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Quick start with Migrations plugin

In a previous post I gave an overview of the CakePHP Migrations plugin, what it does and why you should use it in your applications. This article will explain how to use it in a practical way. We are going to bake a simple blog application recipe application and see how migrations are integrated in the development process.

Since we recently moved all our open source projects on http://cakedc.github.com/, this sample application source code is also available there: Sample Migrations Application - Github (it is a CakePHP 1.3 application). Ready?

Bake a new application and add the migrations plugin

First of all, we need to bake a new CakePHP application. Easy enough to do using cake bake, then configure your database (an empty database is sufficient for now) and check that the home page is all green! If you have not set up your environment to use the CakePHP command line yet, take some time to do so... it worth it!

Adding the migrations plugin might also be a straightforward task. You can either download the archive containing the plugin code and unzip it in the "/plugins/migrations" folder of your application, or  add it as a git submodule with the following command:

git submodule add git://github.com/CakeDC/Migrations.git plugins/migrations

Then check that it is correctly installed by executing the following command from your application root:

cake migration help

If you see a list of available commands you can move on next step.

Create initial tables and bake the MVC

We now need something to migrate! Let's create some tables in the database. The application will have Users who can publish Recipes, each one having several Ingredients (of course Ingredients can be used in many Recipes). Here is a SQL dump of this simple database schema:

CREATE TABLE `ingredients` (
  `id` int(11) NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  `name` varchar(100) NOT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`)
) ENGINE=MyISAM DEFAULT CHARSET=latin1;

CREATE TABLE `ingredients_recipes` (
  `id` int(11) NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  `ingredient_id` int(11) NOT NULL,
  `recipe_id` int(11) NOT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`)
) ENGINE=MyISAM DEFAULT CHARSET=latin1;

CREATE TABLE `recipes` (
  `id` int(11) NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  `user_id` int(11) NOT NULL,
  `name` varchar(100) NOT NULL,
  `content` text NOT NULL,
  `created` datetime NOT NULL,
  `modified` datetime NOT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`)
) ENGINE=MyISAM DEFAULT CHARSET=latin1;

CREATE TABLE `users` (
  `id` int(11) NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  `name` varchar(100) NOT NULL,
  `password` varchar(255) NOT NULL,
  `created` datetime NOT NULL,
  `modified` datetime NOT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`)
) ENGINE=MyISAM  DEFAULT CHARSET=latin1;

As our goal here is not to focus on the application code itself, baked MVC from these tables might be sufficient... just run the command cake bake all for User, Recipe and Ingredient to bake'em all!

At this point we must have an application with an initial architecture ready to share. To start from here, one will just have to checkout the related commit... but don't you see a problem with this? How will he create the initial database? Maybe we could send him the SQL dump by email, or better commit it with the application! It is where the Migrations plugin comes in.

Generate the initial migration

"Be kind with your coworkers and include the database schema with your code... along with some sample data."

Let's use the migrations shell to generate an agnostic database schema containing our 4 tables, and an initial admin user account. To do so we just need to run the following command:

cake migration generate

After entering a name for the migration and selected the database dump option, we might have a new "/config/migrations" directory containing two files:

  • map.php representing the different migrations order,
  • name_of_the_migration.php a migration file containing all the necessary information to create your actual database. In the sample application it is named: "001_added_users_recipes_and_ingredients_tables.php". You might have noticed that we added a 001 prefix to the migration name to make it easier to see migrations order, it is a good practice.

We can now open the generated migration file (/config/migrations/001_added_users_recipes_and_ingredients_tables.php) and take a look at it. If you need more information and understand all available migration directives, you can read the plugin documentation.

