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Let’s Play with CodeIgniter

Getting started with CodeIgniter

Getting started with CodeIgniter

Here’s a basic introduction to CodeIgniter, an open source Web framework that helps to quickly develop dynamic websites with PHP.

To get started, you need to install the framework (I assume you already have a working Web and database server set up). Download the zip file from here; extract it, and move the folder to your Web server’s DocumentRoot (usually /var/www/).

While moving it, I renamed the extracted codeigniter folder to ci2 to save on typing. Now, in a browser, visit http://localhost/ci2/. If you see something like what’s shown in Figure 1, CodeIgniter has been successfully installed.

CodeIgniter welcome screen
Figure 1: CodeIgniter welcome screen

The page has a user guide link for help, if you need it. CodeIgniter also has a very huge and supportive online forum community.


CodeIgniter follows the MVC (Model-View-Controller) software architecture for development. View and Controller are necessary, while Model is optional. MVC’s greatest strength lies in the fact that it divides the application. If you need to change database queries, you don’t touch other files, and vice-versa.

Listed below are the files that MVC is made up of:
Model: All database-related work is done through the model file.
View: The frontend view (here, HTML) design is contained in the view file.
Controller: The Controller, the base of MVC, controls everything inside the application. You can use Views and Models only through a Controller; without a Controller file, your CodeIgniter app will not run.

The application subdirectory is your main directory, so let that be your main focus.


To avoid runtime errors, you need to do some CodeIgniter configuration changes in three files — autoload.php, config.php and database.php in the config subdirectory.

As per the lines of code shown below, locate and make the changes in the corresponding file, adjusting for your local setup.

  • database.php(database-related configuration):
    $db['default']['hostname'] = 'localhost';         # Server hostname.
    $db['default']['username'] = 'databaseusername';  #Your DB account username.
    $db['default']['password'] = 'databasepassword''; #Database password.
    $db['default']['database'] = 'databasename';      #Database name.
    $db['default']['dbdriver'] = 'mysql';             #Database driver
  • autoload.php: This file automatically loads parameters at program start, saving you from having to constantly import these.
    $autoload['libraries'] = array('database'); #auto-load database library; others are session, email etc.
    $autoload['helper'] = array('url','form');  #helper API (see below).

    Helpers are impressive APIs that speed up your work. There are many, like file, form, etc. We will talk about them later. If you want to learn more about helpers, refer to the user guide.

  • config.php(a general configuration file):
    $config['base_url'] = 'http://localhost/ci2/'; #Default CodeIgniter URL
    $config['index_page'] = 'index.php';           #Default index page.
Note: I recommend that you don’t change the index page setting when you are new to the framework.

Let’s roll

So, if you are all set, let’s start with the traditional “Hello World”. Let’s create the main, required Controller file as hello.php, in the application/controllers subdirectory, with the following code:

// hello.php
class Hello extends CI_Controller { #1
   function index() { 		    #2
    	echo "Hello World";

Let’s understand this code. The class name should have an initial uppercase letter (e.g., Hello as above) and ideally, should match the PHP file name. You must extend the CI_Controller class to associate your file to the URI (Uniform Resource Identifiers).

The function index(), containing your simple code, is the default function that is executed. Now visit http://localhost/ci2/index.php/hello in your browser, to see “Hello World” echoed.

Note: Since index is the default function, you don’t need to include it in the URL — but to invoke some other function, say abc(), the URL would be http://localhost/ci2/index.php/hello/abc.

Database test

Let’s write a demo program to test database connectivity, in which you can create a table, insert records, fetch the records and display them in an HTML table. Let’s use all three files, Model, View and Controller here; and create them with the exact paths given for each.

Here is the model file — /application/models/dbtest.php:

class DbTest extends CI_Model {
	function createTable() {
	$query="create table lfy(article varchar(50), author varchar(50))";
	function insert() {
	 $insert=array('article'=>'CodeIgniter Part 1',
	 		'author'=>'Ankur Aggarwal');
	function showAll() {
	    return $fetch;

Let’s understand the code. Our DbTest class extends the CI_Model class; this is needed to use certain APIs. The createTable() function creates the lfy table with varchar columns article and author. Use the query method of the db instance member to run the SQL query. The insert() function creates an associative array whose key is the column name, and value is the data we want to insert.

The db->insert method takes the table name and the data array as arguments. The db->get call is equivalent to a SELECT * FROM SQL query. You can also pass an ORDER BY value like ASC as the second (optional) argument. Now fetch results into an array and return it.

Here is the Controller file — /application/controllers/dbtestcontroller.php:

class DbTestController extends CI_Controller {
	function index() {
	$this->load->model('dbtest'); 		   #1
	$this->dbtest->createTable(); 		   #2
	$data['records']=$this->dbtest->showAll();   #3
	$this->load->view('dbtestview',$data);       #4

To use the Model and View in the Controller, you must load them, giving the file base name as the argument. Load the dbtest model, call its createTable and insert() functions, then assign the showAll() returned array to a records attribute of the $data variable, which you pass into the (loaded) view file. The records attribute will be accessible as a $records variable in the view file.

Here is the View file — /application/views/dbtestviews.php:

    <title>Db Test </title>
    <meta charset='utf-8'>
       echo "<table border=5><tr><td>Article</td><td>Author</td></tr>";
       foreach($records as $row) {
            echo "<td>".$row['article']."</td><td>".$row['author']."</td></tr>";
       echo "</table>";

The above code is quite simple. After creating all three files in the browser, visit http://localhost/ci2/index.php/dbtestcontroller. You should see something like what’s shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Output

There are a lot of APIs in CodeIgniter that will speed up your development. Read up on it! I hope you will enjoy working with it.

In the next part of this series, we will explore “form” helpers, form validations, database checks and a little about tables. Feedback, suggestions, queries are always welcome!

Update: I got many readers writing in to say the database part was not working. In most cases, I found that people skipped the configuration part of the article, and directly jumped to the program part. I request all readers to configure CodeIgniter properly before using it. Without following the configuration steps outlined in the previous part, you won’t be able to use the APIs of this great framework.


  1. I tried it but could not run even the simple hello.php file..:(

    it shows the following error:

    Not Found

    The requested URL /ci2/index.php/hello/ was not found on this server.

  2. Here is the Controller file — /application/controllers/dbtestcontroller.php:
    1234567891011<?phpclass DbTestController extends CI_Controller {    function index() {    $this->load->model(‘dbtest’);            #1    $this->dbtest->createTable();            #2    $this->dbtest->insert();    $data[‘records’]=$this->dbtest->showAll();   #3    $this->load->view(‘dbtestview’,$data);       #4    }    }?>
    Thr’s a slight mistake of spelling where it does not connect to “dbtestview” –> Add “s”=====> dbtestviews
    It works out super !
    Thanks Ankur :)

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