AJAX Form Submit with CakePHP 2.x

CakePHP has some great tools for a PHP developer to crank out JavaScript functions using only PHP. The JsHelper supports Prototype/Scriptaculous, Mootools/Mootools-more, and jQuery/jQuery UI. Refer to the CakePHP Book for details on all the functions provided by the JsHelper. In this example we're going to look at a creating a contact form that submits via AJAX, but also works properly for users without JavaScript.

For information on how to use CakePHP Pagination and Sorting with AJAX read this article AJAX Pagination and Sorting with CakePHP 2.x.

  1. First, create a contact form in the view

    echo $this->Form->create('Contacts', array('default' => false));
    // default = false sets the submit button not to submit
    // so we can use AJAX. Still works for users w/o javascript
    echo $this->Form->input('Contacts.name');
    echo $this->Form->input('Contacts.email');
    echo $this->Form->input('Contacts.message');
    echo $this->Form->end('Submit');
  2. Write the PHP code using the JsHelper. This snippet can go directly after the form in the view, or at the bottom of the view. Here is basic concept behind the JavaScript function:

    • Get the contact form element by CSS selector
    • Serialize the form
    • Perform AJAX request using the serialized form data
    • Update a specified div with the AJAX response

    The final JavaScript code will look like this:

    // JsHelper should be loaded in $helpers in controller
    // Form ID: #ContactsContactForm
    // Div to use for AJAX response: #contactStatus
    $data = $this->Js->get('#ContactsContactForm')->serializeForm(array('isForm' => true, 'inline' => true));
        array('action' => 'contact', 'controller' => 'contacts'),
            'update' => '#contactStatus',
            'data' => $data,
            'async' => true,   
            'method' => 'POST'
    echo $this->Js->writeBuffer();
  3. Finally, now that the view is all hooked up, make sure to handle the AJAX request in your controller.

    // In the controller
    public function contact() {
      if ($this->request->is('ajax')) {
        // Use data from serialized form
        // print_r($this->request->data['Contacts']); // name, email, message
        $this->render('contact-ajax-response', 'ajax'); // Render the contact-ajax-response view in the ajax layout

And that's it! In the controller, you can specify different logic whether it is an ajax request, post, or get. Using the example above we can use form data to interact with the server using AJAX and update the user's page. Don't forget you'll need to include the JsHelper in your controller or AppController.