WYSIWYGPro Helper and tutorial for CakePHP

I couldn't find any resources on setting up WYSIWYGPro with Cake so I developed this helper along with instructions for total integration with your system. If you've never used WYSIWYGPro, you should check out the demos. I've tried every WYSIWYG editor out there and none of the other ones even come close as far as I'm concerned.

WYSIWYGPro is actually PHP based. It assumes a PHP backend and has a lot of callbacks, tie ins, configuration, and extension options. From a purely interface standpoint it's tremendously more stable than any other that I've used (especially when switching from source editing and back) and provides valid XHTML. Images and can be inserted and displayed in-line making it feel much more like a desktop editor. There's even a full screen mode.

I mentioned integration. For images, documents, and media files WYSIWYGPro will allow you to give users file browsing access wherever you allow, thumbnail image selection, uploading right there in the interface, as well as alignment, padding, rotation, resizing and title editing (with preview). Even video thumbnails with ffmpeg and customizable embedded flash players.

There's also a hyperlink interface that makes creating direct links and mail to links easy. One of the extensions offers the ability to load a tree list of URLs from your site so that your end users can just pick the page that they want to link to rather than copying and pasting URLs. The logic for creating this tree is up to you but I'll show you how I did it for an example.

There's even a copy and paste from Word feature that will selectively strip out all of that messy Microsoft Word formatting for you. Every feature can be easily turned on and off as well.

The downside to WYSIWYGPro of course, it's not free. It is pretty reasonable though, however, those types of decisions are up to you.

Check it out at: WYSIWYGPro

Once you have everything setup as detailed below, all that you have to do to use WYSIWYGPro in your code will be:

<?php echo $wysiwygpro->input('Content.stuff') ?> 

On to setup. Once you've downloaded WYSIWYGPro, drop the entire folder into app/webroot/wysiwygPro. I realize that the vendors folder is where this kind've thing should usually go, however, there's a lot of files and images that WYSIWYGPro automatically links to and it's tremendously simpler this way.

Next, there are a couple of configuration files to edit. Open up wysiwygPro/config.inc.php and find line 90 which should be:


should be either PHP or WP. WP allows WYSIWYGPro to handle their session information independently. PHP will uses the default PHP sessions. If you'd like to include your own session logic, you may wish to take a look at the wysiwygPro/conf/customSessHandlers.inc.php file to add your own custom session handler. I wrote one for this exact purpose which you can find here:

Using Cake Sessions Outside of Cake

This seems to have issues when using Cake's database sessions but only on IIS. Works fine otherwise and I'm not sure what the issue is with IIS. Haven't had any problems with a LAMP configuration though.

For easiest use though, I recommend setting to WP. It will work independently of your stuff, you don't have to worry about session names, etc. Much simpler. You'll also want to make sure that the wysiwygPro/temp directory is writable.

The one giant warning from WYSIWYGPro is not to allow access to any of the uploader or browser functions by default. This is how it is already setup. Those should be set when you create the editor and they are stored in session. That way you can create settings specially for your logged in users, giving them access to their own personal directory, etc.


The helper actually has 2 files, a configuration file and the helper itself. Both can be found at our public GitHub account here:

Source Code on GitHub

You'll want to drop the config file into your app/config folder. It's setup as a standard Configure::load() file. All of your application defaults can be set here to be used by the helper. You can also change any settings you wish every time that you call the helper.

Let's look at the part of the configuration file:


$config['Wysiwygpro']['htmlCharset'] = 'UTF-8';

$config['Wysiwygpro']['operaSupport'] = true;

//Disabled but likely requested features: fontcolor, highlight

$config['Wysiwygpro']['disableFeatures'] = array(array('print','outdent','indent','full','fontcolor','spacer','emoticon','snippets','highlight','dirltr','dirrtl','bookmark'));
//Add buttons not included by default

$config['Wysiwygpro']['addRegisteredButton'] = array('document','after:link');


The settings prefixed with _ are special settings for the helper itself. Others are all references to either functions or properties used by WYSIWYGPro itself. The settings are iterated through, detecting either method or property within WYSIWYGPro and setting them appropriately. If you notice, the disableFeatures setting is using array(array( syntax. That's because the functions are called using php's call_user_func_array and if we want to pass an array as the first argument of a function, that array must be the first value of the passed array.

This structure allows you to call any WYSIWYGPro setting even if I haven't included it in the config file, just reference the developer documentation to expand on everything.

Other settings such as directory defaults are fairly self-explanatory. There are 3 types, images, documents, and media. Images and Media can be directly embedded, document (including images and media) can be linked to.

$config['Wysiwygpro']['_directory_settings'] = array(
   'image' => array(
      'type' => 'image',
      'dir' => WWW_ROOT . 'img',
      'URL' => '/img',
      'name' => 'All Images',
      'editImages' => false,
      'renameFiles' => false,
      'renameFolders' => false,
      'deleteFiles' => false,
      'deleteFolders' => false,
      'copyFiles' => true,
      'copyFolders' => true,
      'moveFiles' => false,
      'moveFolders' => false,
      'upload' => true,
      'overwrite' => false,
      'createFolders' => true,
      'filters' => array('Thumbnails')

The 'directories' setting is where you specify which directories you actually want to be available.

