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Presentation Layer

What is the Magento Presentation layer?

When you interact with the Magento web interface, you are interacting with presentation layer code. The presentation layer is the top layer of the four layers (presentation, service, domain, and persistence layers) described by the Magento architecture.

The presentation layer contains both view elements (layouts, blocks, templates) and controllers, which process commands to and from the user interface. Presentation code controls web user interaction with the product and its appearance. You can extensively customize the user interface by using HTML, CSS, and PHTML files to modify elements of the presentation layer. Basically, the presentation layer represents the customization of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Magento UI, PHTML files, and block files.

Who uses the Presentation layer?

Magento uses areas to efficiently make web service calls, loading only the dependent code that is required for the particular type of user. Three types of Magento users interact with presentation layer code:

  • Web users interact with the storefront, where they can see the View model of data displayed by Magento and interact with product UI elements to request data for view and manipulation. These users work within the frontend area.

  • System administrators customizing a storefront can indirectly manipulate the presentation layer by, for example, adding themes or widgets to the frontend.

  • Web API calls can be made through HTTP just like browser requests, and can be made via AJAX calls from the user interface.

Presentation layer components

One helpful way of understanding the Magento presentation layer components is by examining Magento themes. Magento themes organize both the visual aspect of your storefront and certain aspects of product behavior.

Each theme resides in a unique directory and contains custom page layouts, templates, skins, and language files that work together to create a distinct user experience.

For an extensive introduction to theme elements and an overview of how to extend and override the default Magento themes, see the Frontend Developer Guide.


GraphQL is a data query language developed internally by Facebook in 2012 before being publicly released in 2015. Magento implements GraphQL to provide an alternative to REST and SOAP web APIs for frontend development.

GraphQL allows you to define the structure of the data that you need, and the server returns only the data you request. Each GraphQL-capable module contains a declarative schema that defines the syntax for queries that the module supports, as well as the attributes that can be returned. If you run a REST call such as GET /V1/products/:sku on a simple product, the system might fetch more than 100 lines of data. If all you need is the current price, the call has returned significantly more information than you need. With GraphQL, a query against the same SKU could return just the price.

More information can be found in the GraphQL Developer Guide.

Progressive Web Apps

The Magento Progressive Web App (PWA) Studio project is a set of developer tools that allow you to develop, deploy, and maintain a PWA storefront on top of Magento 2. PWA is a way to present a Magento storefront via a set of React JavaScript components. Using Magento as a headless backend, you can use PWA components to create mobile friendly frontend.

You can read more about how PWA works with Magento in the PWA Studio docs.

View model

Magento generates the HTML for a page to display to a user from a tree of view elements.

View elements fall into two main categories: blocks and containers.

  • Blocks can generate dynamic content and can contain named child view elements that are similar to arguments being passed in. (The as attribute holds the child view element names for the parent block to reference them)

  • Containers collect an ordered group of children view elements.

The browser forms a product web page by asking the view element tree to render itself into HTML. Containers and blocks emit HTML that encloses their children appropriately. Blocks can generate their content using static HTML, Knockout JS scripts, and PHTML.

How Presentation code calls other layers

Presentation code typically calls service contracts, particularly for a storefront. However, presentation code is occasionally dependent on a specific implementation that requires the presentation code to directly call the domain layer. For example, the Admin UI screens are often tightly linked to a specific implementation and are not generic across implementations.

The View layer calls code from the Model to get information about the state of the application (for example, the price of a product). Typically, the way it accesses the Model is through service contracts.

Presentation layer flow

Web users interact with components of the presentation layer to select actions that initiate calls to the underlying layers. Presentation layer components make calls to the service layer, which in turn sends requests to the domain layer.

Related topics

Architectural diagrams

Architectural layers overview