For now we are just going to focus on the empty "after()" callback. This callback is triggered once the migration has been executed, and allow you to do whatever you want, given the direction of the migration: applied (up) or reverted (down). We are going to use this callback to create an initial admin User. Here is the code of the callback (as you are a CakePHP developer you might understand it quite easily):

function after($direction) {
	if ($direction === 'up') {
		if (!class_exists('Security')) {
			App::import('Core', 'Security');
		}

		$User = $this->generateModel('User');
		$user = array(
			'User' => array(
				'name' => 'admin',
				'password' => Security::hash('unsecurepassword', null, true)));
		$User->save($user);
	}
	return true;
}

Notice the use of the generateModel() method provided by the Migrations plugin. It is a shorthand allowing you to cleanly load a model in the callback to insert new data or update the existing. We could explain the reason of it more deeply but it is not the goal of this article, so just keep in mind that it is the best way to load a Model from callbacks!

Here we are! We can now share the application with anyone. After checked out the application, one will just have to run cake migration all to turn an empty database to a database containing all the needed tables, and an initial admin user to start using the application.

Categorize the recipes!

As the application evolves, we need to sort recipes by categories. This change involves two changes in the current database schema: a new categories table must be created, and a category_id field added to the recipes table.

Note: If you later want to use the migrations diff feature to generate a migration containing a diff between your previous database schema and the current one, you have to generate a Cake Schema of your database at this point. Simply run cake schema generate.

We can now update the recipes table and create a new categories table. Here is a simple SQL script:

CREATE TABLE `categories` (
  `id` int(11) NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  `name` varchar(100) NOT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`)
) ENGINE=MyISAM  DEFAULT CHARSET=latin1;
ALTER TABLE `recipes` ADD `category_id` INT NOT NULL

Bake the MVC for categories and update recipes view pages to display the category so the application reflect these database changes. Before sharing these code changes, we need to generate a second migration describing the above SQL snippet in an agnostic way... and creating initial categories!

Nothing different than what we did previously: run cake migration generate, give a name to the migration, and choose between generating a diff from the schema.php file (if one was generated), generating a dump of the database (we will remove unnecessary instructions later) or generating an empty migration file. Once generated, it is always important to check the generated directives for the migration and fix them if needed. The migration must look like this:

var $migration = array(
	'up' => array(
		'create_table' => array(
			'categories' => array(
				'id' => array('type' => 'integer', 'null' => false, 'default' => NULL, 'key' => 'primary'),
				'name' => array('type' => 'string', 'null' => false, 'default' => NULL, 'length' => 100),
				'indexes' => array(
					'PRIMARY' => array('column' => 'id', 'unique' => 1),
				),
				'tableParameters' => array('charset' => 'latin1', 'collate' => 'latin1_swedish_ci', 'engine' => 'MyISAM'),
			),
		),
		'create_field' => array(
			'recipes' => array(
				'category_id' => array('type' => 'integer', 'null' => false, 'default' => NULL)
			),
		),
	),
	'down' => array(
		'drop_table' => array(
			'categories'
		),
		'drop_field' => array(
			'recipes' => array(
				'category_id'
			),
		),
	),
);

If you understood what we did in the first migration callback to add an initial user you might be able to implement this one. We would like to add initial categories: Starters, Main Dish and Desserts.

For lazy people, the code is here:

function after($direction) {
	if ($direction === 'up') {
		$Category = $this->generateModel('Category');
		$categories = array(
			array('name' => 'Starters'),
			array('name' => 'Main Dish'),
			array('name' => 'Desserts'));
		$Category->saveAll($categories);
	}
	return true;
}

Here we are again! The changes are ready to commit, and the commit will contains both code and database changes. One could update the database after checking out this commit by running: cake migration all.

The end

I hope this very simple use case and the code we built will help you to start using Migrations. As you could see it is very simple to use and will make your life much more easier: you would not have to worry anymore about the state of your database schema.

The source code of this tutorial is available on Github. If you found any bug or have any suggestion about the Migrations plugin, please create a ticket on Github. Comment this article if you have any question, and do not hesitate to share it if you found it useful!

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Remote Work, Actually Works!

