Two CodeIgniter libraries I can not live without


I have said it before and I say it again – “Hi, my name is Andreas and I am a CodeIgniter junkie”. I can quit my CodeIgniter (a PHP framework) habit whenever I want, but why would I want to (read Why I fell for CodeIgniter to know more)?

For the last few CodeIgniter projects (begagnadebarnklä – hitta billiga barnkläder for example) I have used two libraries that have made my life as a developer much easier and that I really recommend anyone using CodeIgniter take a serious look at. Those libraries are IgnitedRecord and BackendPro. They are not brand new, but they sure get the work done!

IgnitedRecord is a ORM library that makes interacting with the database so much easier. Especially handling relationships between tables much easier to deal with, an example is getting all posts a user has written in a blog:

$posts = $user->related('posts')->order_by('name', 'desc')->get();

Nice and clean and very easy to setup, all you need to do is to have your models extend IgnitedRecord and then define the relationships in the model. Some other goodies are that it is very easy to make subqueries and nested WHERE statements.

Instead of going in to all the details here I think you should go and download IgnitedRecord straight away and get started, it will save you time.

Almost every project needs some kind of administration backend. With some frameworks (Django) you get this out of the box, not so with CodeIgniter unfourtunatly. BackendPro gives you that and so much more – it also helps out with things like user authentication and access rights, asset management, breadcrumbs, preference handling etc. Only the fact that it is an easy to setup and then handles basic user authentication (such as login, registration and forgotten password) is well worth the price of admission (which is nothing since it is all free). BackendPro also comes with the excellent Matchbox library, which lets you organize your code into modules.

Combining the two
Unfourtunatly the two do not fit perfectly together since BackendPro uses CodeIgniters standard database libraries, so if you need to do any database work with BackendPro itself you need to remember not to use IgnitedRecord. Getting the two libs to play nicely once they are installed is quite straight forward though…

  • Move the ORM() function from system/application/libraries/MY_Loader (a IgnitedRecord file) to system/application/libraries/Loader (a BackendPro file).
  • Delete the MY_Loader file
  • Optionally you could autoload the IgnitedRecord library
  • To make it all work I had to make a file called ignitedrecord.php in system/application/libraries that includes ignitedrecord/ignitedrecord, as per

Do you have any other favorite libraries for CodeIgniter? Please let me and everybody else know in the comments!

Pimp my Coda


Coda is the best IDE I have ever used, and one (if not the biggest one) reason I am really happy with moving to Mac (sorry folks, Coda is Mac only). It does all the stuff I need, such as syntax highligthing, FTP, source control etc. At the same time it is skipping all the stuff that just clutters up the interface (like all the stuff Eclipse is full of). Some people might want more bells and whistles, but I am happy with a development tool that does just what it should and not more. I am mostly using Coda for writing things in the PHP Framework CodeIgniter or in the Python Framwork Django, but Coda can handle most languages quite nicely.


Even of Coda is great, it is not so great that it can not be made greater (so much for simplicity, hehe), which is pretty simple since Coda allows for plugins. In the Coda Developer Zone there are a number of plugins listed, and if you look around on the web you can find even more. Also, you can easily add new code completion, reference books and other goodies. This is a list of the stuff the extra stuff I have used and am very happy with so far…

URL Encode
This is a a very simple but very practical plugin that allows you to highlight some text in your HTML files and then URL Encode it. As a Swede using a lot of words with åäö it is very usefull.

PHP Toolkit
This plugin makes it easy to validate and clean up PHP files.

PHP Toolkit

CodeIgniter Syntax Mode
Code completion with CodeIgniter classes and functions, a must if you are using Coda to develop CodeIgniter applications. You can download the file here and read more about it in this thread in the CodeIgniter forums. I have made this syntax mode my default one for PHP files since I hardly do any PHP that is not CodeIgniter anymore.

