Saturday, 5 November 2011

CakePHP: Storing multi-dimentional arrays in cookies

II didn't know that cookies are basically plain text data. This makes it impossible to store complex data structures directly inside a cookie. More information can be found in the archives of the CakePHP google group following this link.

The bottom line is that complex data need to be serialized before being saved in a cookie and unserialized after they are read from one. The serialize() and unserialize() PHP functions are here to do the job and last but not least the third parameter of the Cookie::write call -- the one that instructs cake to encrypt the cookie data -- should be set to true.

So to save a controller's form data you need to write something like this:

    $dataToSave = serialize($this->data);
    $this->Cookie->write( self::SEARCH_DATA_KEY, $dataToSave, true, '1 year');

and to read them back ....

        if (empty($this->data)) {
            // try to see if we have a stored cookie
            $cookieData = $this->Cookie->read(self::SEARCH_DATA_KEY);                        
            if (empty($cookieData)) {
               // provide default values here 
            } else 
                $this->data = unserialize($cookieData);            

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