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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

Integrating Users and ACL plugins in CakePHP

In previous posts, we saw how CakeDC Users plugin can help you to build an application that manages everything related to users: registration, social login, permissions, etc. Recently it has been noted by the team that there are some use cases where a deeper control of permissions is needed - more than is offered in RBAC. Today we’ll go into this using the ACL approach. ACL or Access Control List, refers to the application using a detailed list of objects to decide who can access what. It can be as detailed as particular users and rows through to specifying which action can be performed (i.e user XX has permissions to edit articles but does not have permissions to delete articles). One of the big features of ACL is that both the accessed objects; and objects who ask for access, can be organized in trees. There’s a good explanation of how ACL works in the CakePHP 2.x version of the Book. ACL does not form part of CakePHP core V 3.0 and can be accessed through the use of the cakephp/acl plugin. Let’s just refresh the key concepts of ACL:

  • ACL: Access Control List (the whole paradigm)
  • ACO: Access Control Object (a thing that is wanted), e.g. an action in a controller: creating an article
  • ARO: Access Request Object (a thing that wants to use stuff), e.g. a user or a group of users
  • Permission: relation between an ACO and an ARO
For the purpose of this article - we shall use this use case: You are using CakeDC/users plugin and now want to implement ACL in your application.

Installation

Starting with a brand new CakePHP app: composer selfupdate && composer create-project --prefer-dist cakephp/app acl_app_demo && cd acl_app_demo We are going to use CakeDC/users and cakephp/acl plugins. In a single step we can install them with composer: composer require cakedc/users cakephp/acl Create a DB and set its name and credentials in the config/app.php file of the just created app (in the Datasources/default section). This command can help you out if you are using MySQL: mysql -u root -p -e "create user acl_demo; create database acl_demo; grant all privileges on acl_demo.* to acl_demo;" Plugins will be loaded always with the app. Let’s set them on the bootstrap file: bin/cake plugin load -br CakeDC/Users
bin/cake plugin load -b Acl Now let’s insert a line in bootstrap.php before Users plugin loading, so cakedc/users will read the configuration from the config/users.php file of our app. Configure::write('Users.config', ['users']); This file does not exist yet. The plugin provides a default file which is very good to start with. Just copy it to your app running: cp -i vendor/cakedc/users/config/users.php config/ Also, let’s copy the permissions file the same way to avoid warnings in our log files: cp -i vendor/cakedc/users/config/permissions.php config/ We need to change cakedc/users config: remove RBAC, add ACL. In cakephp/acl there’s ActionsAuthorize & CrudAuthorize. We’ll start just using ActionsAuthorize. We will tell ActionsAuthorize that actions will be under the 'controllers/' node and that the users entity will be MyUsers (an override of the Users entity from the plugin). Edit the Auth/authorize section of config/users.php so that it sets: 'authorize' => [ 'CakeDC/Auth.Superuser', 'Acl.Actions' => [ 'actionPath' => 'controllers/', 'userModel' => 'MyUsers', ], ], Add calls to load components both from Acl & Users plugin in the initialize() method in AppController: class AppController extends Controller { public function initialize() { parent::initialize(); // (...) $this->loadComponent('Acl', [ 'className' => 'Acl.Acl' ]); $this->loadComponent('CakeDC/Users.UsersAuth'); // (...) } // (...) }

