Since the beginning CakePHP’s support for Javascript has been with Prototype/Scriptaculous. While we still think these are an excellent Javascript library, the community has been asking for support for other libraries. Rather than drop Prototype in favour of another Javascript library. We created an Adapter based helper, and included 3 of the most requested libraries. Prototype/Scriptaculous, Mootools/Mootools-more, and jQuery/jQuery UI. And while the API is not as expansive as the previous AjaxHelper we feel that the adapter based solution allows for a more extensible solution giving developers the power and flexibility they need to address their specific application needs.

Javascript Engines form the backbone of the new JsHelper. A Javascript engine translates an abstract Javascript element into concrete Javascript code specific to the Javascript library being used. In addition they create an extensible system for others to use.

Using a specific Javascript engine

First of all download your preferred javascript library and place it in app/webroot/js

Then you must include the library in your page. To include it in all pages, add this line to the <head> section of app/views/layouts/default.ctp (copy this file from cake/libs/view/layouts/default.ctp if you have not created your own):

echo $this->Html->script('jquery'); // Include jQuery library

Replace jquery with the name of your library file (.js will be added to the name).

By default scripts are cached, and you must explicitly print out the cache. To do this at the end of each page, include this line just before the ending </body> tag:

echo $this->Js->writeBuffer(); // Write cached scripts

You must include the library in your page and print the cache for the helper to function.

Javascript engine selection is declared when you include the helper in your controller:

var $helpers = array('Js' => array('Jquery'));

The above would use the Jquery Engine in the instances of JsHelper in your views. If you do not declare a specific engine, the jQuery engine will be used as the default. As mentioned before, there are three engines implemented in the core, but we encourage the community to expand the library compatibility.

Using jQuery with other libraries

The jQuery library, and virtually all of its plugins are constrained within the jQuery namespace. As a general rule, “global” objects are stored inside the jQuery namespace as well, so you shouldn’t get a clash between jQuery and any other library (like Prototype, MooTools, or YUI).

That said, there is one caveat: By default, jQuery uses “$” as a shortcut for “jQuery”

To override the “$” shortcut, use the jQueryObject variable.

$this->Js->JqueryEngine->jQueryObject = '$j';
print $this->Html->scriptBlock('var $j = jQuery.noConflict();',
    array('inline' => false)); //Tell jQuery to go into noconflict mode

Using the JsHelper inside customHelpers

Declare the JsHelper in the $helpers array in your customHelper.

var $helpers = array('Js');

It is not possible to declare a javascript engine inside a custom helper. Doing that will have no effect.

If you are willing to use an other javascript engine than the default, do the helper setup in your controller as follows:

var $helpers = array(
    'Js' => array('Prototype'),

Be sure to declare the JsHelper and its engine on top of the $helpers array in your controller.

The selected javascript engine may disappear (replaced by the default) from the jsHelper object in your helper, if you miss to do so and you will get code that does not fit your javascript library.

Creating a Javascript Engine

Javascript engine helpers follow normal helper conventions, with a few additional restrictions. They must have the Engine suffix. DojoHelper is not good, DojoEngineHelper is correct. Furthermore, they should extend JsBaseEngineHelper in order to leverage the most of the new API.

Javascript engine usage

The JsHelper provides a few methods, and acts as a facade for the the Engine helper. You should not directly access the Engine helper except in rare occasions. Using the facade features of the JsHelper allows you to leverage the buffering and method chaining features built-in; (method chaining only works in PHP5).

The JsHelper by default buffers almost all script code generated, allowing you to collect scripts throughout the view, elements and layout, and output it in one place. Outputting buffered scripts is done with $this->Js->writeBuffer(); this will return the buffer contents in a script tag. You can disable buffering wholesale with the $bufferScripts property or setting buffer => false in methods taking $options.

Since most methods in Javascript begin with a selection of elements in the DOM, $this->Js->get() returns a $this, allowing you to chain the methods using the selection. Method chaining allows you to write shorter, more expressive code. It should be noted that method chaining Will not work in PHP4.

$this->Js->get('#foo')->event('click', $eventCode);

Is an example of method chaining. Method chaining is not possible in PHP4 and the above sample would be written like:

$this->Js->event('click', $eventCode);

Common options

In attempts to simplify development where Js libraries can change, a common set of options is supported by JsHelper, these common options will be mapped out to the library specific options internally. If you are not planning on switching Javascript libraries, each library also supports all of its native callbacks and options.

