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TIPS, INSIGHTS AND THE LATEST FROM THE EXPERTS BEHIND CAKEPHP

CakePHP 3.0 is coming

For those of you who may have missed it, this week we released the first alpha of CakePHP 3.0, with a significant update to begin our move towards beta. I'm really excited to see how the project is evolving, and the amazing work that the members of the core team are doing, as well as what all those contributing are helping to build. But its important to look back in retrospect, and understand from where we've come.

Baking the Cake

If you're not aware, CakePHP has now been almost 10 years in the making. That's a long time for a project to stay as active as it has. Everyone has their favorite framework, and some like a few more than others, but one thing that's clear in my mind is that CakePHP has always been very popular, even until today.

The project started when I teamed up with Michal Tatarynowicz, who had created the basic feature set of what would become CakePHP. I had begun work on what is currently the model layer in the pre 3.0 version of the framework, and continued leading the project when Michal left shortly after we open sourced under the MIT license. This was back in 2005, and working with PHP 4. Back then we had to work around the language a lot, as it was lacking the object oriented features which we now all take for granted. We had to emulate or actually build out many of the native aspects now included with PHP, which made the task all the more complicated. Don't get me wrong, it was fun times, as the language was growing fast and we were all pushing it along. It's no secret the Rasmus isn't a huge fan of frameworks, but like Rails for Ruby, many of the frameworks for PHP have also helped the language gain a place in many people's hearts.

But time goes by, and like all things, PHP grew up and matured as a language. A lot of the features we had implemented for CakePHP in PHP 4 now became native with PHP 5, so although we'd provided the solutions when they weren't available, these now became redundant. But people and hosting companies were slow to adopt. The framework had grown a large community by then, so it was difficult for us to just drop support for PHP 4 and leave them without their framework. It was also in our interest to support PHP by prompting people to upgrade, so we took the middle road. This is where our infamous backwards compatibility for PHP 4 stems from.

There were disagreements between core members of the project, where some advocated for jumping the gun and releasing a version which required the latest version of PHP, but I refused to allow our community to be left behind. These are people who had grown up with the framework, people who relied on us to keep a solution which allowed anyone to use it. In hindsight you could say that those developers weren't worth supporting, but I see our community as a family, and like my Marine training taught me, no man gets left behind.

However, the years past, and we went from 1.2 to 1.3, and CakePHP begun to mature into a powerful solution for rapid application development. We also saw how adoption for PHP 5 improved, and hosts begun to offer broad support, which is when we decided to make the move to PHP 5.2 with the release of CakePHP 2. There were mixed feelings about the decision to not jump straight to 5.3, but I still feel today that, in allowing the framework to mature as it has on a stable code base, people who have counted on us would hopefully understand that choice.

Growing up as a Community

Like the years that have come before us, we all grow up as developers, and PHP the language grows with us. The impulse we've seen over the past years with the releases of 5.3, 5.4 and 5.5 have shown how the community can really build a powerful language. But it's not only the language that grows, but the community around it as well. We've seen over the past years how interoperability between frameworks has become a requirement, and the technical expectations of developers have become consistently more demanding. We've seen how the rise of packages managers, like Composer, have facilitated this distributed and modular approach to building PHP applications. So when we looked at what we expected for 3.0, as Jose Lorenzo said in the technical keynote at CakeFest, our annual conference, "we're all older and wiser", so it's time to put those years of experience to good use.

So, for CakePHP 3.0 we decided that now is a good time to take our community and move everything towards a stronger and brighter future. This means that we've made some of the important decisions, which align the framework with the coming features in the language, and provide the same framework goodness people are used to, but deliver it with new features which upgrade the solution for another 10 years to come. This also means breathing new life into many of the core aspects of the framework, which in some cases have become its winning features, and in others the infamous trademarks of CakePHP.

I invite you all, those who love CakePHP and even those who don't, to give this alpha of the latest major version of the framework a try, and let us know how well it tastes. We hope that this is the beginning of a great new chapter in the history of CakePHP, and one which lets us grow further, and together, as a community. Thank you.

Latest articles

CakePHP Upgrade to 4 - Piece by Piece

Let's imagine you have a huge application in CakePHP 2.x (or 1.x) and you're planning to upgrade to the latest CakePHP 4.x. After doing some estimations, you realize the upgrade process is out of your scope, because you don't have the budget or developer availability to do it in 1 shot. At this point, some companies would abort the upgrade and keep working on 2.x for "some more time" until "this last release is delivered" or until "budget is available next fall", digging deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole…   There's an alternative you could follow if this is your case: proceed with the upgrade of a smaller portion of your application and let the 2 versions coexist for some time.   Warning: This is NOT for every project or company. Please carefully think about this decision as it has overhead you'll need to handle.   So, if your application has a portion that could be extracted, with a small set of dependencies from other areas of your application, or if you are creating a new feature with a limited set of dependencies with the rest of your application, this approach would be good for you.   In order to allow both applications to coexist, we are going to keep the CakePHP 1.x application as the main one, and use CakePHP 4.x as a subfolder inside of the first one. It's important to note that in order to share sessions between both applications you'll need to use a storage you can actually share, like database or cache based sessions (redis, etc). Then, you can use a configuration like this one (see below) to add a new upstream to handle your new application. Note: the upstream could be located in another server of your network, using a different PHP version etc.   We've used nginx as an example, but you can use the same approach in other web servers like Apache.   In our example we're going to use all paths starting with /api  to be managed by our new CakePHP 4.x application. upstream cake4 {      # Note this could be any server/port in your network where the cake4 application is installed          server 127.0.0.1:9090; }   # This is our CakePHP 2.x server server {     server_name example.com;       root   /var/virtual/example.com/app/webroot;     index index.php;       # All requests /api are forwarded to our CakePHP 4.x application location /api {         proxy_pass http://cake4;             proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;         proxy_set_header Host $host;             proxy_http_version 1.1;         proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;             proxy_set_header Connection "Upgrade";     }       location / {             try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$args;     }       location ~ \.php$ {           try_files $uri =404;           include fastcgi_params;                fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php7.4-fpm.sock;           fastcgi_index index.php;             fastcgi_intercept_errors on;         fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;     } }   # This is our CakePHP 4.x server server {     listen 9090;     server_name example.com;       root   /var/virtual/cake4-example.com/webroot;     index index.php;       location / {         try_files $uri $uri/ /index.php?$args;     }       location ~ \.php$ {         try_files $uri =404;             include fastcgi_params;         fastcgi_pass unix:/run/php/php7.4-fpm.sock;             fastcgi_index index.php;         fastcgi_intercept_errors on;             fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;     } }   As you can see, we have 3 blocks defined in our configuration file:

