I am interested in learning what disadvantage, if any, there are in calling variable fields directly within the template.tpl.php files.

Is it ok to place a field variable within the template.tpl.php file if doing it as simply as:

if(!empty($content['product:title']['#product']->field_taxonomy_color['und'][0]['taxonomy_term']->name)): ?>
    <div id="color-wrapper">
        $max_length = count($content['product:title']['#product']->field_taxonomy_color['und'])-1;
        for($x = 0; $x <= $max_length; $x++){
            echo '<div class="color">'. $content['product:title']['#product']->field_taxonomy_color['und'][$x]['taxonomy_term']->name .'</div>';
<?php endif; ?>

My understanding is that this code should be placed a preprocess function and called into the tpl.php file such as:


function theme_preprocess_node(&$variables) { $variables['color'] = ... }


<?php echo $color; ?>

If this is the case, how would i return all values of the loop from template.php into template.tpl.php?

Should I create complex logic within its own field--template.tpl.php file, set the field to a variable in template.php and call upon the variable inside the node--template.tpl.php? Would there be a problem with creating over a hundred field--template.tpl.php files?

  • 1
    AFAIK you shouldnt be using a template.tpl.php because it isn't attached to anything in Drupal... look at this DO article you should only use template.php for general theme functions and YOUR_TEMPLATE_NAME.tpl.php for specific pages which you need to let Drupal know using theme suggestions when to use (ie with a specific content type, a specific view, or panel etc) Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 16:37
  • 2
    Thank you, If I declare all the variables within template.php, wont the file get rather large and bog down on site speed? Also, within the preprocess_node function, what would the above code look like?
    – CleanCode
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 18:30
  • The way you have it is fine and I don't see how this would bog down your site speed... you're just aliasing the variables for ease of access. The only thing you have to change is make your template.tpl.php into page.tpl.php or node--YOUR_CONTENT_TYPE_NAME.tpl.php for example, it depends upon your theme suggestions schema. Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 19:19
  • You do not want code like that in the first block at all in templates. Do that logic in template.php thats what it is there for. Its up to you to decide how you want to create new variables to pass into the template to render. Example, just create an array of color names in template.php, loop that in the template and output it. Easy... and less spaghetti code.
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 1:33

1 Answer 1


The disadvantage is you leak a lot of PHP code processing Drupal inner structures to the template file.

I would preprocess $content in template.php to expose a simple array of strings as a custom variable:

$colors = $content['product:title']['#product']->field_taxonomy_color['und'];
$colorNames = Array();
for ($x = 0; $x < count($max_length); $x++) {
  $colorNames[$x] = $colors[$x]['taxonomy_term']->name;
$variables['color_names'] = $colorNames;

Then the template code could be:

<?php if ($color_names): ?>
<div id="color-wrapper">
  <?php foreach ($color_names as $cn)
    print '<div class="color">' . $cn  . '</div>'; ?>
<?php endif; ?>

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