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Magento – Part I : Custom Module

This article was written while using Magento v1.3.2.3.

Greetings!  This is installment number one of the the exiting Magento Custom Module series.  There’s basically two paths to the end of the fairytale:

Path 1: You follow this series and get down and dirty with Magento, learning a lot along the way.

Path 2: You go out and download the Module Creator (http://www.magentocommerce.com/wiki/custom_module_with_custom_database_table) and head straight to GO!

Your choice!

Note: Magento is an MVC application so I’m going to assume you have a basic understanding of MVC.  Also, Magento is built (I believe) on the Zend framework, so there’s some Zend specific syntax that I’m also not going to dive into.  Huzzzah!

The Problem:

You need to create a custom Module in Magento!  Why…?  Hell, I don’t know; you just do.  That’s enough of that, let’s get down to it.

The Solution:

All of your customizations need to go into the [root]\app\code\local folder.  This is where Magento expects to find them and it’s also a factor in maintaining your upgrade path.  When the next version of Magento is released you’ll be able to backup your “local” folder and blow away everything else.

Before we get too far into this let’s setup our development environment, go to:
Admin -> System -> Cache Management: Cache Control – All Cache = Disable

This will save you many hours of self-torture while you’re developing.

A couple of other developer settings that I’ve found helpful:
Admin -> System -> Configuration -> Developer: Debug – Profiler = yes
Log Settings – Enabled = yes

Now open up [root]\index.php and at the very end you’ll see three lines that are commented out; un-comment them and save.

Finally, turn SEO friendly URLs on:
Admin -> System -> Configuration -> Web: Search Engine Optimization – Use Web Server Rewrites = Yes

All of the URLs that I’ll be presenting as examples below assume that SEO friendly URLs are enabled.

Magento is now correctly configured for development so let’s dive into building a custom module.

Sample file structure:

{Namespace} is a user defined variable.  Basically it’s just a mechanism that allows the user to create disparate classes that would otherwise have the same names.
{Modulename} this is the name of your module.

For my examples I’m going to use “Spinonesolutions” as my namespace and “Helloworld” as my Module.  I’m not entirely sure if it matters or not, but as a general rule I always capitalize the first letter and leave the rest lower case.  Don’t use underscores in your names either, we’ll see why later.

controllers is where all the controllers go, crazy right?  I’ll get into the controller structure in another part of this series.  For now a sample will suffice.

//IndexController is the default controller
//EG: http://localhost/spinonesolutions/
//Notice there's no parameters being passed as a parameter (Nothing after trailing "/")
//IndexController will be called since it's the default.
//"spinonesolutions" is the frontname as defined in confg.xml
class Spinonesolutions_Helloworld_IndexController extends Mage_Core_Controller_Front_Action {
  //indexAction is the default Action for any controller
  function indexAction() {
    echo "indexAction";
    $helloworld = Mage::getModel("spinonesolutions_helloworld/helloworld");

Data.php is just a helper file for the Magento internals, I’m not exactly sure what it does but it appears to be exactly the same in every module except for its class definition.

class Spinonesolutions_Helloworld_Helper_Data extends Mage_Core_Helper_Abstract {


Model holds all of the models for your module.  It’s customary to name your main model after your {Modulename}.  You’ll most likely have at least one model and if you browse through the Magento core you’ll notice that most modules contain many models.

class Spinonesolutions_Helloworld_Model_Helloworld extends Varien_Object {
  function __construct() {

  function helloworld($arg) {
    echo "<br>Hello World! My argument is : " . $arg;

config.xml is where you connect all your code up to Magento.  There’s a lot of voodoo going on in here and I’m not entirely sure how it all works.  I might even write a full post on the config.xml as a forthcoming part of this series.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
     <spinonesolutions>    <!-- I make this match my front name but I'm not sure it matters -->
       <use>standard</use>    <!-- Use standard routing as opposed to admin.  IE: frontend vs admin -->
         <module>Spinonesolutions_Helloworld</module>    <!-- The module to search for controllers -->
         <frontName>spinonesolutions</frontName>    <!-- The first descriminator in the path.  "spinonesolutions" in http://localhost/spinonesolutions/ -->
     <spinonesolutions_helloworld>    <!-- This is used when istanting your Model EG: Mage::getModel("spinonesolutions_helloworld/hellworld") -->
       <class>Spinonesolutions_Helloworld_Model</class>    <!-- That class to use when isntanting objects of type above. -->

