Form

The FormHelper is a new addition to CakePHP. Most of the heavy lifting in form creation is now done using this new class, rather than (now deprecated) methods in the HtmlHelper. The FormHelper focuses on creating forms quickly, in a way that will streamline validation, re-population and layout. The FormHelper is also flexible - it will do almost everything for you automagically, or you can use specific methods to get only what you need.

Creating Forms

The first method you’ll need to use in order to take advantage of the FormHelper is create(). This special method outputs an opening form tag.

create(string $model = null, array $options = array())

All parameters are optional. If create() is called with no parameters supplied, it assumes you are building a form that submits to the current controller, via either the add() or edit() action. The default method for form submission is POST. The form element is also returned with a DOM ID. The ID is generated using the name of the model, and the name of the controller action, CamelCased. If I were to call create() inside a UsersController view, I’d see something like the following output in the rendered view:

<form id="UserAddForm" method="post" action="/users/add">

You can also pass false for $model. This will place your form data into the array: $this->data (instead of in the sub-array: $this->data['Model']). This can be handy for short forms that may not represent anything in your database.

The create() method allows us to customize much more using the parameters, however. First, you can specify a model name. By specifying a model for a form, you are creating that form’s context. All fields are assumed to belong to this model (unless otherwise specified), and all models referenced are assumed to be associated with it. If you do not specify a model, then it assumes you are using the default model for the current controller.

<?php echo $this->Form->create('Recipe'); ?>

//Output:
<form id="RecipeAddForm" method="post" action="/recipes/add">

This will POST the form data to the add() action of RecipesController. However, you can also use the same logic to create an edit form. The FormHelper uses the $this->data property to automatically detect whether to create an add or edit form. If $this->data contains an array element named after the form’s model, and that array contains a non-empty value of the model’s primary key, then the FormHelper will create an edit form for that record. For example, if we browse to http://site.com/recipes/edit/5, we might get the following:

// controllers/recipes_controller.php:
<?php
function edit($id = null) {
    if (empty($this->data)) {
        $this->data = $this->Recipe->findById($id);
    } else {
        // Save logic goes here
    }
}
?>

// views/recipes/edit.ctp:

// Since $this->data['Recipe']['id'] = 5, we should get an edit form
<?php echo $this->Form->create('Recipe'); ?>

//Output:
<form id="RecipeEditForm" method="post" action="/recipes/edit/5">
<input type="hidden" name="_method" value="PUT" />

Since this is an edit form, a hidden input field is generated to override the default HTTP method.

The $options array is where most of the form configuration happens. This special array can contain a number of different key-value pairs that affect the way the form tag is generated.

$options[‘type’]

This key is used to specify the type of form to be created. Valid values include ‘post’, ‘get’, ‘file’, ‘put’ and ‘delete’.

Supplying either ‘post’ or ‘get’ changes the form submission method accordingly.

<?php echo $this->Form->create('User', array('type' => 'get')); ?>

//Output:
<form id="UserAddForm" method="get" action="/users/add">

Specifying ‘file’ changes the form submission method to ‘post’, and includes an enctype of “multipart/form-data” on the form tag. This is to be used if there are any file elements inside the form. The absence of the proper enctype attribute will cause the file uploads not to function.

<?php echo $this->Form->create('User', array('type' => 'file')); ?>

//Output:
<form id="UserAddForm" enctype="multipart/form-data" method="post" action="/users/add">

When using ‘put’ or ‘delete’, your form will be functionally equivalent to a ‘post’ form, but when submitted, the HTTP request method will be overridden with ‘PUT’ or ‘DELETE’, respectively. This allows CakePHP to emulate proper REST support in web browsers.

$options[‘action’]

The action key allows you to point the form to a specific action in your current controller. For example, if you’d like to point the form to the login() action of the current controller, you would supply an $options array like the following:

<?php echo $this->Form->create('User', array('action' => 'login')); ?>

//Output:
<form id="UserLoginForm" method="post" action="/users/login">
</form>

$options[‘url’]

If the desired form action isn’t in the current controller, you can specify a URL for the form action using the ‘url’ key of the $options array. The supplied URL can be relative to your CakePHP application, or can point to an external domain.

<?php echo $this->Form->create(null, array('url' => '/recipes/add')); ?>
// or
<?php echo $this->Form->create(null, array('url' => array('controller' => 'recipes', 'action' => 'add'))); ?>


//Output:
<form method="post" action="/recipes/add">

<?php echo $this->Form->create(null, array(
    'url' => 'http://www.google.com/search',
    'type' => 'get'
)); ?>

//Output:
<form method="get" action="http://www.google.com/search">

Also check HtmlHelper::url method for more examples of different types of urls.

