Posted on 4/6/06 by Felix Geisendörfer
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One of the fun things when working with CakePHP has always been browsing through the core code. It truly is a masterpiece of PHP programming art, and you'll almost always find something interesting to use in your current projects. So this post will give you a little insight into some of those seldom used CakePHP features I've come across.
CakePHP's build in data cache
Function: cache($path, $data = null, $expires = '+1 day', $target = 'cache')
Purpose: Allow people to store temporary data in the app/tmp/cache folder. (And inside app/webroot as well)
The cache function is an easy way to store the results of server-heavy requests for an hour or two so the performance won't suffer. I found it very useful when working with Web Services. So here is a simple way to use this function (out of my Google Analytics Model):
$profilesData = cache($cachePath, null, '+2 hours');
$profilesData = cache($cachePath, $this->httpGet($url));
If you need to cache objects, you can use the serialize / unserialize function of php. If you need to cache resized images you can set $target to 'public' and things will get stored to the webroot. All in all a very neat function ; ). One thing I created myself when working with it, was a function that would generate a unique $path based on the paramaters of the function. That way you can make sure the data you cache is only cached for one specific set of params:
$args = func_get_args();
$hashSource = null;
foreach ($args as $arg)
$hashSource = $hashSource . serialize($arg);
Now you can pass all parameters you want to the function and it will return a unique cache path based on the md5 fingerprint of the parameters. It'll work with Strings, Numbers, Arrays, objects and everything else that can be serialized.
Working with Trees in CakePHP
Function: Model::findAllThreaded($conditions = null, $fields = null, $sort = null)
Purpose: Return an array of nested Model Items based on their parent_id field.
If you know how to work with Model:findAll() you also know how to use this function. The only difference is, that this function expects your model (table) to have a field called parent_id where relations betweens items are stored. Based on that a nested array is returned.
CakePHP's build in debug() function
Function: debug($var = false, $showHtml = false)
Purpose: Output the data of any object or variable as long as DEBUG > 0.
If you have to use debug statements in your app in order to check results here and there, this function is the way to go. It basically does a print_r() on your data and puts it inside <pre> tags. Now when your application becomes stable you simply set DEBUG to 0 inside of app/config/core.php and all your debug() statements become deactivated.
Read & Write files
Read Function: file_get_contents($fileName, $useIncludePath = false)
Write Function: file_put_contents($fileName, $data)
Purpose: Simple access to read & write for files.
I think those two functions are php5 functions that cakephp creates for you if they are not available when you use php4. The functions themselfs are pretty self-explanatory since all they do is to read and write data from / to files.
Function: chmodr($path, $mode = 0755)
Purpose: Allows you to recursivly chmod an entire directory.
This function expects you to provide a $path and and chmod $mode, then it recursivley sets this $mode to all files, inside this directory recursivley. Useful when you do a lot with files in your app.
Take the best out of scaffolding
Function: Controller::generateFieldNames($data = null, $doCreateOptions = true)
Purpose: Generates an array that can be used to create a scaffolded interface based on your key model in the controller.
This is one of the *most* RAD functions in CakePHP I think. You usally use it like this in order to create a scaffold-like interface (only that you have full control over it):
And inside your view you do somethings like this:
<?php echo $form->generateSubmitDiv('Create Post'); ?>
This will build you an interface based on the fields in your table that's a lot like the scaffolding one. If you need to customize it (which is why you do this instead of scaffolding), just take a look at the $post array created by generateFieldNames. Changing things around in there can help, as well as to unset() certain fields of it.
And there are more ...
Those are just a couple functions I've used before or found inside the CakePHP core. I know that there are tons of others, and that's why I would encourage everybody to go out for some adventures inside the code of the framework you work with - it'll be an educational experience.
I hope some of those functions will be helpful for you in future ; ).
--Felix aka the_undefined
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