Collecting tabular input

Sometimes you need to handle multiple models of the same kind in a single form. For example, multiple settings, where each setting is stored as a name-value pair and is represented by a Setting active record model. This kind of form is also often referred to as "tabular input". In contrast to this, handling different models of different kind, is handled in the section Complex Forms with Multiple Models.

The following shows how to implement tabular input with Yii.

There are three different situations to cover, which have to be handled slightly different:

  • Updating a fixed set of records from the database
  • Creating a dynamic set of new records
  • Updating, creating and deleting of records on one page

In contrast to the single model forms explained before, we are working with an array of models now. This array is passed to the view to display the input fields for each model in a table like style and we will use helper methods of yii\base\Model that allow loading and validating multiple models at once:

Updating a fixed set of records

Let's start with the controller action:


namespace app\controllers;

use Yii;
use yii\base\Model;
use yii\web\Controller;
use app\models\Setting;

class SettingsController extends Controller
    // ...

    public function actionUpdate()
        $settings = Setting::find()->indexBy('id')->all();

        if (Model::loadMultiple($settings, Yii::$app->request->post()) && Model::validateMultiple($settings)) {
            foreach ($settings as $setting) {
            return $this->redirect('index');

        return $this->render('update', ['settings' => $settings]);

In the code above we're using indexBy() when retrieving models from the database to populate an array indexed by models primary keys. These will be later used to identify form fields. Model::loadMultiple() fills multiple models with the form data coming from POST and Model::validateMultiple() validates all models at once. As we have validated our models before, using validateMultiple(), we're now passing false as a parameter to save() to not run validation twice.

Now the form that's in update view:

use yii\helpers\Html;
use yii\widgets\ActiveForm;

$form = ActiveForm::begin();

foreach ($settings as $index => $setting) {
    echo $form->field($setting, "[$index]value")->label($setting->name);


Here for each setting we are rendering name and an input with a value. It is important to add a proper index to input name since that is how Model::loadMultiple() determines which model to fill with which values.

Creating a dynamic set of new records

Creating new records is similar to updating, except the part, where we instantiate the models:

public function actionCreate()
    $count = count(Yii::$app->request->post('Setting', []));
    $settings = [new Setting()];
    for($i = 1; $i < $count; $i++) {
        $settings[] = new Setting();

    // ...

Here we create an initial $settings array containing one model by default so that always at least one text field will be visible in the view. Additionally we add more models for each line of input we may have received.

In the view you can use javascript to add new input lines dynamically.

Combining Update, Create and Delete on one page

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