Some Solar Form Fun

So, after getting started with the Solar framework, I figured that I’d keep going and try to really work up an application with it and get familiar with the framework. A next obvious step (well, to me it’s obvious) is to dive into using the form functionality that comes with it. I started small, but eventually worked into a standard part of just about any application these days.

Like learning anything, there were some growing pains as I figured out how to work with it (many thanks to the guys in #solarphp on Freenode) and how to get the following code up and working. The Solar_Auth component makes it simple to drop on top of whatever kind of authentication system (LDAP, ini files, htpasswd) but the method I chose is one of the most common I’ve seen – authentication from a database table. The Solar_Auth_Adapter_Sql handles most of the work and makes defining the table a snap.

Let’s start with the entire code for the controller, User.php:


class MySite_App_User extends MySite_App_Base {

protected $_layout = ‘default’;
protected $_action_default = ‘index’;
protected $_view=”;

public function actionIndex(){ }
public function actionLogin(){

‘sql’ =>$sql,
‘table’ =>’users’,
‘uid_col’ =>’ID’,
‘process_login’=>’submit login’
$auth = Solar::factory(‘Solar_Auth’,$config);

$form = Solar::factory(‘Solar_Form’);
array(‘notBlank’,’Please enter a username!’)
array(‘notBlank’,’Please enter a password!’)
‘value’=>’submit login’
$request = Solar::factory(‘Solar_Request’);
$process = $request->post(‘process’);
if($process==’submit login’){
if($form->validate() && $auth->isValid()){
$this->output.=’logging in…’;
$this->output.=’Invalid login!’;


Now, let’s go through this piece by piece and make it a bit more clear for the non-Solar using crowd (of which I used to belong to).

We’ve defined the controller’s class as extending the MySite_App_Base (see the previous article as to how this is for templating the site) and define some basic properties for the layout/template to use, the default action, and the view to use by default. Below that, there’s two other properties – forms and output. The second is just a general output value that’s used in the /User/View/login.php file as a message. The first, however, is a special container for our form. Later on, you’ll see where the Solar_Form instance is appended to this property and how it’s executed in the view.

Since we’re only really worried about the login form, it’s the only action that’s built out. The function starts by defining the configuration for the Solar_Auth object we’re going to create. The “adapter” setting tells it we want to use the SQL functionality and the “config” array gives the details. The only tricky parts about these values is in the process_login settings. This will need to correspond to the value of your submit button to make things work correctly.

The next two big parts of the action are the creation of the Solar_Auth object (with our $config options) and the Solar_Form object. The first is what handles all of the validation and authentication functionality and the second is the object around which we build our form. That’s what the setElements function is for…

The setElements function is flexible, but I used it to contain a series of arrays that each represent an element in the form. The keys are the element names – “handle”, “passwd” and “process” – and each is a subarray with several settings defined inside. Things like the type of element, the text to have before it (Solar_Form does a basic layout), if the field is required, and how to validate it. On both the username (handle) and password (passwd) fields, I added a simple notBlank with a message to ensure that there’s something in the field. The last item, “process”, is the simplest.

Now the real fun begins – we have our form defined and the $auth object made so we can validate the username and password that’s entered, now we just need to grab the results of the form’s submission and perform the check. We can do this by creating a Solar_Request instance with direct access to the HTTP request. The value we need to watch for on the submit (the value of the “process” form element) is pulled into the $process variable via a call to post() on the request object. The “if” statement then checks for the value of it and, if it’s set, tries to perform the validation.

The processLogin() method called on the $auth object is what does the work here. It runs the check and then, if everything’s okay, sets the status property of the $auth object to “VALID”. The populate() function just repopulates the form’s values back into it (just in case it fails) and the validate() that’s called checked our form’s validation (like the notBlanks we added earlier). The isValid method called on the $auth object checks to see if the status property has been set to “VALID” indicating that the authentication was a success.

The next part is simple – if it’s a success, it outputs a success message and if not, tells the user that it was an “invalid login”. Right below the if statement is a handy little setting that I like because I want to control things in my form – the feedback setting. If set to false, it can silence the feedback that Solar automatically gives.

Remember how I said that the $forms property would come in handy later on? Well, the last part of this script is where it’s at. The Solar_Form object is appended to the $forms array, a value passed out into the view.

Speaking of the view, let’s see how this is all outputted:


echo $this->escape($this->output);
echo $this->form($this->forms[‘test_form’]);


Is this a great framework or what? That’s all it takes to fire off the form in your View and the rest is handled behind the scenes in the controller. There was also someone mentioning the other day (in #solarphp on Freenode – I just can’t promote them enough!) that was talking about using the Solar_User class to do much of the same thing. I opted for Solar_Auth mainly because there were just more docs for it on the Solar website, making it easier to get into. Might have to try that one next though….



  1. It’s the one started further up in that action (see the $auth->start() above it).There’s a property inside there that, when the user successfully passes your validation method, it set to “VALID”. That’s what this method checks as far as I can tell, not anything in the actual login.


  2. Thanks for the tutorial. For us newbies that can miss a few critical things, add:

    public $forms;
    public $output;

    and the config array should be:

    $config = array(
    ‘sql’ => $sql,
    ‘adapter’ => ‘Solar_Auth_Adapter_Sql’,
    ‘table’ => ‘users’,
    ‘handle_col’ => ‘username’,
    ‘passwd_col’ => ‘password’,
    ‘uid_col’ => ‘id’,
    ‘process_login’ => ‘submit login’

    At least that is what worked for me.


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