Schneimi’s Dev Weblog

Star rating plugin for CakePHP

Posted in Ajax,CakePHP by schneimi on May 25, 2009
Tags: , , , , , ,

In the google groups I recently noticed the lack of a star rating helper/plugin for CakePHP.

As I just implemented an AJAX rating system for my current project and always wanted to learn the CakePHP plugin system, I thought this was a good opportunity to make my code into a plugin and contribute to the community.

My rating system supports multiple users and multiple models, so you can let people rate any model you want.

I tried to keep it simple and flexible, but I am sure there is still much room for improvements. So let me know what you think about it, any suggestions and comments are welcome.

Here is the plugin v2.5 for CakePHP 1.3 to download. Older versions for CakePHP 1.2 can be found here.

This article can also be found in the Bakery.


  • Multi user, multi model rating
  • Guest rating
  • Just one element to place in your views
  • Seamless integration with AJAX
  • Prototype and jQuery support
  • Cross browser compatibility
  • Fallback for disabled javascript
  • Various configurations


  • CakePHP 1.2, 1.3
  • Prototype or jQuery javascript framework
  • User id stored in session for secure rating

A demo can be tested at

    Installation and Use

    • Make sure you meet the requirements above. Make sure you meet the requirements above. For the download and integration of a javascript framework, please visit the Prototype or jQuery website.
      • Extract the plugin, including the subfolder ‘rating’, to your app plugins folder ‘app/plugins‘.
        • Copy the ‘rating/config/plugin_rating.php’ to your app configs folder ‘app/config’ and change the settings to your desire. It is recommended to let ‘Rating.showHelp’ set to true until everything works.
          • Apply the ‘install.sql’ to your database to create the ratings table.
            CREATE TABLE `ratings` (
              `id` int(11) unsigned NOT NULL auto_increment,
              `user_id` char(36) NOT NULL default '',
              `model_id` char(36) NOT NULL default '',  
              `model` varchar(100) NOT NULL default '',
              `rating` tinyint(2) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
              `name` varchar(100) default '',
              `created` datetime default NULL,
              `modified` datetime default NULL,
              PRIMARY KEY (`id`),
              KEY `rating` (`model_id`,`model`,`rating`,`name`)
          • Load the plugin javascript and css files in your layout file. Replace [your_framework] with prototype_min or jquery_min depending on the framework you use.
              <?php echo $javascript->link('/rating/js/[your_framework]'); ?>
              <?php echo $html->css('/rating/css/rating'); ?> 
          • For full model integration in your app, apply the following relation to your models. (replace [name_of_your_model])
              var $hasMany = array('Rating' =>
                                   array('className'   => 'Rating',
                                         'foreignKey'  => 'model_id',
                                         'conditions' => array('model' => '[name_of_your_model]'),
                                         'dependent'   => true,
                                         'exclusive'   => true
          • If you set ‘Rating.saveToModel’ to true, then add the defined ‘Rating.modelAverageField’ and ‘Rating.modelVotesField’ to all models you want to rate. To do that you can use the following SQL statements (replace [your_table] and [Rating.modelAverageField]).
            ALTER TABLE [your_table] ADD (`[Rating.modelAverageField]` decimal(3,1) unsigned default '0.0');
            ALTER TABLE [your_table] ADD (`[Rating.modelVotesField]` int(11) unsigned default '0');

            If the plugin shows the fields are still missing, try to clear the model cache of your app at ‘app/tmp/cache/models’.

          • You can change the styles of the rating element in the css file ‘rating/vendors/css/rating.css’.
            • Finally you can place the rating element in your views as follows. (replace [name_of_your_model] and [id_of_your_model])

              Default rating element for one model id

                echo $this->element('rating', array('plugin' => 'rating',
                                                    'model' => '[name_of_your_model]',
                                                    'id' => [id_of_your_model]));

              More ratings for one model id
              If you want to have different ratings for one model id like sound and picture of a movie, you can use the additional name parameter.

                echo $this->element('rating', array('plugin' => 'rating',
                                                    'model' => '[name_of_your_model]',
                                                    'id' => [id_of_your_model],
                                                    'name' => 'sound'));
                echo $this->element('rating', array('plugin' => 'rating',
                                                    'model' => '[name_of_your_model]',
                                                    'id' => [id_of_your_model],
                                                    'name' => 'picture'));

              Individual configuration of a rating element
              Sometimes you want to use more than one style of rating elements in your app. That can be reached with the ‘config’ parameter and different config files in ‘app/config’. Just clone the original ‘plugin_rating.php’ and give it a different name, which you then pass to the element. There is also the possibility to overload the config file settings on the element.

