A Simple Blog Tutorial

This tutorial will teach you the basics of how to work with Bonfire. Along the way, you will learn the basic concepts you need to know to best work within the system. You will learn the details and the code. We believe it's best to learn how to do things the long way, before using the power of the Module Builder.

Creating A Module

While modules are not required to use Bonfire, it makes extensive use of modules to encourage code reuse and organization. Whithin this tutorial we will create a new blog module.

The first step is to get the folder structure created and make sure the settings are correct for it to show up in the admin menu.

Folder Structure

Within the application/modules folder, create a new folder named blog, and create the following subfolders: assets, config, controllers, migrations, models, views. When you're done your module should look like:

application/
    modules/
        blog/
            assets/
            config/
            controllers/
            migrations/
            models/
            views/

Not every module will require every folder, but these are the basic folders every module can use.

Basic Configuration

To make sure that your blog shows up in the admin area, you need to create a config file that holds various settings to let Bonfire know about your module. The config file is not required, but allows more control over how your module appears throughout the system.

Create a new file in your new config folder, called config.php.

<?php defined('BASEPATH') || exit('No direct script access allowed');

$config['module_config'] = array(
    'name'        => 'Blog',
    'description' => 'A Simple Blog Example',
    'author'      => 'Your Name',
    'homepage'    => 'http://...',
    'version'     => '1.0.1',
);

Not all of these settings will be used for the Blog module, but you should understand how they work.

  • name is the human-readable name of your module.
  • description is a short description of your module and will appear in a list of installed modules.
  • author is your name or the name of your organization/team.
  • homepage is the URL to the homepage of your module. Will appear as a link in the installed modules page.
  • version is a simple version string.

Setup the Database

To allow for simple versioning of your database, use Bonfire's migrations. This is great for working in teams where modifications to the database might be made by several members on the development team. It also makes it fairly simple to bring your changes to the production database. In the case of a module like our blog module, it allows us to easily re-use the module in another application and quickly get the database setup.

Migrations are simply a set of commands that are run to make changes to the database or remove changes. They are stored in the module's migrations folder, using sequentially numbered files.

Create a new file at blog/migrations/001_Initial_tables.php.

<?php defined('BASEPATH') || exit('No direct script access allowed');

class Migration_Initial_tables extends Migration
{
    private $permissionValues = array(
        array('name' => 'Bonfire.Blog.View', 'description' => 'View the blog menu.', 'status' => 'active'),
        array('name' => 'Bonfire.Blog.Delete', 'description' => 'Delete blog entries', 'status' => 'active'),
    );

    private $permittedRoles = array(
        'Administrator',
    );

    /**
     * The definition(s) for the table(s) used by this migration.
     * @type array
     */
    private $tables = array(
        'posts' => array(
            'primaryKey' => 'post_id',
            'fields' => array(
                'post_id' => array(
                    'type'           => 'bigint',
                    'constraint'     => 20,
                    'unsigned'       => true,
                    'auto_increment' => true,
                ),
                'title' => array(
                    'type'       => 'varchar',
                    'constraint' => 255,
                    'null'       => false,
                ),
                'slug' => array(
                    'type'       => 'varchar',
                    'constraint' => 255,
                    'null'       => false,
                ),
                'body' => array(
                    'type' => 'text',
                    'null' => true,
                ),
                'created_on' => array(
                    'type' => 'datetime',
                    'null' => false,
                ),
                'modified_on' => array(
                    'type'    => 'datetime',
                    'null'    => true,
                    'default' => '0000-00-00 00:00:00',
                ),
                'deleted' => array(
                    'type'       => 'tinyint',
                    'constraint' => 1,
                    'null'       => false,
                    'default'    => 0,
                ),
            ),
        ),
    );

    /**
     * Install the blog tables
     *
     * @return void
     */
    public function up()
    {
        $this->load->dbforge();

        // Install the table(s) in the database.
        foreach ($this->tables as $tableName => $tableDef) {
            $this->dbforge->add_field($tableDef['fields']);
            $this->dbforge->add_key($tableDef['primaryKey'], true);
            $this->dbforge->create_table($tableName);
        }

        // Create the Permissions.
        $this->load->model('permissions/permission_model');
        $permissionNames = array();
        foreach ($this->permissionValues as $permissionValue) {
            $this->permission_model->insert($permissionValue);
            $permissionNames[] = $permissionValue['name'];
        }

