I am trying to capture the data that is selected when a user selects categories within a categories field type (handle: groups) within the Control Panel profile tab.

I was looking thru the Fields, Categories and Content services documentation in the craft docs section and I am still unsure.

I noticed when I did a var_dump of $user:

$user = UserModel::populateModel(UserRecord::model()->findById($id));

It displays the field 'groups' within the _attributeConfigs, but does not show up in private '_attributes' (Craft\BaseModel)

The other fields do show up, for example, occupation shows up within both the _attributeConfigs (its a string) and shows up in private '_attributes' (Craft\BaseModel) with a value of 'Teacher'.

I am unsure how to get the data the user selected when selecting the categories while updating their profile within the control panel.

1 Answer 1


Usually, its very easy to pull data from a relational fieldtype (Categories, Entries, Assets etc). E.g. if your Categories field handle is memberGroups, you can simply do this:

$categories = $user->memberGroups;

However, your Categories field handle is groups, which conflicts with the built-in UserModel attribute groups, used to pull any user groups the user is a member of – this means that calling $user->groups will give you an array of UserGroupModel instances, ignoring your Categories field.

Also, the $user->getContent()->getAttribute('groups'); method doesn't appear to work for relational fields.

The easy answer: I'd suggest you simply change the field handle for your Categories field to something else – for example memberGroups. Don't worry, you won't lose any data if you do. Then you can just do $categories = $user->memberGroups;.

If you can't or wont change the field handle, here's a workaround:

$criteria = craft()->elements->getCriteria(ElementType::Category);
$criteria->relatedTo = array(
    'sourceElement' => $user,
    'field' => 'groups'
$categories = $criteria->find();
  • Hi Mats - Sorry for confusing you, the "groups" is the handle of a custom category field type I assigned to the users field within the CP users settings fields page (/admin/settings/users/fields). Your code returns the user groups that were created at /admin/settings/users, if the user w/ that id is assigned any of those groups. I am looking for the custom field type: "groups"
    – Brad
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 15:20
  • If I do: $user->getContent()->occupation; it shows the occupation (is custom field type plain text) field data entered. But If I do $user->getContent()->groups; its blank. The groups field shows up within Craft\ContentModel Object ( [_requiredFields:Craft\ContentModel:private] => [_attributeConfigs:Craft\ContentModel:private] => Array
    – Brad
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 15:37
  • It prints out the group in that array: [groups] => Array ( [model] => [column] => text [type] => mixed [label] => Groups )
    – Brad
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 15:38
  • 1
    Aaah, right... You're absolutely correct, $user->groups will output any groups (UserGroupModels) the user is in. If your field had a different handle, e.g. groupCategories, my original answer would work (i.e. $user->groupCategories). It's actually a bit weird that Craft allows groups as a field handle; pretty much every other built-in attribute for any of the element models is a reserved word and can't be used for field handles. Maybe this is an oversight on P&T's behalf, you might want to shoot them an email at [email protected]. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 17:12
  • 1
    @Brad Just edited my answer, including a workaround if you don't want to change the field handle. Hope it works out! Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 17:26

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