Here's the issue in a nutshell; I have a module adding custom templates that can be used for CMS Pages or Categories. The layout I'm using has updates in local.xml referencing the layout_handle declared in the module's config.xml.

If I apply the template to a page, the updates in local.xml work fine. If I apply that same template to a category, the layout updates do NOT work and are ignored.

Here's some of the code so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about:

Module config.xml adding the layouts

        <tf_homepage translate="label">
        <tf_categorytoplevel translate="label">
            <label>Category: Top Level</label>

This is the snippet from local.xml doing the updates

    <reference name="root">
        <action method="setTemplate">
        <action method="addBodyClass"><className>catalog-category-layered</className></action>
    <reference name="product_list">
        <action method="setColumnCount">
    <reference name="product_list_toolbar">
        <action method="setDefaultGridPerPage"><limit>12</limit></action>

As a simple test, when the layout is applied to a CMS page, the body class is added properly and the layout changes. When applied to a Category page, the body class is not added and the layout does not change.

If I add the local.xml snippet to the Custom Layout Updates field on the category page, the Category page shows up the way I expect -- there has to be a better way to do it, though.

I've even tried adding <update handle="tf_categorytoplevel" /> to the Custom Updates Field (also didn't work).

This has been driving me crazy -- Do any of you know a better way to have a custom layout work properly with minimal interaction by the user? I want them to be able to choose the layout and just be done with it.

  • What do you get from $category->getCustomLayoutUpdate() when the Page Layout is set?
    – benmarks
    Apr 20, 2013 at 0:10
  • It's actually coming out blank. I can print_r() on $category just fine though so it's being set properly. The custom layout is definitely set on the backend, too. Apr 22, 2013 at 14:19

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure, wether I understand your question correctly.

When a category is loaded, there is a update-handle added: CATEGORY_<id>, e.g. CATEGORY_4. With this handle you can add specific layout updates to the local.xml if you know the id.

  • Yeah, I'm aware of those. Basically, I want to define one layout update (for example, the tf_categorytoplevel handle) and add all of my updates to that in layout.xml. Then, when the user assigns the page template to the category, have those layout updates take effect. As it stands, the layout handle isn't applied to the category when a custom template is used. Apr 22, 2013 at 14:11
  • Interessting, this entry <layout_handle>tf_categorytoplevel</layout_handle> in the config.xml should do it. Apr 22, 2013 at 17:26
  • Yeah, that's how I usually do it. Oddly enough, it works if I make a CMS page and apply that template, but not if it's used on a Category. Apr 22, 2013 at 21:16
  • ahh right. This can be... I think it is maybe too late. We need to check the layout process and when the updates are added... No time for this. sorry Apr 23, 2013 at 9:39

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