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Blog Tutorial

Welcome to CakePHP. You’re probably checking out this tutorial because you want to learn more about how CakePHP works. It’s our aim to increase productivity and make coding more enjoyable: we hope you’ll see this as you dive into the code.

This tutorial will walk you through the creation of a simple blog application. We’ll be getting and installing CakePHP, creating and configuring a database, and creating enough application logic to list, add, edit, and delete blog posts.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A running web server. We’re going to assume you’re using Apache, though the instructions for using other servers should be very similar. We might have to play a little with the server configuration, but most folks can get CakePHP up and running without any configuration at all. Make sure you have PHP 5.2.8 or greater.
  2. A database server. We’re going to be using MySQL server in this tutorial. You’ll need to know enough about SQL in order to create a database: CakePHP will be taking the reins from there. Since we’re using MySQL, also make sure that you have pdo_mysql enabled in PHP.
  3. Basic PHP knowledge. The more object-oriented programming you’ve done, the better: but fear not if you’re a procedural fan.
  4. Finally, you’ll need a basic knowledge of the MVC programming pattern. A quick overview can be found in Understanding Model-View-Controller. Don’t worry, it’s only a half a page or so.

Let’s get started!

Getting CakePHP

First, let’s get a copy of fresh CakePHP code.

To get a fresh download, visit the CakePHP project on GitHub: https://github.com/cakephp/cakephp/tags and download the latest release of 2.0

You can also clone the repository using git. git clone git://github.com/cakephp/cakephp.git

Regardless of how you downloaded it, place the code inside of your DocumentRoot. Once finished, your directory setup should look something like the following:

/path_to_document_root
    /app
    /lib
    /plugins
    /vendors
    .htaccess
    index.php
    README

Now might be a good time to learn a bit about how CakePHP’s directory structure works: check out the CakePHP Folder Structure section.

Tmp directory permissions

Next we’ll need to make the app/tmp directory writable by the webserver. The best way to do this is to find out what user your webserver runs as. You can run <?php echo exec('whoami'); ?> inside any PHP file your webserver can execute. You should see a username printed. Change the ownership of the app/tmp directory to that user. The final command you run (in *nix) might look something like this:

$ chown -R www-data app/tmp

If for some reason CakePHP can’t write to that directory, you’ll see warnings and uncaught exceptions that cache data cannot be written.

Creating the Blog Database

Next, let’s set up the underlying database for our blog. If you haven’t already done so, create an empty database for use in this tutorial, with a name of your choice. Right now, we’ll just create a single table to store our posts. We’ll also throw in a few posts right now to use for testing purposes. Execute the following SQL statements into your database:

/* First, create our posts table: */
CREATE TABLE posts (
    id INT UNSIGNED AUTO_INCREMENT PRIMARY KEY,
    title VARCHAR(50),
    body TEXT,
    created DATETIME DEFAULT NULL,
    modified DATETIME DEFAULT NULL
);

/* Then insert some posts for testing: */
INSERT INTO posts (title,body,created)
    VALUES ('The title', 'This is the post body.', NOW());
INSERT INTO posts (title,body,created)
    VALUES ('A title once again', 'And the post body follows.', NOW());
INSERT INTO posts (title,body,created)
    VALUES ('Title strikes back', 'This is really exciting! Not.', NOW());

The choices on table and column names are not arbitrary. If you follow CakePHP’s database naming conventions, and CakePHP’s class naming conventions (both outlined in CakePHP Conventions), you’ll be able to take advantage of a lot of free functionality and avoid configuration. CakePHP is flexible enough to accommodate even the worst legacy database schema, but adhering to convention will save you time.

Check out CakePHP Conventions for more information, but suffice it to say that naming our table ‘posts’ automatically hooks it to our Post model, and having fields called ‘modified’ and ‘created’ will be automagically managed by CakePHP.

CakePHP Database Configuration

Onward and upward: let’s tell CakePHP where our database is and how to connect to it. For many, this is the first and last time you configure anything.

A copy of CakePHP’s database configuration file is found in /app/Config/database.php.default. Make a copy of this file in the same directory, but name it database.php.

The config file should be pretty straightforward: just replace the values in the $default array with those that apply to your setup. A sample completed configuration array might look something like the following:

public $default = array(
    'datasource' => 'Database/Mysql',
    'persistent' => false,
    'host' => 'localhost',
    'port' => '',
    'login' => 'cakeBlog',
    'password' => 'c4k3-rUl3Z',
    'database' => 'cake_blog_tutorial',
    'schema' => '',
    'prefix' => '',
    'encoding' => 'utf8'
);

Once you’ve saved your new database.php file, you should be able to open your browser and see the CakePHP welcome page. It should also tell you that your database connection file was found, and that CakePHP can successfully connect to the database.

Note

Remember that you’ll need to have PDO, and pdo_mysql enabled in your php.ini.

Optional Configuration

There are a few other items that can be configured. Most developers complete these laundry-list items, but they’re not required for this tutorial. One is defining a custom string (or “salt”) for use in security hashes. The second is defining a custom number (or “seed”) for use in encryption.

The security salt is used for generating hashes. Change the default Security.salt value in /app/Config/core.php. The replacement value should be long, hard to guess and be as random as you can make it:

/**
 * A random string used in security hashing methods.
 */
Configure::write('Security.salt', 'pl345e-P45s_7h3*S@l7!');

The cipher seed is used for encrypt/decrypt strings. Change the default Security.cipherSeed value by editing /app/Config/core.php. The replacement value should be a large random integer:

/**
 * A random numeric string (digits only) used to encrypt/decrypt strings.
 */
Configure::write('Security.cipherSeed', '7485712659625147843639846751');

A Note on mod_rewrite

Occasionally new users will run into mod_rewrite issues. For example if the CakePHP welcome page looks a little funny (no images or CSS styles), it probably means mod_rewrite is not functioning on your system. Please refer to one of the sections below about URL rewriting for your webserver to get you up and running:

Now continue to Blog Tutorial - Adding a layer to start building your first CakePHP application.