An Introduction to CakePHP 4 basics

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Now a days, there are several PHP frameworks where we work. But from those available frameworks, we select some best ones. CakePHP framework comes in the list of best frameworks of PHP. Inside this article we will learn CakePHP 4 step by step which covers all topics of CakePHP 4 basics.

Simply, if any one asks from us What is a PHP framework ? What should we reply to this query, any idea. In simple terms you have reply, the collection of code, packages, classes etc which in turns make work easy and development faster using PHP language called a PHP framework.

Let’s get started about CakePHP 4 Basics in detailed concept.


What is CakePHP 4.x ?

CakePHP is an open source framework based on PHP Language. It has been created to build/develop application faster – by means of it’s core libraries, packages, modules etc. Here are some CakePHP features –

  • MVC supported – It supports MVC pattern to code methodology. M stands for Model, V stands for View & C stands for Controller.
  • By using CakePHP in application development – it turns development in faster mode.
  • It will installed by using method of composer.
  • Provide Bake console commands, code generation techniques etc.
  • It supports multiple database supports like MySQL, Postgres etc.
  • It provides ease concept of template engines.

4.x is the latest version of CakePHP when we are writing this article. So inside this article we will cover the development basics of CakePHP 4.


CakePHP 4.x Installation at System

Before installation of CakePHP we need some system requirements and it’s configuration. Here, System configuration means Server, PHP, Extensions, Database etc.

To know about basic installation settings to system, server to get this framework, you need to follow the guidelines of cakephp official document of. This document makes clear about what we need initially to set the things in a better way.

Additionally, we need composer at system. Composer is a tool which used to manage PHP dependencies, libraries etc .We will use composer to install CakePHP. So, first you need to install composer. If you have already installed or exists at your system, you can verify by command –

$ composer

If composer has been installed then this command will list all available commands of composer other wise you will get error something composer command not found.

Click here for the article – How to Install composer in ubuntu

Assuming Composer exists at system.

Let’s create a CakePHP project at system –

$ composer create-project --prefer-dist cakephp/app:~4.0 mycakephp

Above command will creates a project with the name called mycakephp.

Inside this command we can also see, we have used composer and cakephp v 4.0. Have a look at this image about the installation of cakephp via terminal –

Installing packages and modules as we can see clearly.

Successfully, we have done the installation.

Open Application to Browser

Back to installed project folder >> copy the URL >> Open browser >> Paste & go.

When you see this screen after running it means you did everything in perfect way. If you are getting some error or bit distorted layout other than this it means some issues happened at installation.


Understanding Over the Application Landing Page

As we have opened landing page of the application above, this is the application setup of CakePHP 4 default page. For this page, application have 1 default route, 1 controller and sure it will have 1 view file as well.

Let’s search all those files and see where they are in setup –

Application Route

Routes are configured inside cakephp application is at /config/routes.php. This routes.php file is responsible to handle all request routes including post, get, delete etc.

For default landing page, the routes is –

$builder->connect('/', ['controller' => 'Pages', 'action' => 'display', 'home']);

Inside this given route, we can see it is calling a Pages controller and method inside Page Controller is display and the view file it is calling as home.php

Application Controller

Controllers are stored inside /src/Controller/PagesController.php. AppController is the parent controller of any in CakePHP 4.

class PagesController extends AppController
{}

Application View

All view files will be stored inside /templates directory. We will see more in folder structure. For landing page, we can find the view file at /templates/Pages/home.php. Here, Pages is the name of the controller.


About Folder Structure in details

Application structure contains many working folders that we should know before starting development.

These are the folders come when we install CakePHP via composer. It contains /bin /config /logs /plugins etc.

Details

/bin – This folder contains console executable files.

/config – Main configuration folder which stores the config for database, routes, paths, bootstrap cli etc.

/log – Name itself clears that folder that contains application log files. Log files are dependent on the config for log.

/plugins – When we need to use third party modules, libraries, SDKs then we need to place those folders here inside this plugins folder.

