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TIPS, INSIGHTS AND THE LATEST FROM THE EXPERTS BEHIND CAKEPHP

How to take a rest in five minutes

There are a lot of toys these days. Let me show you one very simple and powerful brick for your next revolutionary invention. Let's assume that you're either:

  • A curious person, and you like to play with things you don't know, just for the case

  • A frontend developer with no PHP coding experience, and your javascript components could use some dynamic backend json resource. Maybe you want to do this without playing with all mocking options or Node.js modules out there...and you don't want to set up MySQL database, user, grant permissions and all that stuff

  • building dynamic user interface, and your code needs to be aware of continuously changing structure of databases using unpredictable table names

  • A creator of a wireless network of IoT devices or swarm of flying educational robots. Or, looking for some stable and performant data backend running on your central Raspberry Pi Zero W with tmpfs mounts and ridiculously huge memory card, while sniffing around for bluetooth signatures

  • aware of services like ngrok and wanting to consume payloads of some IFTTT webhooks locally. Or, allowing a friend with Postman to access and/or feed up your database created (or temporarily exposed) just for that reason.

  • Having a rich html application and flirting with the idea of full blown CakePHP backend running in kiosk mode of the DraftCode application right on your iOS device

  • able to pack a PHP application as a single file Phar archive. For example: to simplify all sorts of domain logic/responsibility distribution across bazillions of machines spawned on demand and utilizing jq in your provisioning scripts

  • praying for headless access to any database that your CakePHP application is able connect to, bypassing implemented validation, callbacks, events, and even sneaking through your authentication/authorization backdoor if you want to

  • going to try following example right away, or at least very soon

If your machine meets the CakePHP Requirements, and you have composer in your $PATH then we are good to go for a CakePHP application using SQLite database accessible through REST. This would have obvious api goodies like CRUD, CORS, HATEOAS, versioning, list, describe, relations, sorting and pagination included by default.

Clock is ticking, time to rest with some book(s)

I don't know how much time of the rest limit we lost on the preface (quick learners are quick readers), but don't worry, unless you are on the slow internet connection and packagist is taking a break - we are almost done. We have a clear picture of what we're going to create, so the rest is a piece of cake.

  • create a CakePHP 4.x project named rest with CakeDC/Api plugin unlocked and loaded:

composer create-project \ --prefer-dist --no-interaction \ cakephp/app:~4.0 rest cd $_ composer config \ minimum-stability dev composer require \ cakedc/cakephp-api:~8.0

  • Unlock and load! Auth bypass, "allow all" switch (don't try this at home)

cp vendor/cakedc/cakephp-api/config/api_permissions.php.default \ ./config/api_permissions.php bin/cake plugin load CakeDC/Api

  • manually (meh, we should be resting now) configure Database.default connection in the file config/app_local.php

'database' => TMP . 'rest.sqlite', 'driver' => 'Cake\Database\Driver\Sqlite',

  • create example table books in the database and start local server

bin/cake bake migration create_books \ title:string:unique \ description:text \ price:integer:index \ available:boolean:index \ created \ modified bin/cake migrations migrate bin/cake server

Open http://localhost:8765/api/books in your browser to see the (empty) list of your books, then pick some RESTful Route and take a rest from the back end, even without backend coding, scratching who knows where, etc. You maybe have some SQLite databases laying around, and that would be also worth a try. I forgot to remind you to stop that 300s timer, sorry. You will get lost in time as well, once you'll realize what all is possible with the CakeDC/Api plugin using little to no configuration, and what dimensions are opening to you. If you combine its powerful multilayer services approach with solid implementation of your custom ORM classes embraced by CakePHP core and conventions, the results are amazing.

Oh, and a quick note for CakePHP 3.x developers - we like you, but please take your time to upgrade your toolset. Feel free to ask us for help, or use following warranty-limited commands:

composer create-project \ --prefer-dist --no-interaction \ cakephp/app:^3.9 rest composer require \ cakedc/cakephp-api:~7.0 bin/cake plugin load -b -r CakeDC/Api

What's next

CakeFest 2020 of course. I hope you all are as excited as we are, together in these hard times. Be safe and take care, folks! And rest too, even if it's a quick one :-)

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