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Which rules exist?

Is it just a question of configuration?

Can I manipulate it?

Is the order relevant (which I have seen with the Layoutviewer module)?

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Are you talking about layout handles? If yes please update your question to clarify that. – Matthias Zeis Aug 7 '14 at 11:27
Did that. Are there any other handles in Magento? With which could they get confused? – robsch Aug 8 '14 at 7:07
There is nothing else called "handles" by Magento but you would be wondering how creative people can get with words when they try to describe things. ;-) I was pretty sure you were talking about layout handles butI didn't want to edit the question without asking you. – Matthias Zeis Aug 8 '14 at 7:32

To get Handels used in the current page, try this

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My question was not which handles does a request takes into account. My question was about how does this get determined. – robsch Aug 7 '14 at 6:30

You should start looking at the method Mage_Core_Controller_Varien_Action::loadLayout.

If you don't specify a parameter to it the <default> handle will be loaded.
Then the action layout will be added.
That is determined based on the module, controller and action.
If your url is module/controller/action then the handle <module_controller_action> will be loaded.
If the controller contains an underscore it will not affect the mapping.
so module/some_controller/action translates to the handle <module_some_controller_action>.

Of course there are some requests that have additional handles loaded via controller or helper.

Let's take for example the category view page. Beside the action handle <catalog_category_view> magento also load <catalog_category_default> or <catalog_category_layered> depending if the category is marked as anchor or not. <catalog_category_layered_nochildren> is also loaded if the category does not have child categories. To get a clear view take a look at Mage_Catalog_CategoryController::viewAction and Mage_Catalog_Model_Category::getLayoutUpdateHandle.

For products the layout handle PRODUCT_TYPE_{typehere} is loaded. Where {typehere} is the product type (simple, configurable, ...). For this see Mage_Catalog_Helper_Product_View::initProductLayout.

And one last thing. If a layout handle contains this node as a child <update handle="other_handle"> then the handle other_handle will be loaded.

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Thank you so far. I see now that some handles are added automatically (default, by-update handles) and some programmatically (in the action method). Is this correct? Further question: on the start page (in a newly created shop instance), where does 'cms_page' come from? Why is it additional to cms_index_index handle? – robsch Aug 7 '14 at 9:54
cms_index_index is the handle for the index page. The homepage request maps the the cms module , index controller, index action. cms_page does not get loaded automatically. It is loaded when viewing a cms page. Check Mage_Cms_Helper_Page::_renderPage. That's where it is used. – Marius Aug 7 '14 at 10:15
Yeah, I see it. renderPage is called by the index action. That's no magic, it's just logical. Even 'default' is added explicitely - until now I though this handle would automatically added to all requests. That's not the case as it seems. Thanks. – robsch Aug 8 '14 at 7:03

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