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Frontend Development

This page describes how to make changes to Flarum's user interface. How to add buttons, marquees, and blinking text. ๐Ÿคฉ

Remember, Flarum's frontend is a single-page JavaScript application. There's no Twig, Blade, or any other kind of PHP template to speak of. The few templates that are present in the backend are only used to render search-engine-optimized content. All changes to the UI need to be made via JavaScript.

Flarum has two separate frontend applications:

  • forum, the public side of your forum where users create discussions and posts.
  • admin, the private side of your forum where, as an administrator of your forum, you configure your Flarum installation.

They share the same foundational code, so once you know how to extend one, you know how to extend both.


Along with new TypeScript support, we have a tsconfig package available, which you should install as a dev dependency to gain access to our typings. Make sure you follow the instructions in the package's README to configure typings support.

Transpilation and File Structureโ€‹

This portion of the guide will explain the necessary file setup for extensions. Once again, we highly recommend using the Flarum CLI to set up the file structure for you. That being said, you should still read this to understand what's going on beneath the surface.

Before we can write any JavaScript, we need to set up a transpiler. This allows us to use TypeScript and its magic in Flarum core and extensions.

In order to do this transpilation, you need to be working in a capable environment. No, not the home/office kind of environment โ€“ you can work in the bathroom for all I care! I'm talking about the tools that are installed on your system. You'll need:

  • Node.js and npm (Download)
  • Webpack (npm install -g webpack)

This can be tricky because everyone's system is different. From the OS you're using, to the program versions you have installed, to the user access permissions โ€“ I get chills just thinking about it! If you run into trouble, tell him I said hi use Google to see if someone has encountered the same error as you and found a solution. If not, ask for help from the Flarum Community or on the Discord chat.

It's time to set up our little JavaScript transpilation project. Create a new folder in your extension called js, then pop in a couple of new files. A typical extension will have the following frontend structure:

โ”œโ”€โ”€ dist (compiled js is placed here)
โ”œโ”€โ”€ src
โ”‚ โ”œโ”€โ”€ admin
โ”‚ โ””โ”€โ”€ forum
โ”œโ”€โ”€ admin.js
โ”œโ”€โ”€ forum.js
โ”œโ”€โ”€ package.json
โ”œโ”€โ”€ tsconfig.json
โ””โ”€โ”€ webpack.config.js


"private": true,
"name": "@acme/flarum-hello-world",
"dependencies": {
"flarum-webpack-config": "^1.0.0",
"webpack": "^4.0.0",
"webpack-cli": "^4.0.0"
"devDependencies": {
"flarum-tsconfig": "^1.0.0"
"scripts": {
"dev": "webpack --mode development --watch",
"build": "webpack --mode production"

This is a standard JS package-description file, used by npm and Yarn (Javascript package managers). You can use it to add commands, js dependencies, and package metadata. We're not actually publishing a npm package: this is simply used to collect dependencies.

Please note that we do not need to include flarum/core or any flarum extensions as dependencies: they will be automatically packaged when Flarum compiles the frontends for all extensions.


const config = require('flarum-webpack-config');

module.exports = config();

Webpack is the system that actually compiles and bundles all the javascript (and its dependencies) for our extension. To work properly, our extensions should use the official flarum webpack config (shown in the above example).


// Use Flarum's tsconfig as a starting point
"extends": "flarum-tsconfig",
// This will match all .ts, .tsx, .d.ts, .js, .jsx files in your `src` folder
// and also tells your Typescript server to read core's global typings for
// access to `dayjs` and `$` in the global namespace.
"include": ["src/**/*", "../vendor/flarum/core/js/dist-typings/@types/**/*"],
"compilerOptions": {
// This will output typings to `dist-typings`
"declarationDir": "./dist-typings",
"baseUrl": ".",
"paths": {
"flarum/*": ["../vendor/flarum/core/js/dist-typings/*"]

This is a standard configuration file to enable support for Typescript with the options that Flarum needs.

Always ensure you're using the latest version of this file:

Even if you choose not to use TypeScript in your extension, which is supported natively by our Webpack config, it's still recommended to install the flarum-tsconfig package and to include this configuration file so that your IDE can infer types for our core JS.

