Personalized Paragraphs: Porting Smart Content to Paragraphs for Drupal

This blog covers how the Personalized Paragraphs module was built, if you’re looking for how to use Personalized Paragraphs, check out the How To Use Personalized Paragraphs blog. If you have any questions you can find me @plamb on the Drupal slack chat, there is also a #personalized_paragraphs channel.

In 2020, I was tasked by my organization with finding or developing a personalization solution for our Drupal-based website. By personalization, I mean a tool that will match anonymous users into segments and display a certain piece of content based on that segmentation. Brief searching led me into the arms of Smart Content, a platform for personalization developed by the clever folks over at Elevated Third. Smart Content is a toolset for managing segmentation, decisions, reactions etc all within the Drupal framework. As a general platform, it makes no assumptions about how you want to, say, display the content to the user or pass results back to your analytics platform. However, it comes with a number of sub modules so you don’t need to develop these solutions on your own. Out of the box, Smart Content includes ‘Smart Content Block’ which allows you to utilize Drupal’s Block interface to manage your personalized content. There are a number of reasons this was a good idea, but it also presented some difficulties (at least for us).

After installing Smart Content, the most straightforward way to use personalized blocks was to create a Smart Content Decision Block in the block layout builder. However, to get control over where the block was placed (i.e. instead of in a region across many pages), we needed to disable the block, load it independently in a preprocess and attach it to the relevant page’s theme variables; a bit cumbersome. I recognize that there are other options like Block Field out there, but this appeared to be the most out-of-the-box way to use Smart Content Block. As a block-based solution, we found that we had to make changes to the blocks on prod then drag the changes back to our development branches and environments because exporting block config would cause UUID issues on merge. As our use cases grew, this became more cumbersome. In addition, my organization heavily leans on Paragraphs to power content inside of Nodes (and very sparingly uses blocks). After about 6 months of using Smart Content we decided we should see if we could utilize Paragraphs to power personalization.

The funny thing about Paragraphs is that they don’t ‘float free’ of Nodes in the same way that blocks do; at their core they are referenced by Nodes. Or at least I thought. When we discussed using paragraphs I did some brief research and saw that others had successfully attempted porting Smart Content to Paragraphs. Upon testing this module, I found that it relied on an old, fairly different version of Smart Content and also included a lot of extra code relevant to that organization’s use case. Further, it lacked the extremely well-thought interface for adding a segment set and reactions that’s contained in Smart Content Block. However, the key insight its author’s included was the use of the Paragraphs Library. Paragraphs Library is an optional sub module of Paragraphs that was quietly added in 2018 and allows users to create Paragraphs that ‘float free’ in just the way we’d need to personalize them. With this in hand, I thought I would try porting the experience of Smart Content Block to Paragraphs.

The Supporting Structure

The porting process began by digging into the smart_content_block sub-module of Smart Content. The entry point is Plugin/Block/DecisionBlock.php which appeared to be an Annotated Block plugin. When constructed, it had a control structure which created a further plugin ‘multiple_block_decision’ which I found defined in Plugin/smart_content_block/Decision. Further, in one of MultipleBlockDecision’s functions, it creates an instance of the display_blocks plugin which was defined in Plugin/smart_content_block/Reaction:

I knew that these three files combined must work together to create the nice user experience that administrating smart_content_block currently has. So I set about to emulate them, but with Paragraphs instead of blocks.

Paragraphs did not come pre-packaged with an obvious Annotation plugin to achieve what I wanted, so I created one. I sought to mimic the one included with Blocks and thus in the Annotation/PersonalizedParagaph.php file, I defined it as: class PersonalizedParagraph extends Plugin {…}. With this in hand I could now create a Plugin/PersonalizedParagraph/DecisionParagraph.php that mimicked smart_content_block’s DecisionBlock:

/**
* Class Decision Paragraph.
*
*
@package Drupal\personalized_paragraphs\Plugin\PersonalizedParagraph
*
*
@PersonalizedParagraph(
* id = "personalized_paragraph",
* label =
@Translation("Personalized Paragraph")
* )
*/

However, before I defined class DecisionParagraph, I knew I needed to extend something similar to BlockBase and implement ContainerFactoryPluginInterface just like DecisionBlock.php does. I opened Core/Block/BlockBase.php and attempted to mirror it as closely as I could. I created personalized_paragraph/Plugin/PersonalizedParagraphBase.php. Here is the comparison between the two:

abstract class BlockBase extends ContextAwarePluginBase implements BlockPluginInterface, PluginWithFormsInterface, PreviewFallbackInterface {

use BlockPluginTrait;
use ContextAwarePluginAssignmentTrait;
...
}

And other than cosmetic function name changes, the classes are largely the same. They implement PluginWithFormsInterface which is defined as:

Plugin forms are embeddable forms referenced by the plugin annotation. Used by plugin types which have a larger number of plugin-specific forms.

