Object types

Xperience relies on various entities persisted in the database for its functionality – users represented by UserInfo objects stored in the CMS_User table, digital marketing contacts represented by ContactInfo objects stored in the OM_Contact table, to name a few. The properties and behavior of such entities within the system is managed via object type registrations. An object type stores metadata that control how the system works with a given entity.

Entities registered as object types can benefit from:

  • Object-relational mapping (ORM) via entity-provider classes with fluent API
  • Configurable referential and parent-child relationships between objects with ensured referential integrity
  • Configurable handling of object caching and cache dependencies
  • Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment
  • Automation and support for other actions and behavior according to the object type’s configuration

The system enables you to model custom entities that leverage the aforementioned features. The process consists of the following steps:

  1. Define a data class used by the ORM framework to map the database entity to an object.
  2. Generate code files for the data class. The process generates an Info class that mirrors the database entity (used by the ORM framework) and contains the object type registration.
  3. Configure the object type definition stored within the Info class.

Define the data class

Data classes are managed from the Modules application in the Xperience administration. Each class must belong to a Module – a container that groups related data classes.

Create a module

Begin by creating a module:

  1. Open the Modules application.
    • The default listing shows only system modules that contain one or more extendable system object types. You cannot create new data classes under system modules.
  2. Select New module.
  3. Fill in the Module name and Code name fields. Optionally, you can give the module a Description.
    • These fields mainly serve as metadata accessible from within object types to determine module association.
  4. Select Save.

Define and model the data class

With the module created, you can now create new data class:

  1. Select your module from the listing.
  2. Switch to the Classes tab and select New class.
    • The class models the object’s data structure for ORM and stores the object type definition.
  3. Enter the class’s Class name and Code name.
    • The code name is also used to identify the object type registration in the system.
  4. Select Save.

The system creates the data class and its corresponding database table. The database table name follows the Namespace_Name pattern. For example: Acme_Office

Continue by modeling the database entity:

  1. Switch to the Database columns tab.
  2. Using the field editor, model the object as required.
    • Each data class (database entity) is created with an identity column that cannot be removed.
    • Each added field creates a column in the corresponding database table.
    • At this stage, you are only modeling the database entity. You cannot assign value editors (UI form components) to fields (in contrast with content types). This is done at a later stage when defining the object type’s editing interface.

Generate code files

With the entity modeled, the last step is to generate code files for the object type.

  1. (Optional) Switch to the Code tab and assign columns as required. See Configure code generation for object types for a description of each setting.
    • All the available settings only affect code generation and can be changed later in the generated code files (or by regenerating the class).
  2. Generate the code files by running the code generator utility.
    Generate object type code files
     dotnet run --no-build -- --kxp-codegen --type "Classes" --with-provider-class False

The generated <ObjectTypeName>Info class contains the object type definition and system registration which consists of the following components:

  • The unique identifier under which the object type is registered in the system is stored in the OBJECT_TYPE constant.
  • The RegisterObjectType assembly attribute. Registers the object type and its implementing class into the system.
  • An object of the ObjectTypeInfo type under the TYPEINFO member.
    • Defines the object type and its behavior in the system.

This concludes the necessary steps for object type creation. The type is now registered in the system and available to work with using the API.

The created object type only contains the most basic type definition required to work with the object in the system. The object type can be further configured according to your requirements. See Object type configuration.

For a general overview of the API responsible for ORM and general database interaction, see Database table API and ObjectQuery API.

See the next section to learn how to define editing forms for the object type and display them on pages in the administration interface.

Configure code generation for data classes

You can further configure code generation for object types under Modulesselect a moduleClassesedit a classCode.



Object type

The identifier of the object type in the system. Must be unique within the Xperience instance. We recommend prefixing object types with a shared identifier. For example, system object types begin with the CMS. prefix (this prefix is reserved). 

Display name column

Stores a human-readable name of the object. Reflected in UIs that work with objects (e.g., in breadcrumbs, navigation, object listings). Depends mainly on the type of the used UI page.

