Getting Started with Fuel CMS, Part 2

By Alexander Cogneau

Getting Started with Fuel CMS

In the previous article you learned about the basics of Fuel CMS: how to create views and simple pages. Most websites these days are not that simple though, they have a blog, a gallery, etc. In this part, I’ll explain how Fuel CMS modules work and create a basic guestbook module to demonstrate.

What are Modules?

Most of Fuel CMS’s functionality is packaged into modules. A Fuel CMS module contains at least one model with an accompanying database table and can be extend with controllers and views.

In the MVC pattern, models are classes that define different data fields and are used for working with the data stored in tables. For more information about models in CodeIgniter (the framework which Fuel CMS is written in), see the framework’s documentation.

In a default Fuel CMS installation, standard modules are included by default. For example, the blog system is built up from three modules: Posts, Categories, and Authors. Each of these modules has its own table in your database. In this article we’ll be creating our own guestbook module. Everyone can post new comments and an administrator can moderate them through the administration menu.

Writing the Model

Start with creating the directory modules/guestbook. From now on, I will refer to this directory as the “guestbook folder”.

To register the module, open application/config/MY_fuel_modules.php and add the following line to:

$config['modules']['guestbook'] = array(
    'model_name' => 'guestbookcomments_model',
    'model_location' => 'guestbook'

We’ve set the model_name key with the name of a model file (which we’ll create shortly) and the model_location key with the name of the new directory. Fuel CMS will now look for the model in modules/guestbook/models. (See Fuel CMS’s user guide for a full list of parameters.)

Next, create the guestbook table in your database with the following SQL:

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS guestbook_comments (
    author VARCHAR(25) NULL NULL,
    comment VARCHAR(100) NOT NULL,
    visible ENUM('yes', 'no') NOT NULL DEFAULT 'yes',

    PRIMARY KEY (id)

The purpose of each column should be clear based on the names; the table stores guestbook comments with the comment author’s name, the date, and whether the entry is visible or not (the visible column is special to Fuel CMS).

Next let’s turn our attention to creating the model class which acts as a kind of translator between PHP and the database. Go to the guestbook folder and create a new directory in it named models. Then add the model file in it named guestbookcomments_model.php:

if (!defined('BASEPATH')) exit('No direct script access allowed');
require_once(FUEL_PATH . 'models/base_module_model.php');

class GuestbookComments_model extends Base_module_model
    public function __construct()

class GuestbookComment_model extends Base_module_record

This is just the basis for our module. GuestbookComments_model extends the Base_module_model class which will handle our listing and administration interactions automatically. The string passed into the parent constructor is the name of the database table this model will use. GuestbookComment_model extends Base_module_record which handles working with individual records.

If you want you can test it out and see if it works, log in into your dashboard and select ‘Guestbook’ from the Modules submenu. Normally there would be a list of comments, but as we don’t have any data yet the list is empty, so click on the Create button to add one.

When you return to the list, you should see the comment you just added. As more and more people will leave comments in the guestbook, this is the place where you’ll go to moderate them and keep your guestbook free from spam.

Creating the Controller

This is all very cool and such, but you obviously don’t want to be the only person able to add comments! We need to create a controller to handle the public-facing actions.

Create the directory controllers in the guestbook folder, and then in that create the file guestbook.php with the following:

class Guestbook extends CI_Controller
    function view()
        echo '<h1>Guestbook</h1>';
        $this->load->module_model('guestbook', 'GuestbookComments_model');
        $comments = $this->GuestbookComments_model->find_all();
        foreach ($comments as $comment) {
            echo '<h2>' . $comment->author . '</h2>';
            echo $comment->comment;

You can access controller actions by using the controller name and then the action name in the URL. So, to see the view, navigate to http://localhost/guestbook/view (or whatever your development address may be) in your browser.

Most of the code used in the controller is CodeIgniter except for the module_model() method. The first argument is the name of the modules directory, in our case ‘guestbook’, and the second argument is the name of our model class that extended Base_module_model.

After we’ve registered our module’s model, we use it’s find_all() method and we loop through the results to display them. (It’s preferable to use a view instead of having display logic in your controller, but I want to keep things simple for the sake of this article.)

A guestbook isn’t really useful without an option to add a new comment, is it? Add a new method to the controller:

public function add()
            'form_attrs' => array(
                'method' => 'post',
                'action' => 'newcomment'
            'submit_value' => 'Add new comment',
            'textarea_rows' => '5',
            'textarea_cols' => '28'

    $fields = array(
        'name' => array(
            'label' => 'Full Name',
            'required' => true
        'comment' => array(
            'type' => 'text',
            'label' => 'Comment',
            'required' => true
    echo $this->form_builder->render();

Now when we go to http://localhost/guestbook/add we should see the form.

We used Fuel CMS’s form builder to give everything a nice, clean look and avoid writing the HTML ourselves. We first load the form_builder library and then pass it some arguments to define the properties and elements of the form. Check the documentation for a full listing.

The form’s action is ‘newcomment’, so we need to create a new method in the controller to handle the form submission:

public function newcomment()
    $this->load->module_model('guestbook', 'GuestbookComments_model');
    $comment = $this->GuestbookComments_model->create();
    $comment->author = $this->input->post('name');
    $comment->date = date('Y-m-d G:i:s');
    $comment->comment = $this->input->post('comment');

    echo 'comment successfully added';

We load the guestbook model, assign the incoming data to its members, and then save it to the database. Finally, a success message is issued that says everything has been added to the database.


As you’ve seen, Fuel CMS doesn’t provide pre-packaged solutions for many things like large CMS platforms do; a lot is left up to you as a developer. But luckily, it’s not hard thanks to the CodeIgniter framework and Fuel CMS’s helper libraries.

Image via Fotolia

Meet the author
  • Jon Whittlestone

    Hi there..
    This tutorial seems to be missing a step as after I’ve registered the Guestbook module, I cannot choose create in the admin interface. I get the following message – any advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks!


    • Alexander Cogneau

      Hi, can you confirm that this file exists: /fuel/modules/guestbook/models/guestbookcomments_model.php ?


  • Raf

    Great job thanks !


Learn Coding Online
Learn Web Development

Start learning web development and design for free with SitePoint Premium!

Get the latest in PHP, once a week, for free.