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How to implement an alternating button


Save and Save & publish buttons alternate their appearance to reflect the state of the underlying SiteTree object. This is based on a ssui.button extension available in ssui.core.js.

The button can be configured via the data attributes in the backend, or through jQuery UI initialisation options. The state can be toggled from the backend (again through data attributes), and can also be easily toggled or set on the frontend.

This how-to will walk you through creation of a "Clean-up" button with two appearances:

  • active: "Clean-up now" green constructive button if the actions can be performed
  • netural: "Cleaned" default button if the action does not need to be done

The controller code that goes with this example is listed in Extend CMS Interface.

Backend support

First create and configure the action button with alternate state on a page type. The button comes with the default state already, so you just need to add the alternate state using two data additional attributes:

  • data-icon-alternate: icon to be shown when the button is in the alternate state
  • data-text-alternate: likewise for text.

Here is the configuration code for the button:

public function getCMSActions() {
    $fields = parent::getCMSActions();

        $cleanupAction = FormAction::create('cleanup', 'Cleaned')
            // Set up an icon for the neutral state that will use the default text.
            ->setAttribute('data-icon', 'accept')
            // Initialise the alternate constructive state.
            ->setAttribute('data-icon-alternate', 'addpage')
            ->setAttribute('data-text-alternate', 'Clean-up now')

    return $fields;

You can control the state of the button from the backend by applying ss-ui-alternate class to the FormAction. To simplify our example, let's assume the button state is controlled on the backend only, but you'd usually be better off adjusting the state in the frontend to give the user the benefit of immediate feedback. This technique might still be used for initialisation though.

Here we initialise the button based on the backend check, and assume that the button will only update after page reload (or on CMS action).

public function getCMSActions() {
    // ...
    if ($this->needsCleaning()) {
        // Will initialise the button into alternate state.
    // ...

Frontend support

As with the Save and Save & publish buttons, you might want to add some scripted reactions to user actions on the frontend. You can affect the state of the button through the jQuery UI calls.

First of all, you can toggle the state of the button - execute this code in the browser's console to see how it works.

jQuery('.cms-edit-form .Actions #Form_EditForm_action_cleanup').button('toggleAlternate');

Another, more useful, scenario is to check the current state.

jQuery('.cms-edit-form .Actions #Form_EditForm_action_cleanup').button('option', 'showingAlternate');

You can also force the button into a specific state by using UI options.

jQuery('.cms-edit-form .Actions #Form_EditForm_action_cleanup').button({showingAlternate: true});

This will allow you to react to user actions in the CMS and give immediate feedback. Here is an example taken from the CMS core that tracks the changes to the input fields and reacts by enabling the Save and Save & publish buttons (changetracker will automatically add changed class to the form if a modification is detected).

 * Enable save buttons upon detecting changes to content.
 * "changed" class is added by jQuery.changetracker.
$('.cms-edit-form .changed').entwine({
    // This will execute when the class is added to the element.
    onmatch: function(e) {
        var form = this.closest('.cms-edit-form');
        form.find('#Form_EditForm_action_save').button({showingAlternate: true});
        form.find('#Form_EditForm_action_publish').button({showingAlternate: true});
    // Entwine requires us to define this, even if we don't use it.
    onunmatch: function(e) {

Frontend hooks

ssui.button defines several additional events so that you can extend the code with your own behaviours. For example this is used in the CMS to style the buttons. Three events are available:

  • ontogglealternate: invoked when the toggleAlternate is called. Return false to prevent the toggling.
  • beforerefreshalternate: invoked before the alternate-specific rendering takes place, including the button initialisation.
  • afterrefreshalternate: invoked after the rendering has been done, including on init. Good place to add styling extras.

Continuing our example let's add a "constructive" style to our Clean-up button. First you need to be able to add custom JS code into the CMS. You can do this by adding a new source file, here mysite/javascript/CMSMain.CustomActionsExtension.js, and requiring it through a YAML configuration value: LeftAndMain.extra_requirements_javascript. Set it to 'mysite/javascript/CMSMain.CustomActionsExtension.js'.

You can now add the styling in response to afterrefreshalternate event. Let's use entwine to avoid accidental memory leaks. The only complex part here is how the entwine handle is constructed. onbuttonafterrefreshalternate can be disassembled into:

  • on signifies the entiwne event handler
  • button is jQuery UI widget name
  • afterrefreshalternate: the event from ssui.button to react to.

Here is the entire handler put together. You don't need to add any separate initialisation code, this will handle all cases.

(function($) {

    $.entwine('mysite', function($){
        $('.cms-edit-form .Actions #Form_EditForm_action_cleanup').entwine({
             * onafterrefreshalternate is SS-specific jQuery UI hook that is executed
             * every time the button is rendered (including on initialisation).
            onbuttonafterrefreshalternate: function() {
                if (this.button('option', 'showingAlternate')) {
                else {



The code presented gives you a fully functioning alternating button, similar to the defaults that come with the the CMS. These alternating buttons can be used to give user the advantage of visual feedback upon their actions.

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