As a fully remote company, the Cake Development Corporation team is used to working from home. We communicate with our team daily, keep on top of tasks, hold each other accountable and support one another. Heck, a lot of us even do it with kids in the household, too! I consider us extremely lucky to be able to work while juggling an at home life at the same time.  It has worked for CakeDC over the past decade, and in my opinion, can work for most companies.   As of last month, an estimated 4.7 million people were working remotely, which grew 44% over the last 5 years. This is just in the United States. Remote work is becoming the norm.  Obviously for the next few weeks, this number will be drastically increased, but perhaps this will educate companies on the advantages of a WFH culture. Advantages to employers, besides the operations cost (other than payroll, of course), which can decrease by close to 90%, includes increased productivity. Decreased overhead results in higher salaries, which results in more quality candidates and employees.  I understand the concern of the ability to micro-manage (UGH) being unavailable, but according to statistics, 85% of businesses that work remotely confirmed that productivity increased in their companies. When there is more flexibility, there will be higher employee morale.  With the current situation arising from COVID-19, a lot of businesses are forced to transition employees to WFH in order to stay afloat. This not only keeps employees and clients safe, but family members too.  I have put together some stats and resources that may help CEO’s and employees transition a little bit easier.  

Communication:

It is absolutely essential to keep open communication among a team when everyone is working remotely. Our team uses RocketChat* ( I will include some links in the resource section at the end of this blog), and it has proved to be effective. A chat allows for quicker response time, as well as allowing individuals to set their status (like busy, away, at lunch, sick, etc.). This is a good way to get quick answers, as users can be alerted when they have been messaged or tagged in a company chat. Most of our team work in different timezones, so this is a good way to “stay in the know” about everything happening day to day. We separate chats according to their department. For example: marketing, development, general, etc. We also have the option to private message with co-workers when needed.  Other ideas, if not daily chat interaction, include scheduled meetings. For most of our team meetings, we use Zoom. This tool allows for audio only, as well as video chats.  

Accountability & Time Management:

It is important that tasks are managed and followed through. We use programs like Redmine* to track hours and work, in addition to weekly, or monthly conference calls for each department.  If you or your team are new to remote work, it may be in your best interest to assign a project manager, someone who will assign work, track hours, and ensure that work needed is being completed in a timely manner. Without each person being held accountable, the ship will sink, fast. For personal accountability, there are many free apps and tools available. One example is Trello*. This is a scheduling board so that tasks are not forgotten and you can plan your work week and stay organized. Once tasks placed on your “schedule board” are completed, you can make note of it and stay focused on each one according to their priority. You can also keep track of documents and reports. The boards look like this:    

Resources:

Documents & Recording - We <3 Google Docs - we are able to share and edit internally, we couldn’t function without it.  Docusign is a good tool for contracts / documents needing signatures Invision Freehand - this is a tool where you can create presentations, and allows comments and feedback between designers. Good for freelance designers!    Organization/Tasks -  Trello - for individual time management scheduling.  Redmine - for project assigning, time recording, HR management,    Communication -  RocketChat - allows for multiple internal chats all rolled into one link (allows for individual logins) Zoom - good for meetings. Allows audio and video chats for teams or reps and clients.  Slack - also a great option for expanded chats. Each person has a “screen name” and can be personally messaged, or public groups can be created (we use this as well). Slack also allows video calls with their paid subscription.  Google Hangouts WhatsApp - if your team is diverse, like ours, WhatsApp is a must. We are able to text each other, regardless of location - no fees, no service problems (if you have wifi of course).  World Time Buddy - this is a tool that I am not familiar with, but being the designated “scheduler of meetings”, I think I would find it useful. If your team works within different timezones, this allows you to add the location of your teammates, compare times, and find ideal times for meetings.    Community - In the development world, community support sites are absolutely one of the most important tools. This allows for individuals - inside or outside of your company - to communicate and help each other out. Most developers are aware and utilize these, but if not, may I suggest: Discourse - chat support  GitHub - our favorite team collaboration tool. GitHub allows for hosting, editing and managing products. We use it for building software and allow for community interaction. It also integrates with a lot of other tools, which is a plus!  