/resources – It contains resources of application like let’s say application supports multiple language, then we can store language related files here.

/src – This one will be the main folder of application where source code of project will be stored.

It contains folders of Command, Controllers, Console, Model, View

/templates – Inside this folder, we store view files of applications. Additionally, we store layouts, partials files, email templates, UI, error pages etc in this.

/webroot – Application files like css, js, images or any other public accessible files will be there.

/vendor – Vendor folder stores all the dependencies files which we have installed via composer. Means when we installed cakephp via composer, then composer downloaded files are here inside this.


CakePHP 4.x Files – Naming Convention

When we work with any framework, in most cases you will find that there will some naming conventions to work with that. So, accordingly here we have also the naming convention inside this CakePHP 4.x.

This naming convention includes the file names, class names, database table name etc about those concept. Let’s see about those in details –

Controller Name

When we create any controller in application, then we need to keep these things in mind. Controller class name should be plural, camel cased and must end with Controller keyword.

Might have some confusion about the rule, let’s clear that –

  • Plural – Instead of using Student, it should be Students.
  • Camel Case – Connecting words must be camel cased meaning Studentclass should be like this StudentClass. Here we can see Student and Class are two different words and they are connected.
  • End with Controller – Means controller class name should end with Controller keyword.

Combine all the things what we have seen, Examples –

StudentsController, StudentReportsController etc.

Methods Name

Methods are the controllers functions. To define these methods we have also a naming format for this. These are camel backed.

Examples – report(), reportDownload()

Routes Name

Routes can be configured in routes.php file, as we have discussed previously. While defining routes, it depends on method names.

Example –

  • report() of SitesController, Route will be /site/report
  • reportDownload() of SitesController, Route will be /site/report-download

View Files

These are the view files which we call in methods of controller to return data.

Example –

  • report() of SitesController, Route will be /Sites/report.php
  • reportDownload() of SitesController, Route will be /Sites/report_download.php

Model Naming Convention

Models are the database functional files which contains – Table Class & an Entity Class. So, here we have naming conventions for Table class and Entity class.

Table Class should be camel cased, plural and must be end with Table keyword.

Entity Class should be singular only.

Examples –

Table Class – UsersTable.php, UserDatasTable.php

Entity class – User.php, Student.php


How can we create a Controller in CakePHP 4 application ?

Controllers are the logical files in application. Concept of Controllers are very important in case of MVC pattern. C is nothing, it’s controller. It acts as a bridge in working principle with Model & Views. Also it returns the output to every request which comes in application.

Controllers are stored inside /src/Controller directory.

Let’s see the syntax to create –

<?php

namespace App\Controller;

use App\Controller\AppController;

class ProjectsController extends AppController
{
    public function initialize(): void
    {
        // Construtor of this Class
        parent::initialize();
    }
  
    public function myMethod1(){
    	// This is method 1 of this controller
    }
}

Here, we have developed a ProjectsController inside /src/Controller/ProjectsController.php. As we know, AppController is the parent controller of every controllers in CakePHP, so we need to extends because of using core features.

Inside Controller class, we have defined constructor of the class i.e initialize() method. Inside this initialize(), we load our layout, models etc. Also we defined a test method called myMethod1().


Creating a View file for Controller Method

View files are the presentation layer to users. We can create view files at /templates directory. As we have myMethod1() at previously given controller ProjectController. So, let’s understand the concept of view by creating a view file for it.

Go to /templates folder. Create a folder with the name of Controller class i.e Projects. So, now we have /templates/Projects.

Inside Project folder, we will create /Projects/my_method1.php view file. View file will be automatically called by controller behind the scene.


Route Configuration of Application

As, we already discussed i.e CakePHP 4 routes can be configured inside /config/routes.php file. So, for above method, we have created /method1 as our route.

$builder->connect("/method1", ["controller" => "Projects", "action" => "myMethod1"]);

Wrapping all things together –

We hope this article helped you to learn about CakePHP 4 Basics Tutorial in a very detailed way.

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