        // Assign them to the permitted roles.
        $this->load->model('role_permission_model');
        foreach ($this->permittedRoles as $permittedRole) {
            foreach ($permissionNames as $permissionName) {
                $this->role_permission_model->assign_to_role($permittedRole, $permissionName);
            }
        }
    }

    /**
     * Remove the blog tables
     *
     * @return void
     */
    public function down()
    {
        // Remove the data.
        $this->load->dbforge();
        foreach ($this->tables as $tableName => $tableDef) {
            $this->dbforge->drop_table($tableName);
        }

        // Remove the permissions.
        $this->load->model('roles/role_permission_model');
        $this->load->model('permissions/permission_model');

        $permissionKey = $this->permission_model->get_key();
        foreach ($this->permissionValues as $permissionValue) {
            $permission = $this->permission_model->select($permissionKey)
                                                 ->find_by('name', $permissionValue['name']);
            if ($permission) {
                // permission_model's delete method calls the role_permission_model's
                // delete_for_permission method.
                $this->permission_model->delete($permission->{$permissionKey});
            }
        }
    }
}

The up() method is run when this migration is 'installed'. The down() method is run when the migration is 'un-installed'.

We use CodeIgniter's dbforge class here to create the table, but you could use the database class to run raw queries, if you wanted to. We also load up the permission_model and role_permission_model and create new permissions, then assign the permissions to the admin role so you can actually see the blog page in the Content menu.

To install this migration, navigate to Developer / Database / Migrations. Click on the Modules tab. You will see the Blog module there. Select the 001_Initial_tables from the dropdown, and click 'Migrate Module'. Your up() method will run, installing the posts table into your database. Until we create the controller, though, it will not show up in the menu.

Content Context

In order to manage your blog, you will create a new entry under the Content menu that takes you to all of the blog management features. To get started you will need one controller and one view.

Create a new controller, blog/controllers/content.php. Each context uses a controller of the same name. In this case we want to create some actions for the Content Context, so we create a file named content.php.

<?php defined('BASEPATH') || exit('No direct script access allowed');

class Content extends SuperAdmin_Controller
{
    /**
     * Basic constructor. Calls the SuperAdmin_Controller's constructor, then sets
     * the toolbar title displayed on the admin/content/blog page.
     *
     * @return void
     */
    public function __construct()
    {
        parent::__construct();

        Template::set('toolbar_title', 'Manage Your Blog');
    }

    /**
     * The default page for this context.
     *
     * @return void
     */
    public function index()
    {
        Template::render();
    }
}

Notice that the class is named the same as the Context and it extends SuperAdmin_Controller. The SuperAdmin_Controller is one of several controllers provided by Bonfire to take care of a few functions for you. In this case, the controller ensures the user is logged in, sets up pagination defaults, sets the theme to the admin theme, and loads the form_validation library.

In the __construct() method we are doing one thing currently, setting the text that shows up in the sub-navigation bar just below the main menu in the admin area. We'll make more use of this bar in the future.

The index() method is the method that will be called by default when you click on the Blog menu item. We use the Template library's render() method to display the view for this page. By default, this will look for a view in the module's views folder under the context name and method name. In this case, it would be searching for blog/views/content/index.php. Create that file now.

<h1>Blog Index</h1>

We are keeping it simple just to make sure everything is in working order for now.

Save the files, then navigate to http://yoursite.com/admin/content/blog to view your new page. You can also refresh the screen now, and a link will show up in the Content menu that you can use.

The Blog Model

In order to view any posts, we will need to create a model that interacts with the database for us. Thanks to Bonfire's MY_Model base class, this is a very simple task.

Create a new model file at blog/models/post_model.php.

<?php defined('BASEPATH') || exit('No direct script access allowed');

class Post_model extends MY_Model
{
    protected $table_name   = 'posts';
    protected $key          = 'post_id';
    protected $set_created  = true;
    protected $set_modified = true;
    protected $soft_deletes = true;
    protected $date_format  = 'datetime';
}

This is everything needed to get some pretty flexible CRUD setup and running for your post model. There are a lot more options available in the full model file but this is all we need for now.

  • $table_name is the name of the database table in which the data is stored.
  • $key is the name of the table's primary key.
  • $set_created tells the system whether it should automatically store the date/time the object was created. In order for this to work, you must have a created_on field in your table.
  • $set_modified tells the system whether it should automatically store the date/time the object was last modified. In order for this to work, you must have a modified_on field in your table.
  • $soft_deletes tells the system whether a delete function should permanently delete the row (a 'hard' delete), or simply set a deleted flag in the table. This requires that you have a deleted tinyint(1) field in your table.
  • $date_format specifies the format used for the $set_modified and $set_created fields.

