Elefant architecture

Elefant, like most server-side frameworks, employs the Model2 pattern, but everyone usually calls it MVC, so to avoid confusion we will too.

Model2 differences from traditional MVC

Model2 separates your application into models, views, and controllers, but unlike traditional MVC, there's no way for models to notify views of updates like there is in desktop MVC implementations, or Javascript MVC frameworks like Backbone.js.

Instead, a controller takes the request and performs any logic necessary to obtain the correct content for the user. That usually means querying the model. From there, the controller passes the data to the view (a template) to be rendered and returns it to the user.


Where Elefant differs from most frameworks is that controllers in Elefant are ordinary PHP scripts instead of objects. At first, this seems like a step back in terms of code organization, but in practice it has no negative impact, and eliminates needless boilerplate code every time you define a controller.

For example, most frameworks implement controllers something like this:


namespace MyappHelloBundleController;

use SymfonyComponentHttpFoundationResponse;

class HelloController {
    public function indexAction ($name) {
        return new Response ('<p>Hello ' . $name . '</p>');


In Elefant, we reduce that to:


echo '<p>Hello ' . $this->params[0] . '</p>';


There are people in the PHP community that claim this is bad practice and leads to spaghetti code. The truth is, the above examples both achieve the exact same thing. Elefant still enforces an organizational structure for developers just like any framework, through its directory structure, and separation of logic and presentation, among other features. We simply focus more on getting things done, and minimize developer overhead wherever we can, so long as it doesn't sacrifice maintainability.

The example above is implemented simply by routing the URL to the right file, then requiring it in the controller object's handle() method. The output is captured and returned using output buffering, so instead of writing to a response object, you can simply echo it like any ordinary PHP script.


Routes in many frameworks need to be specifically defined somewhere to map URLs to controllers. In Elefant, this is done automatically using a simple and consistent convention to map URLs to controller files, called handlers. For example:


Maps to


And this:


Maps to:


And the array $this->params contains two elements: [1, 'first post']. The first part of the URL maps to the name of an app, and the remaining parts map to the name of a handler. If there was a file apps/blog/handlers/post/1.php then it would have mapped to that, but instead it cascades down until it finds a matching file, finally calling the blog app's index.php handler if no other match is found, or if only the app is specified, e.g., the URL /blog.

For more details, see Mapping your routes.

This is a simple URL scheme that is easy to understand, eliminates needless extra code, and still offers full control over URLs to developers.

Note: Since routes are not passed to functions or methods, URL parameters are not named, but you can achieve the same thing by adding a line like this to the top of your handlers:

list ($id, $title) = $this->params;

You can now refer to $this->params[0] as $id and $this->params[1] as $title in your handler. This is the only boilerplate required for controllers, should you wish to name your parameters.

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