When you have to put varnish on a website, you may need to ajaxify the breadcrumbs.

Breadcrumbs by navigation, that’s bad !

On Magento, the breadcrumbs can be different with the customer navigation.
It’s not SEO-friendly for some people who say it’s very creepy.

What the client wants, the developer do

After a little explaination in order to have an unique SEO-friendly breadcrumbs, the client prefers have the native Magento behaviour, but with varnish. So let’s ajaxify it !

The Event

We need to ajaxify the breadcrumbs only on product page :


If you need to do it on categories, the event is controller_action_layout_render_before_catalog_product_view

In order to do it on all the pages : controller_action_layout_render_before

Observer’s Method

public function initAjaxBreadcrumbs(Varien_Event_Observer $observer)
        /** @var $layout Mage_Core_Model_Layout */
        $layout = Mage::getSingleton('core/layout');
        if ($layout) {
            $request = Mage::app()->getFrontController()->getRequest();
            if ((bool) $request->getParam('is_breadcrumbs', false)) {
                $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'] = preg_replace('/is_breadcrumbs=\d/i', '', $request->getRequestUri());
                Mage::app()->getFrontController()->getResponse()->setHeader('content-type', 'application/json');

                $breadcrumbsBlock = $layout->getBlock('breadcrumbs');

                $navAjaxContainer = $layout->createBlock('core/template', 'mymodule_navigation_ajax');
                $navAjaxContainer->setData('breadcrumbs', mb_convert_encoding($breadcrumbsBlock->toHtml(), 'UTF-8', 'UTF-8'));
                $layout->addOutputBlock('mymodule_navigation_ajax', 'toJson');

With that, all products URL will be checked on the Observer, and if the param “is_breadcrumbs” exists, it will return a JSON with only the breadcrumbs :


We can now do an AJAX call of this URL, retrieve the HTML in javascript, and put it on the div you want 🙂

Et voilà ! You now have your ajax breadcrumbs on product pages on Magento ! If you haven’t got a JSON return, check if the “breadcrumbs” block is on your page layout !

Not cache AJAX call

Don’t forget to not cache the XML call on varnish ! Otherwise, our development is useless 😉

Memorize the last viewed category

In order to show the breadcrumbs, Magento have to know the last viewed category.
I decided to put a javascript variable, which is put in varnish cache for every category page :

<script type="text/javascript">
        var catForJson = <?php echo json_encode($_category->getId()); ?>

For every category page (I can know that with the previous declared variable), I launch an ajax call :

// manage breadcrumbs and prev-next links
    if(typeof catForJson !== 'undefined'){
            method: "POST",
            data: { catId: catForJson },
            url: "/ajaxinfos/header/category",
            cache :false,
            success: function(html) {
               // If you want to do something

Here is what I do in the ajax call :

public function categoryAction(){
        $post = $this->getRequest();
        $catId = $post->getParam('catId');


Go further !

We can do a perfect SEO-friendly breadcrumbs with varnish ! You can specify a breadcrumbs for non-AJAX call. So Googlebots (and the other bots), will see the “default” breadcrumbs, and the customer breadcrumbs will be setted in AJAX !

Ajaxify breadcrumbs on Magento
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