laravel4 Eloquent ORM Model, Blade View & Simple Controller

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So far we have completed four blog posts for the series on development of thisdayinbangladesh, a simple laravel4 live application. Those are following:

1. Creating virtual host
2. Installing laravel4
3. laravel4 migrations & seeding
4. laravel4 routing

In this post we will learn, how we can have Object Relational Mapping for our data model using Eloquent ORM that is built in with laravel4. Also we will render our view using Blade templating system. Finally we will create few very simple controllers that will do our basic tasks.

Model:

Laravel ships with a superb ORM: Eloquent. If you have used the Ruby on Rails framework, you will find Eloquent familiar, as it follows the ActiveRecord ORM style of database interaction.

At this current stage (state before merging with any other branch on github) of our application we need such a relationship among our database tables (days, facts, types, fact_type) so that;

i. A Day has many Facts: That means there would be a relation from “days” table to “facts” table that is One to Many. N. B. Currently “days” table contains 366 days in separate rows.
ii. A Fact belongs to a Day: That means in a certain case, one Or more Fact(s) will belong to a single Day. That is a reverse of One to Many relation from “facts” table to “days” table.
iii. A Type has many Facts & a Fact has many Types: For example a fact type named “politics” could have several facts for a certain day. On the other hand a fact titled “Independence day of Bangladesh” could have several types like “politics”, “good”, “revolutionary” etc. So, there would be a Many To Many relationship between “types” table & “facts” table.

Lets create our first Model called “Day.php” for our “days” table inside “app/models” directory with the following code.

<?php
 
class Day extends Eloquent {
    /**
     * The database table used by the model.
     * If the name of your days table is some thing other than days, 
     * then define it below. Other wise it will assume a table name
     * that is a plural of the model class name.
     *
     * @var string
     */
    
    // protected $table = 'dates';
    
    public $timestamps = false;
    
    /*
     * A Day has many Facts
     */
    public function facts()
    {
        return $this->hasMany('Fact');
    }
     
}

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laravel4 Routing to Controller Classes

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So far we have completed three blog posts to the development of thisdayinbangladesh.com laravel4 live project. First one was about creating virtual host for local development environment, second one was about installing basic laravel4 & the third one was about migrations & seeding database.
In this lesson we will cover the routing mechanisms of laravel4 that will be/was necessary for our mentioned project.
Most of the routes for our application will be defined in the “app/routes.php” file. The simplest Laravel routes consist of a URI and a Closure callback. Just like,

Route::get('/', function()
{
    return 'Hello World';
});

means if you hit the root URL of your application then it will return the ‘Hello World’ & no task any more.
Laravel allows you to not only route to Closures, but also to controller classes, and even allows the creation of resource controllers. For our application we will also register several routes to/for our various controller classes like a basic controller, a RESTful controller & also to a Resource controller.
The following code block is all the routes we will/have used for our app,

// For accessing the root of the app (not the API provider)
Route::get('/', function ()
{
    $presentTime = explode('-', \Carbon\Carbon::now()->toDateString());

    return Redirect::to('facts'.'/'.strtolower($presentTime[1]).'/'.$presentTime[2]);    
});

// For accessing the RESTful FactController
Route::controller('facts/{month?}/{day?}/{type?}', 'FactController');

// For accessing static content areas
Route::get('about', 'StaticContentController@about');

// For accessing the admin panel of the app
Route::group(array('prefix' => 'admin'), function()
{
    Route::controller('users', 'Admin_UserController');
});

// API provider that provides data through API to any consumer app
Route::group(array('prefix' => 'api/v1', 'before' => 'auth.basic'), function()
{
    Route::resource('fact', 'Api_FactController');   
});

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Laravel4 Migrations and Seeding

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So far we have created the virtual host for our laravel4 application named “thisdayinbangladesh.dev” and also set up the basic laravel4 installation. Now in this lesson we will create the migrations and seeders needed for our application.

“Migrations are a type of version control for your database. They allow a team to modify the database schema and stay up to date on the current schema state. Migrations are typically paired with the Schema Builder to easily manage your application’s scheme.”

“Laravel also includes a simple way to seed your database with test data using seed classes.”

First thing first. Open up the Mac Terminal and enter inside the “thisdayinbangladesh” folder under MAMP’s “htdocs” directory. All of the following commands should be executed from inside the project folder.

Create migration files for all of our currently needed tables:
Execute these commands one by one,

php artisan migrate:make create_days_table --table=days --create
php artisan migrate:make create_facts_table --table=facts --create
php artisan migrate:make create_types_table --table=types --create
php artisan migrate:make create_fact_type_table --table=fact_type --create

These commands set up the basic migration scripts that we’ll be using to create the database tables

Update the migration files:
Edit “database/migrations/TODAYS_FULL_DATE_create_days_table.php” file and update the “up()” method to include a new column on the “days” table and to remove the “timestamp” column.

	public function up()
	{
		Schema::create('days', function(Blueprint $table)
		{
			$table->increments('id');
			$table->string('day');
		});
	}

Update the “up()” method of “database/migrations/TODAYS_FULL_DATE_create_facts_table.php” file to the following,

	public function up()
	{
		Schema::create('facts', function(Blueprint $table)
		{
			$table->increments('id');
                        $table->integer('day_id');
			$table->string('title');
                        $table->longText('description');
                        $table->timestamps();
		});
	}

Update the “up()” method of “database/migrations/TODAYS_FULL_DATE_create_types_table.php” file to the following,

	public function up()
	{
		Schema::create('types', function(Blueprint $table)
		{
			$table->increments('id');
                        $table->string('type');
		});
	}

