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[DEPRECATED] A light PHP Database layer using DAO pattern
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Modl stands for Movim Data Layer. It is the library which links the core code of Movim to the SQL database.

Modl is licensed under the AGPLv3 licence.


Modl aims to provide a lightweight and easily tweakable library as well as the possibility of optimizing your SQL requests by writing them by hand.

All the SQL requests have to be in compliance with the norm in order to return the same result on every databases. Modl will then interprete these results and return them in the form of objects.

Modl currently supports MySQL and PostGreSQL databases.

Integration into your project

This library is PSR-0 and PSR-4 compliant and can thus be easily loaded via the autoloader. You have two ways to do this: through Composer and using the internal loader.

Through Composer

You simply have to add it to the composer.json file of your project. You can find a movim/modl package on Packagist.

Here is an example of a ''composer.json'' file with the library integrated to it.

    "require": {
        "movim/modl": "dev-master"

Through the internal loader

Modl also has an internal loader.

require 'modl/src/Modl/Loader.php';


Once the library loaded in your project you can instantiate it wherever you want.

The code below comes from the bootstrap.php file of the Movim project.

$db = Modl\Modl::getInstance();



Here a directory that will contain all the data models is created. Then the useful data models can be loaded to be used by Modl.

The setConnectionArray() method has for parameter a PHP array with the following structure.

$conf = [
  'type' => 'mysql', // or 'pgsql' for a PostGreSQL database
  'username' => 'username', // the user of the database
  'password' => 'password', // the users's password
  'host' => 'localhost', // the host of the database
  'port' => '3306', // the port
  'database' => 'movim' // the name of the database

How to code a Model

Let's take a the simple example of the creation of an "Item" model (which an existing model in Movim, that can be found here).

In order to do that you will have to create a new directory in the models directory (defined before loading the library). Then, create two files in this new directory.

  • Item.php, which will be the main class of the model. Each instance of it will correspond to a tuple returned by the database.
  • ItemDAO.php, which will contain all the requests referring to this model.


namespace Modl;

class Item extends Model
    public $server;
    public $jid;
    public $name;
    public $node;
    public $updated;
    public $hash;

    public $_struct = [
        'server'    => ['type' => 'string','size' => 64,'key' => true],
        'jid'       => ['type' => 'string','size' => 64,'key' => true],
        'node'      => ['type' => 'string','size' => 96,'key' => true],
        'name'      => ['type' => 'string','size' => 128],
        'updated'   => ['type' => 'date','mandatory' => true],
        'hash'      => ['type' => 'string','size' => 64]

    public $_uniques = [
        ['server', 'jid'],

The code above is quite simple to understand. The Item inherits from Modl\Model. Each column of the table created in the database will be translated to an attribute of the class.

In the constructor, the _struct attribute inherited from Modl\Model has to be defined to contain the particularities of the other attributes.

Modl currently supports six types of data:

  • string for the names, keys…
  • date for the dates obviously
  • int to use intergers
  • text to stock a long string or a big binary value
  • bool to use a boolean value
  • serialized to save and retrieve PHP variables in the database

Except for the date type and the bool type, a size can be specified for each type of data using the "size" keyword. Globally, the "mandatory" and "key" keywords are respectively used to (1) forbid any empty value in the attribute to save and (2) specify the attribute as a key of the table. If an attribute is defined as a key, the "mandatory" keyword is useless.

Unique constraints can also be defined using the $_uniques array.


ItemDAO inherits of the Modl\SQL class. The following code lets you insert an instance of Item into the database.

namespace Modl;

class ItemDAO extends SQL
    function set(Item $item)
        $this->_sql = '
            update item
            set name   = :name,
                updated = :updated
            where server = :server
                and jid  = :jid
                and node = :node';

                'name'   => $item->name,
                'updated'=> $item->updated,
                'server' => $item->server,
                'jid'    => $item->jid,
                'node'   => $item->node


        if(!$this->_effective) {
            $this->_sql = '
                insert into item

                    'name'   => $item->name,
                    'updated'=> $item->updated,
                    'server' => $item->server,
                    'jid'    => $item->jid,
                    'node'   => $item->node


For reasons of consistency and support for all SQL databases the name of the tables created by Modl is always lowercase. You will have to test your requests on any database you plan to support and make sure that all DBMS return the same result.

You are advised to start development for PostGreSQL before testing on MySQL.


The SQL request is defined by _sql. The prepare() method will change the values associated to the keys used in the request (always preceded by :) and check and convert the elements to the JSON structure defined in the model constructor.

If you want to affect a value from another model in the request, prepend the parameter key with the model name.

The effective() method returns a boolean related to the validity of the request. In our example it lets us do an "insert or update" (attempts to update a tuple in the table and inserts it if it doesn't already exists) request.


The execution of the request is done through the run() method. You will have to give it the type of the instance to manipulate as a parameter (if nothing is precised Modl use the default object linked to our DAO). If you only give one parameter to this method it will return an array even for one tuple.

To get only one instance, you can put item as a second parameter.

return $this->run('Item', 'item');

Following up with the example above, Modl will try to change each element of the array returned by the DBMS into as many instances of Item. If several elements have the same name (if you made a join for example), only the first element will be treated.

You can also return the raw array using the following.

return $this->run(null, 'array');

If your SQL request return a single cell containing a count(*) you can directly return the value of the count this way.

return $this->run(null, 'count');

Call to the model

Once Modl has been loaded, the defined models can be called wherever you want in the code. Model is a Singleton, that is why the connection with the database is kept during the whole execution.

In the piece of code below, a new instance of Item is created...

$n = new \Modl\Item;
$n->server = '';
$n->node   = 'pink_floyd';

And sent to the database.

$nd = new \Modl\ItemDAO;


Modl SmartDB is a newly added feature in Modl. It replaces the old table creation system which used to use the create() method in each DAO.

SmartDB allows not only to create tables automagically by defining models but also to update them if you need to modify or add attributes or models.

It's quite easy to understand how it works. When Modl and its models are loaded the check() method launches SmartDB.

$md = Modl\Modl::getInstance;
$infos = $md->check();

It returns a list of modifications to make in the database. By giving the true parameter to the check() method you authorize it to update the database by itself.

$md->check(true); // Done ! Your database is up to date.
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