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Posts Tagged ‘Smarty’

Templating with Smarty for Ajax Enabled Applications

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

JavaScript is the future

The future is pretty clear to me, JavaScript will be the one and only on the web.
And I mean both on the client side and the server side. Am I going crazy?
Just wait for node.js to be ready for prime time and let the YUI Library be finished with the application framework, then we start talking.

However, while we wait for the day of the grand merging of technologies, we still have to do some work and keep the code nicely organized. Smarty helps me to do that. I use Smarty templates to separate code from presentation and (among other things) Smarty plugins to organize my code.

In the meanwhile, get YUI and AJAX to work nicely with Smarty and PHP

When I started using Ajax it was with the help of Xajax. What I like of Xajax is that it allows me to target a single function right from the client code, and to control the JavaScript code from inside the PHP code. A pretty fine grained 2-way communication.

Now that I use YUI more and more, I wanted to get rid of the duplication of JavaScript code that is caused by having to load both the Xajax and the YUI JavaScript libraries. Anyone serious about JavaScript would have no doubt, I had to say goodbye to Xajax.

However, YUI is naturally slanted to the JavaScript side. With YUI you produce modules and stuff that encapsulate XHR transactions, and you pass a url to the transaction. On the server side you’re on your own for how to organize your code in a manageable way.

Manageable to me means among other things that:

  • I can include my php files from wherever I want, especially from outside my server root
  • I can have a one-to-one relationship between the page I’m showing to the user and the code that supports it
  • I don’t need to create extra urls just to pull in responses to my JavaScript code
  • I don’t have to reinvent a new set of conventions each time I write some JavaScript code

These are the things I felt YUI was making difficult to me.

To make up for this I’ve developed a set of two modules: inlineXHR(php), a lightweight PHP module, that works together with inlineXHR, a lightweight JavaScript module for YUI 3. With the two inlineXHR modules, I have re-established a fine grained 2-way communication between my PHP code on the server side and my JavaScript code on the client.

Now I can again target directly from JavaScript, PHP functions, class methods and Smarty plugins. All AJAX / JSON stuff is taken care of once and for all, the cursor is spinning when it has to, errors are logged to console or popped up in alerts, and I can write PHP code without even thinking about the fact that the output has to be sent through the wire, as JSON.

If you use YUI and PHP, and you too think that life is too nice to use time reinventing the wheel each time a JS code need to talk to your server, you might want to give it a try. It’s free, open source and BSD licensed.

Click to see usage instructions and working examples