CakePHP an Open Source PHP Framework

CakePHP is a free open-source rapid development framework for PHP. Its a structure of libraries, classes and run-time infrastructure for programmers creating web applications originally inspired by the Ruby on Rails framework. Primary goal is to enable developers to work in a structured and rapid manner – without loss of flexibility.

In 2005, Michal Tatarynowicz wrote a minimal version of a Rapid Application Framework in PHP. He found that it was the start of a very good framework. Michal published the framework under the MIT license, dubbing it Cake, and opened it up to a community of developers, who now maintain Cake under the name CakePHP.

Features of CakePHP

CakePHP has several features that make it a great choice as a framework for developing applications swiftly and with the least amount of hassle. Here are a few in no particular order:

1. Active, friendly community
2. Flexible Licensing
3. Compatibility with PHP4 and PHP5
4. Integrated CRUD for database interaction and simplified queries
5. Application Scaffolding
6. Model View Controller (MVC) Architecture
7. Request dispatcher with good looking, custom URLs
8. Built-in Validation
9. Fast and flexible templating (PHP syntax, with helpers)
10. View Helpers for AJAX, Javascript, HTML Forms and more
11. Security, Session, and Request Handling Components
12. Flexible access control lists
13. Data Sanitization
14. Flexible View Caching
15. Works from any web site subdirectory, with little to no Apache configuration involved


In order use CakePHP you must first have a server that has all the required libraries and programs to run CakePHP:
Server Requirements

Here are the requirements for setting up a server to run CakePHP:

1. An HTTP server (like Apache) with the sbiancamento denti following enabled: sessions, mod_rewrite (not absolutely necessary but preferred)
2. PHP 4.3.2 or greater. Yes, CakePHP works great in either PHP 4 or 5.
3. A database engine (right now, there is support for MySQL 4+, PostgreSQL and a wrapper for ADODB).

Installing CakePHP : Getting the most recent stable version

There are a few ways you can secure a copy of CakePHP: getting a stable release from CakeForge, grabbing a nightly build, or getting a fresh version of code from SVN.

To download a stable version of code, check out the files section of the CakePHP project at CakeForge by going to

To grab a nightly, download one from These nightly releases are stable, and often include the bug fixes between stable releases.

To grab a fresh copy from our SVN repository, use your favorite SVN client and connect to and choose the version you’re after.


Once you’ve downloaded the most recent release, place that compressed package on your web server in the webroot. Now you need to unpack the CakePHP package. There are two ways to do this, using a development setup, which allows you to easily view many CakePHP applications under a single domain, or using the production setup, which allows for a single CakePHP application on the domain.

Setting Up CakePHP

The first way to setup CakePHP is generally only recommended for development environments because it is less secure. The second way is considered more secure and should be used in a production environment.

NOTE: /app/tmp must be writable by the user that your web server runs as.

Development Setup

For development we can place the whole Cake installation directory inside the specified DocumentRoot like this:


In this setup the wwwroot folder acts as the web root so your URLs will look something like this (if you’re also using mod_rewrite):

Production Setup

In order to utilize a production setup, you will need to have the rights to change the DocumentRoot on your server. Doing so, makes the whole domain act as a single CakePHP application.

The production setup uses the following layout:

/webroot <– This should be your new DocumentRoot

Suggested Production httpd.conf

DocumentRoot /path_to_cake/app/webroot

In this setup the webroot directory is acting as the web root so your URLs might look like this (if you’re using mod_rewrite):

Advanced Setup: Alternative Installation Options

There are some cases where you may wish to place Cake’s directories on different places on disk. This may be due to a shared host restriction, or maybe you just want a few of your apps to share the same Cake libraries.

There are three main parts to a Cake application:

1. The core CakePHP libraries – Found in /cake
2. Your application code (e.g. controllers, models, layouts and views) – Found in /app
3. Your application webroot files (e.g. images, javascript and css) – Found in /app/webroot

Each of these directories can be located anywhere on your file system, with the exception of the webroot, which needs to be accessible by your web server. You can even move the webroot folder out of the app folder as long as you tell Cake where you’ve put it.