$options[‘default’]

If ‘default’ has been set to boolean false, the form’s submit action is changed so that pressing the submit button does not submit the form. If the form is meant to be submitted via AJAX, setting ‘default’ to false suppresses the form’s default behavior so you can grab the data and submit it via AJAX instead.

$options[‘inputDefaults’]

You can declare a set of default options for input() with the inputDefaults key to customize your default input creation.

echo $this->Form->create('User', array(
        'inputDefaults' => array(
            'label' => false,
            'div'   => false,
            # define error defaults for the form
            'error' => array(
              'wrap'  => 'span',
              'class' => 'my-error-class'
            )
        )
    ));

All inputs created from that point forward would inherit the options declared in inputDefaults. You can override the defaultOptions by declaring the option in the input() call.

echo $this->Form->input('password'); // No div, no label
echo $this->Form->input('username', array('label' => 'Username')); // has a label element

Closing the Form

The FormHelper also includes an end() method that completes the form markup. Often, end() only outputs a closing form tag, but using end() also allows the FormHelper to insert needed hidden form elements other methods may be depending on.

<?php echo $this->Form->create(); ?>

<!-- Form elements go here -->

<?php echo $this->Form->end(); ?>

If a string is supplied as the first parameter to end(), the FormHelper outputs a submit button named accordingly along with the closing form tag.

<?php echo $this->Form->end('Finish'); ?>

Will output:

<div class="submit">
    <input type="submit" value="Finish" />
</div>
</form>

You can specify detail settings by passing an array to end().

<?php
$options = array(
    'label' => 'Update!',
    'name' => 'Update',
    'div' => array(
        'class' => 'glass-pill',
    )
);
echo $this->Form->end($options);

Will output:

<div class="glass-pill"><input type="submit" value="Update!" name="Update"></div>

See the API for further details.

Automagic Form Elements

First, let’s look at some of the more automatic form creation methods in the FormHelper. The main method we’ll look at is input(). This method will automatically inspect the model field it has been supplied in order to create an appropriate input for that field.

input(string $fieldName, array $options = array())

Column Type Resulting Form Field
string (char, varchar, etc.) text
boolean, tinyint(1) checkbox
text textarea
text, with name of password, passwd, or psword password
date day, month, and year selects
datetime, timestamp day, month, year, hour, minute, and meridian selects
time hour, minute, and meridian selects

For example, let’s assume that my User model includes fields for a username (varchar), password (varchar), approved (datetime) and quote (text). I can use the input() method of the FormHelper to create appropriate inputs for all of these form fields.

<?php echo $this->Form->create(); ?>

    <?php
        echo $this->Form->input('username');   //text
        echo $this->Form->input('password');   //password
        echo $this->Form->input('approved');   //day, month, year, hour, minute, meridian
        echo $this->Form->input('quote');      //textarea
    ?>

<?php echo $this->Form->end('Add'); ?>

A more extensive example showing some options for a date field:

echo $this->Form->input('birth_dt', array( 'label' => 'Date of birth'
                            , 'dateFormat' => 'DMY'
                            , 'minYear' => date('Y') - 70
                            , 'maxYear' => date('Y') - 18 ));

Besides the specific input options found below you can specify any html attribute (for instance onfocus). For more information on $options and $htmlAttributes see HTML.

And to round off, here’s an example for creating a hasAndBelongsToMany select. Assume that User hasAndBelongsToMany Group. In your controller, set a camelCase plural variable (group -> groups in this case, or ExtraFunkyModel -> extraFunkyModels) with the select options. In the controller action you would put the following:

$this->set('groups', $this->User->Group->find('list'));

And in the view a multiple select can be expected with this simple code:

echo $this->Form->input('Group');

If you want to create a select field while using a belongsTo- or hasOne-Relation, you can add the following to your Users-controller (assuming your User belongsTo Group):

$this->set('groups', $this->User->Group->find('list'));

Afterwards, add the following to your form-view:

echo $this->Form->input('group_id');

If your model name consists of two or more words, e.g., “UserGroup”, when passing the data using set() you should name your data in a pluralised and camelCased format as follows:

$this->set('userGroups', $this->UserGroup->find('list'));
// or
$this->set('reallyInappropriateModelNames', $this->ReallyInappropriateModelName->find('list'));

Field naming convention

The Form helper is pretty smart. Whenever you specify a field name with the form helper methods, it’ll automatically use the current model name to build an input with a format like the following:

<input type="text" id="ModelnameFieldname" name="data[Modelname][fieldname]">

You can manually specify the model name by passing in Modelname.fieldname as the first parameter.

echo $this->Form->input('Modelname.fieldname');

If you need to specify multiple fields using the same field name, thus creating an array that can be saved in one shot with saveAll(), use the following convention:

<?php
   echo $this->Form->input('Modelname.0.fieldname');
   echo $this->Form->input('Modelname.1.fieldname');
?>

<input type="text" id="Modelname0Fieldname" name="data[Modelname][0][fieldname]">
<input type="text" id="Modelname1Fieldname" name="data[Modelname][1][fieldname]">

$options[‘type’]

You can force the type of an input (and override model introspection) by specifying a type. In addition to the field types found in the Form, you can also create ‘file’, and ‘password’ inputs.