Which certainly sounds like exactly what we need (a way to plug one form into another). You may have noticed one difference though, I had to create an interface, PersonalizedParagraphsInterface to mirror BlockPluginInterface. Again, these two files are largely the same, I’ll leave it to the reader to check them out.

At this point, I now had the beginning of a DecisionParagraph.php and the files that back it, Annotation/PersonalizedParagraphs.php, PersonalizedParagraphsBase.php and PersonalizedParagraphsInterface.php. Since DecisionParagraph.php is a plugin, I knew I’d need a Plugin Manager as well. My next step was to create a /Plugin/PersonalizedParagraphsManager.php. This file is as default as it gets when it comes to a Plugin Manager:

class PersonalizedParagraphsManager extends DefaultPluginManager {

/**
* Constructs a new ParagraphHandlerManager object.
*
*
@param \Traversable $namespaces
* An object that implements \Traversable which contains the root paths
* keyed by the corresponding namespace to look for plugin implementations.
*
@param \Drupal\Core\Cache\CacheBackendInterface $cache_backend
* Cache backend instance to use.
*
@param \Drupal\Core\Extension\ModuleHandlerInterface $module_handler
* The module handler to invoke the alter hook with.
*/
public function __construct(\Traversable $namespaces, CacheBackendInterface $cache_backend, ModuleHandlerInterface $module_handler) {
parent::__construct(
'Plugin/PersonalizedParagraph',
$namespaces,
$module_handler,
'Drupal\personalized_paragraphs\Plugin\PersonalizedParagraphsInterface',
'Drupal\personalized_paragraphs\Annotation\PersonalizedParagraph'
);

$this->alterInfo('personalized_paragraphs_personalized_paragraphs_info');
$this->setCacheBackend($cache_backend, 'personalized_paragraphs_personalized_paragraphs_plugins');
}
}

You can see in its constructor that it gets created with all the key files we need to create the DecisionParagraph plugin. Note that a plugin manager also requires a module.services.yml which I defined as follows:

services:
plugin.manager.personalized_paragraphs:
class: Drupal\personalized_paragraphs\Plugin\PersonalizedParagraphsManager
parent: default_plugin_manager

I knew at this point I must be really close. However if you recall the screenshot above, I was still missing mirrors of MultipleBlockDecision and DisplayBlocks. My next step was to create /Plugin/smart_content/Decision/MultipleParagraphDecision.php and /Plugin/smart_content/Reaction/DisplayParagraphs.php. While over the course of building Personalized Paragraphs these files would get edited, the class stubs would be identical. This is largely because Smart Content creates Annotated Plugin types for many of its core functions which makes it extremely easy to extend. Comparing MultipleBlockDecision and MultipleParagraphDecision:

/**
* Provides a 'Multiple Block Decision' Decision plugin.
*
*
@SmartDecision(
* id = "multiple_block_decision",
* label =
@Translation("Multiple Block Decision"),
* )
*/
class MultipleBlockDecision extends DecisionBase implements PlaceholderDecisionInterface {
...
}

And this is isomorphic in the case of DisplayBlocks.php and DisplayParagraphs.php. With MultipleParagraphDecision and DisplayParagraphs in place, I just had to go change where they were created from multiple_block_decision -> multiple_paragraph_decision in DecisionParagraph and display_blocks -> display_paragraphs in MultipleParagraphDecision. At this point, my /src/ folder structure looked like this:

Very close to the structure of smart_content_block. Okay so now I have all this plugin code defined, but how will Drupal know when and where to create instances of personalized_paragraph?

When and Where does this run?

The first step was to create a Paragraph Type called ‘Personalized Paragraph’. Simple enough. At the time I created this, I did not think it would need any fields, but we will discuss later why I did. The Personalized Paragraph Type would be the entry point for a Paragraph inside a node to basically say “hey I’m going to provide personalized content.”

Our first ever use case for personalized content was our homepage banner, so to test my code, I created another Paragraph type called Personalization — Homepage Banner (the reason for this naming convention is that you can imagine many personalization use cases all being grouped together by starting with ‘Personalization -’). The key switch I needed to flip in creating this test Paragraph was this:

“Allow adding to library” meant that this specific Paragraph Type could have members created in the Paragraphs Library that ‘float free’ from any node. With that flipped, I just needed to mirror the fields that produce our homepage banner in this Paragraph Type. Now I could load the Paragraphs Library, /admin/content/paragraphs, and create every personalized paragraph I needed to support personalizing the homepage banner. This step is discussed in more detail in the How To Use Personalized Paragraphs blog.