Code name column

Stores the code name of each object. This column is used to identify the object when retrieving objects via their code name.

If set, generated provider interfaces by default contain a Get(string codename) method.

GUID column

Stores the GUID of each object. This column is used to identify the object when retrieving objects via GUIDs. If set, generated provider interfaces by default contain a Get(Guid guid) method.

Only columns with the GUID data type can be selected.

“Last modified” column

If set, can be automatically populated by the system when performing certain supported actions with objects of the given type, such as updates (calling Set on the corresponding provider).

Only columns with the DateTime data type can be selected.

Binary column

Stores associated binary data.

Only columns with the Binary data type can be selected.

Additionally, columns that can be used to uniquely identify individual records in the database (ID, Code name, GUID) have the Use hashtable option available. If the option is enabled, retrieved objects are cached under the corresponding identifier. For subsequent queries targeting previously retrieved records, the cached values are used, reducing database usage. However, note that enabling hashtable caching for data classes with a significant number of records that are often loaded by the system may result in a large increase in application memory usage. See Object type configuration.

Define editing forms

Object types can have multiple editing forms, each shown in a different context as required. For example, creating new objects of a particular type can show a different set of form fields than the edit action, depending on user requirements.

You can manage all editing forms for a given object type on its UI forms tab:

  1. In the Modules application, edit a module and select a data class.
  2. Switch to the UI forms tab and select New UI form.
  3. Enter the UI form name and Code name.
  4. Select Save.

With the UI form created, you now need to define its fields. Depending on the target use case, the form’s fields can contain all or a subset of the type’s database columns. Columns marked as Required, if not added to a form, use the default value configured on the Database columns tab.

  1. Edit a created UI form and switch to the Fields tab.
  2. Select New field, the Database column selector opens. You now have two choices:
    1. Create a field that corresponds to one of the database columns defined for the object type. Submitted data is persisted in the selected column.
    2. Select New field without database column to create a field whose value is not persisted in the database. For example, fields of this kind can be used to modify an object’s create/update logic, see Process submitted UI form data.
  3. Using the field editor, define all form fields according to your requirements.
  4. (Optional) Group fields into categories via New category. Categories contain all fields listed underneath them.

The UI form is now created and can be displayed.

Create a user interface

To create a user interface for your objects, leverage the user interface customization framework exposed by the administration.

The following sections only briefly cover the necessary steps and provide links to relevant pages.

Create object type listings

To create a page that lists objects of a specific type, use the Listing UI page template.

Display editing forms on UI pages

To display created UI forms in the administration interface, use the edit or create UI page templates and assign the UI form’s name to the UIFormName property within the ConfigurePage method override.

These pages ensure that submitted values get propagated into the corresponding database columns mapped to each UI form field. 

Values from fields without database columns can be acted upon when processing submitted data on the back end.

Process submitted UI form data

You can modify the logic that creates and updates the corresponding object in the database based on the data submitted from create and edit pages.

Within the UI pages that handle a particular object type, override the FinalizeInfoObject method.

To get field values, use:

  • IFormFieldValueProvider.TryGet<TType>(string fieldName, out var fieldValue) – returns the value of the given field as TType

where fieldName is the name of the field.

Access the object being created or edited via the infoObject parameter. You can also use IFormFieldValueProvider to read values from fields without database columns and use it, for example, for some conditional logic.

Object create and edit pages - FinalizeInfoObject example

protected override Task FinalizeInfoObject(OfficeInfo infoObject, IFormFieldValueProvider fieldValueProvider, CancellationToken cancellationToken)
    // Updates the object based on form fields mapped to specific database columns
    base.FinalizeInfoObject(infoObject, fieldValueProvider, cancellationToken);

    // Reads the value from a field
    fieldValueProvider.TryGet<string>("FormFieldWithoutDatabaseColumn", out var fieldValue);

    // Further modifies a given value
    infoObject.OfficeDisplayName += $"_{fieldValue}";

    // The system validates and sets the object to the database
    return Task.CompletedTask;