Database tables

Some tables are required in the database to let the plugins work. Those are created automatically just by running their own migrations: bin/cake migrations migrate -p CakeDC/Users
bin/cake migrations migrate -p Acl One table from the Acl plugin needs to be fixed because Users migration creates users.id as UUID (CHAR(36)) and Acl migrations creates AROs foreing keys as int(11). Types must match. Let’s fix it adapting the aros table field: ALTER TABLE aros CHANGE foreign_key foreign_key CHAR(36) NULL DEFAULT NULL; Now, it’s time to set our own tables as needed for our app. Let’s suppose we are developing a CMS app as specified in the CMS Tutorial from the CakePHP book. Based on the tutorial, we can create a simplified articles table: CREATE TABLE articles ( id INT AUTO_INCREMENT PRIMARY KEY, user_id CHAR(36) CHARACTER SET latin1 COLLATE latin1_swedish_ci NOT NULL, title VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL, body TEXT, published BOOLEAN DEFAULT FALSE, created DATETIME, modified DATETIME, FOREIGN KEY user_key (user_id) REFERENCES users(id) ); Note: Specify CHARACTER SET and COLLATE for user_id only if the table CHARACTER SET and COLLATE of the table differ from users.id (than may happen running migrations). They must match. Roles will be dynamic: admin will be allowed to manage them. That means that they has to be stored in a table. CREATE TABLE roles ( id CHAR(36) NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY, name VARCHAR(100) NOT NULL, created DATETIME, modified DATETIME ); Association between users and roles bill be belongsTo, so we’ll need a foreign key in the users table instead of a role varchar field: ALTER TABLE users ADD role_id CHAR(36) CHARACTER SET latin1 COLLATE latin1_swedish_ci NULL DEFAULT NULL AFTER role, ADD INDEX role_id (role_id), ADD FOREIGN KEY (role_id) REFERENCES roles(id); ALTER TABLE users DROP role;

Baking

Time to think about what will be ACOs and AROs. In most cases, Users will be the only AROs. To do that, we need to link the Users entity and table to the ACL plugin. In this case that we are using CakeDC/users plugin, we first need to extend the plugin as it is explained in the docs. We will also add the behavior and parentNode() as shown in the cakephp/acl readme file, so at the end we’ll need to create those files: src/Model/Entity/MyUser.php: <?php namespace App\Model\Entity; use CakeDC\Users\Model\Entity\User; /** * Application specific User Entity with non plugin conform field(s) */ class MyUser extends User { public function parentNode() { return ['Roles' => ['id' => $this->role_id]]; } } src/Model/Table/MyUsersTable.php: <?php namespace App\Model\Table; use CakeDC\Users\Model\Table\UsersTable; class MyUsersTable extends UsersTable { public function initialize(array $config) { parent::initialize($config); $this->addBehavior('Acl.Acl', ['requester']); $this->belongsTo('Roles'); $this->hasMany('Articles'); } } Run bin/cake bake controller MyUsers (beware of case) Then, edit the top of src/Controller/MyUsersController.php as: <?php namespace App\Controller; use App\Controller\AppController; use CakeDC\Users\Controller\Traits\LinkSocialTrait; use CakeDC\Users\Controller\Traits\LoginTrait; use CakeDC\Users\Controller\Traits\ProfileTrait; use CakeDC\Users\Controller\Traits\ReCaptchaTrait; use CakeDC\Users\Controller\Traits\RegisterTrait; use CakeDC\Users\Controller\Traits\SimpleCrudTrait; use CakeDC\Users\Controller\Traits\SocialTrait; class MyUsersController extends AppController { use LinkSocialTrait; use LoginTrait; use ProfileTrait; use ReCaptchaTrait; use RegisterTrait; use SimpleCrudTrait; use SocialTrait; // CRUD methods ... To generate the template files for MyUsers we can run: bin/cake bake template MyUsers Next, just let Cake bake all objects for articles and roles: bin/cake bake all Articles
bin/cake bake all Roles Add behavior to their tables. ArticlesTable will act as controlled because it will represent ACOs: class ArticlesTable extends Table { public function initialize(array $config) { parent::initialize($config); // (...) $this->addBehavior('Acl.Acl', ['controlled']); // (...) The case of RolesTable will be similar but it will act as requester, as it will represent AROs: class RolesTable extends Table { public function initialize(array $config) { parent::initialize($config); // (...) $this->addBehavior('Acl.Acl', ['requester']); // (...) Create the parentNode() method in both entities: Article and Role. public function parentNode() { return null; }

