Category Archives: PHP

Joomla 3 Module with selectable template output

I’ve been working on a Joomla based website the past few weeks, and getting my head around the world according to Joomla 3.  I’ve been using modules for various parts of the web pages, and today I wanted to have a module adjust is output based on a configuration setting.

In the Joomla backend, you create a ‘module’ instance that acts as a conduit for the actual module code.  You specify where and when that instance will appear on the user pages. There are quite a lot of parameters you can specify, but I needed to be able to switch how the module renders its content.

To do this I added an entry to the modules XML file in the <config> section:


This added an entry ‘Layout’ in the Advanced tab for my module instance in module manager.

I also duplicated the default.php file in my module tmpl folder, and named it alt-view.php for now.  With that done, going to the advanced tab in module manager for my module, I could select either default or alt-view as the layout.

In order for the module to use the right template, I needed to modify the main module code.  My module is called cfviewposts, so mod_cfviewposts.php contains the main entry point for the module.

The last line of the PHP code loads the template and then execution rolls into it.  I changed it to the following line

require JModuleHelper::getLayoutPath('mod_cfviewposts',$params->get("layout","default"));

This pulls the ‘layout’ param from the module parameters, and if it’s not present, defaults to ‘default’ which will load default.php from mod_cfviewposts/tmpl.

So now I can create a 2nd instance of my module, and using the newly minted advanced configuration option, select the alternate output when that module is displayed.

PHP and string addition

One of the problems of working on a website, is you’re constantly switching between Javascript and PHP.  Nothing worse than trying to track down an error to discover you’ve concatenated two strings in PHP thinking it was javascript…

$string1 + $string2 <> $string1 .  $string2

You’d think the $ in front of the variable names would have been a clue…


Removing empty entries in a PHP array

I’m working on some PHP code right now, and I need to split a URI path and recombine it with some changes.  However, I ran into an issue using explode.  This is what I had:

$parts = explode('/',$path);

This worked as expected, unless the URI ended with a ‘/’, in which case I ended up with an empty string as the last item.  Also, if it started with a ‘/’ then I’d get an empty string at the start.  I decided to fix this using array_filter with the default predicate, like so:

$parts = array_filter(explode('/',$path));

Job done, right? Nope! Turns out array_filter doesn’t reindex anything, so my array ended up with no [0] entry, and $parts[count($parts)-1] didn’t return the last entry anymore.  I needed to rebuild the array with new indexes.  Solved it by using array_values like so:

$parts = array_values(array_filter(explode('/',$path)));

If it was mission critical, maybe it would be more efficient to create an iterator that loops over the exploded array and appends any non-zero length strings to a new array, but I’ll save that for another day.

Json_encode and PHP 5.2.17

A server I push PHP scripts to is still running PHP 5.2.17 – its insanely old, almost 5 years!

I discovered that if I try to use that version of json_encode and pass it a string with unicode characters, I get nulls back where I should have UTF-8 encoded strings!  The code works fine on my local server, running PHP 7.0.15.

The fix for this is pretty simple, but worth noting for future reference:

 $text = utf8_encode($row[$key]);

Where $row is an assoc. array and $key points to the value I want to push into my array which in turn is encoded with:

$json = json_encode($items);

Without the ‘utf8_encode’ I just get nulls in my encoded string 🙁