Controller

A controller is an instance of CController or its child class. It is created by application when the user requests for it. When a controller runs, it performs the requested action which usually brings in the needed models and renders an appropriate view. An action, at its simplest form, is just a controller class method whose name starts with action.

A controller has a default action. When the user request does not specify which action to execute, the default action will be executed. By default, the default action is named as index. It can be changed by setting CController::defaultAction.

Below is the minimal code needed by a controller class. Since this controller does not define any action, requesting for it would throw an exception.

class SiteController extends CController
{
}

1. Route

Controllers and actions are identified by IDs. Controller ID is in the format of path/to/xyz which corresponds to the controller class file protected/controllers/path/to/XyzController.php, where the token xyz should be replaced by actual names (e.g. post corresponds to protected/controllers/PostController.php). Action ID is the action method name without the action prefix. For example, if a controller class contains a method named actionEdit, the ID of the corresponding action would be edit.

Note: Before version 1.0.3, the controller ID format was path.to.xyz instead of path/to/xyz.

Users request for a particular controller and action in terms of route. A route is formed by concatenating a controller ID and an action ID separated by a slash. For example, the route post/edit refers to PostController and its edit action. And by default, the URL http://hostname/index.php?r=post/edit would request for this controller and action.

Note: By default, routes are case-sensitive. Since version 1.0.1, it is possible to make routes case-insensitive by setting CUrlManager::caseSensitive to be false in the application configuration. When in case-insensitive mode, make sure you follow the convention that directories containing controller class files are in lower case, and both controller map and action map are using keys in lower case.

Since version 1.0.3, an application can contain modules. The route for a controller action inside a module is in the format of moduleID/controllerID/actionID. For more details, see the section about modules.

2. Controller Instantiation

A controller instance is created when CWebApplication handles an incoming request. Given the ID of the controller, the application will use the following rules to determine what the controller class is and where the class file is located.

  • If CWebApplication::catchAllRequest is specified, a controller will be created based on this property, and the user-specified controller ID will be ignored. This is mainly used to put the application under maintenance mode and display a static notice page.

  • If the ID is found in CWebApplication::controllerMap, the corresponding controller configuration will be used to create the controller instance.

  • If the ID is in the format of 'path/to/xyz', the controller class name is assumed to be XyzController and the corresponding class file is protected/controllers/path/to/XyzController.php. For example, a controller ID admin/user would be resolved as the controller class UserController and the class file protected/controllers/admin/UserController.php. If the class file does not exist, a 404 CHttpException will be raised.

In case when modules are used (available since version 1.0.3), the above process is slighly different. In particular, the application will check if the ID refers to a controller inside a module, and if so, the module instance will be created first followed by the controller instance.

3. Action

As aforementioned, an action can be defined as a method whose name starts with the word action. A more advanced way is to define an action class and ask the controller to instantiate it when requested. This allows actions to be reused and thus introduces more reusability.

To define a new action class, do the following:

class UpdateAction extends CAction
{
    public function run()
    {
        // place the action logic here
    }
}

In order for the controller to be aware of this action, we override the actions() method of our controller class:

class PostController extends CController
{
    public function actions()
    {
        return array(
            'edit'=>'application.controllers.post.UpdateAction',
        );
    }
}

In the above, we use the path alias application.controllers.post.UpdateAction to specify that the action class file is protected/controllers/post/UpdateAction.php.

Writing class-based actions, we can organize an application in a modular fashion. For example, the following directory structure may be used to organize the code for controllers:

protected/
    controllers/
        PostController.php
        UserController.php
        post/
            CreateAction.php
            ReadAction.php
            UpdateAction.php
        user/
            CreateAction.php
            ListAction.php
            ProfileAction.php
            UpdateAction.php

4. Filter

Filter is a piece of code that is configured to be executed before and/or after a controller action executes. For example, an access control filter may be executed to ensure that the user is authenticated before executing the requested action; a performance filter may be used to measure the time spent in the action execution.

An action can have multiple filters. The filters are executed in the order that they appear in the filter list. A filter can prevent the execution of the action and the rest of the unexecuted filters.

A filter can be defined as a controller class method. The method name must begin with filter. For example, the existence of the filterAccessControl method defines a filter named accessControl. The filter method must be of the signature:

public function filterAccessControl($filterChain)
{
    // call $filterChain->run() to continue filtering and action execution
}

where $filterChain is an instance of CFilterChain which represents the filter list associated with the requested action. Inside the filter method, we can call $filterChain->run() to continue filtering and action execution.

A filter can also be an instance of CFilter or its child class. The following code defines a new filter class:

class PerformanceFilter extends CFilter
{
    protected function preFilter($filterChain)
    {
        // logic being applied before the action is executed
        return true; // false if the action should not be executed
    }
 
    protected function postFilter($filterChain)
    {
        // logic being applied after the action is executed
    }
}

To apply filters to actions, we need to override the CController::filters() method. The method should return an array of filter configurations. For example,

class PostController extends CController
{
    ......
    public function filters()
    {
        return array(
            'postOnly + edit, create',
            array(
                'application.filters.PerformanceFilter - edit, create',
                'unit'=>'second',
            ),
        );
    }
}

The above code specifies two filters: postOnly and PerformanceFilter. The postOnly filter is method-based (the corresponding filter method is defined in CController already); while the PerformanceFilter filter is object-based. The path alias application.filters.PerformanceFilter specifies that the filter class file is protected/filters/PerformanceFilter. We use an array to configure PerformanceFilter so that it may be used to initialize the property values of the filter object. Here the unit property of PerformanceFilter will be initialized as 'second'.

Using the plus and the minus operators, we can specify which actions the filter should and should not be applied to. In the above, the postOnly should be applied to the edit and create actions, while PerformanceFilter should be applied to all actions EXCEPT edit and create. If neither plus nor minus appears in the filter configuration, the filter will be applied to all actions.

$Id: basics.controller.txt 1263 2009-07-21 19:22:00Z qiang.xue $

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