Using CakePHP's Native Web Service Support

Recently there was a posting on the CakePHP mailing list from someone complaining that CakePHP's native web service support didn't work, mainly because he couldn't figure out how to get it to work. So, I took up the challenge and sent out an email to the list showing that you can indeed use them. Might I add that until I tried this, I had never built a web service with CakePHP before. I found that by turning on the debug mode and actually following the instructions that were in the error messages (best undocumented feature of CakePHP if you ask me) I was able to build it. Oh yeah, a big shout-out to Samuel DeVore for his near-simultaneous reply to the original message showing an ever simpler example than mine. Which I promptly stole and used it in this example. :)

This example works with the latest stable version of CakePHP ( running on a Gentoo Linux box with PHP 5.1.2 and Apache 2. It's my understanding that the native web service stuff was originally built for Cake 1.2 (not released yet) and back-ported to Cake 1.1. Perhaps some key parts are missing, hence the need for some hackery mentioned below.

First, open up /app/config/core.php and turn on support for internal web services: ~~~ /** * The define below is used to turn cake built webservices * on or off. Default setting is off. */ define('WEBSERVICES', 'on'); ~~~

Now, you have to understand that CakePHP won't magically spit out your content as XML, or SOAP, or as REST or whatever. The internal web services support provides built-in URLs for spitting out your content in whatever alternate format you want. This concept will become clear as we continue on here. Basically it lets you do the following:

  • mydomain/controller/action for regular content
  • mydomain/xml/controller/action to spit out your content formatted as XML

Okay, so first thing I did was create a test controller: ~~~ set('message', $message); } } ?> ~~~ Those of you who are observant about CakePHP will notice that I've dragged in a component to be used. Currently, you need to create a component *and* a helper to make the web service stuff work. This is hackish, and hopefully goes away.

You need to create an XML component and put it in /app/controllers/components/xml.php ~~~ ~~~ and then create an XML helper, placing that in /app/views/helpers/xml.php ~~~ ~~~

Now we need to generate a bunch of thtml files to display our output. Of course, we have to create the default view for our action in the controller. Put this in /app/views/test/index.thtml ~~~ Content generated via regular view
< ?php echo $message ?> ~~~ Next is the XML stuff. There are two files we need to create. One is /app/views/layouts/xml/default.thtml, which simply tells CakePHP to use whatever data is passed into it. ~~~ < ?php echo $content_for_layout ?> ~~~ and then we create /app/views/test/xml/index.thtml to spit out our data in XML ~~~ < ?php e('' . "\n"); ?> < ?php echo $message ?> ~~~ I believe the e(blah) function is a built-in helper for CakePHP.

So, now when we go to mydomain/test we get the following output generated: ~~~ CakePHP Web Services Test

Content generated via regular view
This is a test of built-in web services
~~~ and when we go to mydomain/xml/test we get the following output generated ~~~ This is a test of built-in web services ~~~

Like I said before, a lot of hoops to jump through and hopefully those go away when CakePHP 1.2 comes out.