Testing

Ok, time to test the whole system! At this point, the app should be ready to use. At least, for an administrator. Let’s quickly create one: it is as easy as running bin/cake users add_superuser. New credentials will appear on screen. When accessing our app in the URL that we installed it, a login form will appear. Log as the just created admin. First, let’s create some roles. Go to /roles in your app’s URL. Then, click on "New Role". Create the roles:
  • Author
  • Editor
  • Reader
Then, we can create two users an author and a reader. Head to /my-users and add them. Remember to select the Active checkbox and the proper role in the dropdown menu. Because MyUsers has the AclBehavior, AROs has been automatically created while creating users, along with the created roles. Check it out with bin/cake acl view aro Aro tree: --------------------------------------------------------------- [1] Roles.24c5646d-133d-496d-846b-af951ddc60f3 [4] MyUsers.7c1ba036-f04b-4f7b-bc91-b468aa0b7c55 [2] Roles.5b221256-0ca8-4021-b262-c6d279f192ad [3] Roles.25908824-15e7-4693-b340-238973f77b59 [5] MyUsers.f512fcbe-af31-49ab-a5f6-94d25189dc78 --------------------------------------------------------------- Imagine that we decided that authors will be able to write new articles and readers will be able to view them. First, let’s create the root node for all controllers: bin/cake acl create aco root controllers Then, let’s inform ACL that there are such things as articles: bin/cake acl create aco controllers Articles Now, we will tell that there are 5 actions related to Articles: bin/cake acl create aco Articles index bin/cake acl create aco Articles view bin/cake acl create aco Articles add bin/cake acl create aco Articles edit bin/cake acl create aco Articles delete We can see the first branch of the ACOs tree here: bin/cake acl view aco Aco tree: --------------------------------------------------------------- [1] controllers [2] Articles [3] index [4] view [5] add [6] edit [7] delete --------------------------------------------------------------- ACL knows that articles can be added, so let’s tell who can do that. We can check which aro.id belongs to role Author with: mysql> select id from roles where name like 'Author'; +--------------------------------------+ | id | +--------------------------------------+ | 24c5646d-133d-496d-846b-af951ddc60f3 | +--------------------------------------+ 1 row in set (0.00 sec) And the same with the Reader role:: mysql> select id from roles where name like 'Reader'; +--------------------------------------+ | id | +--------------------------------------+ | 25908824-15e7-4693-b340-238973f77b59 | +--------------------------------------+ 1 row in set (0.00 sec) So, if we look up this id in the bin/cake acl view aro output, it turns out that aro.id 1 is Author and that aro.id 3 is Reader. If we want to let authors (ARO 1) add articles (ACO 5), we must grant permission to Articles/add to editors by running: bin/cake acl grant 1 5 And we'll grant readers (ARO 3) view articles (ACO 4) with: bin/cake acl grant 3 4 Don't forget to grant access to Articles/index for all roles, or nobody would access /articles: bin/cake acl grant 1 3 bin/cake acl grant 2 3 bin/cake acl grant 3 3 Note: Obviously, it would be easier to set a "super role" which includes the 3 roles and grant access to index to it, but we don't want to add too many steps in this tutorial. You can try it for yourself. Then, aros_acos table becomes: mysql> select * from aros_acos; +----+--------+--------+---------+-------+---------+---------+ | id | aro_id | aco_id | _create | _read | _update | _delete | +----+--------+--------+---------+-------+---------+---------+ | 1 | 1 | 5 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | | 2 | 3 | 4 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | | 3 | 1 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | | 4 | 2 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | | 5 | 3 | 3 | 1 | 1 | 1 | 1 | +----+--------+--------+---------+-------+---------+---------+ 5 rows in set (0.00 sec) Let’s create a new article as the first user. To do that:
  • Log out (we are still logged in as superadmin) going to /logout
  • Log in as the first created user
  • Go to /articles
  • Create an article
Right now, author can add an article but not view it, since we only set the add permission. Check it out clicking in View next to the article. Log in as a reader to check how the reader can really view the article. Obviously, more than a couple of permissions have to be grant in a big app. This tutorial served just as an example to start.

Last words

That's all for now related to the use of ACL in a webapp made with CakePHP. A lot more can be done with ACL. Next step would be to use CrudAuthorize to specify which CRUD permissions are granted for any ARO to any ACO. Keep visiting the blog for new articles! This tutorial has been tested with:
  • CakePHP 3.5.10
  • CakeDC/users 6.0.0
  • cakephp/acl 0.2.6
An example app with the steps followed in this tutorial is available in this GitHub repo. Please let us know if you use it, we are always improving on them - And happy to get issues and pull requests for our open source plugins. As part of our open source work in CakeDC, we maintain many open source plugins as well as contribute to the CakePHP Community. Reference

Using a vagrant box as quick environment for the Getting Started with...

We've decided to create a simple vagrant box with all the required packages to improve the environment setup step in our free Getting Started with CakePHP training session. We used other tools in the past, but we hope vagrant will help users to install a common environment before the session to get the most of it.