That takes care of all the code needed in the module directory. There’s one more configuration file we need to create and it’s an exception to the local folder rule:

<?xml version="1.0"?>

This file tells Magento that there’s a new module out there that it needs to load.  Alternatively, you can name your file [root]\app\etc\modules\{Namespace}_All.xml to tell Magento to load up all the modules in that namespace.

Once you have this file in place you can navigate to Admin->System -> Configuration -> Advanced and you should see your module enabled here.

You now have a functioning custom module, hurray!

Download the source – Helloworld

  1. Part I : Custom Module
  2. Part II : Models
  3. Part III : Controllers
  4. Part IV : Extending Models
  5. Part V : Data Layer
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  • mtness · October 1, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Thank you, this worked well for me!

    Kind regards,


  • phpfarmer · December 22, 2009 at 12:51 am

    I have copied your code. I can see it from admin. Now how can I load this module in site homepage? Please help@!


  • Writing a Custom Magento Module – techPortal · April 20, 2010 at 2:02 am

    […] Magento – Part I : Custom Module – SpinOneSolutions […]


  • Nico · June 16, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Thanks for the great tutorial! Great for Magento newbies to get an idea where to start.


  • deepak · June 26, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    i got it very clear and useful but how to call this module ..mens where is view can anyone tell me please?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????


    • Admin comment by Will Wright · June 28, 2010 at 6:32 am

      What is that you’re trying to do?


  • Writing a Custom Magento Module | Welcome to bandesha.com · August 1, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    […] Magento – Part I : Custom Module – SpinOneSolutions […]


  • Florent · August 6, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Thank you for this tutorial (and the next) !

    I’d like I’ve discovered it sooner to prevent wasting time with the silly naming (un)conventions of magento.


  • johny · September 16, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    thanks for the tutorial i m new to magento i added the module but how can i call it on a CMS page.


    • Admin comment by Will Wright · September 17, 2010 at 6:06 am

      You can’t call a module specifically, on a CMS page. Modules, define things like Widgets and Blocks which you CAN call on a CMS page.

      Check out this post describing the various CMS tags that you can use in Magento.

      Let’s say that you have a Module Yourcompanyname_Mymodule and it defines a block Myblock.

      You could instantiate that block inside a CMS page by doing:

      {{block type=”Yourcompanyname_Mymodule/Myblock”}}

      You’d probably create attributes in class Myblock to customize it and they could be passed in by doing:

      {{block type=”Yourcompanyname_Mymodule/Myblock” param1=”value1″ param2=”value2″}}

      Hope that helps!


  • Делаем модуль для Magento: подборка ссылок | Mage Fast · December 11, 2010 at 2:54 am


  • Adam · February 25, 2011 at 7:50 am

    Thanks for this, it was really helpful in getting my module working


  • eric · March 17, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    I am noticing that the Action methods in the Controllers are being called 3 time event though I have hit the URL only once. Is this a problem specific to my implementation?


  • bhavana · May 1, 2012 at 2:10 am

    hi.Thank you for the nice info.I want to know that can i create a custom module without helper class?


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  • parag · May 8, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    hello dear i have to download Part I : Custom Module
    implement file wise that show on admin and enable pluse flush cache but not show front end how to front end plz help.


  • saurabh · May 24, 2012 at 2:53 am

    yaaaa i have done its….thanx


  • Hims · February 17, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    Is it possible to create a magento module in ASP.Net using C#? If yes how?


  • Simon · July 16, 2013 at 12:20 am

    How I can working Hello world modul I am beginner wait answer


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    Mokka tutorial. Dont refer this. Dont waste time


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