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This tutorial is built using Drupal 8.0. The fundamental concepts of Drupal 8 - like services & routing - are still valid, but newer versions of Drupal *do* have major differences.

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Drupal Events versus Hooks

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When I say Drupal, most people think: hooks. And then some people roll their eyes. Yep, the infamous, but, honestly, super-powerful hooks system still exists. But not everything uses hooks anymore: some use a brand new event system. With events, you create a function and then tell Drupal to call your function when something happens. Hmm.... that sounds a lot like hooks.

Yep! Events are the object-oriented version of hooks. And like hooks, if you can learn how to harness events, you're going to be very, very dangerous.

First, get into the profiler by clicking any link on the web debug toolbar. Well look at that: an Events tab. I think we should click it.

Events versus Hooks

This is awesome: it tells you all of the events and the listeners that have been called during this request. Wait, back up, new terminology. When something happens in Drupal's core that we might want to hook into, Drupal dispatches an event. What that really means is that Drupal calls all the functions that want to be executed when this event happens.

And this works just like hooks. For example, when Drupal 7 builds the menu, it knows you might want to hook into this process. So, it executes hook_menu(). What this really means is that it calls all the functions that implement this hook.

So you can think of hook_menu as an "event", and all the callbacks that implement it as the "listeners". In reality, the only difference between the hook system and the event system is how you tell Drupal that you have a listener. With hooks, create a function with just the right name - like dino_roar_menu() - and boom! Drupal automagically calls it. With events, create a function with any name and tell Drupal about it with configuration.

Each event has a name, and apparently there's one called kernel.request. This is the first event that happens when the request is being processed. If you need some code to run early on every page, this is your guy. On the right, there is a class called ProfilerListener with an onKernelRequest() function. That's the listener function that was called. In typical Drupal 8 fashion, it's not a flat-function anymore: it's a method inside an object.

There are a bunch of listeners on kernel.request and several other events, like kernel.controller and Don't worry about why you would want to listen to an event. Like with "hooks", you'll eventually Google "How do I do X", and the answer will be "add a listener to some event".

At the bottom, there's another section: Non called listeners, with more stuff you can hook into? Wait, why aren't they called? Like hooks, not all events happen on every request. Like this one - routing.route_finished: it's only called when the routing cache is built. And if you wanted to hook into the route-building process, you could attach a listener to this.