Context API

Pass data to Foil engine render() method is the simplest and preferred way to pass data to templates.

However, often one needs to pass some data to any template rendered or to some templates under specific conditions. For example, if you want to pass the current user object to any template on a backend system.

Foil context API is just a way to pass data to any template or groups of templates without having to pass that data to render() engine method.

There are two ways to use Foil context API:

  • via engine methods useData() and useContext()
  • via Foil API

The latter is a simple but powerful tool to use all Foil features (so not only context API) and facilitate the integration of Foil in any application. It is documented in "Integrate Foil / API" docs section.


This engine method accepts an array of data, that will be available in all templates.

$engine->useData(['app_name' => 'My Awesome App']);

Using code above, any template that is rendered using that engine object will have access to 'app_name' variable.

Note that in case of name conflict between data assigned via context API and data directly passed to template, the latter takes precedence:

$engine->render('a-template', ['app_name' => 'My Super Awesome App']);

Using code above, in the a-template.php template, 'app_name' variable will be equal to 'My Super Awesome App'.


This method is used to pass some data to a set of templates. Templates to pass data to can be selected in 2 ways:

  • all templates whose file path contain a string or matches a regex
  • using a custom context class

To match all templates whose file path contain a string you need to pass the string to search as 1st argument to useContext() and the data to pass as 2nd argument.

For example:

$engine->useContext('/admin/', ['owner' => get_current_user()]);

Using code above all templates whose path contain the string "/admin/" will have access to the 'owner' variable.

If you pass true as 3rd argument the string search is done using regex:

$engine->useContext('/\.phtml$/', ['foo' => 'Bar'], true);

Using code above all templates whose extension is .phtml will have access to 'foo' variable.

Custom Context Objects

A possible issue with code above is that the code used to retrieve the data that is passed as 2nd argument to useContext() is always ran, even if the template that is rendered doesn't satisfy the condition (so will not receive that data).

This is non-issue if data passed is hardcoded, e.g. like in the ['foo' => 'Bar'] example above, but if data needs to be retrieved using expensive code, makes no sense run it if the template will not satisfy the condition.

To overcome this problem is possible to write custom context classes. They are classes that extends Foil\Contracts\ContextInterface.

That interface has just 2 methods:

  • accept($template)
  • provide()

accept() receives the template path that is going to be rendered, if it returns true all data returned by provide() (that must be an array) is passed to template.

Let's see an usage example:

namespace MyApp;

use Foil\Contracts\ContextInterface;

class BlogMenuContext implements ContextInterface
    private $menu;

    public function __construct(MenuModel $menu)
        $this->menu = $menu;

    public function accept($template)
        return strstr($template, DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR.'blog') !== false;

    public function provide()
        return ['menu' => $this->menu->getItems()];

The accept() method in class above receives template path and return true only if it contains "/blog".

Only in that case provide() method runs and, using menu model, gets menu items that are passed to template in 'menu' variable.

If this class is available, it can be used passing an instance of it to useContext() engine method:

$engine->useContext(new BlogMenuContext());

You can think at context classes as a sort of inverted controllers: normally controllers pass data to views based on external conditions (e.g. which route matched), when using context classes are the views that claims data.

This approach makes a lot of sense for view-specific data that there is no reason a controller is aware of. For example, why a controller should be aware which styles or scripts a template uses?

A similar approach is used in Laravel View Composers, but Foil context API is more flexible because

  • is framework agnostic
  • context classes are not aware of view object, so is possible to use any kind of view object or no view object at all
  • how to match a template is left to user, where in Lavarel is only possible to exactly match a template name or a set of template names
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