Extra books
It is easy to include help files about programming languages etc in Coda in the form of “books”. Out of the box Coda comes with books about PHP, HTML, CSS and Javascript, but it is easy to add more. Here is a great list of more books you can include in Coda, complete with icons and all. Personally I have added CodeIgniter and jQuery so far, but I am sure some Django, Drupal and WordPress will sneak in as time goes by.

What are your favourite add ons to Coda? Please let me know if I have missed something I just must have!

Deploying a WordPress site from localhost


When I started to use WordPress one of the main problems I had was how to move a WordPress site from my local computer to my web host. There are some posts out there on how to deploy a WordPress blog, but quite a few of them are a bit too complicated. As with most things this problem is easily solved once you know what you are doing. It hit me the other day when I did just this for that since I have now done this dozens of times I think it is time to share it with whoever has the same problem. Hopefully I can save somebody some time and frustration. So here is a step by step guide on how to deploy WordPress from localhost to your production web host.

Basic setup
I assume you have WordPress installed on your local computer, including a MySQL database and all. There is a really good guide on how to do this on Once installed I also assume you have played around with your theme and settings and gotten the WordPress site to look and work just the way you want it.

My second assumption is that you have an account at a web host that supports PHP and allows you to setup a MySQL database. If you don’t then you can easily find many good cheap options via my web hosting price comparison site Many web hosts have one-click installs of WordPress, but this is nothing you need right now.

My third assumption is that you have a domain or subdomain where you want to have your fantastic WordPress site installed on. In this post I use the target domain name, since that is the latest WordPress site I have deployed. Of course you need to replace “” with your own domain name in all examples below.

Move the files
The first thing to do is to copy all your WordPress files from your local computer to your webhost. In my case this is all the files under /projects/f1_wp/ that I move to the directory on my host that corresponds to the domain I have choosen. For now just move all the files, no need to change anything in any file.

Move the database
Next thing is to move the database structure and all it’s content from your localhost to your web host. First of just do a MySQL dump of the structure and content of your WordPress schema. This can be done in most MySQL GUI applications. Personally I use Sequal Pro and there the MySQL dump option is hiding under File->Export. Refer to the help files of your MySQL GUI app (or MySQL command line if you are hardcore) how to do a dump. The dump should result in a .sql file containing SQL statements to create all tables needed as well as inserting all the data needed into those tables.

MySQL dump

Now we need to change some stuff in that .sql file. Open the file in a text editor and replace all local URLs to the URL of your new site. For me this means changing “http://localhost/f1_wp” to “”. Without doing this your production WordPress installation would refer back to your localhost, and stuff would just not work. As always with search and replace, take it easy so that you dont break anything.

Replace localhost

Create a new MySQL database on your web host, and open phpMyAdmin (or MySQL client of choice) for that database. In the “Import” tab of phpMyAdmin you can import an SQL file, so choose your newly edited .sql file and click “go” to import it. This creates all the tables needed and fills it with all the content you need, this includes pages, posts, plugin settings etc.


Change database configurations
At the moment the WordPress installation on your web host do not connect to the newly created and populated database, to do that just open wp-config.php on the host in a text editor (this is one of the files you uploaded to the host ealier). In the top of the file you find all the DB settings, so change DB_NAME, DB_USER etc to correspond to your new MySQL database and not your local database.

Once that is done you should have a fully working WordPress installation on, or at least on your own domain 🙂

Final touches
Now things are working fine, but there are still some final touches before all is done. First of all your should probably login to /wp-admin on your newly deployed site and change the password of your admin user. I use extremely simple passwords on my localhost while developing, but I do not want to use simple passwords when things are live. So if you work the same way as me go and change the password to something harder to crack than “guest”…

Last thing to check is that your media files are uploaded to an existing directory. Login to the WordPress controll panel and go to Settings->Miscellaneous. It is very likely that the “Store uploads in this folder” is set incorrectly, since it was set when you installed WordPress on your localhost. Change it to the default “wp-content/uploads”, otherwise you will not be able to upload media files successfully.