                // Uses 'plugin_rating.php' in 'app/config'
                echo $this->element('rating', array('plugin' => 'rating', 
                                                    'model' => '[name_of_your_model]',
                                                    'id' => [id_of_your_model]));
                // Uses 'plugin_rating_style1.php' in 'app/config'
                echo $this->element('rating', array('plugin' => 'rating',
                                                    'model' => '[name_of_your_model]',
                                                    'id' => [id_of_your_model],
                                                    'config' => 'plugin_rating_style1'));
                // overload default settings
                echo $this->element('rating', array('plugin' => 'rating',
                                                    'model' => [name_of_model],
                                                    'id' => [id_of_model],
                                                    'config' => array('Rating.[setting_1]' => true,
                                                                     'Rating.[setting_2]' => false)));
                // overload individual settings
                echo $this->element('rating', array('plugin' => 'rating',
                                                    'model' => [name_of_model],
                                                    'id' => [id_of_model],
                                                    'config' => array('plugin_rating_style1', array(
                                                        'Rating.[setting_1]' => true,
                                                        'Rating.[setting_2]' => false));

            Pausing remoteTimer

            Posted in Ajax,CakePHP by schneimi on November 25, 2008

            This is a simple example on how to create a remoteTimer that can be paused by the user, in this case this is done over a checkbox.

            Because the ajax-Helper offers little help in this case, we need the help of javascript. We also have to simulate pausing with start and stop, because the prototype remoteTimer doesn’t offer it.

            First of all we need a variable to store the timer, in order to be able to stop it later.

            var mytimer = null;

            Next we need a function to start the timer with the important parameters.

            function startTimer(url, update, frequency) {
              mytimer = new PeriodicalExecuter(function() {
                  new  Ajax.Updater(update, url , {asynchronous:true, evalScripts:true,
                      requestHeaders:['X-Update', update]})}, frequency);

            And for last we need a function to stop the timer.

            function stopTimer() {

            Now we can use the javascript-functions in the view.

            echo $javascript->codeBlock("startTimer('/yourapp/posts/view', 'mydiv', 5)");
            echo $form->checkbox('pause', array('checked' => true,
              'onclick' => "if (this.checked){
                startTimer('/yourapp/posts/view', 'mydiv', 5);
              } else {

            Multiple ajax requests problems and AjaxQueue as solution

            Posted in Ajax,CakePHP by schneimi on March 10, 2008
            Tags: , , , ,

            For my app I had to load many import processes at once by Ajax requests, so I ran into some serious problems.

            1. Session data was not available each second request
            I used the database option for Sessions, and that seemed to be the problem in this case. Because I don’t worry much about how sessions are saved, I changed it to cake in core.php and it solved this problem, not a really good solution, but I’m fine with it.

            2. Timed out Socket connections
            During the import process I had to make some Socket Connections and however there suddenly was no connection possible anymore after 10-15 requests, so the following ran into timeout.

            3. The solution: AjaxQueue
            After some search and search and search, I finally found a script called AjaxQueue posted on a mailing list. There you can set the maximum amout of simultaneous Ajax requests, exactly what I was looking for. After some testing it turned out to do a really wonderful job and all my problems were solved without loosing much of performance.

            The following code is for the Prototype framework, but it should be no problem to adapt it to other frameworks in replacing the “Ajax.”-statements to similar ones of another framework.

            var AjaxQueue = {
            batchSize: 1, //No.of simultaneous AJAX requests allowed, Default : 1
            urlQueue: [], //Request URLs will be pushed into this array
            elementsQueue: [], //Element IDs of elements to be updated on completion of a request ( as in Ajax.Updater )
            optionsQueue: [], //Request options will be pushed into this array
            setBatchSize: function(bSize){ //Method to set a different batch size. Recommended: Set batchSize before making requests
            this.batchSize = bSize;
            push: function(url, options, elementID){ //Push the request in the queue. elementID is optional and required only for Ajax.Updater calls
            } else {

