Migrating from CakePHP 1.2 to 1.3

This guide summarizes many of the changes necessary when migrating from a 1.2 to 1.3 Cake core. Each section contains relevant information for the modifications made to existing methods as well as any methods that have been removed/renamed.

App File Replacements (important)

  • webroot/index.php: Must be replaced due to changes in bootstrapping process.
  • config/core.php: Additional settings have been put in place which are required for PHP 5.3.
  • webroot/test.php: Replace if you want to run unit tests.

Removed Constants

The following constants have been removed from CakePHP. If your application depends on them you must define them in app/config/bootstrap.php

  • CIPHER_SEED - It has been replaced with Configure class var Security.cipherSeed which should be changed in app/config/core.php
  • PEAR

Configuration and application bootstrapping

Bootstrapping Additional Paths.

In your app/config/bootstrap.php you may have variables like $pluginPaths or $controllerPaths. There is a new way to add those paths. As of 1.3 RC1 the $pluginPaths variables will no longer work. You must use App::build() to modify paths:

    'plugins' => array('/full/path/to/plugins/', '/next/full/path/to/plugins/'),
    'models' =>  array('/full/path/to/models/', '/next/full/path/to/models/'),
    'views' => array('/full/path/to/views/', '/next/full/path/to/views/'),
    'controllers' => array('/full/path/to/controllers/', '/next/full/path/to/controllers/'),
    'datasources' => array('/full/path/to/datasources/', '/next/full/path/to/datasources/'),
    'behaviors' => array('/full/path/to/behaviors/', '/next/full/path/to/behaviors/'),
    'components' => array('/full/path/to/components/', '/next/full/path/to/components/'),
    'helpers' => array('/full/path/to/helpers/', '/next/full/path/to/helpers/'),
    'vendors' => array('/full/path/to/vendors/', '/next/full/path/to/vendors/'),
    'shells' => array('/full/path/to/shells/', '/next/full/path/to/shells/'),
    'locales' => array('/full/path/to/locale/', '/next/full/path/to/locale/'),
    'libs' => array('/full/path/to/libs/', '/next/full/path/to/libs/')

Also changed is the order in which bootstrapping occurs. In the past app/config/core.php was loaded after app/config/bootstrap.php. This caused any App::import() in an application bootstrap to be un-cached and considerably slower than a cached include. In 1.3 core.php is loaded and the core cache configs are created before bootstrap.php is loaded.

Loading custom inflections

inflections.php has been removed, it was an unnecessary file hit, and the related features have been refactored into a method to increase their flexibility. You now use Inflector::rules() to load custom inflections.

Inflector::rules('singular', array(
    'rules' => array('/^(bil)er$/i' => '\1', '/^(inflec|contribu)tors$/i' => '\1ta'),
    'uninflected' => array('singulars'),
    'irregular' => array('spins' => 'spinor')

Will merge the supplied rules into the infection sets, with the added rules taking precedence over the core rules.

File renames and internal changes

Library Renames

Core libraries of libs/session.php, libs/socket.php, libs/model/schema.php and libs/model/behavior.php have been renamed so that there is a better mapping between filenames and main classes contained within (as well as dealing with some name-spacing issues):

  • session.php ⇒ cake_session.php
    • App::import(‘Core’, ‘Session’) ⇒ App::import(‘Core’, ‘CakeSession’)
  • socket.php ⇒ cake_socket.php
    • App::import(‘Core’, ‘Socket’) ⇒ App::import(‘Core’, ‘CakeSocket’)
  • schema.php ⇒ cake_schema.php
    • App::import(‘Model’, ‘Schema’) ⇒ App::import(‘Model’, ‘CakeSchema’)
  • behavior.php ⇒ model_behavior.php
    • App::import(‘Core’, ‘Behavior’) ⇒ App::import(‘Core’, ‘ModelBehavior’)

In most cases, the above renaming will not affect userland code.

Inheritance from Object

The following classes no longer extend Object:

  • Router
  • Set
  • Inflector
  • Cache
  • CacheEngine

If you were using Object methods from these classes, you will need to not use those methods.

