Access System Categories in Content Elements Templates

The hurdles you’ll stumble upon in TYPO3 are sometimes so absurd you wouldn’t make them up … in the backend form of content elements you can assign system categories to each content element – but don’t dare believing you could access them in the fluid_styled_content templates of those content elements. Because you can’t.


I have a content element of type Text & Media based on the fluid_styled_content template Textmedia.html. I assigned it to two different categories. In the template I wanted to add the slug value of each category to a class attribute for later use with a JS filter. I was trying to achieve that by going through the categories with a loop <for each="{data.categories}" as="category"> and hoped to get an array with the data for each category, available within the loop: {category.slug} or {category.title}.

Well, it appears my thought was completely preposterous! I checked the {data} array with <debug> and the only available information is the number of assigned categories in {data.categories}. Very helpful indeed. So I had to create a …

ViewHelper Returning Category Data

(add it to your Site Package Extension folder Classes/ViewHelpers for example)

By default this ViewHelper returns an array with category data of a content element (tt_content) specified by its UID, which is the only required argument. But you can do many more things with it. Some examples:

Please check the template examples in the class comment section as well as the description of the arguments in method initializeArguments()

namespace YourVendor\YourExtension\ViewHelpers;

use TYPO3\CMS\Core\Utility\GeneralUtility;
use TYPO3\CMS\Core\Database\ConnectionPool;
use \TYPO3\CMS\Fluid\Core\ViewHelper\AbstractViewHelper;
 * will return certain system categories (sys_category) data of an element
 * either as an array or as a string with certain parameters
 * EMBEDDING IN TEMPLATE: {namespace my = YourVendor\YourExtension\ViewHelpers}
 * call an array with all category data to be used in a loop, e.g. for an HTML tag for each category:
 *    <f:if condition="{data.categories}">
 *        <f:for each="{my:CategoriesOutput(recUid: data.uid)}" as="category">
 *            <span class="{category.slug}">{category.title}</span>
 *        </f:for>
 *    </f:if>
 * call a “data-categories” attribute with the slug field of the categories, comma-separated (default):
 *     {my:CategoriesOutput(recUid: data.uid, fieldString: 'slug', htmlAttr: 'data-categories')}
 *     output: ' data-categories="catx,caty"'
 * call all categories as CSS classes (space as string separator, prefix 'cat-' for each category)
 *     {my:CategoriesOutput(recUid: data.uid, fieldString: 'slug', stringSeparator: ' ', catPrefix: 'cat-')}
 *     output: 'cat-catx cat-caty'

class CategoriesOutputViewHelper extends AbstractViewHelper
    protected $escapeOutput = false;

    public function initializeArguments()
        $this->registerArgument('recUid', 'integer', 'record UID, e.g. of a content element', true);
        $this->registerArgument('tableName', 'string', 'optional: table of records you want the categories returned for (default: tt_content)', false, 'tt_content');
        $this->registerArgument('fieldString', 'string', 'optional: name of sys_categories table field – if given, the return value will be a string', false, null);
        $this->registerArgument('stringSeparator', 'string', 'optional: separator for string', false, ',');
        $this->registerArgument('htmlAttr', 'string', 'optional: wrap in attribute for HTML tag (in case of fieldString given)', false, null);
        $this->registerArgument('catPrefix', 'string', 'optional: prefix for each category (e.g. for CSS classes)', false, null);
     * @return mixed

    public function render()
        $recUid = $this->arguments['recUid'];
        $tableName = $this->arguments['tableName'];
        $fieldString = $this->arguments['fieldString'];
        $stringSeparator = $this->arguments['stringSeparator'];
        $htmlAttr = $this->arguments['htmlAttr'];
        $catPrefix = $this->arguments['catPrefix'];

         * default query for sys_category table

        $queryBuilder = GeneralUtility::makeInstance(ConnectionPool::class)->getQueryBuilderForTable('sys_category');

         * select the fields that will be returned, use asterisk for all

        $queryBuilder->select('sys_category.uid', 'sys_category.title', 'sys_category.slug', 'sys_category_record_mm.uid_foreign', 'sys_category_record_mm.tablenames');
            $queryBuilder->expr()->eq('sys_category_record_mm.uid_local', $queryBuilder->quoteIdentifier('sys_category.uid'))
            $queryBuilder->expr()->eq('sys_category_record_mm.uid_foreign', $queryBuilder->createNamedParameter($recUid, \PDO::PARAM_INT)),
            $queryBuilder->expr()->like('sys_category_record_mm.tablenames', $queryBuilder->createNamedParameter($tableName))

        $result = $queryBuilder->execute();
        $res = [];
        $returnString = '';
        $i = 1;
        while ($row = $result->fetch()) {
            $res[] = $row;
            if ($fieldString !== null) {
                if (isset($row[$fieldString])) {
                    $returnString .= ($i === 1) ? '' : $stringSeparator;
                    $returnString .= ($catPrefix !== null) ? $catPrefix : '';
                    $returnString .= $row[$fieldString];

        if ($returnString !== '') {
            return ($htmlAttr !== null)
                ? ' ' . $htmlAttr . '="' . $returnString . '"'
                : $returnString;
        } elseif ($fieldString !== null) {
            return '';
        } else {
            return $res;