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What is CakePHP and why should I use it?

From: Up and Running with CakePHP

Video: What is CakePHP and why should I use it?

Before I get into what exactly CakePHP is, let's step back and think about how developers learn programming. In my experience, I found that people will go through a number of common stages as their skills grow and improve. The first stage is basic structure and syntax, where a program can be written that can go from start to finish without any major failures. Next comes an understanding of the vocabulary and functionality of the language. There's less guesswork and more certainty about what can and cannot be done. Once they're comfortable with that foundation, it can be expanded with a knowledge of development techniques and relations of the language features.

What is CakePHP and why should I use it?

Before I get into what exactly CakePHP is, let's step back and think about how developers learn programming. In my experience, I found that people will go through a number of common stages as their skills grow and improve. The first stage is basic structure and syntax, where a program can be written that can go from start to finish without any major failures. Next comes an understanding of the vocabulary and functionality of the language. There's less guesswork and more certainty about what can and cannot be done. Once they're comfortable with that foundation, it can be expanded with a knowledge of development techniques and relations of the language features.

Patterns emerge in repeatable ways and the focus is less about getting it to work and more an optimizing result. The final stage, excluding actually developing the language itself, contains scalable programming structures and architecture, including design patterns, libraries or knowledge of the APIs, and so forth. This is where development speed really comes into play. Rather than reinventing the wheel, a programmer can focus on building the components that deliver value. CakePHP is solidly in this stage for a number of reasons.

CakePHP is an open source web application framework for developing dynamic websites, services and resources. You can use it to build completely user facing websites or back ends to mobile applications. And a lot more. CakePHP has a number of features including code generation and scaffolding for rapid prototyping. It won't write your application for you, but it will get you started. Scaffolding is a programming technique popularized by Ruby on Rails where code is generated for basic database operations.

The result can be used as a foundation for a more complete application. CakePHP is also easy to configure. To get stated, you just have to change two strings in a configuration file and generate the database configuration. Cake comes with a lot of out of the box functionality including database support, form creation and validation, users and authentication and a lot more. You're not limited to what ships with Cake either, as there's a wide variety of community-maintained plugins available as well.

Cake has a clean MVC implementation, using an industry standard design pattern to structure your application. This makes it easier for you and other developers to read and to understand how the application has been laid out. Cake's been around for a long time, since 2005. Since then, it's gained high popularity with a broad user base. Paired with large amounts of documentation including a free online book and many commercial resources. So this all sounds good on paper, but why CakePHP or any other framework? Most rational developers want to save time by delegating cumbersome repetitive tasks.

At the end of the day, you want to ship a great product. So focus on the features, not on building yet another redundant framework. In my opinion, it's easiest to build your application leveraging a framework like CakePHP and stop reinventing the wheel. Earlier I mentioned that, Cake uses clean MVC conventions. What exactly does that mean?

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Up and Running with CakePHP

27 video lessons · 4259 viewers

Jon Peck
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