$config['Wysiwygpro']['directories'] = array(
      array('type' => 'image'),
      array('type' => 'document'),
      array('type' => 'media'),
      array( //Example of including a custom directory
         'type' => 'image',
         'dir' => WWW_ROOT . 'img/mine',
         'URL' => '/img/mine',
         'name' => 'My Images',
         'editImages' => true,
         'renameFiles' => true,

Here we've include 4 directories, an image, document, and media directory using the default settings and an image directory using some custom settings. The full example is available in the config file. Directories that are missing will be created using the '_directory_permissions' setting.

You can also provide a list of styles for end users to use. I find this is preferable to giving full font/color control to most people so you can limit the available options to only your chosen styles.

//Provide a list of styles that users can choose from
$config['Wysiwygpro']['stylesMenu'] = array( 
       'p' => 'Paragraph',
       'div' => 'Div',
       'h2' => 'Heading 2',
       'h3' => 'Heading 3',
       'h4' => 'Heading 4',
       'h5' => 'Heading 5',
       'blockquote' => 'Blockquote',
       'p class="warning"' => 'Warning Box' //Example of a style with a class

You can also have the editor use a specified CSS file to format the contents. It's not included in the config file by default, but you could easily do something like this seeing that the function is available here:

WYSIWYGPro Developer Docs - addStylesheet


The helper itself uses the form helper to generate the standard Cake textarea code (complete with div/label structure) and then replaces the text area with WYSIWYGPro. For sheer visibility sake, I altered the code if an error is present on the field to place the error-message div BEFORE the WYSIWYG simply because it's more readable to have the small label and small error before the large editor. The code doing that is on line 124-132.

You've already seen all of the configuration settings in the config file, but what if you want to override some of them on the fly.

echo $wysiwygpro->input('Content.stuff',
                         array('alt' => 'some normal options'),
                             '_editor_height' => '200px',
                             'directories' => array(
                                    array( //Example of including a custom directory
                                     'type' => 'image',
                                     'dir' => WWW_ROOT . 'img/mine/' . $session->read('Auth.User.id'),
                                     'URL' => '/img/mine/' . $session->read('Auth.User.id'),
                                     'name' => 
                                           . ' Images',
                                     'editImages' => true,
                                     'renameFiles' => true,

Here we've changed the editor height setting for this instance and added a special image directory for the current user where they can edit and rename images.

Menu Links

To include links from your own system you can add a plugin that will map out your link structure for users to simply pick a page to link to from a list rather than copying and pasting URLs.

$config['Wysiwygpro']['loadPlugin'] = 'MySiteLinks';

You can use WYSIWYGPro's built in javascript tree code (which we'll do in this example) or even provide a path to an iFrame where you generate your own. Details on how are included in the WYSIWYGPro online documentation.

If you'd like to do this though, create a folder called webroot/wysiwygPro/plugins/MySiteLinks that contains a single file, plugin.php. I've set mine to look for a CakePHP /tmp/cache/persistent file created using the Object::persist function. This file contains the link tree that I created from a function in my content controller (also shown shortly afterwards).

If the file isn't found, I'm using a curl to trigger the function which will build these links. I'm doing that for simplicity in this example, however, I would strongly recommend using a cake shell rather than exposing this function publicly. I cannot emphasize enough, if you want to use integrated URLs this is nothing more than an example and you will need to build your own for your own site/CMS.

if (!defined('IN_WPRO')) exit;

class wproPlugin_MySiteLinks {
    function onBeforeGetLinks(&$editor) {
       $editor->links = $this->linkList();
    function linkList() {
        if(!defined('DS')) define('DS',DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR);

        list($app,$plug) = explode('webroot',dirname(__FILE__));
        $links = $app . 'tmp' . DS . 'cache' . DS . 'persistent' . DS . 'wysiwygpro.php';
        if(file_exists($links)) return $this->loadLinks($links);
        else { //Generate the list
           $cmd = 'curl http://' . $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'] . '/content/generate_links';

           if(file_exists($links)) return $this->loadLinks($links);
    function loadLinks($filename) {
       if(isset($wysiwygpro)) {
          $links = unserialize($wysiwygpro);
          return $links[0];

The built in WYSIWYGPro tree, just needs an array in the structure of:

   0 => array(
      'title' => 'link title here',
      'URL'   => '/somewhere/view/stuff-article-here',
      'children' => array(...more of the same)

And here's how I created the link tree file used above, organized by Category.

    function generateWYSIWYGProLinks() {
       $out = array();
       $cats = $this->Category->find('all',array('fields' => array('Category.name','Category.slug','Category.id')));
       foreach($cats AS $c) {
          $out[$c['Category']['id']] = array(
             'title' => $c['Category']['name'],
             'children' => array());
       $links = $this->find('all',array('fields' => array('Content.title','Content.slug','Content.category_id','Content.parent_id','Category.slug')));
      foreach($links AS $l) {
         $link = array('title' => $l['Content']['title'],'URL' => Router::url(array(
            'controller' => 'content',
            'action' => 'view',
            'category' => $l['Category']['slug'],
            'slug' => $l['Content']['slug'],
            'admin' => false
         $out[$l['Content']['category_id']]['children'][] = $link;

And finally, the code is publicly available on our GitHub account.

I hope everyone gets some use out of this. If anybody sees room for improvement, just add them in the comments and I will update the code.

This article is published at The Bakery.

About Me

My name is Barry Jones and Brightball is my consulting company. We help business leaders understand the long term effects of their technical decisions as well as navigating the process of interviewing software developers.

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