Lithium, Doctrine & doing it yourself

If you use CakePHP you’ll probably be aware (or you’re dead or on holiday or something…) that Gwoo and Nate have left the project and gone elsewhere. Sort of. Well actually they have forked Cake3 into Lithium – souped up CakePHP for PHP 5.3

Unfortunately I’m not going to be using it in the immediate future due to the 5.3 limitation, but I had a good look through the blog example and it looks like it would be a pleasure to work with.

Looking round the Lithium site I also came across Doctrine – an object relational mapper (ORM) system. I spent an evening reading the documentation and decided it was perfect for a project I’m working on at work, unfortunately the next day I discovered we aren’t up to the required PHP version yet (almost, but not quite) so on the back burner for now.

I’m building a small application (about 8 tables) to be integrated into an existing CMS system. The structure of the CMS is essentially front controller based with a great template engine and well developed plugin / module system. The new module I’ve had to develop just didn’t fit well into the existing code structure and so I have ended up writing a Model / Controller system within my module that utilizes the things like the DB library, routing, security, templating etc. of the parent application.

The setup is pretty straight forward – a base model and base controller extended by respective models and controllers for each table. The child controllers and models are mostly pretty thin – mostly just setting class specific instance variables and the calling methods in the base classes with parent:: There isn’t any fancy ORM or anything like that in the models, just good old fashioned SQL, one query or closely related group of queries per method.

It took me about 1 1/2 days to write the framework and about another half day to write the templates (I’ve still got a load of reporting etc. to write) but now I’ve got the views for all the CRUD operations I will need and a lot of reusable code. Thinking about it, I would probably have done about a quarter of the work, in a far less maintainable way if I hadn’t taken this route. Goes to show that as long as your goals are well defined – this kind of approach far from being overkill has saved a huge amount of time and produced very understandable code – and you don’t need an entire framework to do it (with the added advantage that if you write stuff yourself, you hopefully have a better grasp of what is going on).

(I’ve still written a fair amount of Cake code this week :))

CakePHP Menu Helper for Tree data

This is the MenuHelper I use in my CMS system. It is designed to work with data from the Tree behaviour or from any $model->find(‘threaded’) call. I use it to generate multi level CSS menus (that you see at the top of most websites), contextual menus (that you see in sidebars, showing the current page and its ‘branch’) and sitemaps – which let’s face it are basically often just the same as a top level menu but without the fancy stuff to make them pop out when you hover over them.

Prerequisites, history, overview

There are a couple of prerequisites here which may mean that this isn’t applicable for a lot of people. The helper is designed to deal with ‘page’ structures organised in simple /parent/child/grand-child format e.g.

/home
/about
/about/company-history
/about/company-history/gallery
/about/ethos
/about/vacancies
/news
/news/2009/jan
/news/2009/feb
/news/2009/mar
/contact
(etc.)

In my system I have a model ‘Article’ with Tree behaviour attached. So in the example above ‘ethos’ is a child of ‘about’. Some of these pages have real content, but others just act as place holders for other controllers / models – ‘news’ is a placeholder for the ‘News’ model. But all of them (even the placeholders) have other data attached like content for sidebars or meta information.

The helper will add a ‘selected-item’ class to the LI corresponding to the current page, and if it has any parents it will add a ‘selected’ class to each of those parent LIs too.

I create a full slug for each ‘Article’ on $model->save()

The helper operates in 2 modes ‘tree’ (which is default) and ‘context’
‘tree’ will produce a whole list of nested ULs – can be used to generate top level navigation (works well with things like suckerfish)
‘context’ will only produce nested ULs for the current branch

Using the example above if you were on the /about/ethos page and you wanted the navigation fragment in the sidebar you would use ‘context’
/about
/about/company-history
/about/company-history/gallery
/about/ethos
/about/vacancies

Database Fields

These are the default field names, they can be simply overridden to match your database schema.

Required Fields

  • name
  • slug_url

Optional Fields

  • title_for_navigation
  • redirect_url
  • redirect_target

Example ‘threaded’ data

[Article] => Array
                (
                    [name] => Find out about us
                    [slug_url] => /about-us
                    [title_for_navigation] => About Us
                    [redirect_url] => 
                    [redirect_target] => 
                    [lft] => 15
                    [id] => 105
                    [rght] => 24
                    [parent_id] => 
                )

            [children] => Array
                (
                    [0] => Array
                        (
                            [Article] => Array
                                (
                                    [name] => Philosophy
                                    [slug_url] => /about-us/philosophy
                                    [title_for_navigation] => 
                                    [redirect_url] => 
                                    [redirect_target] => 
                                    [lft] => 16
                                    [id] => 111
                                    [rght] => 21
                                    [parent_id] => 105
                                )
)))

Usage

Include the helper in your controller as usual.

