Overview and key concepts

Better control over top-level menu items

When you have a ‘main navigation’ menu powered purely by the page tree, things can get a little tricky, as the main menu is often designed in a way that is very sensitive to change. Some moderators might not understand that publishing a new page at the top level (or reordering those pages) will dramatically affect the main navigation (and possibly even break the design). And really, why should they?

Wagtailmenus solves this problem by allowing you to choose exactly which pages should appear as top-level items. It adds new functionality to Wagtail’s CMS, allowing you to simply and effectively create and manage menus, using a familiar interface.

You can also use Wagtail’s built-in group permissions system to control which users have permission to make changes to menus.

Multi-level menus generated from your page tree

We firmly believe that your page tree is the best place to define the structure and ‘natural order’ (the ordering applied to all PageQuerySet results by default) of pages within your site. Wagtailmenus deliberately only allows you to choose the top-level items for each menu, because offering anything more would inevitably lead to editors redefining parts of the page tree in multiple places, doomed to become outdated as the original tree changes over time. When you move or reorder pages, do you really want to have to stop and think “Where else do I need to change this?”.

To generate multi-level menus, wagtailmenus takes the top-level items you selected and dynamically generates the rest from your page tree, using the same structure and order.

Note

In the CMS, Wagtail tends to list pages in order of when they were last updated. You can list pages in their ‘natural order’ (and reorder them) by following these instructions from the Wagtail documentation.

Multi-level menu examples

Imagine your page tree had the following structure:

Home
├── What we do
│   ├── Aiding and supporting
│   ├── Researching
│   └── Driving change
├── Latest news
│   ├── Article one (``show_in_menus=False``)
│   ├── Article two (``show_in_menus=False``)
│   └── Article three (``show_in_menus=False``)
├── Find an outlet
│   ├── Bristol
│   │   └── City Centre outlet (``show_in_menus=False``)
│   ├── Leicestershire
│   │   ├── Hinckley outlet (``show_in_menus=False``)
│   │   └── Leicester outlet (``show_in_menus=False``)
│   ├── London
│   │   ├── Camden outlet (``show_in_menus=False``)
│   │   └── Peckham outlet (``show_in_menus=False``)
│   └── Oxfordshire (``live=False``)
│       └── Oxford outlet (``show_in_menus=False``)
├── Get involved
│   ├── Local community groups
│   ├── Schools and young people
│   ├── Help as a company
│   └── Donate
├── Careers
│   ├── Vacancy one (``show_in_menus=False``)
│   └── Vacancy two (``show_in_menus=False``)
├── Policies
│   ├── Terms and conditions
│   ├── Cookie policy
│   └── Privacy policy
└── Contact us

And for your menu, you selected the following pages as menu items:

  • What we do (allow_subnav=True)

  • Get involved (allow_subnav=True)

  • Latest news (allow_subnav=True)

  • Donate (allow_subnav=True)

This would generate a menu with the following structure (with max_levels=2):

├── What we do
│   ├── Aiding and supporting
│   ├── Researching
│   └── Driving change
├── Get involved
│   ├── Local community groups
│   ├── Schools and young people
│   ├── Help as a company
│   └── Donate
├── Latest news
└── Donate

Note

Have you noticed how the aricle pages are not shown below the ‘Latest news’ item, despite specifying allow_subnav=True on the menu item? Only pages with a show_in_menus value of True will be displayed (at any level) in rendered menus. The field is added by Wagtail, so is present for all custom page types.

For page types that are better suited to showing on listing/index pages (for example: news articles or events) - you can set the show_in_menus_default attribute on the page type class to False to exclude them from menus by default.

You could also define another menu with the following pages selected as items:

  • Careers (allow_subnav=True)

  • Policies (allow_subnav=False)

  • Find an outlet (allow_subnav=True)

This would generate a menu with the following structure (with max_levels=2):

├── Careers
├── Policies
└── Find an outlet
    ├── Bristol
    ├── Leicestershire
    └── London

Note

Have you noticed how ‘Oxfordshire’ is not shown alongside the other counties below ‘Find an outlet’? Only live/published pages will be displayed (at any level) in rendered menus. You can still select unpublished pages as items (in case you want to update your menu ahead of publishing), but wagtailmenus will automatically exclude unpublished pages at the time of rendering.

Define menus for all your project needs

Have you ever hard-coded a menu into a footer at the start of a project, only for those pages never to come into existence? Or maybe the pages were created, but their URLs changed later on, breaking the hard-coded links? How about ‘secondary navigation’ menus in headers?

As well as giving you control over your ‘main menu’, wagtailmenus allows you to manage any number of additional menus via the CMS as ‘flat menus’, meaning they too can benefit from page links that dynamically update to reflect tree position or status changes.

Don’t hard-code another menu again! CMS-managed menus allow you to make those ‘emergency changes’ and ‘last-minute tweaks’ without having to touch a single line of code.

Note

Despite the name, ‘flat menus’ can be configured to render as multi-level menus if you need them to.

Suitable for single-site or multi-site projects

While main menus always have to be defined for each site, for flat menus, you can support multiple sites using any of the following approaches:

  • Define a new menu for each site

  • Define a menu for your default site and reuse it for the others

  • Create new menus for some sites, but use the default site’s menu for others

You can even use different approaches for different flat menus in the same project. If you’d like to learn more, take a look at the fall_back_to_default_site_menus option in Supported arguments

A copy feature is also available from the flat menu management interface, allowing you to quickly and easily copy existing menus from one site to another.

In a multi-site project, you can also configure wagtailmenus to use separate sets of templates for each site for rendering (See Using preferred paths and names for your templates)

Use the default menu templates for rendering, or easily add your own

Each menu tag comes with a default template that’s designed to be fully accessible and compatible with Bootstrap 3. However, if you don’t want to use the default templates, wagtailmenus makes it easy to use your own, using whichever approach works best for you: