This is the documentation for the upcoming version 2.0. This is a work in progress

Abstract Syntax Tree

This library uses a doubly-linked list Abstract Syntax Tree (AST) to represent the parsed block and inline elements. All such elements extend from the Node class.


The root node of the AST will always be a Document object. You can obtain this node a few different ways:

Node Traversal

There are three different ways to traverse/iterate the Nodes within the AST:

Method Pros Cons
Manual Traversal Best way to access/check direct relatives of nodes Not useful for iteration
Walking the Tree Fast and efficient Adding/removing nodes while iterating them can lead to weird behaviors
Querying Nodes Easier to write and understand; no weird behaviors Not memory efficient

Each is described in more detail below

Manual Traversal

The following methods can be used to manually traverse from one Node to any of its direct relatives:

This is best suited for situations when you need to know information about those relatives.

Walking the Tree

If you’d like to iterate through all the nodes, use the walker() method to obtain an instance of NodeWalker. This will walk through the entire tree, emitting NodeWalkerEvents along the way.

use League\CommonMark\Node\NodeWalker;

/** @var NodeWalker $walker */
$walker = $document->walker();
while ($event = $walker->next()) {
    echo 'I am ' . ($event->isEntering() ? 'entering' : 'leaving') . ' a ' . get_class($event->getNode()) . ' node' . "\n";

This walker doesn’t use recursion, so you won’t blow the stack when working with deeply-nested nodes. It’s also very memory-efficient.

However, if you add/remove nodes while walking the tree, this can lead to the walker losing track of where it was, which may result in some nodes being visited multiple times or not at all.

Querying Nodes

If you’re trying to locate certain nodes to perform actions on them, querying the nodes from the AST might be easier to implement. This can be done with the Query class:

use League\CommonMark\Extension\CommonMark\Node\Block\BlockQuote;
use League\CommonMark\Extension\CommonMark\Node\Inline\Link;
use League\CommonMark\Node\Block\Paragraph;
use League\CommonMark\Node\Query;

// Find all paragraphs and blockquotes that contain links
$matchingNodes = (new Query())

foreach ($matchingNodes as $node) {
    // TODO: Do something with them

Each condition passed into where(), orWhere(), or andWhere() must be a callable “filter” that accepts a Node and returns true or false. We provide several methods that can help create these filters for you:

Method Description
Query::type(string $class) Creates a filter that matches nodes with the given class name
Query::hasChild() Creates a filter that matches nodes which contain at least one child
Query::hasChild(callable $condition) Creates a filter that matches nodes which contain at least one child that matches the inner $condition
Query::hasParent() Creates a filter that matches nodes which have a parent
Query::hasParent(callable $condition) Creates a filter that matches nodes which have a parent that matches the inner $condition

You can of course create your own custom filters/conditions using an anonymous function or by implementing ExpressionInterface:

use League\CommonMark\Node\Node;
use League\CommonMark\Node\Query;
use League\CommonMark\Node\Query\ExpressionInterface;

class ChildCountGreaterThan implements ExpressionInterface
    private $count;

    public function __construct(int $count)
        $this->count = $count;

    public function __invoke(Node $node) : bool{
        return count($node->children()) > $this->count;

$query = (new Query())
    ->where(function (Node $node): bool { return $node->data->has('attributes/class'); })
    ->andWhere(new ChildCountGreaterThan(3));


The following methods can be used to modify the AST:


The best way to access and manipulate the AST is by adding an event listener for the DocumentParsedEvent.

Data Storage

Each Node has a property called data which is a Data (array-like) object. This can be used to store any arbitrary data you’d like on the node:

use League\CommonMark\Node\Inline\Text;

$text1 = new Text('Hello, world!');
$text1->data->set('language', 'English');
$text1->data->set('is_good_translation', true);

$text2 = new Text('Bonjour monde!');
$text2->data->set('language', 'French');
$text2->data->set('is_good_translation', false);

foreach ([$text1, $text2] as $text) {
    if ($text->data->get('is_good_translation')) {
        sprintf('In %s we would say: "%s"', $text->data->get('language'), $text->getLiteral());
    } else {
        sprintf('I think they would say "%s" in %s, but I\'m not sure.', $text->getLiteral(), $text->data->get('language'));

You can also access deeply-nested paths using / or . as delimiters:

use League\CommonMark\Node\Inline\Text;

$text = new Text('Hello, world!');
$text->data->set('info', ['language' => 'English', 'is_good_translation' => true]);


$text->data->set('info/is_example', true);

HTML Attributes

The data property comes pre-instantiated with a single data element called attributes which is used to store any HTML attributes that need to be rendered. For example:

use League\CommonMark\Extension\CommonMark\Node\Inline\Link;

$link = new Link('', '@colinodell');
$link->data->append('attributes/class', 'social-link');
$link->data->append('attributes/class', 'twitter');
$link->data->set('attributes/target', '_blank');
$link->data->set('attributes/rel', 'noopener');