Dynamically add items to a wp_nav_menu() list

WordPress’s wp_nav_menu() fetches a custom menu, as built using the Menus GUI, for display in a theme. I had a project where I needed to add some items to this menu dynamically – the links would be different for each user, and wouldn’t appear for logged-out users, so they couldn’t really be added using the GUI. After a bit of futzing, I was able to insert my menu items, tricking WP into thinking that they were native.

Details: For logged-in users, I needed to add three subnav items underneath the top-level ‘Activity’ item, if it was present. So at the beginning of the function, you’ll see that I’m doing some BuddyPress-specific stuff, to find the Activity menu. If you need to use a menu_item_parent like I did, you’ll have to supply your own method for finding it (or just hardcode it). The heavy lifting is done in the second foreach loop, where I build stdClass objects just robust enough that WordPress will interpret them as true nav menu items.


7 thoughts on “Dynamically add items to a wp_nav_menu() list

  1. cgrymala

    It should be noted, though, that if the menu is completely empty to start with, this won’t work. As of WP 3.5, the wp_get_nav_menu_items filter (and all of the actions and filters related to nav menus) only fires if there is at least one item in a menu. If the menu exists, but is completely empty, WP skips over it entirely.

    I ran into this issue when trying to get Ron Rennick’s Networkwide Menu plugin working in 3.5; I ended up having to hook into an early action, retrieve the menu, check to see if it had any items and, if it didn’t, add a dummy item to get WordPress to actually execute the necessary actions and filters.

  2. Molot

    thank you, Boone, exactly what I needed! Could you please explain the idea behind the code, since at the moment it is working weird a bit?

    If idea of the code is that it should stay inside functions.php (or any other place), then issue is that every time you will press “save menu” in Appearance -> Menus it will be adding + 3 items from the code.

    If idea of the code is that it should be run once and removed, then issue is that after you will press “save menu” in Appearance -> Menus and remove the code, 3 working items will be removed, but 3 “pending” will be kept – these 3 “pending” items have no links and respect no rules re logged in, etc.

    cgrymala, this happens to ‘wp_nav_menu_items’, but ‘wp_get_nav_menu_items’ runs fine even if menu is empty – at least from my experience with the WP 3.5.

    modemlooper, is your plugin still working, cannot find it in the repository?


  3. Joe

    Great filter! It was not working for me initially but then i realised the stdClass bit. nav items must be in a class.

    Brilliant article.


  4. Pingback: תתי קטגוריות בתפריט וורדפרס | ליקוטי שיבולים

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