<?php echo $this->Form->input('field', array('type' => 'file')); ?>

Output:

<div class="input">
    <label for="UserField">Field</label>
    <input type="file" name="data[User][field]" value="" id="UserField" />
</div>

$options[‘before’], $options[‘between’], $options[‘separator’] and $options[‘after’]

Use these keys if you need to inject some markup inside the output of the input() method.

<?php echo $this->Form->input('field', array(
    'before' => '--before--',
    'after' => '--after--',
    'between' => '--between---'
));?>

Output:

<div class="input">
--before--
<label for="UserField">Field</label>
--between---
<input name="data[User][field]" type="text" value="" id="UserField" />
--after--
</div>

For radio type input the ‘separator’ attribute can be used to inject markup to separate each input/label pair.

<?php echo $this->Form->input('field', array(
    'before' => '--before--',
    'after' => '--after--',
    'between' => '--between---',
    'separator' => '--separator--',
    'options' => array('1', '2')
));?>

Output:

<div class="input">
--before--
<input name="data[User][field]" type="radio" value="1" id="UserField1" />
<label for="UserField1">1</label>
--separator--
<input name="data[User][field]" type="radio" value="2" id="UserField2" />
<label for="UserField2">2</label>
--between---
--after--
</div>

For date and datetime type elements the ‘separator’ attribute can be used to change the string between select elements. Defaults to ‘-‘.

$options[‘options’]

This key allows you to manually specify options for a select input, or for a radio group. Unless the ‘type’ is specified as ‘radio’, the FormHelper will assume that the target output is a select input.

<?php echo $this->Form->input('field', array('options' => array(1,2,3,4,5))); ?>

Output:

<div class="input">
    <label for="UserField">Field</label>
    <select name="data[User][field]" id="UserField">
        <option value="0">1</option>
        <option value="1">2</option>
        <option value="2">3</option>
        <option value="3">4</option>
        <option value="4">5</option>
    </select>
</div>

Options can also be supplied as key-value pairs.

<?php echo $this->Form->input('field', array('options' => array(
    'Value 1'=>'Label 1',
    'Value 2'=>'Label 2',
    'Value 3'=>'Label 3'
 ))); ?>

Output:

<div class="input">
    <label for="UserField">Field</label>
    <select name="data[User][field]" id="UserField">
        <option value="Value 1">Label 1</option>
        <option value="Value 2">Label 2</option>
        <option value="Value 3">Label 3</option>
    </select>
</div>

If you would like to generate a select with optgroups, just pass data in hierarchical format. Works on multiple checkboxes and radio buttons too, but instead of optgroups wraps elements in fieldsets.

<?php echo $this->Form->input('field', array('options' => array(
    'Label1' => array(
       'Value 1'=>'Label 1',
       'Value 2'=>'Label 2'
    ),
    'Label2' => array(
       'Value 3'=>'Label 3'
    )
 ))); ?>

Output:

<div class="input">
    <label for="UserField">Field</label>
    <select name="data[User][field]" id="UserField">
        <optgroup label="Label1">
            <option value="Value 1">Label 1</option>
            <option value="Value 2">Label 2</option>
        </optgroup>
        <optgroup label="Label2">
            <option value="Value 3">Label 3</option>
        </optgroup>
    </select>
</div>

$options[‘multiple’]

If ‘multiple’ has been set to true for an input that outputs a select, the select will allow multiple selections.

echo $this->Form->input('Model.field', array( 'type' => 'select', 'multiple' => true ));

Alternatively set ‘multiple’ to ‘checkbox’ to output a list of related check boxes.

echo $this->Form->input('Model.field', array(
    'type' => 'select',
    'multiple' => 'checkbox',
    'options' => array(
            'Value 1' => 'Label 1',
            'Value 2' => 'Label 2'
    )
));

Output:

<div class="input select">
   <label for="ModelField">Field</label>
   <input name="data[Model][field]" value="" id="ModelField" type="hidden">
   <div class="checkbox">
      <input name="data[Model][field][]" value="Value 1" id="ModelField1" type="checkbox">
      <label for="ModelField1">Label 1</label>
   </div>
   <div class="checkbox">
      <input name="data[Model][field][]" value="Value 2" id="ModelField2" type="checkbox">
      <label for="ModelField2">Label 2</label>
   </div>
</div>

$options[‘maxLength’]

Defines the maximum number of characters allowed in a text input.

