CakePHP is great for administering database relations (tables), something like using PhpMyAdmin. But PhpMyAdmin lacks the ability to associate relations together. Admin interfaces to manage relations through associations are therefore better done using CakePHP 1.2.

However, to create an administrative application on top of your main CakePHP application is just messy and hard to maintain. One of CakePHP’s most powerful feature is scaffolding where you could declare:

[code lang=“php”]<?php class AppController extends Controller { var $scaffold; } ?>[/code]

…and all controllers would have scaffolding. Unfortunately, we can’t do such magic on our deployed application. So that leaves us with only one way – make a CakePHP 1.2 Admin application that loads models from our Main application.

In summary, we did this:

  1. Create a new application called ‘admin’ to load the database and models from our existing application ‘main’.
  2. Load the models and do scaffolding.
  3. Create a simple page to link to all our scaffold views.

Ultimately, we want to maintain the admin interface as little as possible. The main application should not have changes in code.

0. Structure for this example

My models are Student, Classroom and Teacher since I like school. Here’s my rough folder structure:


  • /config
  • /controllers
  • /views
  • /webroot
  • app_controller.php
  • index.php


  • /config
  • /controllers
  • /models

    – classroom.php

    – student.php

    – teacher.php

  • /views

  • /webroot

  • app_controller.php

  • index.php

1. Bootstrapping in Admin

Edit the Admin ‘bootstrap.php’ in /trunk/admin/config/ to load models from Main application. I’m using Windows Vista, that’s why the C drive.

[code lang=“php”]<?php // C:justrealizedtrunkmain $main_app = ROOT.DS.“main”.DS; // C:justrealizedtrunkmainmodels $main_app_models = $main_app.“models”.DS; // Add these to modelPaths $this->modelPaths = array($main_app, $main_app_models);

// Models to be loaded, we will use this again

Configure::write(“ModelsToLoad”, array(





// import the models

App::import(“Model”, Configure::read(“ModelsToLoad”));


Previously in CakePHP 1.1, there is loadModel but that has been deprecated in favor of App::Import(‘Model’, $models);.

Also, make sure you have ‘app_model.php’ in your /trunk/main/, i.e. your Main application:

[code lang=“php”]<?php class AppModel extends Model { } ?>[/code]

2. Getting our database configuration

We wouldn’t want to maintain another database.php, so the Admin will use Main application’s database settings. Editing Admin’s database.php:

[code lang=“php”]<?php

db config from C:justrealizedtrunkmainconfigdatabase.php

require(ROOT.DS.“app”.DS.“config”.DS.“database.php”); ?>[/code]

Now we’ll have our models nicely loaded.

3. Setting up Admin’s controllers

We can create a file called ‘app_controller.php’ and place it on /trunk/admin/. We scaffold every controller:

[code lang=“php”]<?php class AppController extends Controller { var $scaffold; } ?>[/code]

And we create our three controllers – classroom_controller.php, student_controller.php and teacher_controller.php. It looks like this inside classroom_controller.php:

[code lang=“php”]<?php class ClassroomsController extends AppController { var $name = “Classrooms”; } ?>[/code]

4. The Admin is done

Now, go to your Admin application to see your classrooms. Mine is at http://localhost:7171/classrooms/

If everything is done correctly, you should see your admin interface with the default CakePHP theme.

5. Setup the Admin homepage

There’s nothing at the homepage, let’s put links to our views. Remember that we write the configuration ‘ModelsToLoad’ earlier on? Now it’s time to use it.

Create a file called ‘home.ctp’ in /trunk/admin/views/pages/home.ctp. And throw in the following codes:

[code lang=“php”]<?php $models = Configure::read(“ModelsToLoad”); ?>

Listing all available models

<?php foreach($models as $model): ?>

  • <?php echo $html->link($model, “/”.low($model).“s”); ?>

<?php endforeach ?>


The above reads from the array of models and make links for easy access from the homepage.



Although this looks complicated, but it’s quite easy to set up. When you have a new model, add it to ‘ModelsToLoad’ and create the corresponding controller for it. This post is originally titled “How to create a CakePHP admin inteface by loading models from an existing CakePHP application” but that is just too long. I couldn’t locate a guide on using App::import() and how models can be loaded from external applications so I had to look at Cake’s code. Due to limitations of my WordPress plugins, I had to use double quotes instead of single quotes in all my PHP codes.

Once again, CakePHP’s scaffolding is a wonderful feature. Take some time to play with it, the rewards are tremendous.

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