I have an entity_reference field that autocreates entities (i.e., the 'Create referenced entities if they don't already exist' option is enabled in the field's configuration). I'm looking for a way to set some values on those autocreated entities before they are saved (e.g., author, revision message, ...).

What I've tried so far:

  • hook_node_presave(), but there is no indication on the $entity object that it's being 'autocreated' through an entity reference field.
  • I can see that the new entities are being autocreated in \Drupal\Core\Field\Plugin\Field\FieldType\EntityReferenceItem::preSave, but it's not clear to me if/how I can override that method without implementing my own entity_reference field type.

Any suggestion for how to set values on an entity when it is being autocreated?


1 Answer 1


You need a custom EntityReferenceSelection handler plugin. An example would be how the node module sets the autocreated entity to published:


  public function createNewEntity($entity_type_id, $bundle, $label, $uid) {
    $node = parent::createNewEntity($entity_type_id, $bundle, $label, $uid);

    // In order to create a referenceable node, it needs to published.
    /** @var \Drupal\node\NodeInterface $node */

    return $node;

You find more information in the plugin annotation class https://cgit.drupalcode.org/drupal/tree/core/lib/Drupal/Core/Entity/Annotation/EntityReferenceSelection.php

  • 1
    That worked, thanks! One thing to note is the plugin id naming convention, see drupal.org/project/drupal/issues/2649712. For a node selection plugin for example, I only got it to work when I gave it the id default:node (so <group_name>:<entity_type>).
    – brunodbo
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 1:29

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