A friend of mine asked for a custom website, so here I am, writing a custom cms. I know, there are plenty of systems out there that would handle his needs, but it’s also a good excuse to play around with CakePHP 3, so here we are.

For the lazy, the codebase we’ll be working on will be available on GitHub. I will be pushing each set of changes on the date when each blog post in this series is published. No cheating!

Setting up a Theme

As much as I love the default CakePHP css, I’d like the default installation to look a bit different. To do so, I’ll distribute a custom theme with the Cms called DefaultTheme.

In CakePHP 3, themes are distributed as plugins. This makes it pretty easy to create an installer or similar for your themes, as well as scaffold them :)

bin/cake bake plugin DefaultTheme -f

We’ve scaffolded a theme, but we’ll want to modify a few things:

  • You remove the plugins/DefaultTheme/config/routes.php file as we wont need it
  • Remove plugins/DefaultTheme/src as we won’t be using the AppController that is created
  • Modify your config/bootstrap.php to not load the plugin’s bootstrap or routes. It should look like so:

    Plugin::load(‘DefaultTheme’);

To load a theme, we’ll modify our AppView - located in src/View/AppView.php - to be the following:

public function initialize()
{
    $this->theme('DefaultTheme');
}

Let’s save our work and move on:

git add composer.json config/bootstrap.php plugins/DefaultTheme src/View/AppView.php
git commit -m "Add a dummy DefaultTheme"

CakePHP Theme internals

CakePHP themes are a bit weird. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Using a theme will inject it’s template files into the cake template search paths first. If a file is not found in a theme, it will default to any other search paths (so the main src/Template dir, or other plugins).
  • General template files, elements, and layouts can all be overriden from a theme.
  • Assets referenced from a theme will be loaded from that theme. If they aren’t found, CakePHP will try and load them from the main repo.
  • Assets - css, images, javascript files - will be proxied via PHP unless you symlink the theme’s webroot directory into place.
  • There is no way to override a file provided by a theme.

I’m not going to include all of my theme code, but I will show some interesting bits.

The theme is based on the Centrarium Jekyll Theme, and uses a logo by Kassy from sketchport.

I’ll commit my theme so you can take a look at the changes.

git add plugins/DefaultTheme
git commit -m "Implement DefaultTheme"

Custom Helper Templates

In CakePHP 3, all helpers output html fragments based on a simple templating language. It uses string fragments to specify what the “template” should be for an html element, such as a link or image tag. It’s used throughout CakePHP, which is good as in our case, we’re going to modify what pagination looks like.

Templates use style placeholders. It is important to not add any spaces around the or the replacements will not work.

Here is what I’ve placed in my theme’s home.ctp to customize what the PaginatorHelper uses for building next/previous links:

<?php
$this->Paginator->templates([
    'nextDisabled' => implode(' ', [
        '<span class="fa-stack fa-lg">',
            '<i class="fa fa-square fa-stack-2x"></i>',
            '<i class="fa fa-angle-double-right fa-stack-1x fa-inverse"></i>',
        '</span>',
    ]),
    'nextActive' => implode(' ', [
        '<a rel="prev" href="">',
            '<span class="fa-stack fa-lg">',
                '<i class="fa fa-square fa-stack-2x"></i>',
                '<i class="fa fa-angle-double-right fa-stack-1x fa-inverse"></i>',
            '</span>',
        '</a>',
    ]),
    'prevDisabled' => implode(' ', [
        '<span class="fa-stack fa-lg">',
            '<i class="fa fa-square fa-stack-2x"></i>',
            '<i class="fa fa-angle-double-left fa-stack-1x fa-inverse"></i>',
        '</span>',
    ]),
    'prevActive' => implode(' ', [
        '<a rel="prev" href="">',
            '<span class="fa-stack fa-lg">',
                '<i class="fa fa-square fa-stack-2x"></i>',
                '<i class="fa fa-angle-double-left fa-stack-1x fa-inverse"></i>',
            '</span>',
        '</a>',
    ]),
]);

You can also customize templates for the FormHelper and HtmlHelper.

Custom Theme Elements

I’ve overriden what the post types will display as in my theme. If I hadn’t, we’d be using the default elements from the respective post type plugin. Here is what my plugins/DefaultTheme/src/Template/Element/post_type/photo-index.ctp looks like:

<h2><?= $this->Html->link($post->get('title'), $post->get('url')) ?></h2>
<section class="post-meta">
    <div class="post-date"><?= $this->Time->nice($post->get('published_date')) ?></div>
</section>
<section class="post-excerpt" itemprop="description">
    <?= $this->Html->image('../' . $post->get('photo_path')) ?>
</section>

Note that my image link works as normal, and displays the original post image as desired.

One thing I’m doing in my theme is linking to custom pages, such as /about, and also using the post urls as links. These aren’t currently routed by the CMS, so we’ll want to handle that next.


For those that may just want to ensure their codebase matches what has been done so far, the codebase is available on GitHub and tagged as 0.0.15.

The frontend of our site is in decent shape, though now we have some routing work to do. None of our custom post types have their own user-reachable urls, so in our next post, we’ll update the CakePHP routing to understand our routing schema.

Be sure to follow along via twitter on @savant. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, you may follow the rss feed here. Also, all posts in the series will be conveniently linked on the sidebar of every post in the 2016 CakeAdvent Calendar. Come back tomorrow for more delicious content.