$options[‘div’]

Use this option to set attributes of the input’s containing div. Using a string value will set the div’s class name. An array will set the div’s attributes to those specified by the array’s keys/values. Alternatively, you can set this key to false to disable the output of the div.

Setting the class name:

echo $this->Form->input('User.name', array('div' => 'class_name'));

Output:

<div class="class_name">
    <label for="UserName">Name</label>
    <input name="data[User][name]" type="text" value="" id="UserName" />
</div>

Setting multiple attributes:

echo $this->Form->input('User.name', array('div' => array('id' => 'mainDiv', 'title' => 'Div Title', 'style' => 'display:block')));

Output:

<div class="input text" id="mainDiv" title="Div Title" style="display:block">
    <label for="UserName">Name</label>
    <input name="data[User][name]" type="text" value="" id="UserName" />
</div>

Disabling div output:

<?php echo $this->Form->input('User.name', array('div' => false));?>

Output:

<label for="UserName">Name</label>
<input name="data[User][name]" type="text" value="" id="UserName" />

$options[‘label’]

Set this key to the string you would like to be displayed within the label that usually accompanies the input.

<?php echo $this->Form->input( 'User.name', array( 'label' => 'The User Alias' ) );?>

Output:

<div class="input">
    <label for="UserName">The User Alias</label>
    <input name="data[User][name]" type="text" value="" id="UserName" />
</div>

Alternatively, set this key to false to disable the output of the label.

<?php echo $this->Form->input( 'User.name', array( 'label' => false ) ); ?>

Output:

<div class="input">
    <input name="data[User][name]" type="text" value="" id="UserName" />
</div>

Set this to an array to provide additional options for the label element. If you do this, you can use a text key in the array to customize the label text.

<?php echo $this->Form->input( 'User.name', array( 'label' => array('class' => 'thingy', 'text' => 'The User Alias') ) ); ?>

Output:

<div class="input">
    <label for="UserName" class="thingy">The User Alias</label>
    <input name="data[User][name]" type="text" value="" id="UserName" />
</div>

$options[‘legend’]

Some inputs like radio buttons will be automatically wrapped in a fieldset with a legend title derived from the fields name. The title can be overridden with this option. Setting this option to false will completely eliminate the fieldset.

$options[‘id’]

Set this key to force the value of the DOM id for the input.

$options[‘error’]

Using this key allows you to override the default model error messages and can be used, for example, to set i18n messages. It has a number of suboptions which control the wrapping element, wrapping element class name, and whether HTML in the error message will be escaped.

To disable error message output set the error key to false.

$this->Form->input('Model.field', array('error' => false));

To modify the wrapping element type and its class, use the following format:

$this->Form->input('Model.field', array('error' => array('wrap' => 'span', 'class' => 'bzzz')));

To prevent HTML being automatically escaped in the error message output, set the escape suboption to false:

$this->Form->input('Model.field', array('error' => array('escape' => false)));

To override the model error messages use an associate array with the keyname of the validation rule:

$this->Form->input('Model.field', array('error' => array('tooShort' => __('This is not long enough', true) )));

As seen above you can set the error message for each validation rule you have in your models. In addition you can provide i18n messages for your forms.

$options[‘default’]

Used to set a default value for the input field. The value is used if the data passed to the form does not contain a value for the field (or if no data is passed at all).

Example usage:

<?php
    echo $this->Form->input('ingredient', array('default'=>'Sugar'));
?>

Example with select field (Size “Medium” will be selected as default):

<?php
    $sizes = array('s'=>'Small', 'm'=>'Medium', 'l'=>'Large');
    echo $this->Form->input('size', array('options'=>$sizes, 'default'=>'m'));
?>

You cannot use default to check a checkbox - instead you might set the value in $this->data in your controller, $this->Form->data in your view, or set the input option checked to true.

Date and datetime fields’ default values can be set by using the ‘selected’ key.

$options[‘selected’]

Used in combination with a select-type input (i.e. For types select, date, time, datetime). Set ‘selected’ to the value of the item you wish to be selected by default when the input is rendered.

echo $this->Form->input('close_time', array('type' => 'time', 'selected' => '13:30:00'));

The selected key for date and datetime inputs may also be a UNIX timestamp.