Controller & Components


  • Controller::set() no longer changes variables from $var_name to $varName. Variables always appear in the view exactly as you set them.
  • Controller::set('title', $var) no longer sets $title_for_layout when rendering the layout. $title_for_layout is still populated by default. But if you want to customize it, use $this->set('title_for_layout', $var).
  • Controller::$pageTitle has been removed. Use $this->set('title_for_layout', $var); instead.
  • Controller has two new methods startupProcess and shutdownProcess. These methods are responsible for handling the controller startup and shutdown processes.


  • Component::triggerCallback has been added. It is a generic hook into the component callback process. It supplants Component::startup(), Component::shutdown() and Component::beforeRender() as the preferred way to trigger callbacks.


  • del is deprecated use delete

AclComponent + DbAcl

Node reference checks done with paths are now less greedy and will no longer consume intermediary nodes when doing searches. In the past given the structure:


The path ROOT/Users would match the last Users node instead of the first. In 1.3, if you were expecting to get the last node you would need to use the path ROOT/Users/Users


  • getReferrer is deprecated use getReferer

SessionComponent & SessionHelper

  • del is deprecated use delete

SessionComponent::setFlash() second param used to be used for setting the layout and accordingly rendered a layout file. This has been modifed to use an element. If you specified custom session flash layouts in your applications you will need to make the following changes.

  1. Move the required layout files into app/views/elements
  2. Rename the $content_for_layout variable to $message
  3. Make sure you have echo $session->flash(); in your layout

SessionComponent and SessionHelper are not automatically loaded.

Both SessionComponent and SessionHelper are no longer automatically included without you asking for them. SessionHelper and SessionComponent now act like every other component and must be declared like any other helper/component. You should update AppController::$components and AppController::$helpers to include these classes to retain existing behavior.

var $components = array('Session', 'Auth', ...);
var $helpers = array('Session', 'Html', 'Form' ...);

These change were done to make CakePHP more explicit and declarative in what classes you the application developer want to use. In the past there was no way to avoid loading the Session classes without modifying core files. Which is something we want you to be able to avoid. In addition Session classes were the only magical component and helper. This change helps unify and normalize behavior amongst all classes.

Library Classes


  • del is deprecated use delete


  • SessionComponent::setFlash() now uses an element instead of a layout as its second parameter. Be sure to move any flash layouts from app/views/layouts to app/views/elements and change instances of $content_for_layout to $message.


  • mkdir is deprecated use create
  • mv is deprecated use move
  • ls is deprecated use read
  • cp is deprecated use copy
  • rm is deprecated use delete


  • isEqual is deprecated. Use == or ===.


  • getInstance is deprecated, call String methods statically.


Routing.admin is deprecated. It provided an inconsistent behavior with other prefix style routes in that it was treated differently. Instead you should use Routing.prefixes. Prefix routes in 1.3 do not require additional routes to be declared manually. All prefix routes will be generated automatically. To update simply change your core.php.

Configure::write('Routing.admin', 'admin');

Configure::write('Routing.prefixes', array('admin'));

See the New features guide for more information on using prefix routes. A small change has also been done to routing params. Routed params should now only consist of alphanumeric chars, - and _ or /[A-Z0-9-_+]+/.

Router::connect('/:$%@#param/:action/*', array(...)); // BAD
Router::connect('/:can/:anybody/:see/:m-3/*', array(...)); //Acceptable

For 1.3 the internals of the Router were heavily refactored to increase performance and reduce code clutter. The side effect of this is two seldom used features were removed, as they were problematic and buggy even with the existing code base. First path segments using full regular expressions was removed. You can no longer create routes like

Router::connect('/([0-9]+)-p-(.*)/', array('controller' => 'products', 'action' => 'show'));

These routes complicated route compilation and impossible to reverse route. If you need routes like this, it is recommended that you use route parameters with capture patterns. Next mid-route greedy star support has been removed. It was previously possible to use a greedy star in the middle of a route.

    array('controller' => 'pages', 'action' => 'display'),
    array('event' => '[a-z0-9_-]+')

This is no longer supported as mid-route greedy stars behaved erratically, and complicated route compiling. Outside of these two edge-case features and the above changes the router behaves exactly as it did in 1.2

Also, people using the ‘id’ key in array-form URLs will notice that Router::url() now treats this as a named parameter. If you previously used this approach for passing the ID parameter to actions, you will need to rewrite all your $html->link() and $this->redirect() calls to reflect this change.

