The Twitter Bootstrap css library is a great starting point for putting together nice looking web apps. We’ve found it very useful for building wireframes quickly. Giving clients something they can actually use and click on in a web browser is wonderful. The bootstrap has many different UI elements that can be combined to build great looking views. Naturally, having a view helper in CakePHP to construct many of the reusable elements would be nice.

Twitter Bootstrap Helper

Thats where the Twitter Bootstrap Helper comes in. The helper is a collection of methods that build many of the reusable blocks of markup in the bootstrap.

Bootstrap Labels

The first of the reusable elements in the bootstrap are the stylized label blocks. These are small bits of text that have a colored background. The label() method takes a string message and a label type. The valid types are “warning”, “success”, “important”, “notice” (passing no type adds no extra class so the background is grey).

echo $this->TwitterBootstrap->label("Label Message", "warning");

Bootstrap Form Methods

Twitter Bootstrap comes with excellent form and input styles. The default markup that the FormHelper::input() method generates doesn’t match what the bootstrap styles need. We’ve added an input() method to build the appropriate markup. This method takes two params; the field and an array of options.

echo $this->TwitterBootstrap->input("field_name", array(
    "help_inline" => "Inline help text",
    "help_block" => "Block help text"

This method could optionally take a single param as an array. You can also pass in the input that will be used, if you need to set special options on the field like a class or id.

echo $this->TwitterBootstrap->input(array(
    "field" => "field_name",
    "input" => $this->Form->text("field_name", array("class" => "field-class"),
    "help_inline" => "Inline help text",
    "help_block" => "Block help text"

The Twitter Bootstrap styles has some awesome button styles. Use the button() method to display submit buttons for the form. These take all the same options as the FormHelper::button(), as well as the “style” and “size” options.

echo $this->TwitterBootstrap->button(
    "Button Text",
    array("style" => "primary", "size" => "large")

Bootstrap Links

The same styles that can be applied to buttons can also be applied to links. The button_link() method takes the same parameters as the HtmlHelper::link() method, and allows for the same extra options from the button() method (“style” and “size”)

echo $this->TwitterBootstrap->button_link(
    "Link Text",
    array("style" => "info", "size" => "small")

To go along with the button_link() method, there is also a button_form() method that uses FormHelper::postLink() to build the link. Now you can build links that use other HTTP methods other than GET (think a red delete button).

echo $this->TwitterBootstrap->button_form(
    array("style" => "danger", "size" => "small"),
    "Are you sure?"

Bootstrap Alerts

The bootstrap styles have great alert styles. They work great as replacements for the SessionHelper::flash(). The alert() method takes a sting of content and an array of options. Optionally you can pass in a “style” option to change the colors of the alert, and also a “closable” option to have the close link render as well.

echo $this->TwitterBootstrap->alert(
    "Alert message.",
    array("style" => "success", "closable" => true)

There is also a flash() method that will use the alert() method to render the content of the flash method in the session. This will render the “flash” key by default (which uses the “warning” style).

echo $this->TwitterBootstrap->flash();

A style that we’ve started using is to set the flash message in the controller with the 4th param being the style you’d like the flash to have.

$this->Session->setFlash(__("Flash message."), null, array(), "success");

A convenient method for rendering all the flash methods that have content is flashes(). This will loop through the valid styles (success, warning, error, info), flash, and optionally auth (if “auth” option is passed with value of true), and call the flash method for each of these keys. If there is any content for those keys in the session.

echo $this->TwitterBootstrap->flashes();

Add this one method call to your layout file and then you can set the type of flash to show from the controller. If there are errors, call setFlash() with the key “error”, and if a save was successful, use the “success” key.

The other type of alert in the Twitter Bootstrap is the block alerts. The block() method takes a content string which can (and should) contain markup. The second param is an array of links. Use the button_link() or button_form() methods to fill the block actions container. The last param is an array of options, and the valid options are “style” and “closable”.

echo $this->TwitterBootstrap->block(
    "Content for block message.",
        $this->TwitterBootstrap->button_link("Action in block", "/path"),
        $this->TwitterBootstrap->button_link("Another action", "/another/path")
        "style" => "success",
        "closable" => true

That covers the basic usage of the Twitter Bootstrap CakePHP Helper. Using these methods means you’ll not have to remember all the specific class names to achieve certain styles when using Twitter Bootstrap.

Twitter Bootstrap 2 has released, and we are working on upgrading the Twitter Bootstrap CakePHP Helper to be both backwards compatible with the version that uses Bootstrap 1.4, as well as expose new methods for the newer features. Be on the lookout for another post detailing the specifics of the Twitter Bootstrap CakePHP Helper 2.