Update the “up()” method of “database/migrations/TODAYS_FULL_DATE_create_fact_type_table.php” file to the following,

	public function up()
	{
		Schema::create('fact_type', function(Blueprint $table)
		{
			$table->increments('id');
                        $table->integer('fact_id');
                        $table->integer('type_id');
		});
	}

Prepare the Seeder files to add sample data to those tables:
Create a file within the “app/database/seeds” folder that has the same name as the table. So, for our “days” table create a file named “DayTableSeeder.php” inside “seeds” folder containing the following full code,

<?php 
class DayTableSeeder extends Seeder {
 
    public function run()
    {        
        for ($i = 1; $i <= 31; $i++) {
            for ($j = 1; $j <= 12; $j++) {
                Day::create(array(
                    'day' => sprintf("%02s", $i).'-'.sprintf("%02s", $j)
                ));             
            }
        }

    }
 
}

Here I am inserting some “day-month” patterned days rows in the “days” table using a simple loop. Please, don’t judge my PHP knowledge on this. This is not about showing optimized, minimal, smell free coding.
Also, create other seeder files for those remaining tables into which we want to push some sample data even before launching the app.
Create “FactTableSeeder.php” with following code. Here we are inserting some sample facts that holds the fact’s sample title and sample description just for checking out data retrieval with proper relations later on the next lesson.

<?php
 
class FactTableSeeder extends Seeder {
 
    public function run()
    {        
        for ($i = 1; $i <= 372; $i++) {
                Fact::create(array(
                    'day_id' => $i,
                    'title'   => 'Fact-'.$i,
                    'description' => 'Description of fact-'.$i,
                ));
        }

    }
 
}

Now create the “TypeTableSeeder.php” file with the following code,

<?php
 
class TypeTableSeeder extends Seeder {
 
    public function run()
    {        
        $types = array ('good', 'bad', 'revolutionary', 'birth', 'death');
        
        foreach ($types as $key=>$value) {
                Type::create(array(
                    'type' => $value,
                ));
        }

    }
 
}

And finally create the “FactTypeTableSeeder.php” file with,

<?php
 
class FactTypeTableSeeder extends Seeder {
 
    public function run()
    {        
        for ($i = 1; $i <= 10; $i++) {
            FactType::create(array(
                'fact_id' => $i,
                'type_id' => rand(1,5)
            ));             
        }

    }
 
}

As you can see, we are assigning some “facts” to some “types” and making rows in the “fact_type” table pairing “fact_id” with “type_id” as for our sample data.

Update the DatabaseSeeder file:
Update the “run()” method of the “DatabaseSeeder.php” file. That should already be there inside “app/database/seeds” folder with the following code,

	public function run()
	{
		Eloquent::unguard();

		$this->call('DayTableSeeder');
                $this->call('FactTableSeeder');
                $this->call('TypeTableSeeder');
                $this->call('FactTypeTableSeeder');
	}

Run Migration and Seed:
Execute the following commands one by one.

php artisan migrate
php artisan db:seed

If the commands executed successfully then you should see those tables along with an extra tables named “migrations” under your “thisdayinbangladesh” database. Also there should be our sample data in each table if the Seeding happens successfully!

Note:
As one “fact” will have multiple “types” and vise versa. You should name the Pivot table (“fact_type” in this case) of the “facts” and “types” table by taking the singular name of the alphabetically first table then the second table with an underscore in the middle.
Also there should be two columns at least, to hold the relation which should be named by taking the singular name of one table with its primary key along with an underscore in the middle. Such as “fact_id”, “type_id”.
But wait, don’t be scared. There is still flexibility while naming those tables and columns for using with Eloquent ORM. You will have to just pass those non-conventional table names or column names as parameters in corresponding methods while creating ORM relations among tables or while creating migrations tables.
We just followed the conventional naming pattern in this lesson to make thing simple and understandable.

What next?:
The next step is to make proper Routing for our application. Which is ready now!

Installing Laravel4 in Mac OSX with MAMP

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Re-cap:
In the past and first tutorial of this series we learned how to create a virtual host with MAMP. In this second tutorial, we will install laravel4 PHP framework and will go another step toward developing a full laravel4 application series.

Precautions:

  • Make sure your installed PHP version is greater or equal to 5.3.7
  • Also make sure the MCrypt PHP extension is enabled
  • For pretty URL the mod_rewrite module is enabled on Apache

1. Install Composer Globally:

The following command will just check a few PHP settings and then download composer.phar

$ curl -sS https://getcomposer.org/installer | php

You can run these commands to easily access composer from anywhere on your system

$ sudo mv composer.phar /usr/local/bin/composer

2. Create a laravel project named “thisdayinbangladesh” inside our MAMP’s “htdocs” directory:

Going inside the “htdocs” directory

$ cd /Applications/MAMP/htdocs

Creating the project there

$ composer create-project laravel/laravel thisdayinbangladesh --prefer-dist

3. A small permission issue:

Lets enter into our project directory

$ cd thisdayinbangladesh/

Change the permission of the storage folder to writable

$ sudo chmod -R 0777 app/storage/

4. Basic Configuration:

Update line number 29 of the “app/config/app.php” file to

$ 'url' => 'http://thisdayinbangladesh.dev/',

and line 42 to

$ 'timezone' => 'Asia/Dhaka',

5. Database configuration:
Though configuring database is not necessary to have a first run but lets complete this step as we will not do any editing on the config files later.


'mysql' => array(
'driver' => 'mysql',
'host' => 'localhost',
'database' => 'thisdayinbangladesh',
'username' => 'root',
'password' => 'root',
'charset' => 'utf8',
'collation' => 'utf8_unicode_ci',
'prefix' => '',
 ),

6. Lets have a test run:

Open the URL of your laravel application as we created earlier using virtual host; on the browser. That is http://thisdayinbangladesh.dev/
You should arrive!