Now, in order to test the ‘when and where’ question above, I loaded our ‘homepage’ content type and added a new field, ‘Personalized Banner’ that referenced a ‘Paragraph’:

And in the Paragraph Type to reference I selected Personalized Paragraph:

The Personalized Banner field was now telling our homepage node that it would contain personalized content. With this structure in place, I could now programmatically detect that a personalized_paragraph was being edited in the edit form of any homepage node and displayed when a homepage node was viewed. Further, I’d be able to use the Paragraphs I’d added to the library to display when different Smart Content segments were matched.

The Form Creation Journey

I wanted to get the node edit form working first, so in personalized_paragraphs.module, I needed to detect that a Paragraph of type personalized_paragraph was in a form. I created a:

function personalized_paragraphs_field_widget_entity_reference_paragraphs_form_alter(&$element, FormStateInterface &$form_state, $context){...}

Which is a form_alter hook that I knew would run for every Paragraph in a form, so I immediately needed to narrow it to personalized_paragraphs Paragraphs:

$type = $element['#paragraph_type'];
if($type == 'personalized_paragraph'){
...
}
}

So I was hooked into any form that contains a Personalized Paragraph. This captures the ‘when and where’ that I needed to load the plugin code defined above. So the next step was to load the plugin inside our control structure:

if ($plugin = personalized_paragraphs_get_handler('personalized_paragraph')) {
$build_form = $plugin->buildConfigurationForm([], $form_state);
$element['subform']['smart_content'] = $build_form;
}

And the code for _get_handler:

function personalized_paragraphs_get_handler($plugin_name) {
$plugin_manager = \Drupal::service('plugin.manager.personalized_paragraphs');
$definitions = $plugin_manager->getDefinitions();

foreach ($definitions as $plugin_id => $definition) {
if ($plugin_id == $plugin_name) {
return $plugin_manager->createInstance($plugin_id);
}
}
return false;
}

So what’s going on here? Well, we know we’re acting on the form that builds a Paragraphs edit interface. Once we know that, we can go ahead and load the Annotation plugin we defined in the beginning (personalized_paragraph) using the custom plugin manager we defined (plugin.manager.personalized_paragraphs). This will give us an instance of DecisionParagraph. With that instance, we can call DecisionParagraph’s buildConfigurationForm method passing it an empty array. When it returns, that empty array will be a filled render array which mirrors the smart_content_block user experience exactly, but within a Personalized Paragraph. So all we need to do is attach it in its own key (smart_content) to the element’s ‘subform’ and it will display in the right area.

So what is happening inside buildConfigurationForm? I won’t be going too in depth in here as most of this is simply mimicking smart_content_block. Suffice it to say that when the DecisionParagraph is constructed, an instance of MultipleParagraphDecision is also constructed. ->buildConfigurationForm ends up being called in both classes. You can view the code in each to get a sense of how the form render array is built. Now, with this code in place, we end up with an experience exactly like smart_content_block, but inside a Paragraph inside a Node; this is what the personalized paragraph in my homepage type looked like:

This is ultimately what anyone who has used smart_content_block would want out of a Paragraphs-based version. Since we had been using smart_content_block, we had a number of Segment Sets already to test from. Here is the result of selecting our Homepage Customer Block Segment Set:

I would like to digress for a moment here to discuss one of the most difficult bugs I encountered in the process. Getting the ‘Select Segment Set’ ajax to work was an absolute journey. On first implementation, the returned content was an empty <span class=”ajax-new-content”><span>. That class name led me to ManagedFile.php which is a class that provides an AJAX/progress aware widget for uploading and saving a file. This of course was odd because this element was not an uploading/file widget, however this particular Node edit form did have elements like this on the page. After stepping through execution in both Symfony and core’s FormBuilder what I discovered is this (line 1109 of FormBuilder):

// If a form contains a single textfield, and the ENTER key is pressed
// within it, Internet Explorer submits the form with no POST data
// identifying any submit button. Other browsers submit POST data as
// though the user clicked the first button. Therefore, to be as
// consistent as we can be across browsers, if no 'triggering_element' has
// been identified yet, default it to the first button.

In short, I was pressing ‘Select Segment Set’, the triggering element wasn’t being found as the form was rebuilt in FormBuilder, and the code was just setting it to the first found button on the page (hence MangedFile.php). I have no objection with the comment or reason for this code block, but it makes it extremely difficult to figure out why your AJAX button isn’t working. If, for example, it triggered a log statement inside the if that said something like “the triggering element could not be matched to an element on the page during form build” it would have saved me multiple days of pain.