To get the typings working, you'll need to run composer update in your extension's folder to download the latest copy of Flarum's core into a new vendor folder. Remember not to commit this folder if you're using a version control system such as Git.

You may also need to restart your IDE's TypeScript server. In Visual Studio Code, you can press F1, then type "Restart TypeScript Server" and hit ENTER. This might take a minute to complete.

admin.js and forum.jsโ€‹

These files contain the root of our actual frontend JS. You could put your entire extension here, but that would not be well organized. For this reason, we recommend putting the actual source code in src, and having these files just export the contents of src. For instance:

// admin.js
export * from './src/admin';

// forum.js
export * from './src/forum';


If following the recommendations for admin.js and forum.js, we'll want to have 2 subfolders here: one for admin frontend code, and one for forum frontend code. If you have components, models, utils, or other code that is shared across both frontends, you may want to create a common subfolder and place it there.

Structure for admin and forum is identical, so we'll just show it for forum here:

โ”œโ”€โ”€ components/
|-- models/
โ”œโ”€โ”€ utils/
โ””โ”€โ”€ index.js

components, models, and utils are directories that contain files where you can define custom components, models, and reusable util helper functions. Please note that this is all simply a recommendation: there's nothing forcing you to use this particular file structure (or any other file structure).

The most important file here is index.js: everything else is just extracting classes and functions into their own files. Let's go over a typical index.js file structure:

import { extend, override } from 'flarum/common/extend';

// We provide our extension code in the form of an "initializer".
// This is a callback that will run after the core has booted.
app.initializers.add('acme-flarum-hello-world', function(app) {
// Your Extension Code Here
console.log("EXTENSION NAME is working!");

We'll go over tools available for extensions below.


You should familiarize yourself with proper syntax for importing js modules, as most extensions larger than a few lines will split their js into multiple files.

Pretty much every Flarum extension will need to import something from Flarum Core. Like most extensions, core's JS source code is split up into admin, common, and forum folders. You can import the file by prefixing its path in the Flarum core source code with flarum. So admin/components/AdminLinkButton is available as flarum/admin/components/AdminLinkButton, common/Component is available as flarum/common/Component, and forum/states/PostStreamState is available as flarum/forum/states/PostStreamState.

In some cases, an extension may want to extend code from another flarum extension. This is only possible for extensions which explicitly export their contents.

  • flarum/tags and flarum/flags are currently the only bundled extensions that allow extending their JS. You can import their contents from flarum/{EXT_NAME}/PATH (e.g. flarum/tags/components/TagHero).
  • The process for extending each community extension is different; you should consult documentation for each individual extension.


OK, time to fire up the transpiler. Run the following commands in the js directory:

npm install
npm run dev

This will compile your browser-ready JavaScript code into the js/dist/forum.js file, and keep watching for changes to the source files. Nifty!

When you've finished developing your extension (or before a new release), you'll want to run npm run build instead of npm run dev: this builds the extension in production mode, which makes the source code smaller and faster.

Asset Registrationโ€‹


In order for your extension's JavaScript to be loaded into the frontend, we need to tell Flarum where to find it. We can do this using the Frontend extender's js method. Add it to your extension's extend.php file:


use Flarum\Extend;

return [
(new Extend\Frontend('forum'))

Flarum will make anything you export from forum.js available in the global flarum.extensions['acme-hello-world'] object. Thus, you may choose to expose your own public API for other extensions to interact with.

External Libraries

Only one main JavaScript file per extension is permitted. If you need to include any external JavaScript libraries, either install them with NPM and import them so they are compiled into your JavaScript file, or see Routes and Content to learn how to add extra <script> tags to the frontend document.


You can also add CSS and LESS assets to the frontend using the Frontend extender's css method:

    (new Extend\Frontend('forum'))

You should develop extensions with debug mode turned on in config.php. This will ensure that Flarum recompiles assets automatically, so you don't have to manually clear the cache every time you make a change to your extension JavaScript.