upload settings

That’s it. This is a technique that has worked fine for me many times, but I am sure smarter people than me has better solutions to this. If you are one of those smarter people please share them with us all in the comments of this post…

Using WordPress as a CMS


I’ve used dozens of Content Manage Systems, both open source versions like Drupal and Joomla and Enterprise level ones as Microsoft CMS and others. They all have one thing in common – they suck (that is a technical term for “providing less than optimal results”). Either they are too complicated or too simplistic, or in some cases, both at the same time. After some experimentation I have found a CMS that works perfectly for most of my needs, and if it do not fit a project I write my own (as I did for This perfect(ish) CMS is the blogging platform WordPress.

At the moment I am using WordPress as a CMS for several websites. Of course this blog is running on WordPress, not that suprising really since it is a blog. The main site of is all WordPress, while the acctual chat application that integrates Meebo chat with Ning social networks, run on the subdomain and is implemented on Google App Engine. For there is both a seperate blog section and a content section, so it is by no means a pure blog. is also running WordPress, and there I have tried to have more of a newspaper feel than a pure blog. The purest use of WordPress as a CMS is probably on (swedish travel guide to Mexico), that site doesn’t even have a blog.

Why WordPress?
My requirements for a CMS are simple – it should be quick to implement a new site, it should be easy to maintain a site and it should be easy to expand and customize the site when it grows. A plus is if it runs on LAMP, so I can hack it if neccessary and so I can host it anywhere. There is not really any need to support multiple concurrent users since it is mostly going to be yours truley doing the work. Not rocket science really, but evidently damn hard to implement since most CMSes miss the mark by miles.

Let’s take a look why WordPress live up to these requirements:

  • Quick to implement a new site – setting up WordPress is a matter of minutes. Get the WordPress files, set up a database and go. For some extra bonus you can add the plugins you need and choose one of 100’s of free well done themes to get the look you want. You can of course also do as I do and get a professional design and just add that on top of an exising theme.
  • Easy to maintain – the WordPress control panel is easy to use, and if you dont like it you can change it around with plugins (see below for some such plugins). WordPress and most plugins are continously updated and to install updates is a breeze. All you need – such as static pages, blog posts, tagging, categories, multiple users, comments, spam protection (Akismet) etc is all part of the basic WordPress install.
  • Easy to expand and customize – again, the plugins are really great for customization. Also, WordPress have really powerful and usefull template tags that allows you to customize the theme well beyond recognition. See tips and tricks below for more details.
  • LAMP – check. All written in PHP and uses a MySQL database perfectly. Even if I at times have hacked the WordPress core files it is not really necessary, but the key thing is that it is possible.

Pages and Custom Fields are your friends
Content in WordPress can be either shown in “posts” or “pages”, where posts are blog posts and pages are static content. Under the surface it is all the same, both posts and pages are stored in the same tables, but they are still treated a bit differently. If you are using WordPress as a CMS then pages are definitly your friends. I have found that pages are a little easier to organise if you are not writing a blog. You can set a page as the front page of your site in the WordPress control panel. Go into settings -> reading and choose what page you want as front page.

Custom Fields are data fields that are not part of the core WordPress installation but that you define yourself. A custom field is attached to a post or a page and can be used to store any extra info that WordPress or plugins dont handle. For I use it to store the URL or the images for each page, as well as the attribution of the images etc (a trick from WordPress Custom Fields: Adding Images To Posts).

