Jeremy Harris

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Feb 2011

Quick Tip: Better requestAction content

A big gripe I have with ajax is that when you initially land on the page, you have to wait for ajax to fetch content to fill containers (a la WordPress dashboard). This is annoying and ugly, and you typically have content bouncing around after it's populated. So, I thought, use requestAction() for the initial load (no bouncing), then your ajax pagination within those views will appear seamless.

When using $this->requestAction() in your views, however, one of the downsides is that you get two options when it comes to rendering: completely bare with no layout, or the default layout.

If you're like me, your ajax layout outputs the Js buffer so your ajax views can run JavaScript for things like ajax pagination. Problem is, setting bare in requestAction() will skip your ajax layout and thus your buffered scripts. Here's a quick solution.

// in your view (where you would have used ajax to populate)
    echo $this->requestAction($url, array(
  'renderAs' => 'ajax',
  'bare' => false

I tell requestAction() to return my view with a rendered layout by setting bare to false. Then I'm passing an extra parameter, which gets added to our $this->params array in the controller. All you need to do from there is tell RequestHandler to render the way we want it.

// in AppController
function beforeFilter() {
  if (isset($this->params['renderAs'])) {
    $this->RequestHandler->renderAs($this, $this->params['renderAs']);

Now we can pass 'renderAs' in requestAction() and get what we want, whether it be ajax, json, xml, or whatever.

Jeremy Harris is a web developer with over 10 years of experience. He's coded in many languages and currently focuses on PHP, both agnostic and framework-based. When he isn't at the keyboard, you can find him walking @riverthepuppy or brewing beer. He only talks in the third person when peer pressure dictates he should, such as on his blog.