Anders Grendstadbakk

Entity API in Drupal 8

A quick walkthrough of the most common entity operations in Drupal 8.

Changes from Drupal 7

Everything is different from Drupal 7, but if you really want to you can still use [core_entity]_load and [core_entity]_load_multiple. You should note that they are marked as deprecated in the code and will be removed (In Drupal 9), so you should just use the new ways right now.

Load a node in Drupal 8

To load a node in Drupal 8 you have to use the Node class:

use Drupal\node\Entity\Node;

$node = Node::load(1);

Update: A good friend of mine Zaporylie, told me of a better way of loading nodes (and other entities):

$entity = $container->get('entity_type.manager')->getStorage('entity_type')->load($entity_id);

Doing it this way makes it easier to extend functionality and override original node class.

Working with fields

To get values from your node you can either use some of the defined methods:

// There are a lot more of these methods, and you can inspect the with dpm().
// To see all methods just switch to the "Available methods" tab.

Or you can just specify the field name:

$field = $node->field_name;

Most fields will be an instance of FieldItemList, but images and attachments for example will be of FileFieldItemList.

There are multiple ways you can get the field values, in this example the field is a formated text field (with format and value).

// Array of values, if you don't have multiple values it will be an array with one item.
$value = $field->getValue();
echo 'My value is: "' . $value[0]['value'] . '", it uses the format: ' . $value[0]['format'];

// Or you can fetch a specific value, you specify the index for the value you want.
// This will return a field class instance.
$value = $field->get(0);
$value->value; // Text.
$value->format; // The format.

Updating and saving entities

To update a node you can use the set method of the node class:

$node->set('field_text', [
  'format' => 'full_html',
  'value' => '<p>Updated text is better than old text.</p>',

You can also update values directly like this:

$node->body->value = 'body';
$node->body->format = 'full_html';

But in my opinion it’s much cleaner to use the set method.

To actually store your changes you have to call the save method:


Creating a new entity

To create a new entity you have to use the static method create:

$node = Node::create([
  'title' => 'My programmatically created node is amazing',
  'created' => time(),
  'changed' => time(),
  'type' => 'page',
  'langcode' => 'en',
  'uid' => 1,
  'body' => [
    'format' => 'full_html',
    'value' => '<p>Welcome to my node.</p>',

And after creating the node object you have to save it with the save method.

Deleting entities

Deleting a entity is quite easy. You just need to call the delete method.


What’s next?

There is a lot of functions available for the different entities, I really recommend you to look into the entity class file to see what methods are available.