FormBuilder attempts to match the triggering element by comparing the name attribute of the pressed button to the name attributes of buttons on the page as it rebuilds the form. The issue was occurring because smart_content_block creates the name from a UUID it generates when MultipleDecisionBlock is created. In Personalized Paragraphs, this creation occurs inside a field_widget_entity_reference_paragraphs_form_alter which is called again while the form is rebuilt. As such a new UUID is generated, and FormBuilder cannot match the two elements.

The solution was to create a name that is unique within the edit form (so it can be matched), but does not change when the form is rebuilt. I added this above ->buildConfigurationForm:

$parent_field = $context['items']->getName();
$plugin->setConfigurationValue('parent', $parent_field);
$build_form = $plugin->buildConfigurationForm([], $form_state);
$element['subform']['smart_content'] = $build_form;

The machine name of the field that contains the personalized paragraph is passed along configuration values in DecisionParagraph to MultipleParagraphDecision where it is extracted and used to create the name attribute of the button. This solved the issue. Okay, now back to the returned Reactions.

The class that builds the Reactions after a Segment Set is selected is DisplayParagraphs; an instance is created for each Reaction, the code that executes this is found in MultipleParagraphDecision inside the stubDecision() method and buildSelectedSegmentSet method if the Reactions already exist. The Reactions are the first place we depart from the smart_content_block experience.

Seasoned users of smart_content_block will notice that the ‘Add Block’ button is missing. One of the most difficult problems I encountered while porting smart_content_block was getting the ajax buttons in the form experience to work correctly. Because of this, I opted to just hide them here (commented the code that built them in DisplayParagraphs.php) and instead validate and submit whatever is in the select dropdown at submission time. I liked the simplicity of this anyway, but it means that a given reaction could never contain more than one paragraph. This is an area ripe for contribution inside personalized_paragraphs.

In order to populate the select dropdowns in the Reactions, I first needed to go create some test Paragraphs Library items that would exist in them. I loaded /admin/content/paragraphs, selected ‘Add Library Item’ and then Add -> ‘Personalization — Homepage Banner’ (the Paragraph I created earlier to mimic the content I’m personalizing). I created a few instances of this Paragraph. Now I could go back to DisplayParagraphs.php and figure out how to retrieve these paragraphs.

Looking at the buildConfigurationForm method, it was clear that an array of $options was built up and passed to the form render array, so I needed to simply create some new options. Since we’re dealing with ContentEntities now, this was pretty easy:

$pg_lib_conn = $this->entityTypeManager->getStorage('paragraphs_library_item');
$paragraphs = $pg_lib_conn->loadMultiple();
$options = [];
$options[''] = "- Select a Paragraph -";
foreach($paragraphs as $paragraph){
$maybe_parent = $paragraph->get('paragraphs')->referencedEntities();
if(!empty($maybe_parent)) {
$parent_name = $maybe_parent[0]->bundle();
$options[$parent_name][$paragraph->id()] = $paragraph->label();
} else {
$options[$paragraph->id()] = $paragraph->label();
}
}

The code loads all of the existing paragraphs_library_items and splits them by Paragraph Type for easy selection in the dropdown which is how it works in smart_content_block. $options is later passed to a render array representing the select dropdown.

With this in place, we’re able to add a personalized_paragraph to a node, select a segment set, load reactions for that segment set and select the personalized paragraphs we want to display. Beautiful. What happens when we press Save?

The Form Submission Journey

Due to the way I was loading the Segment/Reaction form into the node edit form, none of the existing submit handlers were called by default. Thankfully the submit function attached to DecisionParagraph, paragraphSubmit, was designed in a way that it calls all the nested submit functions, i.e. MultipleParagraphDecision::submitConfigurationForm, which loops while calling DisplayParagraphs::submitConfigurationForm. So all I needed to do was attach paragraphSubmit as a custom handler like so:

function personalized_paragraphs_form_node_form_alter(&$form, FormStateInterface $form_state, $form_id){
$node = $form_state->getFormObject()->getEntity();
$personalized_fields = _has_personalized_paragraph($node);
if(!empty($personalized_fields)){
if ($plugin = personalized_paragraphs_get_handler('personalized_paragraph')) {
_add_form_submits($form, $plugin);
}
}
}

For reference, _has_personalized_paragraph looks like this:

function _has_personalized_paragraph($node){
$fields = [];
foreach ($node->getFields() as $field_id => $field) {
$settings = $field->getSettings();
$has_settings = array_key_exists('handler_settings', $settings);
if ($has_settings) {
$has_bundle = array_key_exists('target_bundles', $settings['handler_settings']);
if ($has_bundle) {
foreach ($settings['handler_settings']['target_bundles'] as $id1 => $id2) {
if ($id1 == 'personalized_paragraph' || $id2 == 'personalized_paragraph') {
array_push($fields, $field_id);
}
}
}
}
}
return $fields;
}

I’ll note here that it certainly ‘feels’ like there should be a more Drupal-y way to do this. I’ll also note that at the time of this writing, PP’s have not been tested on Paragraphs that contain them more than one level deep; my sense is that this function would fail in that case (another area ripe for contributing to the module).

