A couple of weeks ago I failed my frontend developer exam by 1 point, Tomorrow I am going to retake.

I have a question which I want to be sure about. In the exam I had some xml snippets and I had to pick the right one. A lot of times I saw snippets containing block="block_name". I never saw this in any layout xml file ever so I thought this is bad code maybe to trick me. This kind of snippet containing block= popped up several times which started to confuse me.

I searched everywhere but couldn't find an example. Do you guys now any usage for this or is it to trick me?


<action method="insert" block="contactForm"/>

Can someone clarify this? Can block= be used in some xml code or not?


Although it is never used in core layout XML, the block parameter of action entities is a shorthand which is perfectly valid and allows you to use actions outside of a reference or block scope. For example:

    <reference name="contactForm">
        <action method="someMethod"><params /></action>

has the same effect as:

    <action method="someMethod" block="contactForm"><params /></action>

Note that I said "has the same effect as" rather than "is the same as"; I believe there may be an ordering difference between the two. Would have to check to confirm.

  • Thanks for clarifying Ben, i'll delete my answer if FROSIT can un-accept and mark yours as the accepted answer? – JoshCarter Nov 10 '15 at 10:12
  • Up to you @JoshCarter. It's an obscure detail for sure. – benmarks Nov 10 '15 at 10:12
  • Hmm, true @benmarks, just thinking for the benefit of any future exam takers looking for help. – JoshCarter Nov 10 '15 at 10:14
  • 3
    Hi benmarks, thanks for correcting this. Because there's like almost none documentation about this i think it's important people taking the exam should now about this. Today i got these questions again and the options without block= didn't make any sense. I just tested this and it can be used by for example method="setTemplate" block="my_block". I passed eventually with a score to be proud of :) thanks Stackers! – FROSIT Nov 10 '15 at 17:20

I believe that there is no usage for block= in Magentos xml, action, template, name, type, method, as, before and after are a few of the main usages for Magento. There is no need for a block= as you are defining the block type in the type="" value.

Also when using the above method to insert a block you would use the following syntax, notice how block has its own node:

<action method="insert">

Insert can also only be used to insert a block tha thas previously been unset eg. before the above example you would have:

<action method="unsetChild">

Hope this helps, and good luck on your exam!


  • Thanks for confirming and the examples. Magento did a great job at tricking me the last time haha. When seeing so much bad examples at the exam you get confused with what was bad code and not. I hope i'll pass :) – FROSIT Nov 9 '15 at 23:16
  • No worries, good luck again! – JoshCarter Nov 10 '15 at 0:58
  • 1
    This is incorrect. – benmarks Nov 10 '15 at 10:05

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