Nicer date ranges in Drupal – part 3

This is the last part of a series on improving the way date ranges are presented in Drupal, by creating a field formatter that can omit the day, month or year where appropriate, displaying the date ranges in a nicer, more compact form:

The first post, looked at porting some existing code from Drupal 7 to Drupal 8, adding an automated test along the way. In the second post, we made the format configurable.

There’s currently no administrative interface though, so site builders can’t add and edit formats from Drupal’s UI. We’ll add that in this last post.


According to the routing overview on, a route is a path which is defined for Drupal to return some sort of content on.

For our administrative interface, we want to define a number of routes:

There are two ways in which our module can provide routes. We could include a routing.yml file along with our module. This file contains the same kind of information as would have been in hook_menu in Drupal 7. But it’s a static file—if we want something that’s dynamic we can provide it at runtime using a route provider.

For dealing with entities, it’s often much easier to use Drupal’s bundled AdminHtmlRouteProvider class. This examines various properties on the entity annotation—we’ll look at those next—and provides suitable routes for us automatically.

To use this route provider, we add the following to the entity annotation:

  handlers = {
    "route_provider" = {
      "html" = "Drupal\Core\Entity\Routing\AdminHtmlRouteProvider",

At this point we need to run the drupal router:rebuild command from Drupal console. We must do this whenever we change a routing.yml file or any of the properties in the entity that affect routes.

The collection view

An entity can define a collection view—typically a page showing a list of entities with links to edit them. Drupal provides a list builder which can be used to show a list of entities with buttons for common add/edit/delete type tasks. We’ll create one of these for our new configuration entity:

namespace Drupal\daterange_compact;

class DateRangeFormatListBuilder extends ConfigEntityListBuilder {
  function buildHeader() {
    /* return an array of column headings */
  function buildRow(EntityInterface $entity) {
    /* return an array of column values for the given entity */

We then associate this list builder with our entity by declaring it within the @ConfigEntityType annotation:

handlers = {
  "list_builder" = "Drupal\daterange_compact\DateRangeFormatListBuilder",

The actual list builder is quite a rich, showing examples of different ranges. You can see the full implementation here.

The collection page

Once we have the list builder in place, we can add the collection link to our @ConfigEntityType annotation. The route provider will pick up on this link template and provide a route for the entity collection page automatically.

links = {
  "collection" = "/admin/config/regional/date_range_format"

By defining the link, our page appears at the appropriate URL. Note that the add/edit/delete links won’t show just yet—we still have to define those.

The date and time range configuration page, showing a list of available formats
The screen for listing date/time range formats, provided by the entity list builder.

Updating the main configuration page

In order to reach this new page, we’ll create a menu link on the main configuration page, within the regional and language section. We do that by supplying a file:

  title: 'Date and time range formats'
  route_name: entity.date_range_format.collection
  description: 'Configure how date and time ranges are displayed.'
  parent: system.admin_config_regional
  weight: 0

That link gives us the starting point for our interface:

The system configuration navigation, showing a link to date and time range formats
Date/time range formats are accessed via the main configuration page.

We can now view all the date and time range formats from the main administrative interface in Drupal. Next we’ll build some forms to maintan them, after which the add/edit/delete links should start to appear on our collection page.


We need a form to be able to edit date range formats. The same form is used to create new ones. Drupal provides a lot of built-in functionality via the EntityForm class which we can extend. Drupal will then take care of loading and saving the entity. We just need to provide the form elements to map values on to our entity’s properties.

Adding & editing

We can add any number of forms, but we only need one to edit an existing format, and we can reuse the same form for adding a new format. This form is defined as a class, and lives in src/Form/DateRangeFormatForm.php:

namespace Drupal\daterange_compact\Form;

class DateRangeFormatForm extends EntityForm {
  /* implementation */

Configuration entities don’t use the field API, so we need to build the form ourselves. Although the form looks quite complicated and has a lot of options, it’s reasonably easy to build—each property in the configuration entity can be populated by a single element, like this:

$form['label'] = [
  '#type' => 'textfield',
  '#title' => $this->t('Label'),
  '#maxlength' => 255,
  '#default_value' => $this->entity->label(),
  '#description' => $this->t("Name of the date time range format."),
  '#required' => TRUE,

The full implementation of the form is here.

We also need to tell Drupal about this form, which we can do by adding the following to the @ConfigEntityType annotation:

"form" = {
  "add" = "Drupal\daterange_compact\Form\DateRangeFormatForm",
  "edit" = "Drupal\daterange_compact\Form\DateRangeFormatForm",

We also add some links, to match up operations such as add and edit with the new form. These are also defined in the @ConfigEntityType annotation:

links = {
  "add-form" = "/admin/config/regional/date_range_format/add",
  "edit-form" = "/admin/config/regional/date_range_format/{date_range_format}/edit",

If we look at the collection view again we see that alongside each format there is a link to edit it. That is because of the edit-form link declared in the annotation.

We also want a link at the top of that page, to add a new format. We can do that by providing an action link that refers to the add-form link. This belongs in the daterange_compact.links.action.yml file:

  route_name: 'entity.date_range_format.add_form'
  title: 'Add format'
    - entity.date_range_format.collection

At this point we have a means of adding and editing formats. Our form looks like this:

The date and time range configuration page, showing our new format for editing
The screen for editing date/time range formats.


Deleting entities is slightly different. We want to show a confirmation page after a before performing the actual deletion. The EntityDeleteForm class does just that. All we need to do is subclass it and provide the wording for the question:

namespace Drupal\daterange_compact\Form;

class DateRangeFormatDeleteForm extends EntityDeleteForm {
  public function getQuestion() {
    return $this->t('Are you sure?');

We declare this form and link on the @ConfigEntityType annotation in the same way as for add/edit:

"form" = {
  "delete" = "Drupal\foo\Form\DateRangeFormatDeleteForm"
links = {
  "delete-form" = "/admin/config/regional/date_range_format/{date_range_format}/delete",


That’s it. We’ve got a field formatter to render date and time ranges in a very flexible way. Users can define their own formats thorough the web interface, and these are represented as configuration entities, giving us all the benefits of the configuration management initiative, such as predictable deployments and multilingual support.

The module is available at

I hope you found this write-up useful.

Want to help?

I’m currently working on getting this module up to scratch in order to have coverage from the Drupal security team. If you want to help make that happen, please review the code following this process and leave a comment on this issue. Thanks :-)