Browser/server interaction

There are multiple ways to set up interaction between server-side Zotonic code and client-side JavaScript.

If you want to initiate the interaction in the client (browser)

  1. publish/subscribe.
  2. API methods
  3. Wires
  4. Notifications
  5. Transport (deprecated)

Publish/subscribe (MQTT)

The preferred transport is using publish and subscribe with MQTT topics. Message that are published on the bridge topics are relayed between the server and the browser (and vice versa).

See mod_mqtt for more information.

An example of MQTT PubSub usage is the custom tag live.

API Methods

All model interfaces m_get, m_post, and m_delete are directly exposed as JSON APIs.

For example, the m_get call for the Erlang file m_mymodel.erl is available via a HTTP GET on the path: /api/model/mymodel/get/...

Similar for the POST and DELETE HTTP methods.


This is part of mod_wires and is the older method of transporting data between the server and the browser.

It is fully functional and the admin interface is using these methods.

If you creating a new site then it is advised to start using the MQTT topics and isolate the places where you are using wires, so that these can be replaced in due time.

Wired events

First, define a named action:

{% wire name="test" action={growl text="Hello world"} %}

Then, call that action from your JavaScript code:


Trigger server side notifications from JavaScript

Trigger an Erlang notification in Zotonic with the z_notify JavaScript function:



z_notify("mymessage", {foo: bar, who: "world"});

This will trigger a call to:

z_notifier:first(#postback_notify{message = <<"mymessage">>}, Context)

Which you can handle in any Zotonic module by defining:

observe_postback_notify(#postback_notify{message = <<"mymessage">>}, Context) ->
    Who = z_context:get_q(who, Context),
    z_render:growl(["Hello ", z_html:escape(Who)], Context);
observe_postback_notify(_, _Context) ->

All arguments are available via the z_context:get_q/2 function (and friends).


Zotonic has a message bus to transport data between server and browser. It transports structured data in different formats and supports retransmission in case of lost messages.

Zotonic uses two mechanisms to transport data from the browser to the server:

The WebSocket connection it used to transport data from the server to the browser.

From browser to server

To send a message from the browser to the server:

z_transport("mod_example", "ubf", {hello: "world"});

And then on the server, use Erlang to process the message:




event(#z_msg_v1{data=Data}, Context) ->
    io:format("~p", [Data]),

This will print on the console:


Quality of service

The message will be sent with a quality of service of 0. That means the browser will try to send the message, but will not check if it arrived. Alterntively, you can send with a qos of 1, in that case the browser will wait for an ack, and if that doesn’t arrive in 30 seconds, then a duplicate message will be requeued for transport:

z_transport("mod_example", "ubf", {hello: "world"}, {qos: 1});

It is possible to define a callback function that will be called if an ack is received:

z_transport("mod_example", "ubf", {hello:"world"}, {
    qos: 1,
    ack: function(ackMsg, callOptions) {

From server to browser

Sending JavaScript (or other data) from the server to the browser is straightforward:

z_transport:page(javascript, <<"alert('Hello World');">>, Context);

This transports the JavaScript to the page associated with Context. This JavaScript will then be evaluated in the browser.

The default quality of service is 0 (see above); to let the page queue retry delivering the message it is possible to specify another quality of service:

z_transport:page(javascript, <<"alert('Hello World');">>, [{qos, 1}], Context);

It is also possible to send a message to all open pages of a session, or to all sessions of a user:

z_transport:session(javascript, <<"alert('Hello World');">>, [{qos, 1}], Context);
z_transport:user(javascript, <<"alert('Hello World');">>, [{qos, 1}], Context);

Or transport to a specific page, session or user, but then you will need to specify the message and the message-queue:

Msg = z_transport:msg(session, javascript, <<"alert('Hello World');">>, [{qos, 1}]).
z_transport:transport_user(Msg, UserId, Context).

The message queue is either session or page. It defines which queue will be responsible for resending the message and where the ack message is received. If user is specified as queue then it will be replaced by session.

Notifications Developer Guide E-mail handling

Referred by


This tag is the placeholder where all generated JavaScript scripts will be output on the page.

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Connect actions and events to a HTML element.