Okay, so now we know that when someone presses ‘save’ in the node edit form, our custom handler will run.

paragraphSubmit departs pretty heavily from DecisionBlock::blockSubmit. First, since a Node could have an arbitrary number of personalized paragraphs, we must loop over $form_state’s userInput and detect all fields that have personalized paragraphs. Once we’ve narrowed to just the personalized fields, we loop over those and feed their subforms to similar code that existed in DecisionBlock::blockSubmit.

paragraphSubmit narrows to the form array for a given personalized paragraph and then passes that array to DecisionStorageBase::getWidgetState (a smart_content class) which uses NestedArray::getValue(). Users of this function know you pass an array of parent keys and a form to ::getValue() and it gives back null or a value. When I initially wrote this code, I hardcoded ‘0’ as one of the parents, thinking this would never change. However, one big difference in smart_content_block and personalized_paragraphs is that by virtue of being a paragraph, a user can press ‘Remove’, ‘Confirm Removal’ and ‘Add Personalized Paragraph’. In the form array that represents the personalized paragraph, pressing these buttons will increment that number by 1. So in paragraphSubmit, it will now have a 1 key instead of a 0 key. To handle this, I wrote an array_filter to find the only numerical key in the form array:

$widget_state = $form[$field_name]['widget'];
$filter_widget = array_filter(
$widget_state,
function ($key) {
return is_numeric($key);
},
ARRAY_FILTER_USE_KEY
);
$digit = array_key_first($filter_widget);

$parents = [$field_name, 'widget', $digit, 'subform', 'smart_content'];

In comments above, it’s noted this will fail if someone attempts to create a field that has multiple Personalized Paragraphs in it (array_key_first will return only the first one). This is another area ripe for contribution in Personalized Paragraphs.

DecisionStorageBase::getWidgetState gets a decision storage representation from the form state and returns it. I added code here to ensure that the decision is always of type ContentEntity and not ConfigEntity (smart content defines both). Next, the code uses the $parents array and passed in $form variable to get the actual $element we’re currently submitting. It then runs this code:

if ($element) {
// Get the decision from storage.
$decision = $this->getDecisionStorage()->getDecision();
if ($decision->getSegmentSetStorage()) {
// Submit the form with the decision.
SegmentSetConfigEntityForm::pluginFormSubmit($decision, $element, $form_state, ['decision']);
// Set the decision to storage.
$this->getDecisionStorage()->setDecision($decision);
}
}

It’s easy to miss, but this line:

SegmentSetConfigEntityForm::pluginFormSubmit($decision, $element, $form_state, ['decision']);

Is what submits the current $element to the submit handler in MultipleParagraphDecision whose submit handler will ultimately call DisplayParagraphs submit handler ($decision in this case is the instance of MultipleParagraphDecision). So the chain of events is like this:

  • Node_form_alter -> add paragraphSubmit as a custom handler.
  • On submission, paragraphSubmit calls MultipleParagraphDecision::submitConfigurationFrom (via ::pluginFormSubmit)
  • This function has a looping structure which calls DisplayParagraphs::submitConfigurationForm for each Reaction (via ::pluginFormSubmit).

Before completing our walk through of paragraphSubmit, let’s follow the execution and dive into these submit handlers.

MultipleParagraphDecision::submitConfigurationForm is largely identical to MultipleBlockDecision::submitConfigurationForm. It gets the SegmentSetStorage for the current submission and loops for each Segment, creating a DisplayParagraphs instance for that segment uuid. It achieves this by calling:

$reaction = $this->getReaction($segment->getUuid());
SegmentSetConfigEntityForm::pluginFormSubmit($reaction, $form, $form_state, [
'decision_settings',
'segments',
$uuid,
'settings',
'reaction_settings',
'plugin_form',
]);

Where $reaction ends up being an instance of DisplayParagraphs for the current segment uuid. ::pluginFormSubmit is called like above which calls DisplayParagraphs::submitConfigurationForm.

