Blog Tutorial

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

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 5.5.9 or greater, and that the mbstring and intl extensions are enabled in PHP.
  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.

Let’s get started!

Getting CakePHP

The easiest way to install CakePHP is to use Composer. Composer is a simple way of installing CakePHP from your terminal or command line prompt. First, you’ll need to download and install Composer if you haven’t done so already. If you have cURL installed, it’s as easy as running the following:

curl -s | php

Or, you can download composer.phar from the Composer website.

Then simply type the following line in your terminal from your installation directory to install the CakePHP application skeleton in the [app_name] directory.

php composer.phar create-project --prefer-dist cakephp/app [app_name]

In case you’ve already got composer installed globally, you may instead type:

composer self-update && composer create-project --prefer-dist cakephp/app [app_name]

The advantage to using Composer is that it will automatically complete some important set up tasks, such as setting the correct file permissions and creating your config/app.php file for you.

There are other ways to install CakePHP. If you cannot or don’t want to use Composer, check out the Installation section.

Regardless of how you downloaded and installed CakePHP, once your set up is completed, your directory setup should look something like the following:


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

Directory Permissions on tmp and logs

The tmp and logs directories need to have proper permissions to be writable by your webserver. If you used Composer for the install, this should have been done for you and confirmed with a “Permissions set on <folder>” message. If you instead got an error message or want to do it manually, the best way would be to find out what user your webserver runs as (<?= `whoami`; ?>) and change the ownership of these two directories to that user. The final command you run (in *nix) might look something like this:

chown -R www-data tmp
chown -R www-data logs

If for some reason CakePHP can’t write to these directories, you’ll be informed by a warning while not in production mode.

While not recommended, if you are unable to set the permissions to the same as your webserver, you can simply set write permissions on the folder by running a command such as:

chmod 777 -R tmp
chmod 777 -R logs

Creating the Blog Database

Next, let’s set up the underlying MySQL 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, e.g. cake_blog. Right now, we’ll just create a single table to store our articles. We’ll also throw in a few articles to use for testing purposes. Execute the following SQL statements into your database:

/* First, create our articles table: */
CREATE TABLE articles (
    title VARCHAR(50),
    body TEXT,

/* Then insert some articles for testing: */
INSERT INTO articles (title,body,created)
    VALUES ('The title', 'This is the article body.', NOW());
INSERT INTO articles (title,body,created)
    VALUES ('A title once again', 'And the article body follows.', NOW());
INSERT INTO articles (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 inconsistent legacy database schemas, but adhering to the conventions will save you time.

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

Database Configuration

Next, let’s tell CakePHP where our database is and how to connect to it. For many, this will be the first and last time you will need to configure anything.

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

return [
    // More configuration above.
    'Datasources' => [
        'default' => [
            'className' => 'Cake\Database\Connection',
            'driver' => 'Cake\Database\Driver\Mysql',
            'persistent' => false,
            'host' => 'localhost',
            'username' => 'cake_blog',
            'password' => 'AngelF00dC4k3~',
            'database' => 'cake_blog',
            'encoding' => 'utf8',
            'timezone' => 'UTC'
    // More configuration below.

Once you’ve saved your config/app.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.


A copy of CakePHP’s default configuration file is found in config/app.default.php.

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 security salt is used for generating hashes. If you used Composer this too is taken care of for you during the install. Else you’d need to change the default salt value by editing config/app.php. It doesn’t matter much what the new value is, as long as it’s not guessable:

'Security' => [
    'salt' => 'something long and containing lots of different values.',

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). This probably means mod_rewrite is not functioning on your system. Please refer to the URL Rewriting section to help resolve any issues you are having.

Now continue to Blog Tutorial - Part 2 to start building your first CakePHP application.