CakeDC Blog

TIPS, INSIGHTS AND THE LATEST FROM THE EXPERTS BEHIND CAKEPHP

The updates that CakePHP 3 brings to the table – why we love it and so should you!

 

With a year under its belt and 34 releases, we are still in love with CakePHP 3; and some of you are already on board and loving it. With an average of nearly 3 releases a month, you can easily tell that the team is working against a rapid release cycle where they are tirelessly working at adding and improving features. - but do you know the philosophy behind it?

Looking at all of the improvements and benefits that this updated framework brings, you can clearly see that the biggest turning point for the core team was the increased functionality with clear foresight and thinking brought to the table. A plan was had right from the start, to be a framework well documented, one that was simple (as the Core Team live by – less lines the better!). Another big input from the team, was the ability to integrate and make newer versions of PHP compatible with the framework, never before has the movement in the code base been so fast paced. And as the team comments, this is brought to the fore by the rotating code between open source teams – truly, we live in a space where without each other’s contributions to the code base there would be no movement and action.

That is why we are in love with CakePHP 3, because the team have put forward a framework that integrates, pulls in outside assistance, accepts community help and specifically puts itself out there for the community’s input.

Some quick backgrounds to the updated framework. The first commit to CakePHP 3 was done on May 24 2012, by Juan Basso. A long time coming, but as the common phrase goes, good things come with time. – that and the fact that the core team and lead developers were working in their spare time, after work, late nights, to bring this forward.

We thought that we would reflect, and bring to you the top changes/improvements/benefits/total awesomeness of this framework!

  • All of the core feature development was done as pull requests. This was done intentionally, to encourage people to get involved and the main core team is distributed across the world. The community is vital to the framework, and without them, we wouldn’t be here!

  • To give you an idea of what this has meant. It ended up with over 6000 commits before launch! – from over 20 contributors.

  • CakePHP 3 documentation had over 1500 commits – from 51 contributors! – the document writing was so important to the team, every time there was a feature or a break in backwards compatibility, it was documented.

  • More big news for CakePHP 3 is that it targets PHP 5.5 and newer. It is designed with composer support (Although you don’t need to use composer). It has also required a couple of additional extensions (the mb_string and the intl extension) – this was for 2 reasons, we were handling multi-byte internally, if you didn’t have the mb_string extension, we would fall back to pure PHP code; and for internationalization - there are really powerful tools built into the language that CakePHP 2 wasn’t capitalizing on and the team wanted to leverage those tools – to give the CakePHP community better tools.

  • Now the entire CakePHP code is Unicode aware, and additionally through the intl extension, everything is localized. All of the core classes localize depending on your locale (so if you switch your locale to Germany..) – everything will work, your numbering, date formatting, language formatting (provided you have the translation file) etc.

Over above these changes (and associated benefits), a few other things came out of the cracks..

Such as, through the use of composer, you have to have separate repos for separate things - so the team created a new app skeleton, basically this is the app directory of the old framework but in a separate repo. – What this allows you to do is mold or easily customize and fork it when you want to pull in changes. You don’t have to worry about merge conflicts with the app directory or similar types of issues.

It also gives us the ability to release them independently in the future, so for instance, the app can be upgraded and add or remove dependencies while having no need to modify the framework.

Many of us have had that experience and confusion of configuring classes; you don’t know if it’s a property or method, or even what the method name is.

Well getting more into the detailed features, we all know that there were a lot of different method names for configuring things, some classes used properties, others used methods of various names.

For CakePHP 3 however, it was decided that this is a little silly, so all of the static/instance/runtime classes use one method called config (YAY!). More can be found at http://book.cakephp.org/3.0/en/development/configuration.html

The ORM has also been replaced, we have moved on with the model layer, and CakePHP has advanced quite a bit over the past years. Now you have Tables and Entity objects (no more arrays!), and a powerful Query class to build your queries using a fluent interface. You'll be amazed how easy is to create deep filters, custom finders (and stacking!), subqueries. Validation was also refactored, improving flexibility and customization.