// old format:
$url = array('controller' => 'posts', 'action' => 'view', 'id' => $id);
// use cases:
// 1.2 result:
// 1.3 result:
// correct format:
$url = array('controller' => 'posts', 'action' => 'view', $id);


Dispatcher is no longer capable of setting a controller’s layout/viewPath with request parameters. Control of these properties should be handled by the Controller, not the Dispatcher. This feature was also undocumented, and untested.


  • Debugger::checkSessionKey() has been renamed to Debugger::checkSecurityKeys()
  • Calling Debugger::output("text") no longer works. Use Debugger::output("txt").


  • Object::$_log has been removed. CakeLog::write is now called statically. See Logging for more information on changes made to logging.


  • Sanitize::html() now actually always returns escaped strings. In the past using the $remove parameter would skip entity encoding, returning possibly dangerous content.
  • Sanitize::clean() now has a remove_html option. This will trigger the strip_tags feature of Sanitize::html(), and must be used in conjunction with the encode parameter.

Configure and App

  • Configure::listObjects() replaced by App::objects()
  • Configure::corePaths() replaced by App::core()
  • Configure::buildPaths() replaced by App::build()
  • Configure no longer manages paths.
  • Configure::write(‘modelPaths’, array...) replaced by App::build(array(‘models’ => array...))
  • Configure::read(‘modelPaths’) replaced by App::path(‘models’)
  • There is no longer a debug = 3. The controller dumps generated by this setting often caused memory consumption issues making it an impractical and unusable setting. The $cakeDebug variable has also been removed from View::renderLayout You should remove this variable reference to avoid errors.
  • Configure::load() can now load configuration files from plugins. Use Configure::load('plugin.file'); to load configuration files from plugins. Any configuration files in your application that use . in the name should be updated to use _


In addition to being able to load CacheEngines from app/libs or plugins, Cache underwent some refactoring for CakePHP1.3. These refactorings focused around reducing the number and frequency of method calls. The end result was a significant performance improvement with only a few minor API changes which are detailed below.

The changes in Cache removed the singletons used for each Engine type, and instead an engine instance is made for each unique key created with Cache::config(). Since engines are not singletons anymore, Cache::engine() was not needed and was removed. In addition Cache::isInitialized() now checks cache configuration names, not cache engine names. You can still use Cache::set() or Cache::engine() to modify cache configurations. Also checkout the /New-features-in-CakePHP-1-3 for more information on the additional methods added to Cache.

It should be noted that using an app/libs or plugin cache engine for the default cache config can cause performance issues as the import that loads these classes will always be uncached. It is recommended that you either use one of the core cache engines for your default configuration, or manually include the cache engine class before configuring it. Furthermore any non-core cache engine configurations should be done in app/config/bootstrap.php for the same reasons detailed above.

Model Databases and Datasources


  • Model::del() and Model::remove() have been removed in favor of Model::delete(), which is now the canonical delete method.
  • Model::findAll, findCount, findNeighbours, removed.
  • Dynamic calling of setTablePrefix() has been removed. tableprefix should be with the $tablePrefix property, and any other custom construction behavior should be done in an overridden Model::__construct().
  • DboSource::query() now throws warnings for un-handled model methods, instead of trying to run them as queries. This means, people starting transactions improperly via the $this->Model->begin() syntax will need to update their code so that it accesses the model’s DataSource object directly.
  • Missing validation methods will now trigger errors in development mode.
  • Missing behaviors will now trigger a cakeError.
  • Model::find(first) will no longer use the id property for default conditions if no conditions are supplied and id is not empty. Instead no conditions will be used
  • For Model::saveAll() the default value for option ‘validate’ is now ‘first’ instead of true


  • DataSource::exists() has been refactored to be more consistent with non-database backed datasources. Previously, if you set var $useTable = false; var $useDbConfig = 'custom';, it was impossible for Model::exists() to return anything but false. This prevented custom datasources from using create() or update() correctly without some ugly hacks. If you have custom datasources that implement create(), update(), and read() (since Model::exists() will make a call to Model::find('count'), which is passed to DataSource::read()), make sure to re-run your unit tests on 1.3.


