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Version: 4.4

Repeat elements

The Form API includes the ability to repeat a group of form elements. This is useful where you need to have an unknown quantity of item data, for example possible answers in a quiz question.

This is achieved by adding a button to the form to handle the creation of the additional buttons using a page reload, and a zero-indexed array added to the elementname data returned by get_data().


Most of the necessary information is in the phpdoc comment for the repeat_elements() method:

* Method to add a repeating group of elements to a form.
* @param array $elementobjs Array of elements or groups of elements that are to be repeated
* @param int $repeats no of times to repeat elements initially
* @param array $options a nested array. The first array key is the element name.
* the second array key is the type of option to set, and depend on that option,
* the value takes different forms.
* 'default' - default value to set. Can include '{no}' which is replaced by the repeat number.
* 'type' - PARAM_* type.
* 'helpbutton' - array containing the helpbutton params.
* 'disabledif' - array containing the disabledIf() arguments after the element name.
* 'rule' - array containing the addRule arguments after the element name.
* 'expanded' - whether this section of the form should be expanded by default. (Name be a header element.)
* 'advanced' - whether this element is hidden by 'Show more ...'.
* @param string $repeathiddenname name for hidden element storing no of repeats in this form
* @param string $addfieldsname name for button to add more fields
* @param int $addfieldsno how many fields to add at a time
* @param string $addstring name of button, {no} is replaced by no of blanks that will be added.
* @param bool $addbuttoninside if true, don't call closeHeaderBefore($addfieldsname). Default false.
* @param string $deletebuttonname if specified, treats the no-submit button with this name as a "delete element" button in each of the elements.
* @return int no of repeats of element in this page


  • The list of elements you wish to repeat is set in the $elementobjs array, with any options passed into the $options array. A {no} placeholder can be placed into strings, such as the element label or default values, to represent the item number.

While the elements are zero-indexed, the {no} label is one-indexed.

  • The number of repeats to show initially can be configured using the $repeats parameter.
  • The number of elements to add when adding more options is configured using the $addfieldsno parameter.
  • The label used for the 'Add more' button can be set using the $addstring parameter. A {no} placeholder can be used in the string to indicate how many repeats will be added.
  • The number of element repeats currently shown is stored in a hidden element, whose name can be specified using the $repeathiddenname parameter.

The following example shows how repeat_elements() can be used within a form definition with a delete button for each repeated field :

definition() function
$repeatarray = [
$mform->createElement('text', 'option', get_string('optionno', 'choice')),
$mform->createElement('text', 'limit', get_string('limitno', 'choice')),
$mform->createElement('hidden', 'optionid', 0),
$mform->createElement('submit', 'delete', get_string('deletestr', 'choice'), [], false),

if ($this->_instance){
$repeatno = $DB->count_records('choice_options', ['choiceid' => $this->_instance]);
$repeatno += 2;
} else {
$repeatno = 5;

$repeateloptions = [
'limit' => [
'default' => 0,
'disabledif' => array('limitanswers', 'eq', 0),
'rule' => 'numeric',
'type' => PARAM_INT,
'option' => [
'helpbutton' => [

$mform->setType('option', PARAM_CLEANHTML);
$mform->setType('optionid', PARAM_INT);


For other examples, have a look at the question type editing forms. They make extensive use of repeat_elements().