNIX system so it won't be covered here.

The second option, adding a scheduled task in TYPO3, requires the following steps:

  • Make sure a crontab task exists which calls ./typo3/cli_dispatch.phpsh scheduler at regular intervals. The interval you set for this crontab task will be the lowest possible frequency at which jobs can run in TYPO3; suggested value is every 5 minutes.
  • Make sure the scheduler system extension is installed in TYPO3.
  • In the Scheduler backend module, add a new task and select the "Extbase command controller" task from the list of task types.
  • Fill in an interval, for example */5 * * * * or 300 which both mean every 5 minutes.
  • Now save the scheduled task (save, do not save and close).
  • Scroll down to the newly added field where you select the Extbase command controller to be executed. Select the Fourallportal fourallportal: sync command type.
  • Now save the task again (save, do not save and close).
  • Once again, scroll down and you will find the last configurable field with the label sync. If you enable this field, the task will do a full synchronisation resetting the last received event ID and spooling all events again. Leaving it disabled makes the task start with the last received event.

The necessity to save and re-edit the task multiple times is caused by the slightly old API that exists in Scheduler: it does not allow scanning all of the available tasks and their arguments, so the command options do not become available until a task type is selected and the task is saved - and the arguments the command takes does not become available until the command type is selected and the task is saved again.

This approach is necessary with any Extbase command controller.

Note that the sync argument should only be enabled if you explicitly want the task to do a full synchronisation every time it runs. This should never be enabled on production systems; it is there mostly for development and resetting if/when event errors should occur.

Like the sync command, the updateModels command can also be scheduled should you wish to make your models be updated at certain times. The recommendation however is to only trigger model rebuilding manually since updates may reveal a need to extend the local mapping info or add properties to models.

Expected behavior

Assuming that you put all of the above components together correctly, running the import CLI command should cause the following chain of events to occur:

  • Each Server is iterated
  • Each Module from each Server is iterated
  • The PIM API is queried using the credentials and configuration from Server and Module
  • A list of events are received and spooled
  • The events are claimed and processed one by one, performing one of either update or delete actions (note: create is compounded into update since ad-hoc creation happens)
  • If successful, all properties received from PIM are mapped onto the Entity properties and saved to the database.
  • If any errors should occur, feedback is output identifying the source of the problem.

Developer hints

The following hints may help developers avoid pitfalls when working with this logic:

  1. Reflection is widely used and registration happens in extension config files, and both of these asset types are quite eagerly cached by TYPO3. The cache group that contains both of these caches is the system one which is normally hidden unless you are in Development context or the system cache flushing was explicitly allowed for your user.
  2. Even though TypeConverts are used, Extbase's validation logic is not triggered. This means you can potentially save values in the DB that cause loading of the Entity to fail if for example it is passed as argument to a controller action (unless you disable validation for the argument in the controller action itself).
  3. TYPO3 contains TypeConverters for standard types which may not be possible to override. Should you experience problems with this, it is possible to remove an already registered TypeConverter directly from the TYPO3_CONF_VARS array but this is strongly discouraged. If a given TypeConverter is unable to convert a value, consider wrapping said value in a ValueObject you attach to your Entity, then create a TypeConverter that converts to that type of ValueObject.
  4. As far as humanly possible, try to adhere to the best practice described above and make your Entity as close to the PIM column structures as you can. Overriding any of the logic of the mapping classes or TypeConverter base class may cause vital features to stop working, e.g. could prevent proper handling of relations. The less you customise, the more likely it is that the default rules will handle your object types with no problems.