Plugins to turn WordPress into a CMS
Even if a basic WordPress installation works fine as a CMS there are a few plugins that makes your life easier:

  • CMS-like admin menu –  all it does is make posts second to pages in the menus, ie puts pages before posts. If all you have on your site is pages then this plugin is a nice touch.
  • PageMash – drag and drop interface to order pages. Makes it very easy to change order as well as set parent/child relationship among pages. I especially use this one heavily to organise the hierarchy at
  • Page Excerpt – adds the excerpt functionality of posts to pages
  • Query Child Of – makes it possible to list the children of a page in your theme, great in combination with PageMash mentioned above
  • Admin drop down menu – it gives the control panel a drop down menu, which is quicker and easier to use than the standard control panel menu. Not really unique for using WordPress as a CMS, but I really like this plugin.

Tips and tricks
To hack a wordpress theme to work as well as a CMS there are a few tips and tricks. The first tip is to not hack at all, just use the great CMS2 theme. It already has a page focus and most of the organisation needed for a static web site. For the sites I have on WordPress I have either customized this theme or one of the themes that comes with the basic WordPress install.

When customizing a theme there are some WordPress template tags that will save you a lot of time:

  • wp_list_pages – allows you to list the pages you have in your site, pefect to create a menu with. You can include or exclude any pages you want.
  • query_posts – get the posts you want by using the parameters to this tag. Since pages and posts really are the same thing this tag can be used to list pages when wp_list_pages doesn’t do exactly what you need.
  • get_post_meta – get the value of a specific custom field for a page or a post, necessary to be able to get the most out of custom fields.

Wordpress is a very good option as a CMS, not just for blogs but for static sites as well. With the great choice in plugins and the open source code of WordPress you can get it to do almost anything you want without serious hacking. The huge installbase ensures that you can find help and resources if you need it.

Why I fell for CodeIgniter


Since leaving Kapow a week and a half ago I have been coding more than I have for the last 3 years combined, and I have done it all in PHP using the framework CodeIgniter. I looked at quite a few frameworks, CakePHP and Ruby on Rails for example, and quite a few applications/blogging platforms/Content Management Systems that can be hacked and adapted, wordpress and Drupal for example. In the end CodeIgniter won the day, and so far I am extremenly happy with my choice. There are a handfull reasons why I prefer CodeIgniter:

  • It is PHP, this might be a dealbreaker for some, but for me that is a huge plus. Primarily the advantages of this is that I can easily host my creations on basically any cheap web host, that there are plenty of libraries and resources out there to make my life easier and also that I know PHP. For the last reason I could have gone with Ruby on Rails or Java as well, but it put all Python frameworks out of the competition.
  • CodeIgniter is very easy to install and as easy to deploy. All you need for things to play nicely is an Apache server, a MySQL database and a copy of the CodeIgniter files. Deploying and setting up things are the most boring thing when it comes to writing your own apps, so it is a must for me that it is a breeze, I just dont have the patience to deal with deployment problems.
  • Great documentation, the CodeIgniter user guide is excellent. This is a huge difference from many other frameworks and platforms, especially the ones developed by an open source community (CodeIgniter is developed by Ellis Labs, the guys behind the Expression Engine blogging platform). The developer community is also very active and knowledgable, so what isn’t in the user guide is in the CodeIgniter forums.
  • Finally, a framework that improves my productivity. Most frameworks tries to do to much and are so huge and rigid that there is a huge learning curve if you want to doing anything but a “Hello World” app. CodeIgniter helps me with the stuff I need help with and doesn’t meddle in the rest. There is no need to hack 10 plugins of different qualities together to get what I need (like in Drupal), and that just makes developing fun as it should be. It is also the first MVC (Model-View-Controller) framework that helps me organise my code in a good way, something that I usually suck at otherwise.

In short I recommend that anybody that knows PHP and want a light weight, good framework checks out CodeIgniter. A good place to start are the CodeIgniter video tutorials, and if you get a bit deeper into things Elliot Haughin has a great blog that often covers CodeIgniter and he also have some great libraries that are well worth looking at (CodeIgniter libs for Twitter, Flickr and Akismet for example). Another great resource is the blog of Derek Allard, Technology Architect at Ellis Labs.