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Yii Ensuring that key terms are always linked

Posted: Feb 24, 2012 11:02;
Last Modified: May 23, 2012 18:05

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As we are building our workflow manager, we are discovering that we develop a more intuitive interface if some terms are always hyperlinked and point to a standard presentation of the relational information.

One example of this might be names of people associated with the workflow (editors, authors, copyeditors, production assistants). An intuitive internal navigation method seems to be to have the names of these people always hyperlinked with the hyperlink always pointing to the person’s profile page.

One way of doing this in Yii would be to modify the views associated with each table in the site so that every time a name is called, you get a link. This is contrary to spirit of the MVC model, however, since it means you are using a view to present logic about the underlying model. And it is also prone to error, since it means you a) need to find every possible invocation of the name in all you various views and b) not make an error as you enter the same code over an over again in all these different views.

The better approach is to add this functionality to the underlying datamodel that supplies the information to the entire site in the first place—that is, to the model for the database that is providing the name information and the page you want to link to in the end.

Here’s some code for your model that would allow you produce a linked name anywhere in your yii site (for simplicity’s sake in this example, I am wrapping a single attribute from my database in a hyperlink. This post shows you how to use a similar method to first make compound attributes):

public function getLastNameLink()
    {
    return CHtml::link(CHtml::encode($this->lastName),
    array('person/view', 'id'=>$this->person_id));
    }

Here are some underlying premises behind this code:

  1. There is a table in my database called person
  2. I have written a view for this database (either by hand or using the gii utility to build one automatically): person/view is the URL fragment CHtml::link will use to build the link to the profile page for a given person (note: it is tempting to just use view for the URL because we are already in the person model; you should use the “full” yii-path however because you will be invoking this throughout the site from views associated with all sorts of other models)
  3. The table person has an attribute (column) called person_id.

Once this has been added to my Person model, I can call the code (and add a link to the person profile) in any view by just invoking the method: from now on, the LastNameLink functions as an attribute of the Person model and can be used in exactly the same way actual direct, table-based attributes can be invoked. For example, in a different model’s view:

<?php echo $data->person->LastNameLink; ?>

This code will produce a link to index.php?r=person/view&id=n where n is the id number of a given record in the table. If I hadn’t added the above code to the Person model, the code required to do the equivalent would have been:

<?php echo 
CHtml::link(CHtml::encode($data->person->lastNameFirstNames),
array('person/view', 'id'=>$data->person->person_id)); ?>
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