Building a Form

Forms as used to create or update instances.


php artisan sharp:make:form <class_name> [--model=<model_name>]

Write the class

As usual in Sharp, we begin by creating a class dedicated to our Form and make it extend Code16\Sharp\Form\SharpForm; and we'll have to implement at least 5 functions:

  • buildFormFields(FieldsContainer $formFields) and buildFormLayout(FormLayout $formLayout) to build and configure the form itself,

  • find($id): array to get the instance data,

  • update($id, array $data) to update the instance,

  • delete($id) to... delete the instance.

Let's see the specifics:

buildFormFields(FieldsContainer $formFields)

In short, this method is meant to host the code responsible for the declaration and configuration of each form field. This must be done calling $formFields->addField:

function buildFormFields(FieldsContainer $formFields)
				->setLabel("Capacity (x1000)")

As we can see in this simple example, we defined two text fields giving them a mandatory key and an optional label.

Form fields shared attributes

Every field has the optional following setters:

  • setLabel(string $label) for the field label displayed above it

  • setHelpMessage(string $helpMessage) to add a help text below the field

  • setReadOnly(bool $readOnly = true)

  • setExtraStyle(string $style): the CSS style will be added in a style attribute

In addition, all text fields have one more generic setter:

  • setPlaceholder(string $placeholder)

Conditional display

The idea is to hide or show a field depending on some other field value, called "master" in this relation. To do that, use the addConditionalDisplay(string $fieldKey, $values = true) setter giving:

  • the master $fieldKey, which should refer to either a Check, Select, Tags or Autocomplete field,

  • the $values of the master field for which the "slave" field must be visible. You can put there a boolean for a Check master field, and for other fields (Select, Tags, Autocomplete), either:

    • a string value, like for instance "red": the slave field is visible only when the master field value is "red"
    • a string value with a negation mark as the first char, like "!red": the slave field is visible only when the master field value is NOT "red"
    • an array of values: ["red", "blue"]. The slave field is visible only when the master field value is either "red" or "blue".

You can add multiple conditional display rules, chaining calls to addConditionalDisplay(string $fieldKey, $values = true). In this case, all conditions will be linked with a AND operator by default (meaning all conditions must be verified to display the slave field), but this can be switch to an OR easily with setConditionalDisplayOrOperator() (and back with setConditionalDisplayAndOperator()).


Every field is linked to a Formatter, which defines the way data is formatted right before sending it to the front (last step, after transformers) and right after reception from the front (first step, before transformers).

Sharp provides a Formatter implementation per field type, but you can override this using the setFormatter($formatter) setter, providing a Code16\Sharp\Form\Fields\Formatters\SharpFieldFormatter implementation.

Form fields specific attributes

For the specifics of each field, here's the full list and documentation:

buildFormLayout(FormLayout $formLayout)

Now let's build the form layout. A form layout is made of columns, which contains fields, lists of fields and fieldsets. If needed, we can even define tabs above columns.

Columns and fields

Here's how we can define the layout for the simple two-fields form we built above:

function buildFormLayout(FormLayout $formLayout)
    $formLayout->addColumn(6, function(FormLayoutColumn $column) {

This will result in a 50% column (columns width are 12-based, like in Entity Lists) with the 2 fields in separate rows. Note that fields are referenced with their key, previously defined in buildFormFields().

Here's another possible layout, with two unequally large columns:

function buildFormLayout(FormLayout $formLayout)
    	->addColumn(7, function(FormLayoutColumn $column) {
    	->addColumn(5, function(FormLayoutColumn $column) {
Displaying fields on the same row

One final way is to put fields side by side on the same column:

function buildFormLayout(FormLayout $formLayout)
    $formLayout->addColumn(6, function(FormLayoutColumn $column) {
        $column->withFields("name", "capacity");

This will align the two fields on the row. They'll have the same width (50%), but we can act on this adding a special suffix:

$column->withFields("name|8", "capacity|4");

Once again, it's a 12-based grid, so name will take 2/3 of the width, and capacity 1/3.

A word on small screens

Columns are only used in medium to large screens (768 pixels and up).

Same for fields put on the same row: on smaller screens, they'll be placed on different rows, except if another layout is intentionally configured, using this convention:

$column->withFields("name|8,6", "capacity|4,6");

Here, name will take 8/12 of the width on large screens, and 6/12 on smaller one.


Fieldsets are useful to group some fields in a labelled block. Here's how they work:

$formLayout->addColumn(6, function(FormLayoutColumn $column) {
    $column->withFieldset("Details", function(FormLayoutFieldset $fieldset) {
        return $fieldset->withSingleField("name")

"Details" is here the legend of the fieldset.

Lists of fields

In a List case, which is a form fields container documented here, we have to describe the list item layout. It goes like this:

$column->withSingleField("pictures", function(FormLayoutColumn $listItem) {

Notice we added a Closure on a withSingleField() call, meaning we define an "item layout" for this field. The item is made of two fields in this example.


Finally, columns can be wrapped in tabs if the form needs to be in parts:

	->addTab("tab 1", function(FormLayoutTab $tab) {
		$tab->addColumn(6, function(FormLayoutColumn $column) {

The tab will here be labelled "tab1".

find($id): array

Next, we have to write the code responsible for the instance data (in an update case). The method must return a key-value array:

function find($id): array
    return [
        "name" => "USS Enterprise",
        "capacity" => 3000

As for the Entity List, you'll want to transform your data before sending it. Transformers are explained in the detailed How to transform data documentation.

update($id, array $data)

Well, this is the core: how to write the actual update code.

