Fixing extensions without modifying their code

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  1. Hardcoded Path Aliases
  2. Extended core application components
  3. Theme switching for backend module views

If you're working a lot with extensions you often stumble upon problems, when you want to include them into your custom web application, like hardcoded or absolute path aliases or classes extended from core application components, which implement addiditonal features.

Luckily Yii is a very flexible framework, and you can use mostly configuration settings to overcome these glitches introduced by external code.

Hardcoded Path Aliases

Some extensions make pre-assumptions about the location they're installed in. As an example:

// Publish extension assets
$assets = Yii::app()->getAssetManager()->publish(

This extension assumes to be located directly under your extension directory, with a given name. But if it's not there, eg. you're using composer and it's located in your vendor directory under a different name, you can tell Yii to replace the full alias with another path.

So in this case you can add the following lines to your config/main.php under aliases:

'ext.myextension.assets' => '',

The path will be resolved to its correct location without touching the extension code.

Note: You can't define a partial alias, you'll always have to map the full string.

Extended core application components

As an example, if you want to use the very popular extensions yii-user from mishamx and yii-rights from crisu83 together you run into the problem, that both modules use a custom class extended from CWebUser.

While one module needs the methods from the other and vice-versa, you'll get errors when using the same user class in your application.

Although you may decide to implement your of version of CWebUser, you can use - in this case - the original RWebUser class from yii-rights and attach the features of WebUser from yii-user to it with a behavior.

The behavior is more or less the same code as WebUser, except for $this was replaced with $this->owner.

Now you can attach this behavior to your config/main.php by configuring the user component like:

    'user' => array(
        'class' => 'RWebUser',
        'behaviors' => array(

Since the methods from WebUser are now available for RWebUser you can use the same class in both modules.

Note: This way is not possible for all cases, you can not override existing methods with a behavior, eg. yii-rights overrides checkAccess() and other methods of CWebUser.

Theme switching for backend module views

Most modules don't allow you to set a theme for it's views, but usually you can define a custom layout file for the module.

As you can define a custom layout for the module you can do this (eg. file views/layouts/mytheme.php):

Yii::app()->theme = 'mytheme';

Which will set another theme and then just use the main layout file. In your config you should set //layouts/mytheme as the default layout for your module.

You can also do this one a per file/view bases, see this file for a sample implementation.

These techniques are used in Phundament to ensure compatibility and minimize additional maintainance and complexity.


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Written by: schmunk
Last updated by: schmunk
Created on: Feb 28, 2013
Last updated: 10 years ago
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