ExpressionEngine Docs

Output Class

The Output class is a core class with one main function: To send the finalized web page to the requesting browser. It is also responsible for caching web pages.

Note: This class is initialized automatically by the system so there is no need to do it manually.

Under normal circumstances you won’t even notice the Output class since it works transparently without your intervention. For example, when you use the Loader class to load a view file, it’s automatically passed to the Output class, which will be called automatically by ExpressionEngine at the end of system execution. It is possible, however, for you to manually intervene with the output if you need to.

Class Reference

class EE_Output

property $parse_exec_vars

Defaults to TRUE.

Enables/disables parsing of the {elapsed_time} and {memory_usage} pseudo-variables.

ExpressionEngine will parse those tokens in your output by default. To disable this, set this property to FALSE in your controller. :

ee()->output->parse_exec_vars = FALSE;


Parameter Type Description
$output String String to set the output to
Returns EE_Output EE_Output instance (method chaining)

Permits you to manually set the final output string. Usage example:


Important: If you do set your output manually, it must be the last thing done in the function you call it from. For example, if you build a page in one of your controller methods, don’t set the output until the end.

set_content_type($mime_type[, $charset = NULL])

Parameter Type Description
$mime_type String MIME Type idenitifer string
$charset String Character set
Returns EE_Output EE_Output instance (method chaining)

Permits you to set the mime-type of your page so you can serve JSON data, JPEG’s, XML, etc easily. :

    ->set_output(json_encode(array('foo' => 'bar')));

    ->set_content_type('jpeg') // You could also use ".jpeg" which will have the full stop removed before looking in config/mimes.php

Important: Make sure any non-mime string you pass to this method exists in system/ee/legacy/config/mimes.php or it will have no effect.

You can also set the character set of the document, by passing a second argument:

ee()->output->set_content_type('css', 'utf-8');


Parameter Type Description
Returns String Content-Type string

Returns the Content-Type HTTP header that’s currently in use, excluding the character set value. :

$mime = ee()->output->get_content_type();

Note: If not set, the default return value is ‘text/html’.


Parameter Type Description
$header String HTTP header name
Returns Mixed HTTP response header or NULL if not found

Returns the requested HTTP header value, or NULL if the requested header is not set:

ee()->output->set_content_type('text/plain', 'UTF-8');
echo ee()->output->get_header('content-type');
// Outputs: text/plain; charset=utf-8

Note: The header name is compared in a case-insensitive manner.

Note: Raw headers sent via PHP’s native header() function are also detected.


Parameter Type Description
Returns String Output string

Permits you to manually retrieve any output that has been sent for storage in the output class. Usage example:

$string = ee()->output->get_output();

Note that data will only be retrievable from this function if it has been previously sent to the output class by one of the ExpressionEngine functions like ee()->load->view().


Parameter Type Description
$output String Additional output data to append
Returns EE_Output EE_Output instance (method chaining)

Appends data onto the output string. :


set_header($header[, $replace = TRUE])

Parameter Type Description
$header String HTTP response header
$replace Bool Whether to replace the old header value, if it is already set
Returns EE_Output EE_Output instance (method chaining)

Permits you to manually set server headers, which the output class will send for you when outputting the final rendered display. Example:

ee()->output->set_header('HTTP/1.0 200 OK');
ee()->output->set_header('HTTP/1.1 200 OK');
ee()->output->set_header('Last-Modified: '.gmdate('D, d M Y H:i:s', $last_update).' GMT');
ee()->output->set_header('Cache-Control: no-store, no-cache, must-revalidate');
ee()->output->set_header('Cache-Control: post-check=0, pre-check=0');
ee()->output->set_header('Pragma: no-cache');

set_status_header([$code = 200[, $text = '']])

Parameter Type Description
$code Int HTTP status code
$text String Optional message
Returns EE_Output EE_Output instance (method chaining)

Permits you to manually set a server status header. Example:

// Sets the header as:  Unauthorized

See here for a full list of headers.

Note: This method is an alias for set_status_header().

enable_profiler([$val = TRUE])

Parameter Type Description
$val Bool Whether to enable or disable the Profiler
Returns EE_Output EE_Output instance (method chaining)

Permits you to enable/disable the Output Debugger, which will display benchmark and other data at the bottom of your pages for debugging and optimization purposes.

To enable the profiler place the following line anywhere within your Controller methods:


When enabled a report will be generated and inserted at the bottom of your pages.

To disable the profiler you would use:



Parameter Type Description
$time Int Cache expiration time in seconds
Returns EE_Output EE_Output instance (method chaining)

Caches the current page for the specified amount of seconds.

For more information, please see the caching documentation.

_display([$output = ''])

Parameter Type Description
$output String Output data override
Returns Void void

Sends finalized output data to the browser along with any server headers. It also stops benchmark timers.

Note: This method is called automatically at the end of script execution, you won’t need to call it manually unless you are aborting script execution using exit() or die() in your code.


$response = array('status' => 'OK');

    ->set_content_type('application/json', 'utf-8')

Note: Calling this method manually without aborting script execution will result in duplicated output.