Take Away:

These resources are just a drop in the bucket compared to what is available to remote workers. I think this is a reflection of how WFH is becoming more accepted and more normal in the corporate world. I’d love to hear some of your favorites: amanda.goff@cakedc.com.  Let’s take away some positivity to the current quarantined times, and encourage more companies to follow suit. In today’s world, flexibility goes a long way and this type of transition can be mutually beneficial for employers and employees. I mean look at us, we are PRETTY normal… right?  Speaking of being in quarantine - stay healthy, stay inside, and wash your hands!  

ddsds

Two Factor Authentication & CakeDC Users Plugin

Why 2FA?

Nowadays we have noticed that many of the websites or applications that we access offer the option to activate an extra layer of security called Two Factor Authentication, better known as 2FA. Most of our lives happen on our mobile devices and laptops, so it’s not a secret that cyber-thieves would like to gain access to our personal and financial data. This is why adding an extra layer for protecting logins is worth it.  2FA  is an extra layer of security to make sure that someone that is trying to gain access to an account is who they say they are. The first layer is generally a combination of a username and password, and the second layer could ask for a code that is sent to your phone, a fingerprint scan or the name of your best friend. Currently 2FA has become a security standard in the digital world.

How does it work?

First the user will enter his username and password, then instead of getting in immediately into the system, he will be required to provide  additional information. Which could be one of the following options or factors:
  • Something you know : This could be a password, a personal identification number (PIN), answers to a secret question or a specific keystroke pattern.
  • Something you have: This is something the user owns, a physical device, like a mobile phone, an id card, an usb stick, a token, etc.
  • Something you are: This could be face or voice recognition, retina scan,  fingerprint, DNA, handwriting.

CakeDC Users Plugin and 2FA

There are various ways to implement Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP), Short Message Service (SMS), Electronic Mail (Email),  Universal Second Factor (U2F). CakeDC Users Plugin provides the ability to enable in your site TOTP or U2F. 
 

TOTP Google Authenticator

Enabling 2FA Google Authenticator in CakeDC Users Plugin is quite easy, it just takes a few minutes. In case you have not installed CakeDC Users Plugin in your application, follow the installation steps described here. Once you have installed the plugin and your basic login is working, you just need to do the following:
  1. Run the next command: composer require robthree/twofactorauth
  2. In Application::pluginBootstrap() add the following: Configure::write('OneTimePasswordAuthenticator.login', true);
  Once you have 2FA enabled in your site, when you try to login will happen next 
  1. Type your username and password.   
  2. You proceed to the next step where you are asked for the authentication code
    • First time you will be shown a QR code that you need to scan from your authenticator application.   
    • Next time you will only get the input to type your authentication code  
  3. You open the authenticator application to get a secondary code called a one-time password (OTP)—usually six characters in length. There are many options in the market for the authenticator application, some of the most used are: Google Authenticator, Duo Mobile, FreeOTP etc.
  4. You type the 6-digit code into the website, and you’re in!
 

FIDO U2F

If you want something more solid and reliable, then you could use U2F (Universal 2nd Factor) standard created by the FIDO Alliance. With this kind of authentication you use a physical security key, and insert that into your PC, touch the key’s button, and you’re “automatically” logged in.  U2F standard was implemented in CakeDC Users Plugin by using  the YubiKey, the most famous and common example of U2F. To enable 2FA via Yubico follow the next steps:
  1. Run the next command: composer require yubico/u2flib-server:^1.0
  2. In Application::pluginBootstrap() add the following: Configure::write(‘U2f.enabled’, true);
     
Yubico is a hardware based 2FA, it’s a small device with one end that slots into a standard Type-A USB port. You just need to Insert your YubiKey and touch it! You won’t need to manually enter the code. Take into account that you will need to use https to be able to use 2FA features in your applicatins.

So, what to choose for two-factor authentication? There is no universal answer, it will depend on the level of security you are expecting, but start protecting your account by enabling 2FA! In this article you could noticed how easy is to enable 2FA in any CakePHP application by using CakeDC Users Plugin.
  References: https://github.com/CakeDC/users https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-factor_authentication https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-time_password https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIDO_Alliance https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_2nd_Factor  

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