  • upstream cake4 {...} to forward requests to the CakePHP 4.x application
  • server {... 2.x ...} using a location /api to forward all these calls to the CakePHP 4.x server
  • server {... 4.x ...} using a specific port (9090) to handle requests in CakePHP 4.x
  Using this approach, you can break your application into 2 parts, and start moving features by path to CakePHP 4. You'll need to handle the changes in 2 projects for a while, and pay this overhead,  but this could be better to maintain than a CakePHP 2.x application sitting on an old PHP version. Happy baking!  

Dependency Injection with CakePHP

Dependency Injection is some of the bigger buzzwords in PHP frameworks.  Historically, CakePHP application logic didn’t support that, until the version 4.2 was released last December. You can do that on your own and have a few plugins for that. This is a new chapter of the framework, let's see how to bake it.  

Use Case

First, let’s talk about a classic Use case on real applications. Our application will include an address form, such as the shipping address for an online order, or provide information about User, Company, etc. Autocomplete can help users supply the details.   We will use the Geocoding API from Google Maps Platform, making a HTTP request for API with json output format and address parameter: https://maps.googleapis.com/maps/api/geocode/json?address=89104&key=****** And here we go, we will get this result:  

Baking a Address Service

After seeing the Use case, all we need on our backend is to make a HTTP request for API and return the JSON result for the frontend to populate related fields.   1. First, let’s exposing our application for accept “.json” requests:   2. Now, we can bake a Address Controller and let’s request an empty result: $ ./bin/cake bake controller Address --actions index   Now our app requests /address.json will return an empty JSON.   3. Let’s bake (manually) the Address Service:   Basically I’m using Cake\Http\Client to make the API request. Also I read Geocode.key from Cake\Core\Configure, we don't want to expose our key on public requests (add the key on config/boostrap.php).   4. Let’s rewrite our Controller:   5. Finally, let’s add our Service on Application.php:   That’s all bakers! Now our endpoint /address.json will support query parameters and return the result of the API request.  

The cost of shiny

I’m here selling an idea and I don't start with the cons. Unfortunately, the Dependency Injection container is an experimental feature that is not API stable yet.  The support is a bit limited, CakePHP will inject services into: constructors of Controllers and Commands and Controller actions. The core team hopefully stabilizes the feature on version 4.3, or at most 4.4. They need your help testing and finding cases, and feedback always is welcome.   I hope this post can be useful for you and your projects.  See you next time!  

Planning For Your Upgrade

Having a successful upgrade implies not only upgrading the code itself, but also identifying the different tasks that will be part of the Upgrade Plan. Making a good plan for an upgrade requires identifying the current status of the application. A good plan is based upon clear, well-defined, and easily understood objectives.   After years of experience with CakeDC making upgrades, migrating applications from CakePHP 1 to CakePHP 4 in all possible combinations, we have noticed there are a set of elements or characteristics that are useful to evaluate and identify before starting the upgrade. Having a clear understanding of these elements will be helpful to define the different tasks that will be included in the Upgrade Plan, and reduce any risk while upgrading and delivering.   Imagine that you want to run a marathon - but before starting any of the thousands of plans you can find on the internet about “How to run a Marathon”, you must know where you are. You could ask yourself:  How many miles per week are you currently running? What is the base training needed to start this program? What is the distance of your longest run in the past 3 weeks? How many days per week do you have available to exercise?, etc. This will help you to choose the plan that better fits you. It’s important to identify where you are, where you want to get and how to get where you want.    Wondering how  to evaluate where you are for the Upgrade? Evaluate the status of your application. You could consider the following points as reference:

  • What is your current CakePHP version? 
  • Identify the weaknesses and the strength of the current code by making a code review.
  • Identify the versions of the packages, plugins, libraries that your application is using. 
  • If you are using CakePHP Third Party plugins, figure out if those plugins have already been upgraded.
  • Identify any third party integration and how the upgrade could affect it. 
  • What is the unit test coverage, if any? 
  • Is there any existing documentation?
  • Is there any custom change in the CakePHP core? (I hope there is not!)
  The complexity, time, cost, and resources required to upgrade your application will depend on the status of your application. Once you know where you are, it’s the time to plan how to get where you want.  Let’s talk about this in a future article. In case you are looking for some guidance on preparing your Upgrade Plan, don’t hesitate to contact us, we could help you to identify your current status, define the plan and execute the whole plan for you. We can also work together with your team on the upgrade, helping them understand the upgraded codebase so you can maintain the project with your own team as you did before.  

We Bake with CakePHP