Callback wrapping

By default all callback options are wrapped with the an anonymous function with the correct arguments. You can disable this behavior by supplying the wrapCallbacks = false in your options array.

Working with buffered scripts

One drawback to previous implementation of ‘Ajax’ type features was the scattering of script tags throughout your document, and the inability to buffer scripts added by elements in the layout. The new JsHelper if used correctly avoids both of those issues. It is recommended that you place $this->Js->writeBuffer() at the bottom of your layout file above the </body> tag. This will allow all scripts generated in layout elements to be output in one place. It should be noted that buffered scripts are handled separately from included script files.

writeBuffer($options = array())

Writes all Javascript generated so far to a code block or caches them to a file and returns a linked script.


  • inline - Set to true to have scripts output as a script block inline if cache is also true, a script link tag will be generated. (default true)

  • cache - Set to true to have scripts cached to a file and linked in (default false)

  • clear - Set to false to prevent script cache from being cleared (default true)

  • onDomReady - wrap cached scripts in domready event (default true)

  • safe - if an inline block is generated should it be wrapped in <![CDATA[ … ]]> (default true)

Creating a cache file with writeBuffer() requires that webroot/js be world writable and allows a browser to cache generated script resources for any page.


Add $content to the internal script buffer.

getBuffer($clear = true)

Get the contents of the current buffer. Pass in false to not clear the buffer at the same time.

Buffering methods that are not normally buffered

Some methods in the helpers are buffered by default. The engines buffer the following methods by default:

  • event

  • sortable

  • drag

  • drop

  • slider

Additionally you can force any other method in JsHelper to use the buffering. By appending an boolean to the end of the arguments you can force other methods to go into the buffer. For example the each() method does not normally buffer.

$this->Js->each('alert("whoa!");', true);

The above would force the each() method to use the buffer. Conversely if you want a method that does buffer to not buffer, you can pass a false in as the last argument.

$this->Js->event('click', 'alert("whoa!");', false);

This would force the event function which normally buffers to return its result.


The core Javascript Engines provide the same feature set across all libraries, there is also a subset of common options that are translated into library specific options. This is done to provide end developers with as unified an API as possible. The following list of methods are supported by all the Engines included in the CakePHP core. Whenever you see separate lists for Options and Event Options both sets of parameters are supplied in the $options array for the method.

object($data, $options = array())

Converts values into JSON. There are a few differences between this method and JavascriptHelper::object(). Most notably there is no affordance for stringKeys or q options found in the JavascriptHelper. Furthermore $this->Js->object(); cannot make script tags.


  • prefix - String prepended to the returned data.

  • postfix - String appended to the returned data.

Example Use:

$json = $this->Js->object($data);

sortable($options = array())

Sortable generates a javascript snippet to make a set of elements (usually a list) drag and drop sortable.

The normalized options are:


  • containment - Container for move action

  • handle - Selector to handle element. Only this element will start sort action.

  • revert - Whether or not to use an effect to move sortable into final position.

  • opacity - Opacity of the placeholder

  • distance - Distance a sortable must be dragged before sorting starts.

Event Options

  • start - Event fired when sorting starts

  • sort - Event fired during sorting

  • complete - Event fired when sorting completes.

Other options are supported by each Javascript library, and you should check the documentation for your javascript library for more detailed information on its options and parameters.

Example use:

        'distance' => 5,
        'containment' => 'parent',
        'start' => 'onStart',
        'complete' => 'onStop',
        'sort' => 'onSort',
        'wrapCallbacks' => false

Assuming you were using the jQuery engine, you would get the following code in your generated Javascript block:

$("#myList").sortable({containment:"parent", distance:5, sort:onSort, start:onStart, stop:onStop});

request($url, $options = array())

Generate a javascript snippet to create an XmlHttpRequest or ‘AJAX’ request.

Event Options

  • complete - Callback to fire on complete.

  • success - Callback to fire on success.

  • before - Callback to fire on request initialization.

  • error - Callback to fire on request failure.


  • method - The method to make the request with defaults to GET in more libraries

  • async - Whether or not you want an asynchronous request.

  • data - Additional data to send.