In a view / element to generate complete menu

echo $menu->setup($menu_data, array('selected' => $this->here));

In a view / element to generate a context menu from the same data, set the class of the parent UL

echo $menu->setup($menu_data, array('selected' => $this->here, 'type' => 'context', 'menuClass' => 'context-menu'));

In a view / element to generate a sitemap from different data, let the helper know to use the ‘Sitemap’ model rather than the default ‘Article’ model and set the parent UL class.

$sitemap = new MenuHelper();
echo $sitemap->setup($data,  array('modelName' => 'Sitemap', 'menuClass' => 'sitemap'));

The Helper Code

Download the Helper

find('threaded');
 * More specifically it is designed to generate menus composed of nested ULs for use in CMS systems where all the URLs are pretty:
 * 	- naviagtion menus (usually at the top of the page)
 * 	- context menus (usually found at the side) and showing the links in the current branch
 * 	- sitemaps
 * 
 * Overview (A bit of history)
 * 
 * The helper is designed to deal with navigation / page structures organised in simple /parent/child/grand-child like structures
 * for instance:
 * 
 * /home
 * /about
 * /about/company-history
 * /about/company-history/gallery
 * /about/ethos
 * /about/vacancies
 * /news
 * /news/2009/jan
 * /news/2009/feb
 * /news/2009/mar
 * /contact
 * (etc.)
 * 
 * -------------------
 * URLs are generated in the model or controller not in the view / helper
 * -------------------
 * In the system from which this is taken, I create a full slug for each page on $model->save();
 * Some of the pages are actual pages of text and others are palceholders for content in other models
 * but they allow you do things like control the content of left / right columns, set default meta tags etc.
 * The purpose being to create really easy site structures with nice urls, the 
 * In the example above /home, /about etc. are all from a single model 'Article' which is my master model 
 * /news however is a placeholder for the 'News' model and /contact for the 'Contact' model
 * 
 *
 * 
 * Required Fields
 * ------------------
 * title / name (defaults to 'title')
 * page url (defaults to 'slug_url' e.g. /about/ethos)
 * 
 * Optional Fields
 * ------------------
 * title_for_navigation
 * redirect_url
 * redirect_target
 * 
 * Example data
 * ------------------
 * [Article] => Array
                (
                    [name] => Find out about us
                    [slug_url] => /about-us
                    [title_for_navigation] => About Us
                    [redirect_url] => 
                    [redirect_target] => 
                    [lft] => 15
                    [id] => 105
                    [rght] => 24
                    [parent_id] => 
                )

            [children] => Array
                (
                    [0] => Array
                        (
                            [Article] => Array
                                (
                                    [name] => Philosophy
                                    [slug_url] => /about-us/philosophy
                                    [title_for_navigation] => 
                                    [redirect_url] => 
                                    [redirect_target] => 
                                    [lft] => 16
                                    [id] => 111
                                    [rght] => 21
                                    [parent_id] => 105
                                )
 * 
 * 
 * 
 *
 * Usage:
 * 
 * Include the helper in your controller as usual.
 * 
 * The helper operates in 2 modes 'tree' (which is default) and 'context'
 * 'tree' will produce a whole list of nested Uls - can be used to generate top level navigation (works well with things like suckerfish)
 * 'context' will only produce nested ULs for the current branch
 * 
 * Using the example above if you were on the /about/ethos page and you wanted the navigation fragment in the sidebar you would use context
 * /about
 * /about/company-history
 * /about/company-history/gallery
 * /about/ethos
 * /about/vacancies
 * 
 * In a view / element to generate complete menu
 * echo $menu->setup($menu_data, array('selected' => $this->here));
 * 
 * In a view / element to generate a context menu from the same data, set the class of the parent UL
 * echo $menu->setup($menu_data, array('selected' => $this->here, 'type' => 'context', 'menuClass' => 'context-menu'));
 * 
 * 
 * In a view / element to generate a sitemap from different data, let the helper know to use the 'Sitemap' model rather than the default 'Article' model and set the parent UL class.
 * $sitemap = new MenuHelper();
 * echo $sitemap->setup($data,  array('modelName' => 'Sitemap', 'menuClass' => 'sitemap'));
 * 
 * Version Details
 * 
 * 1.0
 * + Initial release.
 */
class MenuHelper extends AppHelper {
		