Changing the UI Part 1โ€‹

Flarum's interface is constructed using a JavaScript framework called Mithril.js. If you are familiar with React, then you'll catch on in no time. But if you are not familiar with any JavaScript frameworks, we suggest you go through a tutorial to understand the fundamentals before proceeding.

The crux of it is that Flarum generates virtual DOM elements which are a JavaScript representation of HTML. Mithril takes these virtual DOM elements and turns them into real HTML in the most efficient way possible. (That's why Flarum is so speedy!)

Because the interface is built with JavaScript, it's really easy to hook in and make changes. All you need to do is find the right extender for the part of the interface you want to change, and then add your own virtual DOM into the mix.

Most mutable parts of the interface are really just lists of items. For example:

  • The controls that appear on each post (Reply, Like, Edit, Delete)
  • The index sidebar navigation items (All Discussions, Following, Tags)
  • The items in the header (Search, Notifications, User menu)

Each item in these lists is given a name so you can easily add, remove, and rearrange the items. Simply find the appropriate component for the part of the interface you want to change, and monkey-patch its methods to modify the item list contents. For example, to add a link to Google in the header:

import { extend } from 'flarum/common/extend';
import HeaderPrimary from 'flarum/forum/components/HeaderPrimary';

extend(HeaderPrimary.prototype, 'items', function(items) {
items.add('google', <a href="">Google</a>);

Not bad! No doubt our users will be lining up to thank us for such quick and convenient access to Google.

In the above example, we use the extend util (explained below) to add HTML to the output of HeaderPrimary.prototype.items(). How does that actually work? Well, first we need to understand what HeaderPrimary even is.


Flarum's interface is made up of many nested components. Components are a bit like HTML elements in that they encapsulate content and behavior. For example, look at this simplified tree of the components that make up a discussion page:

โ”œโ”€โ”€ DiscussionList (the side pane)
โ”‚ โ”œโ”€โ”€ DiscussionListItem
โ”‚ โ””โ”€โ”€ DiscussionListItem
โ”œโ”€โ”€ DiscussionHero (the title)
โ”œโ”€โ”€ PostStream
โ”‚ โ”œโ”€โ”€ Post
โ”‚ โ””โ”€โ”€ Post
โ”œโ”€โ”€ SplitDropdown (the reply button)
โ””โ”€โ”€ PostStreamScrubber

You should familiarize yourself with Mithril's component API and redraw system. Flarum wraps components in the flarum/common/Component class, which extends Mithril's class components. It provides the following benefits:

  • Attributes passed to components are available throughout the class via this.attrs.
  • The static initAttrs method mutates this.attrs before setting them, and allows you to set defaults or otherwise modify them before using them in your class. Please note that this doesn't affect the initial vnode.attrs.
  • The $ method returns a jQuery object for the component's root DOM element. You can optionally pass a selector to get DOM children.
  • the component static method can be used as an alternative to JSX and the m hyperscript. The following are equivalent:
    • m(CustomComponentClass, attrs, children)
    • CustomComponentClass.component(attrs, children)
    • <CustomComponentClass {...attrs}>{children}</CustomComponentClass>

However, component classes extending Component must call super when using the lifecycle methods (oninit, oncreate, onbeforeupdate, onupdate, onbeforeremove, and onremove).

To use Flarum components, simply extend flarum/common/Component in your custom component class.

All other properties of Mithril components, including lifecycle methods (which you should familiarize yourself with), are preserved. With this in mind, a custom component class might look like this:

import Component from 'flarum/common/Component';

class Counter extends Component {
oninit(vnode) {

this.count = 0;

view() {
return (
Count: {this.count}
<button onclick={e => this.count++}>

oncreate(vnode) {

// We aren't actually doing anything here, but this would
// be a good place to attach event handlers, initialize libraries
// like sortable, or make other DOM modifications.
$element = this.$();
$button = this.$('button');

m.mount(document.body, <MyComponent buttonLabel="Increment" />);

Changing the UI Part 2โ€‹

Now that we have a better understanding of the component system, let's go a bit more in-depth into how extending the UI works.