$options[‘rows’], $options[‘cols’]

These two keys specify the number of rows and columns in a textarea input.

echo $this->Form->input('textarea', array('rows' => '5', 'cols' => '5'));

Output:

<div class="input text">
    <label for="FormTextarea">Textarea</label>
    <textarea name="data[Form][textarea]" cols="5" rows="5" id="FormTextarea" >
    </textarea>
</div>

$options[‘empty’]

If set to true, forces the input to remain empty.

When passed to a select list, this creates a blank option with an empty value in your drop down list. If you want to have a empty value with text displayed instead of just a blank option, pass in a string to empty.

<?php echo $this->Form->input('field', array('options' => array(1,2,3,4,5), 'empty' => '(choose one)')); ?>

Output:

<div class="input">
    <label for="UserField">Field</label>
    <select name="data[User][field]" id="UserField">
        <option value="">(choose one)</option>
        <option value="0">1</option>
        <option value="1">2</option>
        <option value="2">3</option>
        <option value="3">4</option>
        <option value="4">5</option>
    </select>
</div>

If you need to set the default value in a password field to blank, use ‘value’ => ‘’ instead.

Options can also supplied as key-value pairs.

$options[‘timeFormat’]

Used to specify the format of the select inputs for a time-related set of inputs. Valid values include ‘12’, ‘24’, and ‘none’.

$options[‘dateFormat’]

Used to specify the format of the select inputs for a date-related set of inputs. Valid values include ‘DMY’, ‘MDY’, ‘YMD’, and ‘NONE’.

$options[‘minYear’], $options[‘maxYear’]

Used in combination with a date/datetime input. Defines the lower and/or upper end of values shown in the years select field.

$options[‘interval’]

This option specifies the number of minutes between each option in the minutes select box.

<?php echo $this->Form->input('Model.time', array('type' => 'time', 'interval' => 15)); ?>

Would create 4 options in the minute select. One for each 15 minutes.

$options[‘class’]

You can set the classname for an input field using $options['class']

echo $this->Form->input('title', array('class' => 'custom-class'));

$options[‘hiddenField’]

For certain input types (checkboxes, radios) a hidden input is created so that the key in $this->data will exist even without a value specified.

<input type="hidden" name="data[Post][Published]" id="PostPublished_" value="0" />
<input type="checkbox" name="data[Post][Published]" value="1" id="PostPublished" />

This can be disabled by setting the $options['hiddenField'] = false.

echo $this->Form->checkbox('published', array('hiddenField' => false));

Which outputs:

<input type="checkbox" name="data[Post][Published]" value="1" id="PostPublished" />

If you want to create multiple blocks of inputs on a form that are all grouped together, you should use this parameter on all inputs except the first. If the hidden input is on the page in multiple places, only the last group of input’s values will be saved

In this example, only the tertiary colors would be passed, and the primary colors would be overridden

<h2>Primary Colors</h2>
<input type="hidden" name="data[Color][Color]" id="Colors_" value="0" />
<input type="checkbox" name="data[Color][Color][]" value="5" id="ColorsRed" />
<label for="ColorsRed">Red</label>
<input type="checkbox" name="data[Color][Color][]" value="5" id="ColorsBlue" />
<label for="ColorsBlue">Blue</label>
<input type="checkbox" name="data[Color][Color][]" value="5" id="ColorsYellow" />
<label for="ColorsYellow">Yellow</label>

<h2>Tertiary Colors</h2>
<input type="hidden" name="data[Color][Color]" id="Colors_" value="0" />
<input type="checkbox" name="data[Color][Color][]" value="5" id="ColorsGreen" />
<label for="ColorsGreen">Green</label>
<input type="checkbox" name="data[Color][Color][]" value="5" id="ColorsPurple" />
<label for="ColorsPurple">Purple</label>
<input type="checkbox" name="data[Addon][Addon][]" value="5" id="ColorsOrange" />
<label for="ColorsOrange">Orange</label>

Disabling the 'hiddenField' on the second input group would prevent this behavior

File Fields

To add a file upload field to a form, you must first make sure that the form enctype is set to “multipart/form-data”, so start off with a create function such as the following.

echo $this->Form->create('Document', array('enctype' => 'multipart/form-data') );
// OR
echo $this->Form->create('Document', array('type' => 'file'));

Next add either of the two lines to your form view file.

echo $this->Form->input('Document.submittedfile', array('between'=>'<br />','type'=>'file'));

// or

echo $this->Form->file('Document.submittedfile');

Due to the limitations of HTML itself, it is not possible to put default values into input fields of type ‘file’. Each time the form is displayed, the value inside will be empty.

Upon submission, file fields provide an expanded data array to the script receiving the form data.

For the example above, the values in the submitted data array would be organized as follows, if the CakePHP was installed on a Windows server. ‘tmp_name’ will have a different path in a Unix environment.