	/**
	 * Current page in application
	 *
	 * @var string
	 */
	private $selected = '';
	
	/** Internal variable for the data
	 *
	 * @var array
	 */
	private $array = array();
	
	/**
	 * Default css class applied to the menu
	 *
	 * @var string
	 */
	private $menuClass = 'menu';
	
	/**
	 * Default DOM id applied to menu
	 *
	 * @var string
	 */
	private $menuId = 'top-menu';
	
	/**
	 * CSS class applied to the selected node and its parent nodes 
	 *
	 * @var string
	 */
	private $selectedClass = 'selected';
	
	/**
	 * CSS class applied to the exact selected node in the tree - in addition to $selectedClass
	 *
	 * @var unknown_type
	 */
	private $selectedClassItem = 'item-selected';
	
	/**
	 * Default Slug
	 *
	 * @var string
	 */
	private $defaultSlug = 'home';
	
	/**
	 * Type of menu to be generated:
	 * 'tree' - to generate a complete tree
	 * 'context' - to only render the specific barnch under the current page
	 *
	 * @var string
	 */
	private $type = 'tree';
	
	/**
	 * Model name used in $array e.g. $data[0]['Article']['name']
	 *
	 * @var string
	 */
	private $modelName = 'Article';
	
	/**
	 * Database column name - (i.e. a shorter version of the name / title for use only in naviagtion)
	 * e.g. A page called 'Welcome to the giant flea circus' 
	 * might be set to show up on navigation as 'home'
	 *
	 * @var string
	 */
	private $titleForNavigation = 'title_for_navigation';
	
	/**
	 * Database column name for title / name
	 * @var string
	 */
	private $title = 'name';
	
	/**
	 * Database column name for complete page slug e.g. /about/history/early-years
	 *
	 * @var string
	 */
	private $slugUrl = 'slug_url';
	
	/**
	 * Database column name for redirect_url for instance if /about/blog redirects to http://blog.somewebsite.com
	 *
	 * @var string
	 */
	private $redirectUrl = 'redirect_url';
	
	/**
	 * Target for redirect (see redirectUrl)
	 *
	 * @var string
	 */
	private $redirectTarget = 'redirect_target';
	
	/**
	 * Minumum number of items required to render a context menu
	 *
	 * @var int
	 */
	private $contextMinLength = 2;
	
	/**
	 * Internal Counter used in type: 'context'
	 *
	 * @var int
	 */
	private $li_count = 0;
	
	/**
	 * Internal flag to see if the page has been matched to an item
	 *
	 * @var bool
	 */
	private $matched = false;
	
	/**
	 * Internal counter
	 *
	 * @var int
	 */
	private $i = 0;
	
	/**
	 * Enter description here...
	 *
	 * @var unknown_type
	 */
	private $rootNode = '';
	
	function __construct(){
		
	}
	
	public function setOption($key, $value){
		$this->{$key} = $value;
	}
	
	public function getOption($key){
		return $this->{$key};
	}
	
	/**
	 * Setup the helper and return a string to echo
	 *
	 * @param array $array Data array containing the lists
	 * @param array $config Configuration variables to override the defaults
	 * @return string
	 */
	public function setup($array, $config = array()){

		// update and override the default variables 
		if(!empty($config)){
			foreach ($config as $key => $value) {
				$this->setOption($key, $value);
			}
		}
		
		// set the default slug selected if the current page does not match
		if($this->selected == '/'){
			$this->selected = $this->defaultSlug;
		}
		
		$this->array = $array;
		
		
		
		// get the root node of the selected tree if this a context menu
		if($this->type == 'context'){
			$this->rootNode = $this->getRootNode($this->selected);
		}
		
		$str = $this->buildMenu();
		
		// if the current page has matched one of the links in the tree
		// then get rid of the 'default_slected' placeholder
		if($this->matched == true){
			$str = str_replace('default_selected', '', $str);
		} else {
			$s = ' class="' . $this->selectedClass . '" ';
			$str = str_replace('default_selected', $s, $str);
		}
		
		// if this is a context menu, it looks daft if it only has 1 item 
		// if this is the case hide it
		if($this->type == 'context'){
			if($this->li_count < $this->contextMinLength){
				$str = '';
			}
		}
	
		
		return $this->output($str);	
		
