Development environments done right, with Vagrant, Puppet and VirtualBox

vagrant_structure

When I first started out in web development, I worked directly on the server. I had an FTP client and I’d download files, edit them, and re-upload them. If it was a “serious” project, I might even use source control. I thought this was a pretty handy way to work… Looking back on that workflow, I’m embarrassed, but the thing is, I know people who still work that way. I’m not going to go into the merits of having a dedicated development environment, automated builds and tests, etc… Just take it as a given that you need them. With that being said, however, it’s always a pain trying to set up a new development environment, and having an environment already set up on my laptop doesn’t guarantee that it’ll be the same environment that the next client has in production. If you’re on a different machine, it’s a problem. I’m going to talk about how I’ve solved this age old problem using Vagrant, Puppet and VirtualBox.

Continue Reading…

Moving Kohana to a non public directory

Kohana, PHP framework

This is the second post in my series on the Kohana php framework.  For more, see:

Part 1: Getting started with the Kohana php framework

One of the simplest, and most basic security precautions that you can take is to move your application’s files into a non-public area of your webhost. Having your applications code and configs sitting there in your document root is just never a good idea. An attacker could very easily gain access to the source code of your application, as well as configuration. Next thing you know, there’s empty beer cans all over your apartment and the silverware’s missing. In general, this applies to any kind of web based application, but I’m going to be dealing specifically with Kohana, as part of my series on Getting Started with Kohana.

Continue Reading…

More Cascading AJAX Dropdowns with CodeIgniter

ci_logo

Probably the most popular post in the history of this blog is “Populate DropDowns with jQuery and Codeigniter”. In that post, I gave a quick overview of how to set up a dropdown or select box that depends on the value selected in another form element. That post was never really intended to be a complete “How To”, but it’s been such a popular post that I wanted to revisit the idea, and write up a more complete discussion of this technique.

What I’m going to do here is to create and populate an HTML select element using values that are dependent on a selection in another HTML input. In this case, I’m using two select elements, but you could adapt the technique for any kind of input. For example, let’s say you have a form that displays data for a zip code. Now, there are a LOT of zip codes in the US, and you probably don’t want to make your users scroll through such a long list to choose the value they’re interested in. So, you add another HTML select element that allows the user to choose the specific state that contains the zip code. So, initially, the zip code select element is blank, or set to some default value. Then once the user chooses a state, the zip code element is populated with all of the zip codes for that state. Nice, huh?

Continue Reading…

Populate DropDowns with jQuery and CodeIgniter

ci_logo

UPDATE: I’ve updated this post with a more comprehensive walkthrough, more code examples, and a downloadable archive that contains all the relevant files.  It’s located here: More AJAX Dropdowns with CodeIgniter

CodeIgniter is my first choice for PHP rapid development frameworks. It’s lightweight, powerful, and easy to use. However there are a few common tasks that are not documented as well as they could be. For instance, populating the options in a dropdown select field using AJAX is certainly possible, but you’ll search long and hard before finding a good tutorial or a recipe for actually doing it.

While creating a dynamic form for a client’s project database, I had to figure out how to query the database using AJAX and populate several form fields based on the results of that query. So, for posterity’s sake, I’ve decided to document exactly how I accomplished it. First of all, this method uses CodeIgniter version 1.7.3. For the AJAX functionality, I use jQuery version 1.4.2. The database is MySQL with InnoDB tables.

Now, the application that I’m discussing here is basically a project management app with CRM functions. For this specific form, the user has to assign a “Client” to a project. Based on which Client is assigned, the user can choose a “Contact” for the project. So, the initial form is loaded with all “Clients” who already exist in the database (A future post will detail how I handle dynamically adding a new Client from the form). When the user chooses a Client from the “Client” dropdown, an AJAX request is made to the CodeIgniter controller to retrieve all of the contacts associated with that Client. The AJAX response is then used to populate the “Contacts” dropdown.
Continue Reading…

How to set up .htaccess files for a CakePHP install

cakephp

CakePHP is a very popular php/mysql based rapid development framework. It allows developers to quickly put together the “underpinnings” of a web application without having to re-invent the wheel. However, even the simplest of tools can have its little quirks, and CakePHP is no exception. CakePHP favors a “convention over configuration” style, which means that things have to be done a certain way, files have to be in the correct location, and classes have to have proper names. Continue Reading…