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Database Access & ORM

In CakePHP working with data through the database is done with two primary object types. The first are repositories or table objects. These objects provide access to collections of data. They allow you to save new records, modify/delete existing ones, define relations, and perform bulk operations. The second type of objects are entities. Entities represent individual records and allow you to define row/record level behavior & functionality.

These two classes are usually responsible for managing almost everything that happens regarding your data, its validity, interactions and evolution of the information workflow in your domain of work.

CakePHP’s built-in ORM specializes in relational databases, but can be extended to support alternative datasources.

The CakePHP ORM borrows ideas and concepts from both ActiveRecord and Datamapper patterns. It aims to create a hybrid implementation that combines aspects of both patterns to create a fast, simple to use ORM.

Before we get started exploring the ORM, make sure you configure your database connections.

Note

If you are familiar with previous versions of CakePHP, you should read the New ORM Upgrade Guide for important differences between CakePHP 3.0 and older versions of CakePHP.

Quick Example

To get started you don’t have to write any code. If you’ve followed the CakePHP conventions for your database tables you can just start using the ORM. For example if we wanted to load some data from our articles table we could do:

use Cake\ORM\TableRegistry;

$articles = TableRegistry::get('Articles');

$query = $articles->find();

foreach ($query as $row) {
    echo $row->title;
}

Note that we didn’t have to create any code or wire any configuration up. The conventions in CakePHP allow us to skip some boilerplate code and allow the framework to insert base classes when your application has not created a concrete class. If we wanted to customize our ArticlesTable class adding some associations or defining some additional methods we would add the following to src/Model/Table/ArticlesTable.php after the <?php opening tag:

namespace App\Model\Table;

use Cake\ORM\Table;

class ArticlesTable extends Table
{

}

Table classes use the CamelCased version of the table name with the Table suffix as the class name. Once your class has been created you get a reference to it using the ORM\TableRegistry as before:

use Cake\ORM\TableRegistry;

// Now $articles is an instance of our ArticlesTable class.
$articles = TableRegistry::get('Articles');

Now that we have a concrete table class, we’ll probably want to use a concrete entity class. Entity classes let you define accessor and mutator methods, define custom logic for individual records and much more. We’ll start off by adding the following to src/Model/Entity/Article.php after the <?php opening tag:

namespace App\Model\Entity;

use Cake\ORM\Entity;

class Article extends Entity
{

}

Entities use the singular CamelCase version of the table name as their class name by default. Now that we have created our entity class, when we load entities from the database we’ll get instances of our new Article class:

use Cake\ORM\TableRegistry;

// Now an instance of ArticlesTable.
$articles = TableRegistry::get('Articles');
$query = $articles->find();

foreach ($query as $row) {
    // Each row is now an instance of our Article class.
    echo $row->title;
}

CakePHP uses naming conventions to link the Table and Entity class together. If you need to customize which entity a table uses you can use the entityClass() method to set a specific classname.

See the chapters on Table Objects and Entities for more information on how to use table objects and entities in your application.

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