$this->data['Document']['submittedfile'] = array(
    'name' => conference_schedule.pdf
    'type' => application/pdf
    'tmp_name' => C:/WINDOWS/TEMP/php1EE.tmp
    'error' => 0
    'size' => 41737
);

This array is generated by PHP itself, so for more detail on the way PHP handles data passed via file fields read the PHP manual section on file uploads.

Validating Uploads

Below is an example validation method you could define in your model to validate whether a file has been successfully uploaded.

// Based on comment 8 from: http://bakery.cakephp.org/articles/view/improved-advance-validation-with-parameters

function isUploadedFile($params){
    $val = array_shift($params);
    if ((isset($val['error']) && $val['error'] == 0) ||
    (!empty( $val['tmp_name']) && $val['tmp_name'] != 'none')) {
        return is_uploaded_file($val['tmp_name']);
    }
    return false;
}

Form Element-Specific Methods

The rest of the methods available in the FormHelper are for creating specific form elements. Many of these methods also make use of a special $options parameter. In this case, however, $options is used primarily to specify HTML tag attributes (such as the value or DOM id of an element in the form).

<?php echo $this->Form->text('username', array('class' => 'users')); ?>

Will output:

<input name="data[User][username]" type="text" class="users" id="UserUsername" />

checkbox

checkbox(string $fieldName, array $options)

Creates a checkbox form element. This method also generates an associated hidden form input to force the submission of data for the specified field.

<?php echo $this->Form->checkbox('done'); ?>

Will output:

<input type="hidden" name="data[User][done]" value="0" id="UserDone_" />
<input type="checkbox" name="data[User][done]" value="1" id="UserDone" />

It is possible to specify the value of the checkbox by using the $options array:

<?php echo $this->Form->checkbox('done', array('value' => 555)); ?>

Will output:

<input type="hidden" name="data[User][done]" value="0" id="UserDone_" />
<input type="checkbox" name="data[User][done]" value="555" id="UserDone" />

If you don’t want the Form helper to create a hidden input:

<?php echo $this->Form->checkbox('done', array('hiddenField' => false)); ?>

Will output:

<input type="checkbox" name="data[User][done]" value="1" id="UserDone" />

button

button(string $title, array $options = array())

Creates an HTML button with the specified title and a default type of “button”. Setting $options['type'] will output one of the three possible button types:

  1. submit: Same as the $this->Form->submit method - (the default).
  2. reset: Creates a form reset button.
  3. button: Creates a standard push button.
<?php
echo $this->Form->button('A Button');
echo $this->Form->button('Another Button', array('type'=>'button'));
echo $this->Form->button('Reset the Form', array('type'=>'reset'));
echo $this->Form->button('Submit Form', array('type'=>'submit'));
?>

Will output:

<button type="submit">A Button</button>
<button type="button">Another Button</button>
<button type="reset">Reset the Form</button>
<button type="submit">Submit Form</button>

The button input type allows for a special $option attribute called 'escape' which accepts a bool and determines whether to HTML entity encode the $title of the button. Defaults to false.

<?php
    echo $this->Form->button('Submit Form', array('type'=>'submit','escape'=>true));
?>

year

year(string $fieldName, int $minYear, int $maxYear, mixed $selected, array $attributes)

Creates a select element populated with the years from $minYear to $maxYear, with the $selected year selected by default. HTML attributes may be supplied in $attributes. If $attributes['empty'] is false, the select will not include an empty option.

<?php
echo $this->Form->year('purchased',2000,date('Y'));
?>

Will output:

<select name="data[User][purchased][year]" id="UserPurchasedYear">
<option value=""></option>
<option value="2009">2009</option>
<option value="2008">2008</option>
<option value="2007">2007</option>
<option value="2006">2006</option>
<option value="2005">2005</option>
<option value="2004">2004</option>
<option value="2003">2003</option>

<option value="2002">2002</option>
<option value="2001">2001</option>
<option value="2000">2000</option>
</select>

month

month(string $fieldName, mixed $selected, array $attributes)

Creates a select element populated with month names.

<?php
echo $this->Form->month('mob');
?>

Will output:

<select name="data[User][mob][month]" id="UserMobMonth">
<option value=""></option>
<option value="01">January</option>
<option value="02">February</option>
<option value="03">March</option>
<option value="04">April</option>
<option value="05">May</option>
<option value="06">June</option>
<option value="07">July</option>
<option value="08">August</option>
<option value="09">September</option>
<option value="10">October</option>
<option value="11">November</option>
<option value="12">December</option>
</select>

You can pass in your own array of months to be used by setting the ‘monthNames’ attribute, or have months displayed as numbers by passing false. (Note: the default months are internationalized and can be translated using localization.)