  • update - Dom id to update with the content of the request.

  • type - Data type for response. ‘json’ and ‘html’ are supported. Default is html for most libraries.

  • evalScripts - Whether or not <script> tags should be eval’ed.

  • dataExpression - Should the data key be treated as a callback. Useful for supplying $options['data'] as another Javascript expression.

Example use

'action' => 'foo', param1), array(
'async' => true,
'update' => '#element')));


Set the internal ‘selection’ to a CSS selector. The active selection is used in subsequent operations until a new selection is made.


The JsHelper now will reference all other element based methods on the selection of #element. To change the active selection, call get() again with a new element.

drag($options = array())

Make an element draggable.


  • handle - selector to the handle element.

  • snapGrid - The pixel grid that movement snaps to, an array(x, y)

  • container - The element that acts as a bounding box for the draggable element.

Event Options

  • start - Event fired when the drag starts

  • drag - Event fired on every step of the drag

  • stop - Event fired when dragging stops (mouse release)

Example use

    'container' => '#content',
    'start' => 'onStart',
    'drag' => 'onDrag',
    'stop' => 'onStop',
    'snapGrid' => array(10, 10),
    'wrapCallbacks' => false

If you were using the jQuery engine the following code would be added to the buffer.

$("#element").draggable({containment:"#content", drag:onDrag, grid:[10,10], start:onStart, stop:onStop});

drop($options = array())

Make an element accept draggable elements and act as a dropzone for dragged elements.


  • accept - Selector for elements this droppable will accept.

  • hoverclass - Class to add to droppable when a draggable is over.

Event Options

  • drop - Event fired when an element is dropped into the drop zone.

  • hover - Event fired when a drag enters a drop zone.

  • leave - Event fired when a drag is removed from a drop zone without being dropped.

Example use

    'accept' => '.items',
    'hover' => 'onHover',
    'leave' => 'onExit',
    'drop' => 'onDrop',
    'wrapCallbacks' => false

If you were using the jQuery engine the following code would be added to the buffer:

<code class=
"php">$("#element").droppable({accept:".items", drop:onDrop, out:onExit, over:onHover});</code>

‘’Note’’ about MootoolsEngine::drop

Droppables in Mootools function differently from other libraries. Droppables are implemented as an extension of Drag. So in addtion to making a get() selection for the droppable element. You must also provide a selector rule to the draggable element. Furthermore, Mootools droppables inherit all options from Drag.


Create snippet of Javascript that converts an element into a slider ui widget. See your libraries implementation for additional usage and features.


  • handle - The id of the element used in sliding.

  • direction - The direction of the slider either ‘vertical’ or ‘horizontal’

  • min - The min value for the slider.

  • max - The max value for the slider.

  • step - The number of steps or ticks the slider will have.

  • value - The initial offset of the slider.


  • change - Fired when the slider’s value is updated

  • complete - Fired when the user stops sliding the handle

Example use

    'complete' => 'onComplete',
    'change' => 'onChange',
    'min' => 0,
    'max' => 10,
    'value' => 2,
    'direction' => 'vertical',
    'wrapCallbacks' => false

If you were using the jQuery engine the following code would be added to the buffer:

$("#element").slider({change:onChange, max:10, min:0, orientation:"vertical", stop:onComplete, value:2});

effect($name, $options = array())

Creates a basic effect. By default this method is not buffered and returns its result.

Supported effect names

The following effects are supported by all JsEngines

  • show - reveal an element.

  • hide - hide an element.

  • fadeIn - Fade in an element.

  • fadeOut - Fade out an element.

  • slideIn - Slide an element in.

  • slideOut - Slide an element out.


  • speed - Speed at which the animation should occur. Accepted values are ‘slow’, ‘fast’. Not all effects use the speed option.

Example use

If you were using the jQuery engine.

$result = $this->Js->effect('fadeIn');

//$result contains $("#foo").fadeIn();

event($type, $content, $options = array())

Bind an event to the current selection. $type can be any of the normal DOM events or a custom event type if your library supports them. $content should contain the function body for the callback. Callbacks will be wrapped with function (event) { ... } unless disabled with the $options.


  • wrap - Whether you want the callback wrapped in an anonymous function. (defaults to true)

  • stop - Whether you want the event to stopped. (defaults to true)

Example use

$this->Js->event('click', $this->Js->alert('hey you!'));

If you were using the jQuery library you would get the following Javascript code.