Requirements

Setup

  • Create a new folder where the code will be located
  • Create a new file called Vagrantfile with the following contents
# -*- mode: ruby -*- # vi: set ft=ruby : Vagrant.configure("2") do |config| config.vm.box = "cakedc/cakephp-training" config.vm.network :forwarded_port, guest: 8765, host: 8765 config.vm.provider "virtualbox" do |vb| vb.memory = "1024" vb.customize ['modifyvm', :id, '--cableconnected1', 'on'] end end
  • Run vagrant up
  • Wait (download could take several minutes depending on your internet connection)
  • Run vagrant ssh
Now you have ssh access to a training ubuntu (16.04) based virtual machine, with all the requirements to run your training CakePHP application.
  • Setup a new CakePHP project
cd /vagrant composer create-project cakephp/app
  • Start the local server
cd /vagrant/app php bin/cake.php server --host 0.0.0.0
  • From your host machine, open a browser and navigate to http://localhost:8765
  • You should be able to see the CakePHP welcome page
  We think this VM will enable faster environment setups, and an easier entry point to the training session. Please let us know if you find issues with this process.

Boosting your API with CakePHP API and PHP-PM (ReactPHP)

A couple days ago AlexMax commented in CakePHP's IRC channel about the https://github.com/php-pm/php-pm project and it rang a bell for us. We did a couple tests internally and found this could be a great companion to our API plugin, so we wrote a new Bridge for CakePHP and ran some benchmarks.

The Cast

We put all together and created a sample application (1 posts table with 30 records) to do some benchmarks.

Benchmark configuration

We are not aiming to provide detailed or production figures, just a reference of the results obtained for your comparison. Results are generated from a development box, using PHP 7.1.12-3+ubuntu16.04.1+deb.sury.org+1 with xdebug enabled on ubuntu xenial, 8x Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-4771 CPU @ 3.50GHz We baked the application using the latest CakePHP 3.5.10, and set application debug to false, and log output to syslog. As we are interested in boosting API response times the most, we tested the following scenarios
  • A) CakePHP json output, served from nginx+phpfpm
  • B) CakePHP + API Plugin Middleware integration json output, served from nginx+phpfpm
  • C) CakePHP + API Plugin Middleware integration json output, served from php-pm
Benchmark figures were obtained using ab -n 5000 -c 100 URL

Results

Scenario requests/second avg time
A) CakePHP json output, served from nginx+phpfpm using php7.1 372.97 [#/sec] (mean) 268.120 [ms] (mean)
B) CakePHP + API Plugin Middleware integration json output, served from nginx+phpfpm using php7.1 399.79 [#/sec] (mean) 250.133 [ms] (mean)
C) CakePHP + API Plugin Middleware integration json output, served from php-pm using php7.1 911.95 [#/sec] (mean) 109.656 [ms] (mean)
D) CakePHP + API Plugin Middleware integration json output, served from php-pm using php7.2 1811.66 [#/sec] (mean) 55.198 [ms] (mean)
  These results for a NOT OPTIMIZED CakePHP application are promising, and the improvement using PHP-PM is huge in this case. There are some important considerations though:
  • PHP-FPM is mature and stable, PHP-PM is still in early development, although there is a 1.0 version released already.
  • Processes need monitoring, specially regarding memory leaks, we would need to manage a restart policy and be able to hot-restart individual workers
  • System integration, init scripts are not provided, even if this is something easy to manage nowadays via systemd or monit, would be good to have for production
  • Application bootstrapping should not be affected by the request. If your application bootstrapping depends on the request params, or logged in user, you'll need to refactor your code
  • Session handling was not tested, issues are reported for PHP-PM for other frameworks. We were aiming to stateless API's so we don't know if this would be an issue for a regular application
Performance is always a concern for the API developer, applying proven paradigms like the event driven development (https://reactphp.org/) to your existing code would be the way to go and ensure backend frameworks like CakePHP will perform as required when dealing with the peaks we all love and hate. Edit: We've added a php7.2 based benchmark, with a huge performance improvement.

Giving back to the community

This Plugin's development has been sponsored by the Cake Development Corporation. Contact us if you are interested in:      

We Bake with CakePHP