<?php
echo $this->Form->month('mob', null, array('monthNames' => false));
?>

dateTime

dateTime($fieldName, $dateFormat = 'DMY', $timeFormat = '12', $selected = null, $attributes = array())

Creates a set of select inputs for date and time. Valid values for $dateformat are ‘DMY’, ‘MDY’, ‘YMD’ or ‘NONE’. Valid values for $timeFormat are ‘12’, ‘24’, and null.

You can specify not to display empty values by setting “array(‘empty’ => false)” in the attributes parameter. You also can pre-select the current datetime by setting $selected = null and $attributes = array(“empty” => false).

day

day(string $fieldName, mixed $selected, array $attributes)

Creates a select element populated with the (numerical) days of the month.

To create an empty option with prompt text of your choosing (e.g. the first option is ‘Day’), you can supply the text as the final parameter as follows:

<?php
echo $this->Form->day('created');
?>

Will output:

<select name="data[User][created][day]" id="UserCreatedDay">
<option value=""></option>
<option value="01">1</option>
<option value="02">2</option>
<option value="03">3</option>
...
<option value="31">31</option>
</select>

hour

hour(string $fieldName, boolean $format24Hours, mixed $selected, array $attributes)

Creates a select element populated with the hours of the day.

minute

minute(string $fieldName, mixed $selected, array $attributes)

Creates a select element populated with the minutes of the hour.

One of the possible values for $attributes is called ‘interval’. To display an automagic select menu in 15-minute increments, add the following in the attributes array:

$this->Form->minute('example_time_field', null, array('interval' => 15));

meridian

meridian(string $fieldName, mixed $selected, array $attributes)

Creates a select element populated with ‘am’ and ‘pm’.

error

error(string $fieldName, mixed $text, array $options)

Shows a validation error message, specified by $text, for the given field, in the event that a validation error has occurred.

Options:

  • ‘escape’ bool Whether or not to html escape the contents of the error.
  • ‘wrap’ mixed Whether or not the error message should be wrapped in a div. If a string, will be used as the HTML tag to use.
  • ‘class’ string The classname for the error message

file

file(string $fieldName, array $options)

Creates a file input.

<?php
echo $this->Form->create('User',array('type'=>'file'));
echo $this->Form->file('avatar');
?>

Will output:

<form enctype="multipart/form-data" method="post" action="/users/add">
<input name="data[User][avatar]" value="" id="UserAvatar" type="file">

When using $this->Form->file(), remember to set the form encoding-type, by setting the type option to ‘file’ in $this->Form->create()

hidden

hidden(string $fieldName, array $options)

Creates a hidden form input. Example:

<?php
echo $this->Form->hidden('id');
?>

Will output:

<input name="data[User][id]" value="" id="UserId" type="hidden">

isFieldError

isFieldError(string $fieldName)

Returns true if the supplied $fieldName has an active validation error.

<?php
if ($this->Form->isFieldError('gender')){
    echo $this->Form->error('gender');
}
?>

When using $this->Form->input(), errors are rendered by default.

label

label(string $fieldName, string $text, array $attributes)

Creates a label tag, populated with $text.

<?php
echo $this->Form->label('status');
?>

Will output:

<label for="UserStatus">Status</label>

password

password(string $fieldName, array $options)

Creates a password field.

<?php
echo $this->Form->password('password');
?>

Will output:

<input name="data[User][password]" value="" id="UserPassword" type="password">

radio

radio(string $fieldName, array $options, array $attributes)

Creates a radio button input. Use $attributes['value'] to set which value should be selected default.

Use $attributes['separator'] to specify HTML in between radio buttons (e.g. <br />).

Radio elements are wrapped with a label and fieldset by default. Set $attributes['legend'] to false to remove them.

<?php
$options=array('M'=>'Male','F'=>'Female');
$attributes=array('legend'=>false);
echo $this->Form->radio('gender',$options,$attributes);
?>

Will output:

<input name="data[User][gender]" id="UserGender_" value="" type="hidden">
<input name="data[User][gender]" id="UserGenderM" value="M" type="radio">
<label for="UserGenderM">Male</label>
<input name="data[User][gender]" id="UserGenderF" value="F" type="radio">
<label for="UserGenderF">Female</label>

If for some reason you don’t want the hidden input, setting $attributes['value'] to a selected value or boolean false will do just that.

select

select(string $fieldName, array $options, mixed $selected, array $attributes)

Creates a select element, populated with the items in $options, with the option specified by $selected shown as selected by default. If you wish to display your own default option, add your string value to the ‘empty’ key in the $attributes variable, or set it to false to turn off the default empty option

<?php
$options = array('M' => 'Male', 'F' => 'Female');
echo $this->Form->select('gender', $options)
?>

Will output:

<select name="data[User][gender]" id="UserGender">
<option value=""></option>
<option value="M">Male</option>
<option value="F">Female</option>
</select>

The select input type allows for a special $option attribute called 'escape' which accepts a bool and determines whether to HTML entity encode the contents of the select options. Defaults to true.