$('#some-link').bind('click', function (event) {
    alert('hey you!');
    return false;

You can remove the return false; by passing setting the stop option to false.

$this->Js->event('click', $this->Js->alert('hey you!'), array('stop' => false));

If you were using the jQuery library you would the following Javascript code would be added to the buffer. Note that the default browser event is not cancelled.

$('#some-link').bind('click', function (event) {
    alert('hey you!');


Creates the special ‘DOM ready’ event. writeBuffer() automatically wraps the buffered scripts in a domReady method.


Create a snippet that iterates over the currently selected elements, and inserts $callback.


$this->Js->each('$(this).css({color: "red"});');

Using the jQuery engine would create the following Javascript

$('div.message').each(function () { $(this).css({color: "red"});});


Create a javascript snippet containing an alert() snippet. By default, alert does not buffer, and returns the script snippet.

$alert = $this->Js->alert('Hey there');


Create a javascript snippet containing a confirm() snippet. By default, confirm does not buffer, and returns the script snippet.

$alert = $this->Js->confirm('Are you sure?');

prompt($message, $default)

Create a javascript snippet containing a prompt() snippet. By default, prompt does not buffer, and returns the script snippet.

$prompt = $this->Js->prompt('What is your favorite color?', 'blue');


Create a submit input button that enables XmlHttpRequest submitted forms. Options can include both those for FormHelper::submit() and JsBaseEngine::request(), JsBaseEngine::event();

Forms submitting with this method, cannot send files. Files do not transfer over XmlHttpRequest and require an iframe, or other more specialized setups that are beyond the scope of this helper.


  • confirm - Confirm message displayed before sending the request. Using confirm, does not replace any before callback methods in the generated XmlHttpRequest.

  • buffer - Disable the buffering and return a script tag in addition to the link.

  • wrapCallbacks - Set to false to disable automatic callback wrapping.

Example use

echo $this->Js->submit('Save', array('update' => '#content'));

Will create a submit button with an attached onclick event. The click event will be buffered by default.

echo $this->Js->submit('Save', array('update' => '#content', 'div' => false, 'type' => 'json', 'async' => false));

Shows how you can combine options that both FormHelper::submit() and Js::request() when using submit.

serializeForm($options = array())

Serialize the form attached to $selector. Pass true for $isForm if the current selection is a form element. Converts the form or the form element attached to the current selection into a string/json object (depending on the library implementation) for use with XHR operations.


  • isForm - is the current selection a form, or an input? (defaults to false)

  • inline - is the rendered statement going to be used inside another JS statement? (defaults to false)

Setting inline == false allows you to remove the trailing ;. This is useful when you need to serialize a form element as part of another Javascript operation, or use the serialize method in an Object literal.


Redirect the page to $url using window.location.


Converts a PHP-native variable of any type to a JSON-equivalent representation. Escapes any string values into JSON compatible strings. UTF-8 characters will be escaped.

Ajax Pagination

Much like Ajax Pagination in 1.2, you can use the JsHelper to handle the creation of Ajax pagination links instead of plain HTML links.

Adding effects and transitions

Since indicator is no longer supported, you must add any indicator effects yourself.

        <?php echo $this->Html->script('jquery'); ?>
        //more stuff here.
    <div id="content">
        <?php echo $content_for_layout; ?>
    <?php echo $this->Html->image('indicator.gif', array('id' => 'busy-indicator')); ?>

Remember to place the indicator.gif file inside app/webroot/img folder. You may see a situation where the indicator.gif displays immediately upon the page load. You need to put in this css #busy-indicator { display:none; } in your main css file.

With the above layout, we’ve included an indicator image file, that will display a busy indicator animation that we will show and hide with the JsHelper. To do that we need to update our options() function.

    'update' => '#content',
    'evalScripts' => true,
    'before' => $this->Js->get('#busy-indicator')->effect('fadeIn', array('buffer' => false)),
    'complete' => $this->Js->get('#busy-indicator')->effect('fadeOut', array('buffer' => false)),

This will show/hide the busy-indicator element before and after the #content div is updated. Although indicator has been removed, the new features offered by JsHelper allow for more control and more complex effects to be created.