Using Custom PHP Codes on Magento

Magento is one of the newest and awarded ecommerce application right now. And I seem to have a project launched nowadays about it.

Above the ecommerce part like adding/modifying products, it also has a built-in CMS. It looks quite useful. Not very powerful though.  It just evaluates html code and not php. In most of the time this is prefered by the way. Because of security risks and things like that. But there are also cases which you want to do if you are importing something to magento or if you are just wanting to do in a quick and dirty way!

Well, the workarounds you find are not quite good. Simply they just take the CMS code, write it to a temporary file and include it, or writing a bit complicated parser inspired from joomla/mambo. Check out here for the details of the workaround. The tutorial I’m putting here is from there to, however I will also try to write solutions to problems that I have encountered (mostly because of magento versions).

This tutorial is working for magento version 1.1.8. You can download the latest version from here.

Now open up your favorite php/xml/html editor. While it will open up, also open your magento installation folder. Magento has a lots of folders for lots of things, which I do not know why. The code part is in app/ directory as you may guess. In the app folder you will find the etc/ where there are configurations for magento generally. Our PHP Code will be a module to the Magento, so we have to go modules directory and create a new xml file, named according to your module. The syntax is like: Parkyeri_customPHP. The first part till underscore means the name of the module, int this case Parkyeri. The second part indicates the component of the module. So you may have different components in one module, in this case customPHP, If we are talking about custom codded PHP pages, so in this module named Parkyeri, there can be different pages like: About, Contact, Jobs. And these are all different components, doing different things. If we were trying to create the About page then we had to use something like Parkyeri_About. You can add all of them in the same xml file.

Open up /app/etc/modules/ and create a file named Parkyeri.xml (the name of the module) and add these lines to file:




    
        true
        local
        
    

But what this means? You declare a new module named Parkyeri to the global site by naming the file Parkyeri.xml. Then you define in the module config file that, this module has a component named customPHP. You say that this component is active and the system can find it in the app/code/local directory by looking at the codepool

As you get it now we pass to the next stage. Now open up app/code/local/Parkyeri/customPHP/etc/ and create a file named config.xml (the default configuration file name for every module.) and add these lines in it.



    
        
            
                Parkyeri_customPHP_Block
           
       
    

What does it mean? This is more of a mapping file than a configuration file. What you are doing here is to map (you may also think bind) a class named Parkyeri_customPHP_Block to a block called parkyeri_customphp. So whenever a block of type parkyeri_customphp will be called, this block will look out for the class you defined in this configuration/mapping/binding file. But also you are defining the location of the component files that you want to call. In most of the cases, you want to call a component’s block from a module. So when calling you will say that I want a component named customPHP, and a block named test and this component is under the module Parkyeri. We move on…

Now the fun part, open up app/code/local/Parkyeri/customPHP/Block and create a file named Test.php and add these lines in it:


class Parkyeri_customPHP_Block_Test extends Mage_Core_Block_Abstract
{
    protected function _toHtml()
    {
        //put here your custom PHP code with output in $html;
        //use arguments like $this->getMyParam1() , $this->getAnotherParam()
        $html = "Hello" . $this->getWorld();
        return $html;
    }
}

So, we have finally reached the part which you are most comfortable, writing code! You will write down all the code you want to evaluate in this file. The _toHtml() method is called when you call it in the cms part. A magical function just like toString(). As you may remark the name of the class, is conventional according to the location of the class. That was how the previous configuration knew where to look when mapping.

And the final part is to embed it in the CMS, this is easy part. But the part where you get dissapointed most. Add this to page you want to show your custom php code:

{{block type="parkyeri_customphp/test" world="World"}}

So, it’s obvious isn’t it? In this code part, you say that, you want to put a block here. The type of this block is parkyeri_customphp/test. So actually you want a block named test under the customphp component which also a part of parkyeri module.  But you may be curious of the rest, on what I mean by saying, world. I’m sending a parameter to the class. Remember the code where there was $this->getWorld(). This world is that world!. So the code will print out “Hello World” (without an exclamation).
So this was it! Did it worked? No I didn’t did it? The real reason that it did not worked, is because, you did not refresh the caching system!! Yes, it’s that simple! It gave me a lots of headache though, hope it won’t to you. You can disable the caching from System -> Cache Management by the way.  Better then refreshing every time :)
If you are stuck on somewhere you should really check out magento forums. There are really helpful people out there from real developers, ceos and community experts.

Update: I have tested this code sample with 1.1.8 and all works fine.