With the settings above, our post_model will:

  • Store our data in the posts table in our database.
  • Each row will have a primary key called post_id.
  • Store the date the row was created in the created_on field.
  • Store the date the row was last modified in the modified_on field.
  • Set the deleted field to 1 when a row is deleted, instead of permanently removing it.

Since the post_model will be used in nearly every method in our content controller, we will autoload it in the controller's __construct() method.

    public function __construct()
    {
        parent::__construct();

        $this->load->model('post_model');

        Template::set('toolbar_title', 'Manage Your Blog');
    }

Listing Posts in Admin

It's now time to expand our blog's content index method to display a list of all posts in the system. Add the following lines to the index() method of the content controller, before the Template::render() method.

$posts = $this->post_model->where('deleted', 0)->find_all();

Template::set('posts', $posts);

This calls the post_model's find_all() method to retrieve all posts in the system. However, we don't want any deleted posts, so we filter those out with the where() method.

We then use the Template class' set() method to make the data available to our view. In the view, this can be accessed as the $posts variable.

Edit the index.php view file to reflect the following:

<div class="admin-box">
    <h3>Blog Posts</h3>

    <?php
    if (empty($posts) || ! is_array($posts)) :
    ?>
    <div class="alert alert-warning">
        No Posts found.
    </div>
    <?php
    else :
        $numColumns = 2;
        $canDelete = $this->auth->has_permission('Bonfire.Blog.Delete');
        if ($canDelete) {
            ++$numColumns;
        }
        echo form_open();
    ?>
        <table class="table table-striped">
            <thead>
                <tr>
                    <?php if ($canDelete) : ?>
                    <th class="column-check"><input class="check-all" type="checkbox" /></th>
                    <?php endif; ?>
                    <th>Title</th>
                    <th>Date</th>
                </tr>
            </thead>
            <?php if ($canDelete) : ?>
            <tfoot>
                <tr>
                    <td colspan="<?php echo $numColumns; ?>">
                        <?php echo lang('bf_with_selected') . ' '; ?>
                        <input type="submit" name="delete" class="btn" value="<?php echo lang('bf_action_delete'); ?>" onclick="return confirm('Are you sure you want to delete these posts?')" />
                    </td>
                </tr>
            </tfoot>
            <?php endif; ?>
            <tbody>
                <?php foreach ($posts as $post) : ?>
                <tr>
                    <?php if ($canDelete) : ?>
                    <td><input type="checkbox" name="checked[]" value="<?php echo $post->post_id; ?>" /></td>
                    <?php endif; ?>
                    <td>
                        <a href="<?php echo site_url(SITE_AREA . "/content/blog/edit_post/{$post->post_id}"); ?>">
                            <?php e($post->title); ?>
                        </a>
                    </td>
                    <td>
                        <?php echo date('M j, Y g:ia'); ?>
                    </td>
                </tr>
                <?php endforeach; ?>
            </tbody>
        </table>
        <?php
        echo form_close();
    endif;
        ?>
</div>

This creates a table that will list each blog post, if any exist. If they don't then a notice will be displayed.

Most of this should be self-explanatory, but there is one new function nestled in there, e(). This method is a convenience method that you should consider using wherever you are displaying user-entered data. It simply echos out the string, using the htmlentities() function to help protect against XSS and CSRF attacks.

To handle the delete button included in this table, the content controller needs some modifications. First, the index() method needs to be updated to check for the delete button:

    public function index()
    {
        if (isset($_POST['delete'])) {
            $this->deletePosts($this->input->post('checked'));
        }

        // Finished handling the post, now display the list
        $posts = $this->post_model->where('deleted', 0)->find_all();

        Template::set('posts', $posts);
        Template::render();
    }

Then we need to add the deletePosts() method to loop through the list of post IDs and delete the records:

    public function deletePosts($postIds)
    {
        // If no posts were selected, display an error message.
        if (empty($postIds) || ! is_array($postIds)) {
            Template::set_message('You have not selected any records to delete.', 'error');
            return false;
        }

        // Only allow users with the correct permission to delete posts
        $this->auth->restrict('Bonfire.Blog.Delete');