Most database configurations no longer support the ‘connect’ key (which has been deprecated since pre-1.2). Instead, set 'persistent' => true or false to determine whether or not a persistent database connection should be used

SQL log dumping

A commonly asked question is how can one disable or remove the SQL log dump at the bottom of the page?. In previous versions the HTML SQL log generation was buried inside DboSource. For 1.3 there is a new core element called sql_dump. DboSource no longer automatically outputs SQL logs. If you want to output SQL logs in 1.3, do the following:

<?php echo $this->element('sql_dump'); ?>

You can place this element anywhere in your layout or view. The sql_dump element will only generate output when Configure::read('debug') is equal to 2. You can of course customize or override this element in your app by creating app/views/elements/sql_dump.ctp.

View and Helpers


  • View::renderElement removed. Use View::element() instead.
  • Automagic support for .thtml view file extension has been removed either declare $this->ext = 'thtml'; in your controllers, or rename your views to use .ctp
  • View::set('title', $var) no longer sets $title_for_layout when rendering the layout. $title_for_layout is still populated by default. But if you want to customize it, use $this->set('title_for_layout', $var).
  • View::$pageTitle has been removed. Use $this->set('title_for_layout', $var); instead.
  • The $cakeDebug layout variable associated with debug = 3 has been removed. Remove it from your layouts as it will cause errors. Also see the notes related to SQL log dumping and Configure for more information.

All core helpers no longer use Helper::output(). The method was inconsistently used and caused output issues with many of FormHelper’s methods. If you previously overrode AppHelper::output() to force helpers to auto-echo you will need to update your view files to manually echo helper output.


  • TextHelper::trim() is deprecated, used truncate() instead.
  • TextHelper::highlight() no longer has:
  • an $highlighter parameter. Use $options['format'] instead.
  • an $considerHtmlparameter. Use $options['html'] instead.
  • TextHelper::truncate() no longer has:
  • an $ending parameter. Use $options['ending'] instead.
  • an $exact parameter. Use $options['exact'] instead.
  • an $considerHtmlparameter. Use $options['html'] instead.


PaginatorHelper has had a number of enhancements applied to make styling easier. prev(), next(), first() and last()

The disabled state of these methods now defaults to <span> tags instead of <div> tags.

passedArgs are now auto merged with url options in paginator.

sort(), prev(), next() now add additional class names to the generated html. prev() adds a class of prev. next() adds a class of next. sort() will add the direction currently being sorted, either asc or desc.


  • FormHelper::dateTime() no longer has a $showEmpty parameter. Use $attributes['empty'] instead.
  • FormHelper::year() no longer has a $showEmpty parameter. Use $attributes['empty'] instead.
  • FormHelper::month() no longer has a $showEmpty parameter. Use $attributes['empty'] instead.
  • FormHelper::day() no longer has a $showEmpty parameter. Use $attributes['empty'] instead.
  • FormHelper::minute() no longer has a $showEmpty parameter. Use $attributes['empty'] instead.
  • FormHelper::meridian() no longer has a $showEmpty parameter. Use $attributes['empty'] instead.
  • FormHelper::select() no longer has a $showEmpty parameter. Use $attributes['empty'] instead.
  • Default urls generated by form helper no longer contain ‘id’ parameter. This makes default urls more consistent with documented userland routes. Also enables reverse routing to work in a more intuitive fashion with default FormHelper urls.
  • FormHelper::submit() Can now create other types of inputs other than type=submit. Use the type option to control the type of input generated.
  • FormHelper::button() Now creates <button> elements instead of reset or clear inputs. If you want to generate those types of inputs use FormHelper::submit() with a 'type' => 'reset' option for example.
  • FormHelper::secure() and FormHelper::create() no longer create hidden fieldset elements. Instead they create hidden div elements. This improves validation with HTML4.

