Modifiers in Magento e-mail templates

Posted on January 28, 2017

TL;DR: to apply URL-encoding to a variable in an e-mail template use the following syntax:

{{var order.customer_email|escape:url}}

The |escape:url part is a so called modifier.

It can seem incredible but after many years working with Magento I never needed to use modifiers in e-mail templates.

It’s not unlikely you never heard about this functionality because there aren’t any usage examples in Magento’s email templates; furthermore searching in Google didn’t produce any useful result for me.

To understand the modifier syntax and discover how modifiers work let’s look at the following methods from Mage_Core_Model_Email_Template_Filter class:

public function varDirective($construction)
    if (count($this->_templateVars)==0) {
        // If template preprocessing
        return $construction[0];

    $parts = explode('|', $construction[2], 2);
    if (2 === count($parts)) {
        list($variableName, $modifiersString) = $parts;
        return $this->_amplifyModifiers($this->_getVariable($variableName, ''), $modifiersString);
    return $this->_getVariable($construction[2], '');

protected function _amplifyModifiers($value, $modifiers)
    Mage::log(print_r($modifiers, 1), null, 'filter.log', true);
    foreach (explode('|', $modifiers) as $part) {
        if (empty($part)) {
        $params   = explode(':', $part);
        Mage::log(print_r($params, 1), null, 'filter.log', true);
        $modifier = array_shift($params);
        if (isset($this->_modifiers[$modifier])) {
            $callback = $this->_modifiers[$modifier];
            if (!$callback) {
                $callback = $modifier;
            array_unshift($params, $value);
            $value = call_user_func_array($callback, $params);
    return $value;

The varDirective() method splits the var value on pipe | char and, in case, calls the _amplifyModifiers() method.

The _amplifyModifiers() splits $value on colon : and applies the proper modifier to the value.

The code responsible for applying the escape modifier is shown below:

public function modifierEscape($value, $type = 'html')
    switch ($type) {
        case 'html':
            return htmlspecialchars($value, ENT_QUOTES);

        case 'htmlentities':
            return htmlentities($value, ENT_QUOTES);

        case 'url':
            return rawurlencode($value);
    return $value;

As we can see we can apply one of the following transformations to variable values in e-mail template:

  • html to convert special characters to HTML entities
  • htmlentities to convert all applicable characters to HTML entities
  • url to URL-encode the value

The only other modifier that can be used out of the box is the nl2br that is used to insert HTML line breaks before all new line characters in a string.

Note: in Magento 2 there is a \Magento\Framework\Filter\Template\Filter class that seems very similar to the one of Magento 1; even if I didn’t give it a try I suppose the same syntax applies to Magento 2 e-mail templates as well.


Photo credits: Max Wheeler - Creative Commons license

Posted with : magento, email