Making your own apps

An app is a collection of files that perform a common set of functionality. Elefant itself is written as a series of apps on top of the base framework.

Elefant's apps have the following folder structure:

        conf/                                # configurations
        css/                                 # custom stylesheets
        forms/                               # form validations
        handlers/                            # request handlers (aka controllers)
        js/                                  # custom javascript
        lib/                                 # class libraries
        models/                              # data models
        views/                               # view templates

Each app has its own sub-folder inside the apps folder. Each part of the app is optional, so you only need to create the parts that are necessary for the functionality you're building.

For example, if your app is just a couple classes, then you would only need a lib folder (of course, then you may as well make them usable by other projects and distribute them through Packagist). Or if your app only needs a single handler script, then you only need a handlers folder with your handler in it.

Generating your app scaffolding

You can use the following command to generate a base scaffold for a new app:

./elefant build-app myapp

This will create a new barebones app structure in apps/myapp.

Classes and namespaces

Elefant's autoloader will try to resolve class names, with or without namespaces, against the global lib folder, the lib and models folders of apps, and the lib/vendor folder. This means namespaces are optional, however it is encouraged that you use your app's name as the namespace for classes and models that belong to your app. For example:


namespace myapp;

class SomeClass {


This keeps namespaces concise and makes it easy to find the source of any given class.

The autoloader will fall back to PSR-0 style autoloading if no class matches via the first method, or any other autoloader such as PSR-4 or another framework's autoloader.

The elefant.json file

elefant.json is a JSON-formatted file that describes your app (name, version, author, etc.) for sharing with others. It describes your app so that Elefant's app/theme installer can verify and install your app onto someone else's website (see Sharing your apps).

Configuration files


The ACL file lists any custom resources your app should add to Elefant's user roles, for example:

; <?php /*

designer = "Edit design themes"
designer/installer = "Install new apps/themes"

; */ ?>


The CLI file lists any handlers that should be run from the command line. These are added to the ./elefant command's list of extended commands. For example:

; <?php /*

commands[resque/run] = Start running the Resque workers

; */ ?>


The config file stores the custom configuration options for your app, as well as an [Admin] section that Elefant uses to include apps in the Tools menu. Your configuration options here are available anywhere via Appconf::get ('myapp', 'Section', 'setting').

See App Configurations for more information on the config file options.


The embed file lists handlers that you want to include in the Dynamic Objects menu of the WYSIWYG editor. Since dynamic objects can specify input parameters, we use INI section blocks named after the handlers with the parameters listed below, for example:

; <?php /*


label = "Blog: RSS Viewer"
icon = rss

url[label] = RSS Link
url[type] = text
url[not empty] = 1
url[regex] = "|^http://.+$|"
url[message] = Please enter a valid URL.

; */ ?>

Input parameter settings include:

  • callback - A PHP function or method to call to retrieve a list of values for select fields.
  • initial - The initial value to default to.
  • filter - A PHP function or method call to filter the value entered before it is added to the embed code. Filters should take the value itself and a second $reverse parameter so that they can reverse the filter to return the original value. This way the original value can be edited again.
  • label - The text to display to the user.
  • message - The validation error message to display to the user.
  • require - A PHP library file to include for a callback function or method.
  • type - The input field type. Supported types currently include file, select, text, and textarea.
  • values - A comma-separated list of values for select fields.

Additional settings are interpreted as input validation rules.


The fields file lists any custom field types defined by your app. These will be available in the Custom Fields editor under any of the content types that support custom fields, such as web pages, blog posts, and users.

For more info, see writing dynamic custom fields.


The helpers file lists any handlers that you wish to denote as helpers to be used by other developers in their own apps. These will be listed when a user runs the ./elefant list-helpers command. For example:

; <?php /*

user/login = 1
user/sidebar = 1
user/util/userchooser = 1

; */ ?>


These contain the initial database schema for your app's models. Alternately, you can use the Database Migrations app to create and manage your schemas.


The payments file lists any handlers that adheres to Elefant's payment processing interface, which allows your app to act as a payment processor for other apps. For example:

; <?php /*

stripe/payment = "Stripe Payments"

; */ ?>

Next: Request-response cycle

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This documentation was generated by the Elefant Documentation Project. We're always open to new contributions *wink* *wink*