To configure your Cake installation, you’ll need to make some changes to /app/webroot/index.php (as it is distributed in Cake). There are three constants that you’ll need to edit: ROOT, APP_DIR, and CAKE_CORE_INCLUDE_PATH.

1. ROOT should be set to the path of the directory that contains your app folder.
2. APP_DIR should be set to the path of your app folder.
3. CAKE_CORE_INCLUDE_PATH should be set to the path of your Cake libraries folder.

/app/webroot/index.php (partial, comments removed)
if (!defined(‘ROOT’))
define(‘ROOT’, dirname(dirname(dirname(__FILE__))));

if (!defined(‘APP_DIR’))
define (‘APP_DIR’, basename(dirname(dirname(__FILE__))));

if (!defined(‘CAKE_CORE_INCLUDE_PATH’))

An example might help illustrate this better. Imagine that I wanted to set up Cake to work with the following setup:

1. I want my Cake libraries shared with other applications, and placed in /usr/lib/cake.
2. My Cake webroot directory needs to be /var/www/mysite/.
3. My application files will be stored in /home/me/mysite.

Here’s what the file setup looks like:

   /mysite <– Used to be /cake_install/app

     /mysite <– Used to be /cake_install/app/webroot

        /cake <– Used to be /cake_install/cake

Given this type of setup, I would need to edit my webroot index.php file (which should be at /var/www/mysite/index.php, in this example) to look like the following:

It is recommended to use the ‘DS’ constant rather than slashes to delimit file paths. This prevents any ‘missing file’ errors you might get as a result of using the wrong delimiter, and it makes your code more portable.
if (!defined(‘ROOT’))
define(‘ROOT’, DS.’home’.DS.’me’);

if (!defined(‘APP_DIR’))
define (‘APP_DIR’, ‘mysite’);

if (!defined(‘CAKE_CORE_INCLUDE_PATH’))
define(‘CAKE_CORE_INCLUDE_PATH’, DS.’usr’.DS.’lib’.DS.’cake’);

Configuring Apache and mod_rewrite

While CakePHP is built to work with mod_rewrite out of the box, we’ve noticed that a few users struggle with getting everything to play nicely on their systems. Here are a few things you might try to get it running correctly:

1. Make sure that an .htaccess override is allowed: in your httpd.conf, you should have a section that defines a section for each Directory on your server. Make sure the AllowOverride is set to All for the correct Directory.
2. Make sure you are editing the system httpd.conf rather than a user- or site-specific httpd.conf.
3. For some reason or another, you might have obtained a copy of CakePHP without the needed .htaccess files. This sometimes happens because some operating systems treat files that start with ‘.’ as hidden, and don’t copy them. Make sure your copy of CakePHP is from the downloads section of the site or our SVN repository.
4. Make sure you are loading up mod_rewrite correctly! You should see something like LoadModule rewrite_module libexec/httpd/ and AddModule mod_rewrite.c in your httpd.conf.
5. If you are installing Cake into a user directory (, you’ll need to modify the .htaccess files in the base directory of your Cake installation, and in the app/webroot folder. Just add the line "RewriteBase /~myusername/".
6. If for some reason your URLS are suffixed with a long, annoying session ID (, you might also add "php_flag session.trans_id off" to the .htaccess file at the root of your installation as well.

Database Configuration

Your app/config/database.php file is where your database configuration all takes place. A fresh install doesn’t have a database.php, so you’ll need to make a copy of database.php.default. Once you’ve made a copy and renamed it you’ll see the following:


var $default = array(‘driver’ => ‘mysql’,
‘connect’ => ‘mysql_connect’,
‘host’ => ‘localhost’,
‘login’ => ‘user’,
‘password’ => ‘password’,
‘database’ => ‘project_name’,
‘prefix’ => ”);

Replace the information provided by default with the database connection information for your application.