<?php
$options = array('M' => 'Male', 'F' => 'Female');
echo $this->Form->select('gender', $options, null, array('escape' => false));
?>

submit

submit(string $caption, array $options)

Creates a submit button with caption $caption. If the supplied $caption is a URL to an image (it contains a ‘.’ character), the submit button will be rendered as an image.

It is enclosed between div tags by default; you can avoid this by declaring $options['div'] = false.

<?php
echo $this->Form->submit();
?>

Will output:

<div class="submit"><input value="Submit" type="submit"></div>

You can also pass a relative or absolute url to an image for the caption parameter instead of caption text.

<?php
echo $this->Form->submit('ok.png');
?>

Will output:

<div class="submit"><input type="image" src="/img/ok.png"></div>

text

text(string $fieldName, array $options)

Creates a text input field.

<?php
echo $this->Form->text('first_name');
?>

Will output:

<input name="data[User][first_name]" value="" id="UserFirstName" type="text">

textarea

textarea(string $fieldName, array $options)

Creates a textarea input field.

<?php
echo $this->Form->textarea('notes');
?>

Will output:

<textarea name="data[User][notes]" id="UserNotes"></textarea>

The textarea input type allows for the $options attribute of 'escape' which determines whether or not the contents of the textarea should be escaped. Defaults to true.

<?php
echo $this->Form->textarea('notes', array('escape' => false));
// OR....
echo $this->Form->input('notes', array('type' => 'textarea', 'escape' => false));
?>

1.3 improvements

The FormHelper is one of the most frequently used classes in CakePHP, and has had several improvements made to it.

Entity depth limitations

In 1.2 there was a hard limit of 5 nested keys. This posed significant limitations on form input creation in some contexts. In 1.3 you can now create infinitely nested form element keys. Validation errors and value reading for arbitrary depths has also been added.

Model introspection

Support for adding ‘required’ classes, and properties like maxlength to hasMany and other associations has been improved. In the past only 1 model and a limited set of associations would be introspected. In 1.3 models are introspected as needed, providing validation and additional information such as maxlength.

Default options for input()

In the past if you needed to use 'div' => false, or 'label' => false you would need to set those options on each and every call to input(). Instead in 1.3 you can declare a set of default options for input() with the inputDefaults key.

echo $this->Form->create('User', array(
        'inputDefaults' => array(
            'label' => false,
            'div' => false
        )
    ));

All inputs created from that point forward would inherit the options declared in inputDefaults. You can override the defaultOptions by declaring the option in the input() call.

echo $this->Form->input('password'); // No div, no label
echo $this->Form->input('username', array('label' => 'Username')); // has a label element

Omit attributes

You can now set any attribute key to null or false in an options/attributes array to omit that attribute from a particular html tag.

echo $this->Form->input('username', array(
    'div' => array('class' => false)
)); // Omits the 'class' attribute added by default to div tag

Accept-charset

Forms now get an accept-charset set automatically, it will match the value of App.encoding, it can be overridden or removed using the ‘encoding’ option when calling create().

// To remove the accept-charset attribute.
echo $this->Form->create('User', array('encoding' => null));

Removed parameters

Many methods such as select, year, month, day, hour, minute, meridian and datetime took a $showEmpty parameter, these have all been removed and rolled into the $attributes parameter using the 'empty' key.

Default url

The default url for forms either was add or edit depending on whether or not a primary key was detected in the data array. In 1.3 the default url will be the current action, making the forms submit to the action you are currently on.

Disabling hidden inputs for radio and checkbox

The automatically generated hidden inputs for radio and checkbox inputs can be disabled by setting the 'hiddenField' option to false.

button()

button() now creates button elements, these elements by default do not have html entity encoding enabled. You can enable html escaping using the escape option. The former features of FormHelper::button have been moved to FormHelper::submit.

submit()

Due to changes in button(), submit() can now generate reset, and other types of input buttons. Use the type option to change the default type of button generated. In addition to creating all types of buttons, submit() has before and after options that behave exactly like their counterparts in input().

$options[‘format’]

The HTML generated by the form helper is now more flexible than ever before. The $options parameter to Form::input() now supports an array of strings describing the template you would like said element to follow. It’s just been recently added to SCM, and has a few bugs for non PHP 5.3 users, but should be quite useful for all. The supported array keys are array('before', 'input', 'between', 'label', 'after', 'error').