Form field format

Before going into the details, please note that the $data array contains the per-field formatted data: depending on the type of SharpFormField you used, the structure may change.

For instance, a SharpFormEditorField content will be formatted as an array with a text attribute for the full text and an optional fields attribute with embedded fields (see the Editor field documentation for more details).

Sharp will use this format step to perform some tasks: move or copy uploaded files, handle image transformation, ... Note that you can override the formatter of a specific field as explained above in the buildFormFields() section.

Now let's review two cases:

General case: you are on your own

If you are not using Eloquent (and maybe no database at all), you'll have to do it manually.

Remember: Sharp aims to be as permissive as possible. So just write the code to update the instance designated by $id with the values in the formatted $data array.

Eloquent case (where the magic happens)

Sharp also aims to help the applicative code to be as small as possible, and if you're using Eloquent, you can import a dedicated trait: Code16\Sharp\Form\Eloquent\WithSharpFormEloquentUpdater. And then, write this kind of code:

function update($id, array $data)
    $instance = $id ? Spaceship::findOrFail($id) : new Spaceship;

    	->setCustomTransformer("capacity", function($capacity) {
            return $capacity * 1000;
        ->save($instance, $data);

We first define a custom transformer (see detailed documentation).

Then we decide for some reason to bypass the automatic save process for the pilots attribute — because why not? This ignore() function can be called with an array as well. You'll probably do whatever is necessary for this field after the save() call.

Finally, we call $this->save() with the instance and the sent data. This method will do all the persisting crap for you, handling if needed related models (for lists, tags, selects, ...), with any relation allowed by Eloquent (hasMany, belongsToMany, morphMany, ...).

Handle applicative exceptions

In the update($id, array $data) method you may want to throw an exception on a special case, other than validation (which is explained below). Here's how to do that:

function update($id, array $data)

    if($sometingIsWrong) {
        throw new SharpApplicativeException("Something is wrong");

The message will be displayed to the user.

Return the instance id

This method must return the id of the updated or stored instance.

Display notifications

Sometimes you'll want to display a message to the user, after a creation or an update. Sharp way to do this is to call ->notify() in the Form code:

function update($id, array $data)
    $instance = $id ? Spaceship::findOrFail($id) : new Spaceship;

    $this->save($instance, $data);

    $this->notify("Spaceship was indeed updated.")
         ->setDetail("As you asked.")

    return $instance->id;

A notification is made of a title, and optionally

  • a text detail,
  • a notification level: info (the default), warning, danger, success,
  • an auto-hide policy (if true, the toasted notification will hide after 4s).

The notification will be displayed on the next screen, which is the Entity List.

Note that you can add up notifications, calling the notify() function multiple times (which is useful to sometimes add a second notification, based on actual form data).

create(): array

This method is not mandatory, a default implementation is proposed by Sharp, but you can override it if necessary. The aim is to return an array version of a new instance (for the creation form). For instance, with Eloquent and the Code16\Sharp\Utils\Transformers\SharpAttributeTransformer trait:

function create(): array
    return $this->transform(new Spaceship(["name" => "new"]));


Here you might write the code performed on a deletion of the instance. It can be anything, here's an Eloquent example:

function delete($id)

buildFormConfig(): void

This method, entirely optional, is the place to configure these:

  • configureDeleteConfirmation(?string $text = null) to add a custom (or standard if missing) confirm message when the use clicks on the delete button.

  • configureBreadcrumbCustomLabelAttribute(string $attribute) to declare the attribute used by the breadcrumb ( see breadcrumb documentation).

  • configureDisplayShowPageAfterCreation(bool $displayShowPage = true) to tell Sharp to redirect to the entity Show Page ( instead of the EntityList) after the store. No existence check is done here, meaning if there is no Show Page configured it will end up in a 404.

  • configurePageAlert(string $template, string $alertLevel = null, string $fieldKey = null, bool $declareTemplateAsPath = false): display a dynamic message above the Form; see detailed doc


function buildFormConfig(): void

Input validation

In order to have an input validation on your form, you can create a Laravel Form Request classopen in new window, and declare it in the Form itself:

class SpaceshipSharpForm extends SharpForm
    protected ?string $formValidatorClass = SpaceshipSharpValidator::class;
    // ...

You can, as an alternative, override the protected function getFormValidatorClass(): ?string method, which should return the classname of the validator, in case you need more control.

Sharp will handle the error display in the form.

Validate rich text fields (editor fields)

Rich text are structured in a certain way by Sharp. This means that a rule like this will not work out of the box:

public function rules()
    return [
        'bio' => 'required'

To make it work, you have two options:

Either add a ".text" suffix to your field key in the rules:

public function rules()
    return [
        'bio.text' => 'required'

Or even easier, make your FormRequest class extend Code16\Sharp\Form\Validator\SharpFormRequest instead of Illuminate\Foundation\Http\FormRequest. Note that in this case, if you have to define a withValidator($validator) function (see the Laravel docopen in new window), make sure you call parent::withValidator($validator) in it.

Declare the form

The Form must be declared in the correct entity class, as documented here: Write an entity).

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Contributors: philippe