        // Track any failures while deleting the selected posts.
        $failed = 0;
        foreach ($postIds as $postId) {
            $result = $this->post_model->delete($postId);
            if (! $result) {
                ++$failed;
            }
        }

        $result = false;
        if ($failed) {
            Template::set_message("There was a problem deleting {$failed} post(s): {$this->post_model->error}", 'error');
        } else {
            Template::set_message('Deleted ' . count($postIds) . ' post(s)', 'success');
            $result = true;
        }

        // if any tickets were deleted, log the activity.
        if ((count($postIds) - $failed) > 0) {
            log_activity(
                $this->auth->user_id(),
                'Deleted ' . count($postIds) . ' post(s) : ' . $this->input->ip_address(),
                'blog'
            );
        }

        return $result;
    }

Module Sub-Menus

Now we just need a way to create new posts. Let's start by creating a new sub-menu that allows us to access other pages. This is not intended for long menus, but to provide a short list of major areas within your module. You will see this used throughout Bonfire, and it appears on the right side of the page, just under the main menu. This is the same bar that holds your $toolbar_title.

First, we create a view file holds the menu itself. Create a new file at blog/views/content/sub_nav.php.

<ul class="nav nav-pills">
    <li <?php echo $this->uri->segment(4) == '' ? 'class="active"' : '' ?>>
        <a href="<?php echo site_url(SITE_AREA .'/content/blog') ?>">Posts</a>
    </li>
    <li <?php echo $this->uri->segment(4) == 'create' ? 'class="active"' : '' ?>>
        <a href="<?php echo site_url(SITE_AREA .'/content/blog/create') ?>">New Post</a>
    </li>
</ul>

Each link in this list will take us to a method within our content controller. We also check the url to see if this is an active link or not.

To make this menu show up, we need to add it to our content controller's __construct() method.

public function __construct()
{
    parent::__construct();

    $this->load->model('post_model');

    Template::set('toolbar_title', 'Manage Your Blog');
    Template::set_block('sub_nav', 'content/sub_nav');
}

Reload your page in the admin area, and you will see the new menu appear. Clicking on 'New Post' throws an error since we haven't created that method yet. We will do that next.

Create A Post

We will start things simple by just displaying the form to create a new post, then deal with saving the post later.

Create a new create() method in your content controller.

public function create()
{
    Template::set('toolbar_title', 'Create New Post');
    Template::set_view('content/post_form');
    Template::render();
}

This sets the toolbar_title of the page, says that we want to use the view named views/content/post_form.php, and renders the form.

Now we need create the form itself. We're using a file called post_form because we want to be able to use the form for both the create and edit pages.

<div class="admin-box">
    <h3>New Post</h3>
    <?php echo form_open(current_url(), 'class="form-horizontal"'); ?>
        <fieldset>
            <div class="form-group<?php echo form_error('title') ? ' error' : ''; ?>">
                <label for="title">Title</label>
                <div class="controls">
                    <input type="text" name="title" id="title" class="input-xxlarge" value="<?php echo isset($post) ? $post->title : set_value('title'); ?>" />
                    <span class='help-inline'><?php echo form_error('title'); ?></span>
                </div>
            </div>

            <div class="form-group<?php echo form_error('slug') ? ' error' : ''; ?>">
                <label for="slug">Slug</label>
                <div class="controls">
                    <div class="input-prepend">
                        <span class="add-on"><?php echo site_url() . '/blog/'; ?></span>
                        <input type="text" name="slug" id="slug" class="input-xlarge" value="<?php echo isset($post) ? $post->slug : set_value('slug'); ?>" />
                    </div>
                    <span class="help-inline"><?php echo form_error('slug'); ?></span>
                    <p class="help-block">The unique URL that this post can be viewed at.</p>
                </div>
            </div>

            <div class="form-group<?php echo form_error('body') ? ' error' : ''; ?>">
                <label for="body">Content</label>
                <div class="controls">
                    <span class="help-inline"><?php echo form_error('body'); ?></span>
                    <textarea name="body" id="body" class="input-xxlarge" rows="15"><?php echo isset($post) ? $post->body : set_value('body'); ?></textarea>
                </div>
            </div>
        </fieldset>
        <fieldset class="form-actions">
            <input type="submit" name="submit" class="btn btn-primary" value="Save Post" />
            <?php echo ' ' . lang('bf_or') . ' '; ?>
            <a href="<?php echo site_url(SITE_AREA . '/content/blog'); ?>">Cancel</a>
        </fieldset>
    <?php echo form_close(); ?>
</div>

Most of this is straight-forward. I do want to point out that for the values, we are checking whether a $post value is set or not, and then uses the form helper's set_value() method to set the value in the case of errors on the form.

