I've seen a variety of approaches to access entity values in the theming layer. The code below is just a simple example using magic methods. It assumes all values are set - if any part of that returns a NULL, then in my experience errors ensue.

$value = $node->field_paragraph

There are methods like ->hasField and ->count() to check things, and i have a variety in my themes. I can get the job done but sometimes it feels ugly. I'm interested the coding patterns that devs use to safely and elegantly drill through entity references.

  • 1
    There is a contrib module called reference_map. It's not very user friendly, but it was written expressly for this issue. Jun 19, 2019 at 16:28

3 Answers 3


Suggestion, create a domain object that has the logic.

Normally these entities represent something that fits your business-domain.

E.g in your instance, the node might be an event.

So you might model a domain object called EventWrapper.


namespace Drupal\my_domain;
use Drupal\node\NodeInterface;
use Drupal\media\MediaInterface;
use Drupal\file\FileInterface;

class EventWrapper {
  protected $node;
  public static function fromNode(NodeInterface $node): EventWrapper {
    $instance = new static();
    $instance->node = $node;
    return $instance;
  public function getMedia() : ?MediaInterface {
    if ($this->node->hasField('field_media') && !$this->node->get('field_media')->isEmpty()) {
      return $this->node->field_media->entity;
    return NULL;
  public function getMediaImage() : ?FileInterface {
    if (($media = this->getMedia()) && $media->hasField('field_file') && !$media->get('field_file')->isEmpty()) {
      return $media->field_file->entity;
    return NULL;
  public function getImageCaption(): ?string {
    if (($file = this->getMediaImage()) && $file->hasField('field_text') && !$file->get('field_text')->isEmpty()) {
      return $file->field_text->value;
    return NULL;

Then in your code:


$image_caption = EventWrapper::fromNode($node)->getImageCaption();

Although normally you render paragraphs recursively, you can retrieve a fixed structure non-recursively by recreating it with foreach loops:

foreach ($node->field_paragraph->referencedEntities() as $paragraph) {
  foreach ($paragraph->field_media->referencedEntities() as $media) {

This avoids accessing empty fields and is able to process multi-value fields.


To expand on the great answer by 4k4 which shows a pattern we use widely but doesn't cover the existence of the field, you could create a simple class patterned after larowlan's great answer:

class EntityReferenceItemListHelper {
   protected $fieldItemList;
   static function create(?EntityReferenceFieldItemListInterface $fieldItemList) {
     $instance = new static;
     $instance->fieldItemList = $fieldItemList;
   public function referencedEntities(): array {
     return $this->fieldItemList ? $this->fieldItemList->referencedEntities() : [];

and then foreach (EntityReferenceItemListHelper::create($paragraph->field_media)->referencedEntities() as $media) {

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