Site has moved

This site has moved to a new location. Visit the new site at

Recent Blog Posts

How to set a private or protected property without a setter

By Ronald van Belzen | July 7, 2018

When you have a php class with private or protected properties without setters that you want to set for testing purposes, there are two possible ways to tackle that problem.

As an example I create the following class:

class Example {

  protected $var;

  public function __construct($var) {
    $this->var  = $var;


The first approach uses reflection:

$ex = new Example('relection');

$reflectionClass = new \ReflectionClass('\Example');

$reflectionProperty = $reflectionClass->getProperty('var');

$reflectionProperty->setValue($ex, 'another value');

echo $reflectionProperty->getValue($ex);
// Outputs: another value

The second approach uses closure (PHP 5 >= 5.3.0, PHP 7) :

$ex = new Example('closure');
$changePropertyClosure = function () {
    $this->var = 'another value';
$setProperty = $changePropertyClosure->bindTo($ex, get_class($ex));

$getPropertyClosure = function () {
    return $this->var;

$getProperty = $getPropertyClosure->bindTo($ex, get_class($ex));
echo $getProperty();
// Outputs: another value


How to override a local task in Drupal 8

By Ronald van Belzen | June 16, 2018

In the previous blog post I added a local task next to the "Published comments" and "Unapproved comments" under the Content "Comments" menu.

The new local task was for the display of a list of comments that were designated as spam comments, and a count of the number of these comments was uncluded. However, this count has in common with the count of unapproved comments that spam comment are unpublished. So the count of unpublished comments will include the number of spam comments.

To correct this we will need to override the local task menu for unapproved comments.

The mechanism for altering the local tasks of another module is by using hook_menu_local_tasks_alter(). The example shown in the documentation adds a top-level menu to all pages, but here we are going to override an existing sub-level menu on only 3 pages.

/* mycomment.module */

 * Set the unapproved comments count.
 * Implements hook_menu_local_tasks_alter().
function mycomment_menu_local_tasks_alter(&$data, $route_name, &$cacheability) {
  if ($route_name == 'comment.admin' ||
    $route_name == 'comment.admin_approval' ||
    $route_name == 'mycomment.admin_comment_spam'
   ) {
    $data['tabs'][1]['comment.admin_approval']['#link']['title'] =
      t('Unapproved comments (@count)', [
        '@count' => get_actual_unapproved_comments(),

The routes are those of the "Published comments", "Unapproved comments" and "Spam comments". Each level of menus in the $data array is enclosed in each own array item. Index 0 is for the top level menus, while the "Unapproved comments" local task can be found in the $data item with index 1.

The title of the link of the "Unapproved comment" is overridden. The new count of unapproved comments without spam comments is delivered by the function get_actual_unapproved_comments().

How to define a local task in Drupal 8

By Ronald van Belzen | June 2, 2018

A local task in Drupal is a callback displayed as a tab. A local task must have a parent item in order for the tab to be rendered.

A well-known example that is part of Drupal core are the local taks for comments with the menu titles "Published comments" and "Unapproved comments". To demonstrate I am going to add an extra local task to those of comments. Let's say I made a new view that will display spam comments and in the advanced settings I have given that view the machine name "page_comment_spam".

The first step would be to create the routing to that view. In the routing the machine name of the view is given to the defaults _view parameter.

# mycomment.routing.yml

  path: /admin/content/comment/spam
    _title: 'Comment spam'
    _view: page_comment_spam
    _permission: 'administer comments'

This routing defines the callback I will need to define the local task. Instead of a view, I could also have define a controller function (with a defaults _controller parameter) or a form (with a defaults _form parameter), which is used more often. For this example it does not really make a difference.

The definition for the local task is as follows.

# mycomment.links.tasks.yml

  title: 'Spam comments'
  route_name: mycomment.admin_comment_spam
  class: Drupal\mycomment\Plugin\Menu\LocalTask\SpamComments
  parent_id: comment.admin
  weight: 10

I hope that the fact that I named the routing name and the task name the same, does not confuse you in thinking that it needs to be the same name. It does not need to be.

Special in the above is that a class is being defined. This class definition is optional. I included it here to demonstrate how you can dynamically change the title of the tab with the help of a local task plugin.

What is important is that I defined the parent_id the same as the existing local tasks for comments, and that I defined the route_name to be used for the callback of the tab. I added some weight to the definition to make sure the tab is displayed to the right of the existing local tasks.

The plugin definition I adapted from the one being used in the (core) comments module. It adds a count to the tab link equal to the number of comments that will be displayed in the view.

Checking existing users with SFS

By Ronald van Belzen | May 27, 2018

At the moment that you start using Stop Forum Spam some of your subscribers may be known spammers at They may have been dormant for some to time and start spamming when you least expect it. Also some subscribers to your site may have become known as spammers after they registered.

For this reason it may be wise to check your subscribers against the database. This is what the function checkUsers() of the SfsRequest class.

/* /src/SfsRequest */ 

   * Check registered user accounts of being spammers at
  public function checkUsers() {
    if (!$this->config->get('sfs_cron_job')) {
      return FALSE;
    $lastUid = $this->config->get('sfs_cron_last_uid');
    $limit = $this->config->get('sfs_cron_account_limit');
    if ($limit > 0) {
      $query = $this->connection->select('users', 'e');
      $query->fields('e', ['uid']);
      $query->condition('uid', $lastUid, '>');
      $query->range(0, $limit);
      $query->orderBy('uid', 'ASC');
      $uids = $query->execute()->fetchCol();
      foreach ($uids as $uid) {
        $lastUid = $uid;
        $user = User::load($uid);
        $include = ($user->isActive() || $this->config->get('sfs_cron_blocked_accounts'));
        if ($include && !$user->hasPermission('exclude from sfs scans') && $this->userIsSpammer($user)) {
          try {
            $this->log->notice('User acount @uid has been disabled.', ['@uid' => $uid]);
          catch (EntityStorageException $e) {
            $this->log->error('Failed to disable user acount @uid: @error', ['@uid' => $uid, '@error' => $e->getMessage()]);
      $this->config->set('sfs_cron_last_uid', $lastUid);
    return TRUE;

The function does not scan all subscribers in one run, but scans a limited amount of subscribers that the configuration setting 'sfs_cron_account_limit' allows. Inactive users can be excluded from the scan and users with the permission 'exclude from scans' are skipped too. User accounts of known spammers are disabled.

The actual check is done by the function userIsSpammer() for each individual user.

Reporting spammers to SFS

By Ronald van Belzen | May 17, 2018

The next step is reporting spam to This will be an action initiated by a maintainer who has spotted spam, preferably by one click on a button. This action will need to be handled by the software by sending the report to We we look at the latter first and adding buttons to start the report after that.

As an example we concentrate on comments. The function that needs to be called (commentReport()) first checks whether there is a token (or api key) defined. It also checks whether the user is anonymous. You cannot report an anonymous comment, since requires you to fill in name, e-mail address and ip address to report spam and for an anonymous comment post you only have the ip address.