We also use the form_validation library's form_error() function to setup individual errors for each field.

Saving the Post

Now, let's make it functional. In your post_model, we need to let it know what validation rules to use during both inserts or updates. Add the following class variable to the post_model:

    protected $validation_rules = array(
        array(
            'field' => 'title',
            'label' => 'Title',
            'rules' => 'trim|strip_tags'
        ),
        array(
            'field' => 'slug',
            'label' => 'Slug',
            'rules' => 'trim|strip_tags'
        ),
        array(
            'field' => 'body',
            'label' => 'Body',
            'rules' => 'trim|strip_tags'
        )
    );

These rules follow the same format as the form validation library. The one thing to be aware of is that these rules are used for both inserts and updates. This can cause a problem with required fields on inserts. We'll add the insert_validation_rules class variable to the post_model to provide any additional rules we want applied during an insert only.

    protected $insert_validation_rules = array(
        'title' => 'required',
        'body'  => 'required'
    );

Now, whenever you do an insert or an update, the data is run through the form validation library. If it fails validation, the model will return FALSE and your controller can respond accordingly.

Next, modify the controller's create() method to actually save the data:

    public function create()
    {
        if ($this->input->post('submit')) {
            $data = array(
                'title' => $this->input->post('title'),
                'slug'  => $this->input->post('slug'),
                'body'  => $this->input->post('body')
            );

            if ($this->post_model->insert($data)) {
                Template::set_message('Your post was successfully saved.', 'success');
                redirect(SITE_AREA .'/content/blog');
            }
        }

        Template::set('toolbar_title', 'Create New Post');
        Template::set_view('content/post_form');
        Template::render();
    }

Editing Posts

Editing our posts is very simple to do now. Simply add the following edit_post() method to your controller and you're up and running:

    public function edit_post($id = null)
    {
        if ($this->input->post('submit')) {
            $data = array(
                'title' => $this->input->post('title'),
                'slug'  => $this->input->post('slug'),
                'body'  => $this->input->post('body')
            );

            if ($this->post_model->update($id, $data)) {
                Template::set_message('You post was successfully saved.', 'success');
                redirect(SITE_AREA .'/content/blog');
            }
        }

        Template::set('post', $this->post_model->find($id));

        Template::set('toolbar_title', 'Edit Post');
        Template::set_view('content/post_form');
        Template::render();
    }

The Public Context

Now that we have basic administration pages in place, it's time to actually let the users view your awesome blog posts. This requires that we create a new controller, in the same blog module, called blog. This will handle what we call your Public Context and is simply a front-facing controller that will directly map to the URI. In this case, you can view this controller at http://yoursite.com/blog.

Create a new file, modules/blog/controllers/blog.php

<?php

class Blog extends Front_Controller
{
    public function __construct()
    {
        parent::__construct();

        $this->load->model('post_model');
    }

    public function index()
    {
        $this->load->helper('typography');

        $posts = $this->post_model->order_by('created_on', 'asc')
                                  ->limit(5)
                                  ->find_all();

        Template::set('posts', $posts);
        Template::render();
    }
}

This is just a typical CodeIgniter controller, which means that anything you can do in straight CodeIgniter, you can do here.

In this case, we're loading our model in the constructor, since we know that we'll be using it in every method. Then we create an index method to list the 5 most recent posts.

Then, it looks for a view file at blog/views/index.php. Create that file now.

<?php
if (! empty($posts) && is_array($posts)) :
    foreach ($posts as $post) :
?>
<div class="post">
    <h2><?php e($post->title); ?></h2>
    <?php echo auto_typography($post->body); ?>
</div>
<?php
    endforeach;
else :
?>
<div class="alert alert-info">
    No Posts were found.
</div>
<?php
endif;

This is a very simple view, but should be enough to give you an understanding.

Navigate to http://yoursite.com/index.php/blog and you should see the 5 most recent blog posts for you.

Conclusion

If this were a real application, there would be much left to add, but this is enough to get you started. At this point, you should have enough understanding of how to create modules and code for Bonfire to get you well on your way to creating the next killer app.