Message API

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What is this document?

This document describes how to make use of the Moodle Messaging API to send messages to Moodle users.

If you are after a general introduction on using the Moodle Messaging system go to messaging user documentation.

If you are looking for details of how the Messaging system's internal structure was implemented, go to Messaging 2.0.

If you are looking for instructions on the implementation of a custom message processor (a component that receives messages sent to a user), go to Messaging custom components.

If you are looking for instructions on sending messages programatically within Moodle then read on...


Moodle components have the ability to send messages to users via the Moodle messaging system. Any type of component, for example a plugin or block, can register as a message producer then send messages to users.

File locations

The Message API code is contained within lib/messagelib.php and is automatically included for you during page setup.


message_send() is the primary point of contact for the message API. Call it to send a message to a user. You can find a full description of the arguments that must be supplied at (link to phpdocs). There is also an example below.

Message popup

Moodle 2.9

A Javascript popup can be displayed through a link to invite a user to message another. In order to use this feature, you need to require the Javascript libraries using message_messenger_requirejs() and create a link with the attributes returned by message_messenger_sendmessage_link_params(). More in the examples.


How to register as a message producer

The messages produced by a message provider is defined in the /db/messages.php file of a component. Below is code from the quiz module's messages.php file, shown as an example.

defined('MOODLE_INTERNAL') || die();
$messageproviders = array (
    // Notify teacher that a student has submitted a quiz attempt
    'submission' => array (
        'capability'  => 'mod/quiz:emailnotifysubmission'
    // Confirm a student's quiz attempt
    'confirmation' => array (
        'capability'  => 'mod/quiz:emailconfirmsubmission'

The quiz can send two kinds of messages, quiz "submission" and "confirmation" notifications. Each message type is only available to users with the appropriate capability. Please note that the capability is checked at the system level context. Users who have this capability will have this message listed in their messaging preferences. You can omit the capability section if your message should be visible for all users. For example forum post notifications are available to all users.

$messageproviders = array (
    // Ordinary single forum posts
    'posts' => array (

When displaying your message types in a user's messaging preferences it will use a string from your component's language file called "messageprovider:messagename". For example here are the relevant strings from the quiz's language file.

$string['messageprovider:confirmation'] = 'Confirmation of your own quiz submissions';
$string['messageprovider:submission'] = 'Notification of quiz submissions';

Once your messages.php is complete you need to increase the version number of your component in its version.php. That will cause Moodle to check messages.php looking for new or changed message definitions. Log in as an admin and go to /admin/index.php (the Notifications page) to start the upgrade process.

How to send a message

Moodle 2.9

Here is example code showing you how to actually send a message. The example shows the construction of a object with specific properties, which is then passed to the message_send() function that uses the information to send a message.

$message = new \core\message\message();
$message->component = 'moodle';
$message->name = 'instantmessage';
$message->userfrom = $USER;
$message->userto = $user;
$message->subject = 'message subject 1';
$message->fullmessage = 'message body';
$message->fullmessageformat = FORMAT_MARKDOWN;
$message->fullmessagehtml = '<p>message body</p>';
$message->smallmessage = 'small message';
$message->notification = '0';
$message->contexturl = '';
$message->contexturlname = 'Context name';
$message->replyto = "";
$content = array('*' => array('header' => ' test ', 'footer' => ' test ')); // Extra content for specific processor
$message->set_additional_content('email', $content);
$message->courseid = $course->id; // This is required in recent versions, use it from 3.2 on
// Create a file instance.
$usercontext = context_user::instance($user->id);
$file = new stdClass;
$file->contextid = $usercontext->id;
$file->component = 'user';
$file->filearea  = 'private';
$file->itemid    = 0;
$file->filepath  = '/';
$file->filename  = '1.txt';
$file->source    = 'test';
$fs = get_file_storage();
$file = $fs->create_file_from_string($file, 'file1 content');
$message->attachment = $file;
$messageid = message_send($message);

Before 2.9 message data used to be a stdClass object as shown below:-

$message = new stdClass();
$message->component         = 'mod_quiz'; //your component name
$message->name              = 'submission'; //this is the message name from messages.php
$message->userfrom          = $USER;
$message->userto            = $touser;
$message->subject           = $subject;
$message->fullmessage       = $message;
$message->fullmessageformat = FORMAT_PLAIN;
$message->fullmessagehtml   = '';
$message->smallmessage      = '';
$message->notification      = 1; //this is only set to 0 for personal messages between users

How to set-up the message popup

Here is example code showing you how to set-up the Javascript popup link.

$userid = 2;
$userto = $DB->get_record('user', array('id' => $userid));
$url = new moodle_url('message/index.php', array('id' => $userto->id));
$attributes = message_messenger_sendmessage_link_params($userto);
echo html_writer::link($url, 'Send a message', $attributes);

See also