Also be sure to check the Form for additional changes and new features in the FormHelper.


  • HtmlHelper::meta() no longer has an $inline parameter. It has been merged with the $options array.
  • HtmlHelper::link() no longer has an $escapeTitle parameter. Use $options['escape'] instead.
  • HtmlHelper::para() no longer has an $escape parameter. Use $options['escape'] instead.
  • HtmlHelper::div() no longer has an $escape parameter. Use $options['escape'] instead.
  • HtmlHelper::tag() no longer has an $escape parameter. Use $options['escape'] instead.
  • HtmlHelper::css() no longer has an $inline parameter. Use $options['inline'] instead.


  • flash() no longer auto echos. You must add an echo $session->flash(); to your session->flash() calls. flash() was the only helper method that auto outputted, and was changed to create consistency in helper methods.


CacheHelper’s interactions with Controller::$cacheAction has changed slightly. In the past if you used an array for $cacheAction you were required to use the routed url as the keys, this caused caching to break whenever routes were changed. You also could set different cache durations for different passed argument values, but not different named parameters or query string parameters. Both of these limitations/inconsistencies have been removed. You now use the controller’s action names as the keys for $cacheAction. This makes configuring $cacheAction easier as its no longer coupled to the routing, and allows cacheAction to work with all custom routing. If you need to have custom cache durations for specific argument sets you will need to detect and update cacheAction in your controller.


TimeHelper has been refactored to make it more i18n friendly. Internally almost all calls to date() have been replaced by strftime(). The new method TimeHelper::i18nFormat() has been added and will take localization data from a LC_TIME locale definition file in app/locale following the POSIX standard. These are the changes made in the TimeHelper API:

  • TimeHelper::format() can now take a time string as first parameter and a format string as the second one, the format must be using the strftime() style. When called with this parameter order it will try to automatically convert the date format into the preferred one for the current locale. It will also take parameters as in 1.2.x version to be backwards compatible, but in this case format string must be compatible with date().
  • TimeHelper::i18nFormat() has been added

Deprecated Helpers

Both the JavascriptHelper and the AjaxHelper are deprecated, and the JsHelper + HtmlHelper should be used in their place.

You should replace

  • $javascript->link() with $html->script()
  • $javascript->codeBlock() with $html->scriptBlock() or $html->scriptStart() and $html->scriptEnd() depending on your usage.

Console and shells


Shell::getAdmin() has been moved up to ProjectTask::getAdmin()

Schema shell

  • cake schema run create has been renamed to cake schema create
  • cake schema run update has been renamed to cake schema update

Console Error Handling

The shell dispatcher has been modified to exit with a 1 status code if the method called on the shell explicitly returns false. Returning anything else results in a 0 status code. Before the value returned from the method was used directly as the status code for exiting the shell.

Shell methods which are returning 1 to indicate an error should be updated to return false instead.

Shell::error() has been modified to exit with status code 1 after printing the error message which now uses a slightly different formatting.

$this->error('Invalid Foo', 'Please provide bar.');
// outputs:
Error: Invalid Foo
Please provide bar.
// exits with status code 1

ShellDispatcher::stderr() has been modified to not prepend Error: to the message anymore. It’s signature is now similar to Shell::stdout().


The method has been modified to return the shifted argument. Before if no arguments were available the method was returning false, it now returns null. Before if arguments were available the method was returning true, it now returns the shifted argument instead.

Vendors, Test Suite & schema

vendors/css, vendors/js, and vendors/img

Support for these three directories, both in app/vendors as well as plugin/vendors has been removed. They have been replaced with plugin and theme webroot directories.

Test Suite and Unit Tests

Group tests should now extend TestSuite instead of the deprecated GroupTest class. If your Group tests do not run, you will need to update the base class.

Vendor, plugin and theme assets

Vendor asset serving has been removed in 1.3 in favour of plugin and theme webroot directories.

Schema files used with the SchemaShell have been moved to app/config/schema instead of app/config/sql Although config/sql will continue to work in 1.3, it will not in future versions, it is recommend that the new path is used.