The router was also noted as being a performance bottleneck for a lot of applications in the past, and it was also, somewhat, verbose when you were connecting a lot of routes.

So with CakePHP 3, the old way of connecting routes is still there, but a new scope system has been added. This allows you to declare routes in a much clearer way – so if you have a common prefix, you can put this in the scope, and don’t have to re-declare this in each route. Less typing necessary, but more importantly it allows you to partition your routes so that you can create a much faster parse tree.

A lot of work has also been done on fixing reverse routing, previously it was based on a linear search but now, the key parts of the route are taken (the action or controller name) and generate a list of what that route may be and then search a much smaller subset of routes.

Another change is the helper layer. Previously HTML formatted through arrays, and that had both good and bad points.

The team got rid of the sprintf and replaced it with a very simple templating system, that has no conditions. This lets you define templates file, and you consistently use those templates throughout. This also yields a bit of a performance gain and it doesn’t use number replacements, it uses named replacements.

The way the event subsystems were handled is another change that CakePHP 3 brings to the table, allowing a much more consistent approach to handling events. The new changes have also led to another performance enhancement!

The framework has also gotten some outside help - in the past CakePHP has been criticized for being insular and not making use of the existing ecosystem. This has since changed and one of the reasons was the team wanted to make the install really easy. Because composer is now being use, you can include dependencies and when you create your application or install your applications dependencies, CakePHP 3’s can be installed at the same time.

CakePHP 3 has used:

Chronos (A fork of Carbon) has been used for date time improvements, (but now its part of CakePHP itself and maintained by the core)

Aura/Intl – improved i18n and L10n features

A great wrap up to these things is the fact that the team has hugely increased functionality and features, while keeping performance constant (in most cases, actually increasing it!!). There are so many reasons that you should start and continue using CakePHP 3 but more importantly, there are so many reasons for being a part of this insanely great, collaborative community.

Latest articles

Modifying Requests Like A Chef

Since the version 2.x of CakePHP has a requests and response objects, they are provided an abstraction around HTTP Requests and responses. If you are not familiar with CakePHP, it’s a common step when you bake and use $this->request->data instead of $_POST. Most of the time, we need to modify and append values on our Request data. This can be an identifier of logged user or values for any fields. In many situations, implementations will like this: Data can be modified easily - you just need to call withData or withParsedBody method and after set the Request  (you can also modify the query calling withQueryParams): Both implementations will generate the same value, but if you have a keen eye, you will see that the second implementation is more clear. Also, our Request has these values on data. This information can be useful when you use Components from Plugins, as they will expect the values on Requests.   That’s all bakers! I hope this content is useful for you and will improve your requests!  

Where you SHOULD be marketing your business.

Marketing is an essential part of your business’ success. I don’t just say this because I myself am a marketing connoisseur... or maybe I do. But either way, I’m going to shoot you some quick knowledge about getting your name out there... specifically into the cyber world.   

Social media 

Branding is very important here. This will be another blog for another time... but having a uniform look, format, font, etc will help you look professional and stand out. Some of the platforms I work with for our company is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. In our industry, Twitter is our cake and frosting (see what I did there). Most developers have a Twitter and use this to interact with other developers, frameworks, and companies. Having a company page allows you to engage with your followers, have conversations, and build relationships. Remember, you need to be posting things that are important for those who follow you to see, and when they reach out, be ready to respond.  For business contacts and networking, I am a big fan of LinkedIn. This platform is an easy way to connect and search for others in your field. Also, it's a good way to find people looking for your specific services. Very business. Very professional.  You definitely need to get to know your audience. Tracking your social analytics will tell you where you stand out most. Then, you utilize that information!  

