What is CakePHP?
According to the official CakePHP website (http://cakephp.org):
“Cake is a rapid development framework for PHP which uses commonly known design patterns like Active Record, Association Data Mapping, Front Controller and MVC. Our primary goal is to provide a structured framework that enables PHP users at all levels to rapidly develop robust web applications, without any loss to flexibility.”
Someone who is new to frameworks might not understand parts of the definition. But understanding a few key terms will make the job much easier.
A PHP Framework
A PHP framework is a collection of code, libraries, classes, and run-time environment that helps developers build web applications faster. The main idea behind using frameworks is to provide the developers with commonly used functionalities and a basic structure that they can build their application on. Most PHP developers, who have some experience, have their own set of libraries and structure to help them develop faster, as they can use their code base (and experience) from one project to another. But, building a web application on an open-source framework like CakePHP has its obvious benefits. By doing so, the developers not only use their own experience, but also the experiences of many other developers who have used and developed the framework. Also, the framework is much more reliable as it is used and tested by many application developers. Besides, using a framework like CakePHP has the advantage that all the developers involved in a project have to follow the same conventions and rules to structure the application. It makes it very easy for new developers to settle down if they are familiar with the conventions of the framework.
Common Design Patterns
A design pattern is a general solution to a commonly occurring problem in web development. A design pattern is not a complete code, rather it is a description for how to solve a problem that can be used in many different situations. In web development, there are many common design patterns that are used to solve repeating and common problems. CakePHP has many of these design patterns integrated into it. Some of them are mentioned in the above definition: Active Record, Association Data Mapping, Front Controller and MVC. Among them, MVC, which stands for Model View Controller, is at the core of CakePHP. We will soon discuss MVC, and other important design patterns.
Rapid Web Development
The integration of common design patterns into CakePHP means that developers need not waste time in trying to solve problems that are commonly present in
almost all web projects. These are already solved in CakePHP! As a result, the developer can focus on the specific business logic of the application, rather than being busy in trying to reinvent the wheel. This results in much faster and rapid application development.
Improved Code Structure
PHP is a wonderful programming language for server-side web development. One of its benefits is that PHP is very easy to learn. Any person with some basic programming skills (even without it) can start making dynamic web pages. PHP gives developers a lot of flexibility in the way that they code. In other words, it does not restrict the developer to follow a certain structure. This is also one of its major drawbacks. As inexperienced programmers start to built bigger applications, most of the time, the code becomes so unstructured that it becomes very hard to debug or modify even a small change. The same situation also occurs with experienced PHP developers, when the application becomes complex. The situation gets even worse, when multiple developers work in a single project, each following their own way of coding. The main reason for this problem is that PHP does not restrict the developers to follow a certain structure.
CakePHP helps to solve this problem by restricting the developers to follow a strict structure. By doing so, it makes sure that the overall code of the project has a structure that is easy to manage and maintain.
The most important design pattern that CakePHP uses to maintain a structured code is the MVC (Model View Controller) pattern