This function starts by calling DisplayParagraphs::getParagraphs which is used all over DisplayParagraphs and modeled after DisplayBlocks::getBlocks. Because the block implementation can use PluginCollections, it’s easy for getBlocks to grab whatever block information is stored on the current reaction. I could not find a way to emulate this with paragraphs, so I opted to get paragraph information directly from the form input. If you recall my solution to the ajax button matching problem above (passing the unique machine ID of the parent field backwards via config values), getParagraphs implementation will look familiar.

First, for any call to ->getParagraphs that is not during validation or submission the caller passes an empty array which tells getParagraphs to try and get the Reaction information from the current configuration values (i.e. while its building dropdowns or sending an ajax response). Second, when called during validation or submission, the caller passes the result of $form_state->getUserInput(). After the non-empty passed array is detected, this code executes:

$field_name = $this->getConfiguration()['parent_field'];
$widget_state = $user_input[$field_name];
$filter_widget = array_filter(
$widget_state,
function ($key) {
return is_numeric($key);
},
ARRAY_FILTER_USE_KEY
);
$digit = array_key_first($filter_widget);
$parents = [$digit, 'subform','smart_content','decision','decision_settings','segments'];
$reaction_settings = NestedArray::getValue($user_input[$field_name], $parents);
$reaction_arr = $reaction_settings[$this->getSegmentDependencyId()];
$paragraphs[$field_name][$this->getSegmentDependencyId()] = $reaction_arr;

getParagraphs extracts the machine ID of the current parent_field out of its configuration values and uses it to parse the UserInput array. The value is extracted similarly to paragraphSubmit (filter for a numeric key and call ::getValue()) and then an array of reaction information keyed by parent field name and current segment set UUID is created and passed back to the caller.

submitConfigurationForm then extracts the paragraph ID out of this array and creates an array that will store this information in the configuration values of this instance of DisplayParagaphs (highly similar to DisplayBlocks). At this point control switches back to MultipleParagraphDecision and the $reaction variable now contains the updated configuration values. The reaction information is then set via DecisionBase::setReaction(), the ReactionPluginCollections config is updated and the instance variable MultipleParagraphsDecision->reactions is updated. At this point, control then goes back to paragraphSubmit.

Before we step back there, I wanted to note that DisplayParagraphs::getParagraphs is another area ripe for contribution. I skipped over the first portion of this function; this function is called in multiple areas of DisplayParagraphs to either get submitted form values (which we discussed) or to retrieve the existing values that are already in the configuration. As such, the function is built around a main control structure that branches based on an empty user input. This could definitely be done in a more clean, readable way.

Okay, back to paragraphSubmit. At this point we have completed everything that was called inside ::pluginFormSubmit which stepped through all of our nested submission code. The $decision variable has been updated with all of that information and the decision is now set like this:

// Submit the form with the decision.
SegmentSetConfigEntityForm::pluginFormSubmit($decision, $element, $form_state, ['decision']);
// Set the decision to storage.
$this->getDecisionStorage()->setDecision($decision);

Now that we have built the submitted decision, we need to save it and inform the paragraph it’s contained in that this decision is attached to it:

if ($this->getDecisionStorage()) {
$node = $form_state->getFormObject()->getEntity();
$personalized_para = $node->get($field_name)->referencedEntities();
if($personalized_para == null) {
//Paragraphs never created and saved a personalized_paragraph.
\Drupal::logger('personalized_paragraphs')->notice("The node: ".$node->id()."has a personalized paragraph (PP) and was saved, but no PP was created");
}else {
$personalized_para = $personalized_para[0];
}
if(!$node->isDefaultRevision()){
//A drafted node was saved
$this->getDecisionStorage()->setnewRevision();
}
$saved_decision = $this->getDecisionStorage()->save();
$personalized_para->set('field_decision_content_token', $saved_decision->getDecision()->getToken());
$personalized_para->save();
if ($saved_decision instanceof RevisionableParentEntityUsageInterface) {
$has_usage = $saved_decision->getUsage();
if(!empty($has_usage)){
$saved_decision->deleteUsage();
}
$saved_decision->addUsage($personalized_para);
}
}

We first get the $node out of the $form_state; recall that we are inside a structure that is looping over all personalized fields, so we use $field_name to get the referenced personalized paragraph out of the field. In an earlier version, the paragraphSubmit handler ran first before any other handler; because of this, on a new node, the paragraph had not been saved yet and ->referencedEntities returned null. With it executing last this should never happen, but I left a check and log statement for it just in case there is something I have not thought of. Next we check for defaultRevision so we can inform the decision content that it’s part of a draft instead of a published node. Finally we save the decision, pass the returned token to the personalized paragraphs hidden field that stores it and then add to the decision_content_usage table which tracks usage of decisions and their parents.

