CMS Tutorial - Creating the Database

Now that we have CakePHP installed, let’s set up the database for our CMS application. 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_cms. You can execute the following SQL to create the necessary tables:

USE cake_cms;

    email VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL,
    password VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL,
    created DATETIME,
    modified DATETIME

CREATE TABLE articles (
    user_id INT NOT NULL,
    title VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL,
    slug VARCHAR(191) NOT NULL,
    body TEXT,
    created DATETIME,
    modified DATETIME,
    UNIQUE KEY (slug),
    FOREIGN KEY user_key (user_id) REFERENCES users(id)
) CHARSET=utf8mb4;

    title VARCHAR(191),
    created DATETIME,
    modified DATETIME,
    UNIQUE KEY (title)
) CHARSET=utf8mb4;

CREATE TABLE articles_tags (
    article_id INT NOT NULL,
    tag_id INT NOT NULL,
    PRIMARY KEY (article_id, tag_id),
    FOREIGN KEY tag_key(tag_id) REFERENCES tags(id),
    FOREIGN KEY article_key(article_id) REFERENCES articles(id)

INSERT INTO users (email, password, created, modified)
('[email protected]', 'secret', NOW(), NOW());

INSERT INTO articles (user_id, title, slug, body, published, created, modified)
(1, 'First Post', 'first-post', 'This is the first post.', 1, now(), now());

You may have noticed that the articles_tags table used a composite primary key. CakePHP supports composite primary keys almost everywhere allowing you to have simpler schemas that don’t require additional id columns.

The table and column names we used were not arbitrary. By using CakePHP’s naming conventions, we can leverage CakePHP more effectively and avoid needing to configure the framework. While CakePHP is flexible enough to accommodate almost any database schema, adhering to the conventions will save you time as you can leverage the convention based defaults CakePHP provides.

Database Configuration

Next, let’s tell CakePHP where our database is and how to connect to it. Replace the values in the Datasources.default array in your config/app_local.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' => 'cakephp',
            'password' => 'AngelF00dC4k3~',
            'database' => 'cake_cms',
            'encoding' => 'utf8mb4',
            'timezone' => 'UTC',
            'cacheMetadata' => true,
    // More configuration below.

Once you’ve saved your config/app_local.php file, you should see that ‘CakePHP is able to connect to the database’ section have a green chef hat.


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

Creating our First Model

Models are the heart of a CakePHP applications. They enable us to read and modify our data. They allow us to build relations between our data, validate data, and apply application rules. Models build the foundations necessary to build our controller actions and templates.

CakePHP’s models are composed of Table and Entity objects. Table objects provide access to the collection of entities stored in a specific table. They are stored in src/Model/Table. The file we’ll be creating will be saved to src/Model/Table/ArticlesTable.php. The completed file should look like this:

// src/Model/Table/ArticlesTable.php
namespace App\Model\Table;

use Cake\ORM\Table;

class ArticlesTable extends Table
    public function initialize(array $config)

We’ve attached the Timestamp behavior which will automatically populate the created and modified columns of our table. By naming our Table object ArticlesTable, CakePHP can use naming conventions to know that our model uses the articles table. CakePHP also uses conventions to know that the id column is our table’s primary key.


CakePHP will dynamically create a model object for you if it cannot find a corresponding file in src/Model/Table. This also means that if you accidentally name your file wrong (i.e. articlestable.php or ArticleTable.php), CakePHP will not recognize any of your settings and will use the generated model instead.

We’ll also create an Entity class for our Articles. Entities represent a single record in the database, and provide row level behavior for our data. Our entity will be saved to src/Model/Entity/Article.php. The completed file should look like this:

// src/Model/Entity/Article.php
namespace App\Model\Entity;

use Cake\ORM\Entity;

class Article extends Entity
    protected $_accessible = [
        '*' => true,
        'id' => false,
        'slug' => false,

Our entity is quite slim right now, and we’ve only setup the _accessible property which controls how properties can be modified by Mass Assignment.

We can’t do much with our models right now, so next we’ll create our first Controller and Template to allow us to interact with our model.