Customize CGridView columns directly in your view

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You usually take a model instance passed into your view to provide data to a CGridView in this way:

$this->widget('zii.widgets.grid.CGridView', array(
    'dataProvider' => $model->search() ,

Very often, you will want to customize a single column, while keeping the rest untouched. There are many ways to accomplish this, but I find the following to be the easiest one:

$columns = array_keys($model->metaData->columns);
$columns[array_search('column_name', $columns)] = array(
    'name' => 'column_name',
    'value' => ...
$this->widget('zii.widgets.grid.CGridView', array(
    'dataProvider' => $model->search() ,
    'columns' => $columns

I have used the metaData ActiveRecord's property to get all the model's attribute names and then customized a single attribute (i.e. column_name), keeping the rest to the defaults, directly in the view, without having to perform loops or implement methods in other classes.