At this point we have handled the Create and Update states of a personalized paragraph inside a Node edit form. What about the read state? Now that we’ve attached the decision token to the decision_content_token field of our personalized paragraph, we can go back to our field_widget_entity_reference_paragraphs_form_alter and add:

$parents = ['subform', 'field_decision_content_token', 'widget', 0, 'value', '#default_value'];
$decision_token = NestedArray::getValue($element, $parents);
if($decision_token){
$plugin->loadDecisionByToken($decision_token);
}

loadDecisionByToken is a custom function I added to DecisionParagraph.php that looks like this:

public function loadDecisionByToken($token){
$new_decision = $this->getDecisionStorage()->loadDecisionFromToken($token);
$new_decision->setDecision($this->decisionStorage->getEntity()->getDecision());
$this->decisionStorage = $new_decision;
}

In essence, this takes the attached decision_token, loads the decision it represents out of the database and sets the the decisionStorage inside DecisionParagraph to that decision. By virtue of doing this, when ->buildConfigurationForm is later called, it gives us back the form that represents the segment set and reactions from the saved decision. Create, Read, Update… what about Delete?

When it comes to Paragraphs, delete is a fickle mistress. Because you can ‘Remove, Confirm Removal,’ ‘Add’ a Paragraph and then save the Node, Paragraphs must create a new paragraph which orphans the old paragraph. The bright minds behind Entity Reference Revisions have created a QueueWorker that finds these orphaned paragraphs and cleans them up, kind of like a garbage collector. At the time of this writing, Personalized Paragraphs does not implement something similar, and this is yet another area ripe for contribution. For example, if one saved a Node with a filled decision in a personalized paragraph then edited the node, remove/confirm removal/added a new personalized paragraph, filled out the decision and saved, both decisions would still be in the decision_content tables. Now if one deletes that Node, the current personalized paragraph’s decision will be deleted, but the old one will not, essentially orphaning that old decision. Here is how delete currently works:

function personalized_paragraphs_entity_predelete(EntityInterface $entity)
{
if ($entity instanceof Node) {
if ($fields = _has_personalized_paragraph($entity)) {
foreach ($fields as $field) {
$has_para = $entity->get($field)->referencedEntities();
if (!empty($has_para)) {
$has_token = !$has_para[0]->get('field_decision_content_token')->isEmpty();
if ($has_token) {
$token = $has_para[0]->get('field_decision_content_token')->getValue()[0]['value'];
_delete_decision_content($token);
}
}
}
}
}
}

In a hook_entity_predelete, we detect the deletion of a node with personalized paragraphs, iterate those paragraphs and delete the decision represented by the token currently attached to the paragraph. So we’ll get the current decision token, but not any old ones. Given that the only way to change the segment set of an existing decision is to ‘remove’ ‘confirm removal’ ‘add’, this will likely happen often. The consequence is that decision tables will grow larger than they need to be, but hopefully we, or an enterprising user, will create a fix for this in the near future.

Okay so we’ve handled adding the smart_content_block experience to any Node edit form with a personalized_paragraph. What about viewing a personalized_paragraph?

For viewing, we have the old tried and true hook_preprocess_hook to the rescue. We deploy a personalized_paragraphs_preprocess_field__entity_reference_revisions so our hook will run for every Paragraph; we quickly narrow to only those paragraph’s that reference personalized_paragraphs:

$parents = ['items', 0, 'content', '#paragraph'];
$para = NestedArray::getValue($variables, $parents);
if($para->bundle() == 'personalized_paragraph'){
...
}

Next, we attempt to get the decision token out of the decision_content_token field so we can pass it to DecisionParagraph::build():

if($para->bundle() == 'personalized_paragraph'){
if ($plugin = personalized_paragraphs_get_handler('personalized_paragraph')) {
$has_token = !$para->get('field_decision_content_token')->isEmpty();
if($has_token) {
$token = $para->get('field_decision_content_token')->getValue()[0]['value'];
$build = $plugin->build($token);
...
}

Where the build function looks like:

public function build($token) {
$this->loadDecisionByToken($token);
$decision = $this->getDecisionStorage()->getDecision();

$build = [
'#attributes' => ['data-smart-content-placeholder' => $decision->getPlaceholderId()],
'#markup' => ' ',
];

$build = $decision->attach($build);
return $build;
}

Which is slightly modified from DecisionBlock::build(). We load the decision content that was attached to the personalized_paragraphs, then call the DecisionBase::attach() function on that decision. This passes control to a number of functions that create the magic inside smart_content. When attach() returns, we are given an array that smart_content.js will process to decide on and retrieve a winning Reaction. To complete the function:

$has_token = !$para->get('field_decision_content_token')->isEmpty();
if($has_token) {
$token = $para->get('field_decision_content_token')->getValue()[0]['value'];
$build = $plugin->build($token);
$has_attached = array_key_exists('#attached', $build);
if ($has_attached && !empty($build['#attached']['drupalSettings']['smartContent'])) {
$variables['items'][0]['content']['#attributes'] = $build['#attributes'];
$variables['items'][0]['content']['#attached'] = $build['#attached'];

$para_data = [
'token' => $token,
];
$has_name = !$para->get('field_machine_name')->isEmpty();
$name = $has_name ? $para->get('field_machine_name')->getValue()[0]['value'] : '';
$variables['items'][0]['content']['#attached']['drupalSettings']['decision_paragraphs'][$name] = $para_data;
}

We get the $build array back from ->build and verify that it has the appropriate attachments to run smart content. If it doesn’t we log a statement demonstrating that something in the build function has failed. If it does, we attach the correct piece of the build array to our variables array. I want to focus in on this code block to complete the discussion:

$para_data = [
'token' => $token,
];
$has_name = !$para->get('field_machine_name')->isEmpty();
$name = $has_name ? $para->get('field_machine_name')->getValue()[0]['value'] : '';
$variables['items'][0]['content']['#attached']['drupalSettings']['decision_paragraphs'][$name] = $para_data;

This code block represents how my organization manages the front end of personalized paragraphs and I’ll admit it’s an assumption on how you, the user, might want to manage it. If you’ve been following along, you’ll have noticed that pesky ‘Machine Name’ field I attached to personalized paragraphs. Here is where it comes into play. We extract the passed name which should be unique to the page itself; that name and the decision_content_token is attached to drupalSettings so it is available to javascript files using drupalSettings. With the name and token available in javascript, one can now:

a.) Detect that the decision paragraph loaded (is the decision_paragraphs key in drupalSettings? Does it contain this unique machine name?) and if not, ensure a default experience loads,

b.) Run javascript functions that display the winning experience or the default experience.

Since our method for managing the front end is beyond the scope of how personalized paragraphs was built, I’ll discuss it more in the How To Use Personalized Paragraphs blog.

There’s one more function to discuss that gets called as the front end experience is being displayed and that is DisplayParagraphs::getResponse. When smart_content.js selects a winner, it runs some ajax which calls ReactionController which loads the winning Reaction and calls its ->getResponse method. I had to slightly modify this method from DisplayBlocks to deal with Paragraphs:

public function getResponse(PlaceholderDecisionInterface $decision) {
$response = new CacheableAjaxResponse();
$content = [];
// Load all the blocks that are a part of this reaction.
$paragraphs = $this->getParagraphs([]);
if (!empty($paragraphs)) {
// Build the render array for each block.
foreach ($paragraphs as $para_arr) {
$pg_lib_conn = $this->entityTypeManager->getStorage('paragraphs_library_item');
$para_lib_item = $pg_lib_conn->load($para_arr['id']);
$has_para = !$para_lib_item->get('paragraphs')->isEmpty();
if($has_para){
$para_id = $para_lib_item->get('paragraphs')->getValue();
$target_id = $para_id[0]['target_id'];
$target_revision_id = $para_id[0]['target_revision_id'];
$para = Paragraph::load($target_id);
$render_arr = $this->entityTypeManager->getViewBuilder('paragraph')->view($para);
$access = $para->access('view',$this->currentUser, TRUE);
$response->addCacheableDependency($access);
if ($access) {
$content[] = [
'content' => $render_arr
];
$response->addCacheableDependency($render_arr);
}
}

}
}
// Build and return the AJAX response.
$selector = '[data-smart-content-placeholder="' . $decision->getPlaceholderId() . '"]';
$response->addCommand(new ReplaceCommand($selector, $content));
return $response;
}

Instead of getting the content from the BlockCollection configuration, to send back, I had to grab the id stored in the config values, which loads a Paragraphs Library Item. That item references a Paragraph, so I grab its ID and load the Paragraph. The render array is created off the loaded Paragraph and sent back to the ajax to be displayed.

Phew, somehow we’ve gotten to what feels like the end. I’m sure there is something I’m forgetting that I’ll need to add later. But if you’ve made it this far then you are a champion. I hope what the Smart Content folks have created and my little extension work for your use case and that this blog has made you aware of how things work much more quickly than just reading and debugging the code would.

If you have any questions you can find me @plamb on the Drupal slack chat, there is also a #personalized_paragraphs channel and a How To Use Personalized Paragraphs blog.

Full Stack Developer on a large Drupal Project

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