As noted above, most easily extensible parts of the UI allow you to extend methods called items or something similar (e.g. controlItems, accountItems, toolbarItems, etc. Exact names depend on the component you are extending) to add, remove, or replace elements. Under the surface, these methods return a utils/ItemList instance, which is essentially an ordered object. Detailed documentation of its methods is available in our API documentation. When the toArray method of ItemList is called, items are returned in ascending order of priority (0 if not provided), then by key alphabetically where priorities are equal.

extend and overrideโ€‹

Pretty much all frontend extensions use monkey patching to add, modify, or remove behavior. For instance:

// This adds an attribute to the `app` global.
app.googleUrl = "";

// This replaces the output of the discussion page with "Hello World"
import DiscussionPage from 'flarum/forum/components/DiscussionPage';

DiscussionPage.prototype.view = function() {
return <p>Hello World</p>;

...will turn Flarum's discussion pages into proclamations of "Hello World". How creative!

In most cases, we don't actually want to completely replace the methods we are modifying. For this reason, Flarum includes extend and override utils. extend allows us to add code to run after a method has completed. override allows us to replace a method with a new one, while keeping the old method available as a callback. Both are functions that take 3 arguments:

  1. The prototype of a class (or some other extensible object)
  2. The string name of a method in that class
  3. A callback that performs the modification.
    1. For extend, the callback receives the output of the original method, as well as any arguments passed to the original method.
    2. For override, the callback receives a callable (which can be used to call the original method), as well as any arguments passed to the original method.
Overriding multiple methods

With extend and override, you can also pass an array of multiple methods that you want to patch. This will apply the same modifications to all of the methods you provide:

extend(IndexPage.prototype, ['oncreate', 'onupdate'], () => { /* your logic */ });

Please note that if you are trying to change the output of a method with override, you must return the new output. If you are changing output with extend, you should simply modify the original output (which is received as the first argument). Keep in mind that extend can only mutate output if the output is mutable (e.g. an object or array, and not a number/string).

Let's now revisit the original "adding a link to Google to the header" example to demonstrate.

import { extend, override } from 'flarum/common/extend';
import HeaderPrimary from 'flarum/forum/components/HeaderPrimary';
import ItemList from 'flarum/common/utils/ItemList';
import CustomComponentClass from './components/CustomComponentClass';

// Here, we add an item to the returned ItemList. We are using a custom component
// as discussed above. We've also specified a priority as the third argument,
// which will be used to order these items. Note that we don't need to return anything.
extend(HeaderPrimary.prototype, 'items', function(items) {
<a href="">Google</a>

// Here, we conditionally use the original output of a method,
// or create our own ItemList, and then add an item to it.
// Note that we MUST return our custom output.
override(HeaderPrimary.prototype, 'items', function(original) {
let items;

if (someArbitraryCondition) {
items = original();
} else {
items = new ItemList();

items.add('google', <a href="">Google</a>);

return items;

Since all Flarum components and utils are represented by classes, extend, override, and regular old JS mean that we can hook into, or replace, ANY method in any part of Flarum. Some potential "advanced" uses include:

  • Extending or overriding view to change (or completely redefine) the html structure of Flarum components. This opens Flarum up to unlimited theming
  • Hooking into Mithril component methods to add JS event listeners, or otherwise redefine business logic.

Flarum Utilsโ€‹

Flarum defines (and provides) quite a few util and helper functions, which you may want to use in your extensions. A few particularly useful ones:

  • flarum/common/utils/Stream provides Mithril Streams, and is useful in forms.
  • flarum/common/utils/classList provides the clsx library, which is great for dynamically assembling a list of CSS classes for your components
  • flarum/common/utils/extractText extracts text as a string from Mithril component vnode instances (or translation vnodes).
  • flarum/common/utils/throttleDebounce provides the throttle-debounce library
  • flarum/common/helpers/avatar displays a user's avatar
  • flarum/common/helpers/highlight highlights text in strings: great for search results!
  • flarum/common/helpers/icon displays an icon, usually used for FontAwesome.
  • flarum/common/helpers/username shows a user's display name, or "deleted" text if the user has been deleted.

And there's a bunch more! Some are covered elsewhere in the docs, but the best way to learn about them is through the source code or our javascript API documentation.