            _processNext: function() { // Method for processing the requests in the queue. Private method. Don’t call it explicitly
            if(Ajax.activeRequestCount < AjaxQueue.batchSize) // Check if the currently processing request count is less than batch size { if(AjaxQueue.elementsQueue.first()=="NOTSPECIFIED") { //Check if an elementID was specified // Call Ajax.Request if no ElementID specified //Call Ajax.Request on the first item in the queue and remove it from the queue new Ajax.Request(AjaxQueue.urlQueue.shift(), AjaxQueue.optionsQueue.shift()); var junk = AjaxQueue.elementsQueue.shift(); } else { // Call Ajax.Updater if an ElementID was specified. //Call Ajax.Updater on the first item in the queue and remove it from the queue new Ajax.Updater(AjaxQueue.elementsQueue.shift(), AjaxQueue.urlQueue.shift(), AjaxQueue.optionsQueue.shift()); } } } }; Ajax.Responders.register({ //Call AjaxQueue._processNext on completion ( success / failure) of any AJAX call. onComplete: AjaxQueue._processNext }); /************* SYNTAX *************** AjaxQueue.setBatchSize(size); AjaxQueue.push(URL , OPTIONS, [ElementID]); ************** USAGE *************** AjaxQueue.setBatchSize(4); AjaxQueue.push("",{onSucess: funcSuccess, onfailure: funcFailure}); AjaxQueue.push("",{onSucess: funcSuccess1, onfailure: funcFailure1}, "myDiv"); AjaxQueue.push("",{onSucess: funcSuccess2, onfailure: funcFailure2}); AjaxQueue.push("",{onSucess: funcSuccess3, onfailure: funcFailure3}); AjaxQueue.push("",{onSucess: funcSuccess4, onfailure: funcFailure4}); AjaxQueue.push("",{onSucess: funcSuccess5, onfailure: funcFailure5}); **********************************/[/sourcecode]

            Update multiple fields with one ajax request response

            Posted in Ajax,CakePHP by schneimi on October 27, 2007
            Tags: , , ,

            I searched for a possibility to update multiple fields with each ajax request made by a remoteTimer, but didn’t find any satisfying explanation on the web. To get that right, each field should get updated with the same response of a request.

            So I had a look closer into the ajax helper and the prototype framework and came up with a little hack that suffice my needs and might be also helpful for others.

            In the ajax helper (cake/libs/helpers/ajax.php) we first have to look into what happens when the options[update] parameter is set to an array with the different fields we want to update. That leads us to the ‘remoteFunction’ where following happens in that case:

            $func = "new Ajax.Updater(document.createElement('div'),";

            I have no clue what the creation of the div is really good for, but anyway we have to replace it with a JavaScript array holding the id’s of our fields:

            $update = '[';
            foreach($options['update'] as $option) {
              $update .= "'" . $option . "',";
            $update .= ']';                
            $func = "new Ajax.Updater({$update},";

            Now we must have a look into the prototype framework (app/webroot/js/prototype.js) and make sure the function Ajax.Updater can handle that array. The important function there is called updateContent:

            Ajax.Updater = Class.create();
            Object.extend(Object.extend(Ajax.Updater.prototype, Ajax.Request.prototype), {
              updateContent: function() {
                if (receiver = $(receiver)) {
                  if (this.options.insertion)
                    new this.options.insertion(receiver, response);

            Because the receiver is now our array, we must step through it and send a response to each of it:

            Ajax.Updater = Class.create();
            Object.extend(Object.extend(Ajax.Updater.prototype, Ajax.Request.prototype), {
              updateContent: function() {
                if (receiver.constructor.toString().indexOf("Array") != -1) {
                  for(var i = 0; i < receiver.length; i++) {
                    if(r = $(receiver&#91;i&#93;)) {
                  if (this.options.insertion)
                    new this.options.insertion(r, response);
                } else {
                  if (receiver = $(receiver)) {
                    if (this.options.insertion)
                      new this.options.insertion(receiver, response);
            After checking if the receiver is actually an array, we step through it and send the response to every our fields.
            You can now use it like:
            &#91;sourcecode language="php"&#93;
            <?php echo $ajax->remoteTimer(array('url' => 'controller/action', 'update' => array('field1', 'field2', 'field3'), 'frequency' => '5')); ?>

            Sortable table rows with ajax helper

            Posted in Ajax,CakePHP by schneimi on October 25, 2007
            Tags: , ,

            Most examples for drag&drop sorting with the ajax helper use lists (<ul>, <ol>) to demonstrate, but if you have several columns each row, you really would like to use a table and drag&drop it’s rows.

            There is a solution mentioned at, where you just have to use the HTML 4.0 specified table looking like:


            Now you can use the tbody as parent in the ajax sortable function and set the ‘tag’-option to ‘tr’.Here is a small example in cakePHP:

             <tr><th>Sortable Table</th></tr>
              <tbody id="sortable_table">
             <tr><td>row 1</td></tr>
             <tr><td>row 2</td></tr>
             <tr><td>row 3</td></tr>
            <?php echo $ajax->sortable('sortable_table', array('tag' => 'tr')); ?>

            Because the table rows are not set to float, you don’t see any moving effect while dragging a row. I found no way to make it float without the table beeing messed up.