	}
	/**
	 * Call the menu iterator method and if it returns a string warp it up in a UL
	 *
	 * @return string
	 */
	protected function buildMenu(){
		
		$str = $this->menuIterator($this->array);

		if($str != ''){
			$str = '
    ' . $str . '
'; } return $str; } /** * Explode a url slug and get the root page * * @param string $string * @return string */ protected function getRootNode($string){ $rootNode = ''; if($string != ''){ $node = explode('/', $string); // $node[0] will always be empty becuase the first char of $this->selected will always be '/' $rootNode = $node[1]; } return $rootNode; } /** * Recursive method to loop down through the data array building menus and sub menus * * @param array $array * @param int $depth * @return string */ protected function menuIterator($array){ $str = ''; $is_selected = false; foreach($array as $var){ $continue = true; $selected = ''; $sub = ''; if($this->type == 'context' && ($this->getRootNode($var[$this->modelName][$this->slugUrl]) != $this->rootNode)){ $continue = false; } if($continue == true){ // if this is the first list item set default_selected placeholder $default_selected = ''; if($this->i == 0){ $this->i = 1; $default_selected = 'default_selected'; } if(!empty($var['children'])){ $sub .= '
    '; $sub .= $this->menuIterator($var['children']); $sub .= '
'; } $p = strpos($this->selected, $var[$this->modelName][$this->slugUrl]); if($p === false){ } elseif($p == 0){ // this is the selected item or a parent node of the selected item $selected = ' class="' . $this->selectedClass . '" '; $is_selected = true; $this->matched = true; } if($this->selected == $var[$this->modelName][$this->slugUrl]){ // this is the exact selected item $selected = ' class="' . $this->selectedClass . ' ' . $this->selectedClassItem . '" '; } // keep track if this is a contextual menu if($this->type == 'context'){ $this->li_count++; } // Get the name / title to be used for the link text $name = $this->getName($var); // Get the URL / target for the link $url = $this->getUrl($var); $str .= '
  • '; $str .= '' . $name . ''; $str .= $sub; $str .= '
  • '; } } return $str; } /** * Look in the data and check if this is a straight url * or whether it is actually a redirect * * @param array $var * @return array */ protected function getUrl($var = null){ $url = array(); if(isset($var[$this->modelName][$this->redirectUrl]) && !empty($var[$this->modelName][$this->redirectUrl])){ $url['url'] = $var[$this->modelName][$this->redirectUrl]; if(isset($var[$this->modelName][$this->redirectTarget]) && !empty($var[$this->modelName][$this->redirectTarget])){ $url['target'] = ' target="' . $var[$this->modelName][$this->redirectTarget] . '" '; } } else { $url['url'] = $var[$this->modelName][$this->slugUrl]; $url['target'] = ''; } return $url; } /** * See if there is a title_for_navigation * * @param array $var * @return string */ protected function getName($var){ if(isset($var[$this->modelName][$this->titleForNavigation]) && !empty($var[$this->modelName][$this->titleForNavigation])){ $name = $var[$this->modelName][$this->titleForNavigation]; } else { $name = $var[$this->modelName][$this->title]; } return $name; } } ?>

    Sneak Preview

    At the moment I’m working on an e-commerce project using the Amazon Product Advertising API. The website is called www.science-fictions.co.uk, and as the name suggests its theme is Science Fiction Books and Fantasy Literature.

    The project is built on my brand new CakePHP based CMS system and the Tarzan AWS library which makes connecting to and utilizing Amazon web services, whilst not a breeze, rather enjoyable.

    The website is hurtling along at an astonishing rate and with any luck, the first version should be up and live early next week.

    www.Science-Fictions.co.uk - Books for Sci Fi and Fantasy lovers

    Things to come

    A bit of a taster really, a post about the things that I intend to write – well that’s one way of getting me to ensure that I do write them.

    NestedListHelper
    I’ve written a helper to generate nested UL’s from the results of a find(‘threaded’) call. I’ve been using the helper to generate the nested lists for CSS menus and it is also great for sitemaps. Just needs a bit of tidying up before I set it free.

    Back to basics with Auth
    (This one is actually in draft right now) Another CakePHP one – I’ve been using a quite complex auth / groups / users solution derived the fabulous solution by Studio Canaria but these things get more and more complex. Recently for a project I just needed something simple but I’d forgotten how complex and powerful even basic Auth can be, so I decided to write a kind of back to basics tutorial.

    My perfect E-book
    I love books. I hate reading PDFs or anything book-like of the screen. My thoughts on the perfect E-book reader.