One note about the prefix key: the string you enter there will be prepended to any SQL call that Cake makes to your database when working with tables. You define it here once so you don’t have to specify it in other places. It also allows you to follow Cake’s table naming conventions if you’re on a host that only gives you a single database. Note: for HABTM join tables, you only add the prefix once: prefix_apples_bananas, not prefix_apples_prefix_bananas.

CakePHP supports the following database drivers:

1. mysql
2. postgres
3. sqlite
4. pear-drivername (so you might enter pear-mysql, for example)
5. adodb-drivername

The ‘connect’ key in the $default connection allows you to specify whether or not the database connection will be treated as persistent or not. Read the comments in the database.php.default file for help on specifying connection types for your database setup.

Your database tables should also follow the following conventions:

1. Table names used by Cake should consist of English words in plural, like "users", "authors" or "articles". Note that corresponding models have singular names.
2. Your tables must have a primary key named ‘id’.
3. If you plan to relate tables, use foreign keys that look like: ‘article_id’. The table name is singular, followed by an underscore, followed by ‘id’.
4. If you include a ‘created’ and/or ‘modified’ column in your table, Cake will automatically populate the field when appropriate.

You’ll also notice that there is a $test connection setting included in the database.php file. Fill out this configuration (or add other similarly formatted configurations) and use it in your application by placing something like:
var $useDbConfig = ‘test’;

Inside one of your models. You can add any number of additional connection settings in this manner.

Global Configuration

CakePHP’s global configuration can be found in app/config/core.php. While we really dislike configuration files, it just had to be done. There are a few things you can change here, and the notes on each of these settings can be found within the comments of the core.php file.

DEBUG: Set this to different values to help you debug your application as you build it. Specifying this setting to a non-zero value will force Cake to print out the results of pr( ) and debug( ) function calls, and stop flash messages from forwarding automatically. Setting it to 2 or higher will result in SQL statements being printed at the bottom of the page.

Also when in debug mode (where DEBUG is set to 1 or higher), Cake will render certain generated error pages, i.e. "Missing Controller," "Missing Action," etc. In production mode, however (where DEBUG is set to 0), Cake renders the "Not Found" page, which can be overridden in app/views/errors/error404.thtml.

CAKE_SESSION_COOKIE: Change this value to the name of the cookie you’d like to use for user sessions in your Cake app.

CAKE_SECURITY: Change this value to indicate your preferred level of sessions checking. Cake will timeout sessions, generate new session ids, and delete old session files based on the settings you provide here. The possible values are:

1. high: sessions time out after 20 minutes of inactivity, and session id’s are regenerated on each request
2. medium: sessions time out after 200 minutes of inactivity
3. low: sessions time out after 600 minutes of inactivity

CAKE_SESSION_SAVE: Specify how you’d like session data saved. Possible values are:

1. cake: Session data is saved in tmp/ inside your Cake installation
2. php: Session data saved as defined in php.ini
3. database: Session data saved to database connection defined by the ‘default’ key.

Routes Configuration

"Routing" is a pared-down pure-PHP mod_rewrite-alike that can map URLs to controller/action/params and back. It was added to Cake to make pretty URLs more configurable and to divorce us from the mod_rewrite requirement. Using mod_rewrite, however, will make your address bar look much more tidy.

Routes are individual rules that map matching URLs to specific controllers and actions. Routes are configured in the app/config/routes.php file. They are set-up like this:

Route Pattern
$Route->connect (
‘action’=>’actionname’, ‘firstparam’)


1. URL is the regular expression Cake URL you wish to map,
2. controllername is the name of the controller you wish to invoke,
3. actionname is the name of the controller’s action you wish to invoke,
4. and firstparam is the value of the first parameter of the action you’ve specified.

Any parameters following firstparam will also be passed as parameters to the controller action.

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