Data Types

Data types are classes that extend the ways users can describe resources. They define the entire round trip of a resource value: how it's entered and validated, saved to the database, and rendered to the screen. It's important to know that every value has a data type, and that setting the data type for a property in a resource template only affects newly created values.

Built-in Data Types

Omeka S comes with several commonly-used data types:

  • Literal: Describe a resource using a literal string;
  • URI: Describe a resource using a URI;
  • Resource:
    • All: Describe a resource using any Omeka S resource;
    • Item: Describe a resource using an Omeka S item;
    • Item Set: Describe a resource using an Omeka S item set;
    • Media: Describe a resource using an Omeka S media.

With these data types, you could describe a book like this:

Subject Predicate Object Data Type
This book dcterms:title "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" Literal
This book bibo:uri URI
This book dcterms:creator "Maya Angelou" (link to item) Item

Or, when viewing the JSON-LD representation of the example above:

    "@context": "http:\/\/\/api-context",
    "@id": "http:\/\/\/api\/items\/1",
    "@type": "o:Item",
    "dcterms:title": [
            "type": "literal",
            "@value": "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings",
            "@language": "en"
    "bibo:uri": [
            "type": "uri",
            "@id": "https:\/\/\/wiki\/Q3163506",
            "o:label": "Wikidata"
    "dcterms:creator": [
            "type": "resource",
            "value_resource_id": 1,

Note the keys @value, @language, @id, o:label, and value_resource_id. They will be helpful when writing your data type's value markup (see below).


Every data type class must implement DataTypeInterface. The required methods are:

Method Purpose Comment
getName() Returns the name of the data type. It must be unique across all data types. It's best to prefix the name with the name of your module.
getLabel() Returns a human-readable label for the data type. It should be unique across all data types.
getOptgroupLabel() Returns a human-readable optgroup label for the data type, if any. Typically used when a module has more than one data type.
prepareForm() Prepares the view to enable the data types. Typically used to add stylesheets and scripts needed to handle the form.
form() Returns the value markup used to render the value in the resource form. (See "Value Markup" section below.)
isValid() Returns whether the value object is valid.
hydrate() Hydrates the value entity using the value object.
render() Returns the markup used to render the value. Typically used to transform the stored value into human-readable markup.
toString() Returns the value as a simple string.
getJsonLd() Returns an array representation of the value using JSON-LD notation.
getFulltextText() Returns the the fulltext of the value. Typically used to transform the stored value into a searchable string.

You should look at the built-in data types for a better idea of how to use the passed arguments. You should extend off one of the built-in data types or AbstractDataType when possible. Your data type may share more functionality with them than you realize.

Value Markup

The markup returned from DataTypeInterface::form() makes it possible for Omeka S to dynamically build values for the resource form. You can format the markup any way that makes sense for your data type and fits within the form.

While custom styles (CSS) and behavior (JS) are possible using DataTypeInterface::prepareForm() or from within partials returned from DataTypeInterface::form(), Omeka S automates much of the requisite behavior. It automatically populates the inputs' name attributes when it loads the value, acting on special attributes that you define in the markup.

Special Attributes

The inputs don't include the name or value attributes because they are populated dynamically, during page load and resource template selection. Omeka S detects inputs with special attributes and acts on them accordingly. The special attributes are:

Attribute Maps to value key Description
data-value-key="@value" @value A string, structured or unstructured
data-value-key="@language" @language A language tag
data-value-key="@id" @id A URI
data-value-key="o:label" o:label A URI label
data-value-key="value_resource_id" value_resource_id A resource ID

Required Values

Since resource template properties can be marked as required, Omeka S automatically performs client-side validation by detecting a to-requireclass on inputs. Any input(s) that will be submitted with the form should include this class.

Adding a Custom Data Type

If the built-in data types aren't adequate, Omeka S makes it relatively easy to add custom ones. To demonstrate, we're going to build a module that adds a simple "Date" data type.

First let's create the module's INI file at /modules/MyModule/config/module.ini:

version = "1.0.0-alpha"
omeka_version_constraint = "^1.0.0 || ^2.0.0"
name = "My Module"
description = "Adds a simple Date data type"

Then let's create the module file at /moudules/MyModule/Module.php and register the data type in the config:

namespace MyModule;

use Omeka\Module\AbstractModule;

class Module extends AbstractModule
    public function getConfig()
        return [
            'data_types' => [
                'invokables' => [
                    'mymodule:date' => DataType\Date::class,

Note that you must register a data type in the module config for Omeka S to detect it.

Next, let's create the "Date" data type class at /modules/MyModule/src/DataType/Date.php:

namespace MyModule\DataType;

use Omeka\Api\Adapter\AbstractEntityAdapter;
use Omeka\Api\Representation\ValueRepresentation;
use Omeka\DataType\Literal;
use Zend\View\Renderer\PhpRenderer;

class Date extends Literal
    public function getName()
        return 'mymodule:date';
    public function getLabel()
        return 'Date'; // @translate
    public function form(PhpRenderer $view)
        return '<input type="date" class="to-require" data-value-key="@value">';
    public function isValid(array $valueObject)
        return (bool) preg_match('/^\d{4}-\d{2}-\d{2}$/', $valueObject['@value']);
    public function render(PhpRenderer $view, ValueRepresentation $value)
        return date('l, j F Y', strtotime($value->value()));
    public function getFulltextText(PhpRenderer $view, ValueRepresentation $value)
        return $this->render($view, $value);

Note that we're extending off the built-in Literal data type because we're sharing some functionality with it.

Let's take a closer look at the the markup returned from Date::form():

<input name="" type="date" class="to-require" data-value-key="@value">

Note the data-value-key="@value" attribute. Omeka S will detect this and automatically populate the name attribute to include the @value key. If the template contained, say, an additional language input with a data-value-key="@language" attribute, then it would populate that name attribute to include the @language key.

After installing the module, set the new "Date" data type in a resource template for a property. Next add an item and set it to this template. The property value should change to a date input. Enter a date, save the form, and you should see a formatted date describing your resource. Edit the item and the date input should contain the date you entered.