Basically it was How to tell Drupal to look for templates in module directory? but I'll reword it, as I don't want to define a new theme (reason was already given).

What I want to do: in my module I have a file node--attach.tpl.php which is a modifed version of node.tpl.php. Now I want that, if view_mode = 'attach' then this file is used. Also, theme should be allowed to override it with its own node--attach.tpl.php in theme folder.

1 Answer 1


This code works for me:

function MYMODULE_theme_registry_alter(&$theme_registry) {
  $mod_path = drupal_get_path('module', 'MYMODULE');

  $theme_registry_copy = $theme_registry;       // munge on a copy
  _theme_process_registry($theme_registry_copy, 'phptemplate', 'theme_engine', 'pow', $mod_path);
  $theme_registry += array_diff_key($theme_registry_copy, $theme_registry);

  $hooks = array('node');
  foreach ($hooks as $h) {
    if (!isset($theme_registry[$h]['theme paths'])) { 
      $theme_registry[$h]['theme paths'] = array(); 
    _MYMODULE_insert_after_first_element($theme_registry[$h]['theme paths'], $mod_path);

function _MYMODULE_insert_after_first_element(&$a, $element) {
  if(is_array($a)) { 
    $first_element = array_shift($a); 
    if ($first_element) { 
      array_unshift($a, $first_element, $element); 
    else { 
      array_unshift($a, $element); 

function MYMODULE_preprocess_node(&$vars) {
  if ($vars['view_mode'] == 'attach') {
    $vars['theme_hook_suggestions'][] = 'node__attach';

I know you've seen nearly that exact code before from looking at your other question, but there are a couple of changes from the code in the article. It should work after clearing the caches (just once!)

Using the above I added a file called node--attach.tpl.php to my module folder, cleared the caches again, and the output from that template file was shown for the node.

Then I added node--attach.tpl.php to my theme folder, cleared the caches again, and the output from the new template file was shown.

  • OMG this WORKS! Thanks so much. And when I try to simplify it to <code>$theme_registry['node']['theme paths'] = array($mod_path);</code> (as it was not defined), it still works, of course. However, what does "pow" in the 5th line do?
    – jcisio
    Mar 29, 2012 at 5:41
  • I have no idea! I've tried to follow the functions through (it goes through quite a few, including phptemplate_theme() which is where 'pow' is eventually passed to) but I can't see why using a non-existent theme name would work. Perhaps that's the trick though...maybe passing a non-existent theme name somehow allows this override to happen. I'm interested though so I'll keep digging and let you know if I find anything
    – Clive
    Mar 29, 2012 at 7:44
  • I'm trying to use this in the form of a theme_hook_suggestion: node__news_item__template_a and using a node--news-item--template-a.tpl.php, this does not seem to work. When changing everything to only node--news-item, then it does work...
    – Ambidex
    Jul 25, 2013 at 8:24

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