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Code organization with modules

Apostrophe code is organized in a system of modules. Modules are the building blocks we use to build Apostrophe projects — as well as the CMS itself.

Each module defines a specific set of functionality, from configuring blog post fields to governing internationalization. Common Apostrophe project modules will define custom content types, page types, or editable widget types.

All modules use the same API. That shared foundation means that all have access to powerful features, such as custom command line tasks and API routes. It's the same API the core team uses to build the CMS, so it is well tested and designed to be as intuitive as possible.

To find both official and community-supported Apostrophe modules to install, see the Extensions and Integrations index.

Setting up a module

Modules are organized in a folder at the root of a project named modules. Each module has a dedicated directory with an index.js file that contains its configurations. For example, you would define a blog post module in the file:


The module configuration is in an object, assigned to module.exports. This may look familiar if you know CommonJS patterns or have worked with Node.js before.

// modules/blog-post/index.js
module.exports = {
  // ...

The final step to use this blog post module is to tell Apostrophe that it should be turned on, or instantiated. That is done in the main application file, app.js in its modules object.

// app.js
  modules: {
    'blog-post': {}

The module API supports many different configuration options. See the module API reference for more detail.


Module names may not include periods (.).

  • Bad:
  • Good: blog-post

Module inheritance

Inheritance is the glue of the module system. Every module extends another module, inheriting functionality and structure. This means that your blog post module, which extends the "piece type" module, comes with a huge set of features you never have to write.

// modules/blog-post/index.js
module.exports = {
  extend: '@apostrophecms/piece-type'


Since this is a piece type, you could add this file from your project root with starting code using the CLI with the command:

apos add piece blog-post

Even if a module does not include an extend setting, it will extend @apostrophecms/module, which provides useful features such as template rendering and API routes support.

Additionally, the inheritance system allows us to customize a core piece type module (e.g., @apostrophecms/piece-type) in a project and see those changes in all modules that extend it. That includes every module that extends it in Apostrophe core as well.

Configuring core and installed modules

Configuring a core or installed module is as simple as creating an index.js file for the module in your project. For example, we might want to log the title of every piece when it is published. We would then create the file:


Then add the event handler:

// modules/@apostrophecms/piece-type/index.js
module.exports = {
  handlers(self) {
    return {
      afterPublish: {
        logPublished (req, data) {
          console.log(`Published ${data.published.title}`);

Since every piece type extends that module, they all get the benefits of changes to it. And in the project code we only need to include our changes. All the rest of the module's code is untouched.

The rest of the documentation will include many specific, practical examples of these ideas. For now, the main takeaways are:

  • The module API supports a consistent code structure regardless of the module's functionality
  • It is easy to extend another module to use built-in features
  • Core and installed modules can also be configured in a project without disrupting inheritance