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Plone add-on to add AJAX navigation

Project description

Add AJAX navigation to a Plone site.

This is probably not the most advanced or state-of-the-art way to add AJAX navigation; for Plone 5, I was told about plone.patternslib, based on patternslib.

For Volto sites, the whole jQuery-based handling might be obsolete because of the use of React.js.

At the time of this writing, those were no options for me since I was still on Plone 4.3. Thus, I needed a working solution. Depending on the quality, I’ll switch to some Plone-5-ish solution when doing the leap, or I’ll stick with my own.

The general idea is:

  • Catch the click event for every a element on the page.

  • For some links, a special check will tell to proceed with the standard behaviour, i.e. load the target the standard way; this includes:

    • Link targets outside of the current site (another hostname is given)
    • Management pages (e.g. starting with manage_)
    • Other pages which don’t load the navigation links etc. anyway, or wouldn’t work when loaded via AJAX
    • Anchor elements with certain attributes (data-fullpage-only="true")
    • Views for contexts which don’t have a suitable embedable view yet.

    For such link targets, this function will simply return true, and the page is loaded in the standard way.

  • If that check function concludes, “let’s load the target via AJAX”, it will send a request to an .../@@ajax-nav address which will return all necessary JSON data; using the result, it will look for certain elements on the page and try to update them:

    • #content (the target for content as of the default configuration)

    and, optionally:

    • breadcrumbs
    • other page elements, like context specific search forms.

    It will also set the page url and title accordingly (from the @url and @title keys of the JSON reply, respectively), allowing for the browser history.

  • If the tried URLs fail to return a usable JSON answer, or if the target URL is inappropriate for other reasons (e.g. page-local, or leaving the current site), the target page is loaded the normal, non-AJAX way (i.e., loading the whole page).

  • All hyperlinks will continue to work with Javascript switched off; of course, pages will load faster when switched on.


  • Tries up to two URLs for each a element (only one, if the target URL ends with “/”, or if the final path element can be considered a view method name rather than an object id)
  • Can be configured using the Plone registry:
    • target attributes of a elements are regarded by default, following the Principle of Least Surprise. However, you are encouraged to disregard them, since the use of this attribute is not recommended.
    • By default, a[target] elements are secured by adding to them a rel value of noopener.

To do

  • Use a web worker.
  • Make this package RequireJS-aware.
  • Provide support for additional search configurations.
  • Pick values from contents to be replaced, and re-insert them (e.g. search expressions in context specific search forms).


This add-on is currently under development and not yet used on public internet sites.


Full documentation for end users can be found in the “docs” folder.


Install visaplan.plone.ajaxnavigation by adding it to your buildout:



eggs =

and then running bin/buildout.

Or, more likely:

Add it to the dependencies of your package, e.g. in your file.

You’ll need to provide @@embed views for your content types; ideally, you can use your already-existing BrowserView classes. Usually it will be sufficient to make a copy of your view template and inject an ajax_load=1 request variable.


“Why don’t you simply inject that ajax_load variable automatically per BrowserView code?”

Yes, we do so already.

There is a simple .views.AjaxLoadBrowserView class which takes care of this, and a few subclasses.

“Why don’t you drop that embed view name, and simply use view, with ajax_load=1 injected?

We do so as a fallback option. But some of our pages simply don’t work this way (e.g. because some necessary scripts are loaded in a METAL slot which is dropped if ajax_load is found true), so we need to be able to be explicit.

Thus, an ..._embed view is used, if present, and then the standard view jumps in as a fallback.

The visaplan.plone.ajaxnavigation package was developed as a drop-in solution for sites which might not do everything right already. If your site works fine with ajax_load injected, you’ll need to do less customization work to make it run.

Quite probably there are several things which could be done better. Contributions are welcome.


If you are having issues, please let us know; please use the issue tracker mentioned above.


The project is licensed under the GPLv2 (or later).


Changelog (2020-03-06)

  • Hotfixes due to customization problems (for internal use).


1.0.0 (2020-03-06)

  • Initial release. [tobiasherp]

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