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Baking With Attributes

Tasting the cake with attributes

Attributes is a declarative way to pass information about the behaviors of various elements like classes, methods, properties, and even method parameters in your programs. In fact, attributes are used for adding metadata to existing code, and could be used as a way to reduce visual debt, and this way simplifies how code looks like.

 

Defining an attribute

An attribute is simply an object whose class inherits from the Attribute class. However, attributes are not used in the same way as a typical object. They often add some additional semantics about the class or method, or to toggle behavior on or off. Some attributes specify functionality. For example, an attribute may contain a method that defines security behavior.

 

Declaring Attributes

The attribute itself may be declared as a class. This is validated only when the attribute is fetched, and not immediately when the code is parsed.

A PHP attribute is a class, declared with #[Attribute] attribute.

In the following example we define an attribute class which allows us to specify what methods are allowed for controller actions.

 

 

Take note that in PHP 8 you can declare properties directly in class constructors, which is really handy for data classes.
 

Consuming reflection API to define meta behaviors

Just defined attributes have not added new code logic. To add new behavior we should implement it. Attributes could be fetched using the reflection API. PHP engine knows about attributes but does not instantiate it’s classes, so we have to do it ourselves. Reflection provides getAttributes() methods to fetch a list of associated attributes.

 

The following  example shows how we can add permissions checks for controller actions using attributes. In this example, the code is stored in beforeFilter of the controller class itself, but it could be an AppController or more generic solution.

 

 

Where to use Attributes

Here are some areas where web frameworks could use attributes:

  •  Routes definition for the controller methods;
  • Validation rules as attributes for entity properties;
  • Smart object serialization, which defined as properties attributes
  • Security rules defined for classes and methods.
  • Static code analyzers.
  • IDE code hinting.

 

The attributes are very handy and powerful, they could reduce visual debt and improve code quality. Hopefully this helps with your future projects!

 

Latest articles

One CakePHP Project Per Day

The whole team here at CakeDC are big supporters and contributors of the CakePHP community. For this month, I decided to do “one CakePHP project per day” to share with the community.  Here are some of my projects so far:

Project 01 - Notes App

A one page note application using CakePHP 4 and Bootstrap 5. This project is  a good starting point to learn the framework. Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-project-a-day-challenge-01-notes  

Project 02 - Contact List

An application to manage contacts - you are able to list, add, edit and delete contacts, upload contact avatar images or use avatar images from gravatar.com . It was built using CakePHP 4, plugin friendsofcake/search, plugin josegonzalez/cakephp-upload, Gravatar, and Bootstrap 5.  Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-project-a-day-challenge-02-contact-list  

Project 03 - Recipe Box

An application to manage recipes, using CakePHP 4,  CouchDB and Bootstrap 5. This one is a good starting point to learn to use CouchDB with CakePHP, including how to list, add and edit recipes (documents). Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-cakephp-project-a-day-challenge-03-recipe-box  

Project 04 - Service Plan with Exchange rate

An application to list services and apply exchange rate using the api https://exchangeratesapi.io/documentation/ and CakePHP 4. In this one you see the custom namespace WebService to handle logic related to api as client. Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-cakephp-project-a-day-challenge-04-service-plans-ex-rate  

Project 05 - Polls

A fun poll app, using the awesome Bulma CSS Framework and CakePHP 4. A good example of model association and the CounterCache Behavior. Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-cakephp-project-a-day-challenge-05-polls-emmy  

Project 06 - Movie Theater Schedule

An application to see which movies are in the theaters and which hours by screen each day of the week. A good example of complex queries, model associations and seed data. Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-cakephp-project-a-day-challenge-06-movie-theater-schedule  

Project 07 - Podcast Finder

An application to help easily find podcasts and download episodes. In the source code you’ll find how to use the itunes api,  a structure to handle Model actions (that I think is a good option to make your models cleaner), and a way to parse podcasts feed (XML); example usage of dependency injection. The application was built with CakePHP 4 and Bulma CSS Framework. Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-cakephp-project-a-day-challenge-07-podcast-finder  

Project 08 - Url Shortener

An application to create short urls - a good example of how to create custom routes and use custom primary key types for a model. The application was built with CakePHP 4. Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-cakephp-project-a-day-challenge-08-url-shortener  

Project 09 - Quiz

Users can list quizzes, create quizzes and answer at any time. A good example of how to use MongoDB with CakePHP 4 with a base structure for Collection classes.  Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-cakephp-project-a-day-challenge-09-quiz  

Project 10 - File Transfer

An application to easily send files to anyone, create an account, upload the file and inform the person email to send to. Built with CakePHP 4, plugin CakeDC/Users,  plugin Josegonzalez/Upload,  plugin friendsofcake/bootstrap-ui, SMTP and Bootstrap. A good example to see the usage of these plugins. Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-cakephp-project-a-day-challenge-10-file-transfer  

Project 11 - Tasks

A one page application for  users to manage their tasks. The user can create and remove decks, create and complete tasks, and list tasks grouped by decks. Built with CakePHP 4, plugin CakeDC/Users and Bootstrap 5 Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-cakephp-project-a-day-challenge-11-tasks  

