Cake’s Scaffolding is Pretty Cool

So cool that you’ll want to use it in production apps. Now, we think its cool, too, but please realize that scaffolding is… well… just scaffolding. It’s a bunch of stuff you throw up real quick during the beginning of a project in order to get started. It isn’t meant to be completely flexible. So, if you find yourself really wanting to customize your logic and your views, its time to pull your scaffolding down in order to write some code.

Scaffolding is a great way of getting the early parts of developing a web application started. Early database schemas are volatile and subject to change, which is perfectly normal in the early part of the design process. This has a downside: a web developer hates creating forms that never will see real use. To reduce the strain on the developer, scaffolding has been included in Cake. Scaffolding analyzes your database tables and creates standard lists with add, delete and edit buttons, standard forms for editing and standard views for inspecting a single item in the database. To add scaffolding to your application, in the controller, add the $scaffold variable:

class CategoriesController extends AppController
var $scaffold;

One important thing to note about scaffold: it expects that any field name that ends with _id is a foreign key to a table which has a name that precedes the underscore. So, for example, if you have nested categories, you’d probably have a column called category_id in your categories table.

Also, when you have a foreign key in a table (e.g. titles table has category_id), and you have associated your models appropriately (see Understanding Associations, 6.2), a select box will be automatically populated with the rows from the foreign table (titles) in the show/edit/new views. To set which field in the foreign table is shown, set the $displayField variable in the foreign model. To continue our example of a category having a title:

class Category extends AppModel
var $name = 'Category';

var $displayField = 'title';

Customizing Scaffold Views

If you’re looking for something a little different in your scaffolded views, you can create them yourself. We still don’t recommend using this technique for production applications, but such a customization may be extremely useful for prototyping iterations.

If you’d like to change your scaffolding views, you’ll need to supply your own:

Custom Scaffolding Views for a Single Controller

Custom scaffolding views for a PostsController should be placed like so:


Custom Scaffolding Views for an Entire Application

Custom scaffolding views for all controllers should be placed like so:


If you find yourself wanting to change the controller logic at this point, it’s time to take the scaffolding down from your application and start building it.

One feature you might find helpful is Cake’s code generator: Bake. Bake allows you to generate a coded version of scaffolded code you can then move on to modify and customize as your application requires.