Like a lot of people I do most of my development work on windows PC and locally run a web a server and database. Like a a lot of people I just downloaded and installed a server bundle. For the last few years I have used Apache2triad and it has generally been pretty painless, but I’ve recently been forced to abandon it. Unfortunately the development seems to have been abandoned about 2 years ago.

The reason I abandoned Apache2triad was PHP versions – I wanted to do some work with Google Base using the Zend Google Data Library which required PHP 5.1.4+.

Looking around at the various bundles I decided to go with XAMPP – a lot of people seem to use it and it seems to get pretty good feedback. I won’t say the process was entirely painless (it took a couple of goes to get everything up and running) but eventually it all seemed OK.

The fun started when I decided to do a bit of baking (generating scaffolding code for my CakePHP app from a command line interface). Nothing worked.

Looking into it I discovered more than I wanted to know about the PHP Command Line Interface (CLI) which I had happily used for years with no idea it actually existed, having assumed it was just there as part of PHP.

After a lot googleing and a lot of trial and error I got it all working again and this is how I did it.

My environment is Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2 with XAMPP installed on E:/

  1. Downloaded the latest version of PHP and replaced the entire contents of E:\xampp\php\.
  2. Added to the E:\xampp\php to my environment PATH.

At this stage PHP CLI wwas now working but there were nasty errors e.g. I was uanble to connect to MySQL from scripts. I discovered that this is because PHP CLI uses a different php.ini file to regular PHP.

To fix this I copied my php.ini from E:\xampp\apache\bin\php.ini (the default XAMPP ini file) to E:\xampp\php.

I then checked the PHP CLI again using php -v at a command prompt. There were now about 6 errors displayed, concerned with modules that could not be loaded or found. I believe that these concern modules just that aren’t meaningful in CLI mode. So I went through my new php.ini in E:\xampp\php and commented out the directives that were causing the errors until PHP CLI ran without errors.

HABTM / Checkbox working example

Reading the CakePHP group messages, a lot of people seem to run into problems with creating HABTM relationships and changing from the default multipleSelect to using a series of checkboxes. In an app I was building I ran into a brick wall where I just wasn’t able to find out waht was wrong so I just decided to bake a quick example that I could use as a reference.

This is for Cake 1.1.x.x

I used a slightly modified copy of the SQL from the manual and used  Josh McFarren’s checkbox helper.

-- Table structure for table `posts`

CREATE TABLE `posts` (
  `id` int(10) unsigned NOT NULL auto_increment,
  `title` varchar(50) default NULL,
  `body` text,
  `created` datetime default NULL,
  `modified` datetime default NULL,
  `status` tinyint(1) NOT NULL default '0',
  PRIMARY KEY  (`id`)

-- --------------------------------------------------------

-- Table structure for table `posts_tags`

CREATE TABLE `posts_tags` (
  `post_id` int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
  `tag_id` int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
  PRIMARY KEY  (`post_id`,`tag_id`)

-- --------------------------------------------------------

-- Table structure for table `tags`

  `id` int(10) unsigned NOT NULL auto_increment,
  `name` varchar(100) default NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY  (`id`)

I have made two changes to the SQL above:

  1. Removed the user_id field in ‘posts’ (to simplify the example)
  2. Changed ‘tag’ to ‘name’ in ‘tags’ – I changed this because generateList was not working and the $tags array geneated for the view did not contain the tag name ‘tag’ – only the ‘tag_id’ value.

You can download my working example, it contains all of the files that I create in bake and the files added and changed to use the checkboxHelper. To install the example:

  1. Bake a new application
  2. Connect to database
  3. Paste files from zip example to replace the newly baked files
  4. Create database tables using the SQL


Session Error in Cake App

I have spent the past 24 hours pulling my hair out over a very odd error in a CakePHP application I have been developing.
I had an app called training, so my directory structure looked like this (the training app was generated using bake)

Dreamweaver Screenshot

I had copied large amounts of code from another cake site that I am also developing including a simple login system to password protect the admin routes.

I noticed that as I was browsing the site and tried to login, I would login successfully into the admin area and then as soon as I tried to access any controller method in the admin section I would be logged out.

I echoed all my POST and SESSION variables to the screen in the layout using:


So I knew that I was being logged in successfully.

Session Screenshot

When I tried to access another controller action e.g. /admin/courses/index I would be logged out and asked to login again. Eventually I noticed that when I logged in I was being redirected to /training/admin/homes/index instead of the expected /admin/homes/index which is why I was being logged out.

I examined all the releveant files in my working application and my broken one and discovered that the only difference was that the working application was called /app/ and the broken one was called /training/ I re-named training to /app/ uploaded the site and it all worked again.

I am not sure at the moment whether this is the result of something I have misunderstood or if it is a bug, anyway I’ll stick it on trac when I get the chance.

Getting Bake to Work

A really powerful feature of CakePHP is bake –  a script located at  /cake/scripts/bake.php – it is similar in function to the Ruby on Rails Scaffold application – it is a command line programme that can generate outline or scaffolding code to carry out simple CRUD operations, based solely on your database structure.

I have had quite a few problems getting Bake to work reliably, but persevere because it is worth it. I have been developing on a PC running XP Pro and Apache2Triad 2.0.55

On windows there seems to be a bit of an issue with paths and in order to do any baking on an existing project you need to specify the full paths.

[I use the Command Window Here  Power Toy for Win XP which makes it easy to get the command prompt to the right place.]

To create a new cake application

  1. Navigate to \cake\scripts\ and open the command prompt.
  2. php bake.php -app name_of_application
  3. follow the onscreen instructions…

For Example: To create a new application called Flamingo:

php bake.php -app flamingo


As you can see bake asks you if its ok to create a skeleton application on the path specified.

How to bake inside an existing application

If you want to bake inside an existing application, from the Cake tutorials and articles, it appears that you should be able to just type: php bake.php -app flamingo again, unfortunately this doesn’t work. Instead you get the following message.

how not to bake

What you actually need to type is something that includes the full path to your new cake application, something like:

php bake.php -app D:\apache2triad\htdocs\ctest\public_html\flamingo

If you already have a database structure you will see something like this:

Let’s bake

If you don’t yet have a database setup you will be prompted for connection details like this:

bake - no database

Happy Baking