Project 12 - Blog

A blog website with blog posts and tags management, WYSIWYG editor, blog search, tags filtering. Built with CakePHP 4, CakeDC/Users plugin, friendsofcake/bootstrap-ui, Muffin/Slug, friendsofcake/search and Bootstrap 4 . A good example of usage of custom routes, route prefix, finders and multiple plugins. Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-cakephp-project-a-day-challenge-12-blog  

Project 13 - Olympic Medal Count

Perfect time for this project, right?! An application to display olympic medal count by country and sports. The source code uses CouterCache behavior and aggregated query. Built with CakePHP 4 and Bootstrap 5. Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-cakephp-project-a-day-challenge-13-olympic-medal-count
 

Project 14 - Smart Home Dashboard

An awesome dashboard to manage smart devices using MQTT Messaging, CakePHP 4, CakeDC/Users plugin, php-mqtt/client (testing with Mosquitto Broker) and Bootstrap 5. The application is able to publish messages to change device status and subscribe for status changes. Link: https://github.com/rochamarcelo/one-cakephp-project-a-day-challenge-14-smart-home-dashboard-mqtt    I hope that this initiative will somehow inspire others to put their Cake skills to work, and share their projects with the community. If you’d like to see my future projects and posts, you can follow me on Twitter, and I will share them all there! https://twitter.com/mrcodex

Logging CakePHP Applications To Team Communication

The log of applications is gold. It's an important part of the software, they represent the health of the application. By default, CakePHP will use the FileLog adapter which will write to /logs/ folder. It's hard to track the live issues, and by hard I mean you will need to connect to the server, open the file on /logs/ and look at the issue which you want to investigate.   What do you think if your application sends the error directly to your team communication (Slack, Teams, RocketChat) application? Will be easier to know about a new error after some deployment? This error is sneaky, and can be in command applications. Often, we only look at the errors when the users report it.   For this sample I will use Slack, but this approach can be implemented for any application.  All we need is to create a Log adapter and configure it. So…let’s bake that:     Now we may get errors like this:   That’s all bakers! I hope this article can be useful and you can improve your logs.  

A CakePHP Docker Development Environment

We sponsor a monthly CakePHP training session (register here https://training.cakephp.org ) where we cover different topics about the framework. One of our sessions, the "Getting Started with CakePHP 4" is aimed to help developers starting a new project quickly and following the best practices.   Our previous "recommended" quick setting for a CakePHP development environment was using a vagrant box. See details here:  https://www.cakedc.com/jorge_gonzalez/2018/01/17/using-a-vagrant-box-as-quick-environment-for-the-getting-started-with-cakephp-training-session. However, we've switched internally to use docker as our primary development environment and also we started using docker in our training sessions.   Here's a quick overview of a simple docker based development environment for CakePHP.  

1. Create a new CakePHP project skeleton using 

composer create-project cakephp/app myproject   A new folder "myproject" will be created with a CakePHP project skeleton inside. Go to this new directory and proceed.  

2. Create a new "docker-compose.yaml" file with the following contents

version: '3' services:   mysql8:     image: mysql:8     restart: always     container_name: mysql     environment:         MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD: root         MYSQL_DATABASE: my_app         MYSQL_USER: my_app         MYSQL_PASSWORD: secret     volumes:       - ./:/application     ports:       - '9306:3306'     cakephp:     image: webdevops/php-apache:8.0     container_name: cakephp     working_dir: /application/webroot     volumes:       - ./:/application     environment:       - WEB_DOCUMENT_ROOT=/application/webroot       - DATABASE_URL=mysql://my_app:secret@mysql/my_app     ports:       - "8099:80"
 

3. Run "docker-compose up"

You'll create 2 containers named mysql and cakephp -  check the docker-compose configuration to see default database and users created in the mysql container, and the same environment params passed to the cakephp container via DATABASE_URL to allow the cakephp container to connect with the mysql database.   NOTE: the ports exposed are 9306 for mysql and 8099 for cakephp webserver. You can list them using docker-compose ps.  

4. Access your database and cakephp shell

  • To access the database you can use the command:
mysql --port 9306 -umy_app -psecret my_app   To restore a database dump for example, you can use the command: curl -L https://raw.githubusercontent.com/CakeDC/cakephp4-getting-started-session/master/my_app.sql |mysql --port 9306 -umy_app -psecret my_app   You can also configure any database tool to access the database in: localhost:9306  
  • To access the cakephp environment and shell you can use the command:
docker exec -it --user application cakephp bash   You'll go to the webroot folder, so in order to run the cake shell you'll need to: cd .. bin/cake 
  Now you have a working environment to play with the training session contents.   In this previous article, we covered another approach to setting up a local docker environment: https://www.cakedc.com/rochamarcelo/2020/07/20/a-quick-cakephp-local-environment-with-docker    We hope to see you in our next training session! https://training.cakephp.org   

We Bake with CakePHP