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An Extensive Examination of the PHP:DataGrid Component: Part 1

An Extensive Examination of the PHP:DataGrid Component: Part 1


One of the most common tasks in PHP is retrieving data from a database table, and creating a HTML table to output that data. It's done in almost every project, and it's usually a really boring task, because the code is always nearly the same, but not just same enough to be able to copy it.

It often looks some like this (in pseudo-code):

Create database connection
Get data from a table
Output table header (<table)
Loop through each records
... output tr's and td's ...
Output table footer (</table>)

It's a sad fact, but we've already written code like the above hundreds of times. And for every project and script, you have to do it again, again and again.

But why not use a solution that can do it for us? That's exactly what PHP:DataGrid is.

What is PHP:DataGrid?

PHP:DataGrid (http://phpscripts.pallettgroup.com/phpdatagrid/?ref=phpit) is the answer to the above problem. It's basically a PHP component, that's very similar to the ASP.NET DataGrid control. PHP:DataGrid will take care of all the boring tasks leaving you the easy and interesting parts. Very little PHP code is actually necessary for PHP:DataGrid, and you can change its looks and layout using simple HTML tags.

The only downside of PHP:DataGrid is that it's not free. You have to purchase it from TPG PHP Scripts (http://phpscripts.pallettgroup.com/?ref=phpscripts), but it's $24.99 for a Developer license, which grants you permission to use it in all your personal projects, and I certainly believe that the advantages far outweigh the cost. Even only the time saved by PHP:DataGrid is already worth the cost for me. (editor's note: use coupon code phpit for a 10% discount!).

Let's have an actual look at PHP:DataGrid. If you don't want to purchase the component yourself, then you can always have a look at the demo's only.

The Basics

To create a new datagrid, we must use the php:datagrid tag. This tells the PHP:DataGrid component that a datagrid must be shown. The only thing that we must set is the name of the datagrid. This is a required attribute, and cannot be left out. A simple datagrid looks like this:

<php:datagrid name="test"></php:datagrid>

That's the only thing necessary to display a datagrid. But we're forgetting one thing - we haven't binded any data to the datagrid yet. If you forget to do this, nothing will be displayed, except for an error.

Binding Data

Binding data to a datagrid is really easy, and requires only one line of real PHP code. The PHP:DataGrid component automatically creates a variables called $_DATAGRID (not a superglobal (http://www.php.net/variables.predefined), unfortunately). To bind data, you have to call the bind() method on the $_DATAGRID variable, like so:

$_DATAGRID->bind('test', $data);

That's all! The test datagrid will now be shown, with the data contained in the $data variable. The $data variable must be an array that was retrieved using mysql_fetch_array() and a loop (see the datagrid example below if you're unsure about this) or similar format. In any case, it should look like this:

Array(    [0] => Array        (            [id] => 1            [title] => Item 1            [category] => 4        )    [1] => Array        (            [id] => 2            [title] => Item 2            [category] => 7        )    [2] => Array        (            [id] => 3            [title] => Item 3            [category] => 3        ))

The above is a valid $data array. It won't accept any other format, and an error will be shown if you do bind a different format.

An Example

The below code is a working example of a simple datagrid. It retrieves the 10 latest tutorials from the PHPit.net database, and shows it in a datagrid.

<?php// Include PHP:DataGridinclude ('/path/to/phpdatagrid.php');// Connect to database$link = mysql_connect ('localhost', 'sa', '[db-pass]');// Select databasemysql_select_db('phpit', $link);// Do query and Get data$result = mysql_query ("SELECT title, description, author, datetimestamp, filename FROM tutorial ORDER BY datetimestamp DESC LIMIT 0, 10");$data = array();while($row = mysql_fetch_array($result, MYSQL_ASSOC)) {	array_push ($data, $row);}// Bind data (THIS IS IMPORTANT)$_DATAGRID->bind ('test', $data);?><html>	<head>		<title>PHP:DataGrid Demo 1</title>	</head>	<body>		<h1>PHP:DataGrid Demo 1</h1>		<p>Demonstrating a simple PHP:DataGrid, and nothing more.</p>			<php:datagrid name="test"></php:datagrid>		<br />		<a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.phpit.net/article/datagrid-1/"><strong>&laquo; Return to the article</strong></a>	</body></html>[ View live demo (http://www.phpit.net/demo/datagrid%20examination/datagrid1.php) ]

As you can see little code is used for the datagrid. Most of the code is actually spent on connecting to the MySQL database, and getting the data. If you use any kind of database class, this will be significantly easier.

If you have a look at the datagrid, you will notice that it looks ugly, and pretty bad. That's because we haven't added any styling at all. But that will have to wait until Part 2 of our DataGrid series.


In this part of our DataGrid series, we've looked at the basics of the PHP:DataGrid component: what it is, and how to put it on our website. But it doesn't look pretty yet, and in the next parts we'll be looking at creating a pretty datagrid, and talk about more of its functions (e.g. templates, inline editing, sorting and more!).

Click here to view the PHP:DataGrid Product Page (http://phpscripts.pallettgroup.com/phpdatagrid/?ref=phpit)

Don't forget - use coupon code phpit for a 10% discount!

Submitted by:

Dennis Pallett

Dennis Pallett is a young web developer, currently still studying. He owns several websites, including PHPit (http://www.phpit.net) and WebDev-Articles (http://www.webdev-articles.com). If you would like to reach him, you can contact him at writing@nocertainty.com



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