Ads

 I’m a fan of Google Ads. While I know that the idea of paid advertising isn’t ideal or financially possible for everyone, there are other options. Keeping up with your SEO, or search engine optimization, will help with organic ads. Organic ads is a fancy way of saying free clicks, or free adveritsing. When people are searching Google for services or phrases pertaining to your business, then your site will show in the results. Obviously if you pay for ads, you can manually add phrases and terms that may be searched for... and these are called keywords. I think Google Ads pointers may be a good blog for me to share in the future *makes mental note*.    Speaking of Google, make sure your “my Google business” account is up to date, otherwise you will literally NEVER show up on the search engine. Even when someone specifically searches for you or your company.   

Email Marketing

We must be careful here. Gone are the days of spam emailing... and cold calling? Please don’t. I’d say most people are ready to get restraining orders against telemarketers. Just me?  However, if you have specific things (sales, offers, important news) to share with your customer base, then by all means - onward. At least emails can be ignored if they are unwanted. If you want your email to be opened, make sure that you are offering your recipients something worth clicking (specials. Giveaways. Etc.). A good platform to help you with this is MailChimp, but there are soo many ways to generate these emails, and many even offer pre-made templates... so no excuses.   

Newsletters

Similar to email marketing, there are newsletters. The difference here is that the people who will be receiving your monthly (most likely) newsletter are only those that have chosen to. “Subscribers” sign up to receive these emails. Usually, these aren’t offers of sales, but rather news, events, tips etc. You can get an idea of what I mean by checking out the CakePHP Newsletter archives. 
  So let's close with some quick facts: Newspaper advertising? Out Telemarketing? Out  Print? Maybe  Billboards? If the price is right and you are local to certain areas. International companies, like CakeDC do not benefit from this type of print, unless we could put one in every city around the world. I think that would blow my marketing budget pretty quick.  If you are a freelancer, I definitely suggest Fiverr. Let people find you. Essentially you get quality leads for free.    All of these marketing platforms and items need to be explained in deeper detail, so if you have any questions feel free to reach out to me!  

Benefits Of Upgrading

Let’s talk more about upgrading your CakePHP application. In last week’s blog, we talked about why you should hire externally for all of your upgrade needs. You may have been thinking… but why would I (or my company) even need to spend the time, effort, and money on upgrading our projects. Well… for many reasons. You need better security, compatibility, functionality.  You’ve seen our posts, you know what needs to be done. Your old CakePHP application needs to be updated.  I want to remind you about some of the benefits that there is to upgrading.   

SECURITY

The more maintained a CakePHP version is, the more security it can provide. This not only protects the projects themselves, but can also give you peace of mind knowing that the latest versions will be functional a lot longer than say CakePHP 2.x. And of course, the latest releases fix a number of security issues. No company wants to offer quality services to their customers,  and end up with a security breach that was out of their control. It is extremely important to get ahead of the security issues on the front end. Be proactive, and you won’t have to be reactive.  The biggest concern is that many hosting providers are abolishing old PHP branches, essentially overnight. This is why it is important to be aware of when to migrate/upgrade and do it before it is too late. You can see a list of the end of life date for each unsupported branch of PHP HERE.   

PERFORMANCE

CakePHP 4 follows the latest conventions, helping your application run faster and smoother. Old sites / applications run slow… that is no secret. I promise you one thing, today’s Google searcher will not think twice to do a different search if the site is lagging (ain’t nobody got time for that).  Also, migrating to a current PHP release over 5.6 and using the new ORM, could lead to improvements over 50%. So I mean, win-win.    If you are wondering about your performance, speed, or  which versions of PHP you are running on, you can use tools like Pingdom - https://tools.pingdom.com/ or Google Chrome Devtools - https://developers.google.com/web/tools/chrome-devtools.  

SCALABILITY & TOOLS

CakePHP 4 is shipped with best practices to streamline horizontal scaling and deployment into containers. As new tools and plugins are released, they may only be compatible with the latest versions. Currently, there are over 900 updated plugins, see here: https://plugins.cakephp.org/, covering from background job processing, image processing, CMS, file upload and management, cache, and more. This provides more features and results in developers WANTING to use and work with the framework. 

Of course there is a long list of additional benefits, but these are some of the most important. 2021 seems to be turning into the year of upgrades. Don’t get left behind!

We Bake with CakePHP