Using RedBeanPHP ORM with Zend Framework

Posted in April 2012 by under redbeanphp

This post will demonstrate how simple it is to use RedBeanPHP ORM with Zend Framework 1. It assumes that you have a LAMP stack set up on a modern Linux system.

1. Download Zend Framework

In order to get the latest version of Zend Framework, download the latest stable release from

As of writing the direct link is:

2. Set up Zend Tool

Extract the archive and ensure bin/ file somewhere in your path.

The simpliest way to do this is to create a bin/ directory in your home directory and link to the file. Open a terminal and type

richardjh@ubuntu:~$ cd ~/bin/
richardjh@ubuntu:~$ ln -sf /path/to/ZendFramework-1.11.11/bin/ zf

You can test this is set up and working by opening a terminal and typing

richardjh@ubuntu:~$ zf show version

You should see something like

richardjh@ubuntu:~$ zf show version
Zend Framework Version: 1.11.11

3. Create a Zend Framework project

Create a new project using zf tool

richardjh@ubuntu:~$ zf create project /var/www/example

Copy the library/Zend folder from the extracted archive to /var/www/example/library/

You can test this is set up correctly by visiting http://localhost/example/public/ in your web browser.

You should see the welcome screen

Welcome screen

4. Download and "install" RedBean

The download is available from the RedBean website by clicking on the big green "DOWNLOAD NOW" button. The direct link is

RedBeanPHP makes it really easy by providing a version where all the code is in just one file. That file is rb.php.

Create a new directory /var/www/example/library/RedBean/

Extract the RedBean archive and copy the rb.php file from the extracted archive to /var/www/example/library/RedBean/rb.php

5. Integrate RedBean with Zend Framework

We will need a database, I'm using sqlite so will need somewhere to store the database file.

Create a new directory /var/www/example/data/db/

Make sure the web server can write to the directory. The easiest way is to allow full read/write access to the directory which is fine on your local machine for testing.

Now we need to tell Zend Framework to include RedBean, we can do this in the Bootstrap, so open /var/www/example/application/Bootstrap.php and add a function

public function _initDatabase()
    require_once( APPLICATION_PATH . "/../library/RedBean/rb.php" );
    R::setup( "sqlite://" . APPLICATION_PATH . "/../data/db/application.db" );

And that is it. We can now use ReadBean within Zend Framework. Notice that we haven't actually created a database. Not even the file. RedBean will take care of this for us.

6. Build a really simplified example

First we build our model. For this example we will just set up adding a record.

Create the model using Zend Tool

richardjh@ubuntu:~$ cd /var/www/example/
richardjh@ubuntu:/var/www/example$ zf create model Item

Edit the new file /var/www/example/application/models/Item.php and add a function addOne() that looks like this

public function addOne( $text )
    $item = R::dispense( 'item' );
    $item->text = $text;
    $item->added = date('Y-m-d h:i:s');
    $id = R::store( $item );

    return $id;

Now create an action to add an item

richardjh@ubuntu:/var/www/example$ zf create action add Index

Edit the file /var/www/example/application/controllers/IndexController.php such that the addAction() looks like

public function addAction()
    $itemAdapter = new Application_Model_Item();
    $id = $itemAdapter->addOne( 'Example list item' );
    $this->view->id = $id;

And in order that we can get some visibility of it working, edit the view in /var/www/example/application/views/scripts/index/add.phtml so it looks like

<p>Added a record with new id <?php echo $this->id; ?></p>

7. Test it works

Visit http://localhost/example/public/index/add/ in a web browser as you should see:

Added a record with new id 1

8. Review

Without writing hardly any code or creating any tables or even creating a database it appears we have just inserted a record.

First, notice that a file /var/www/example/data/db/application.db has been created. This is a sqlite database.

We can see what has happened by using the sqlite3 command

richardjh@ubuntu:~$ sqlite3 /var/www/example/data/db/application.db

At the sqlite> prompt type .schema to get the database schema.

sqlite> .schema

You can see we have a table called item. Now see what records we have

sqlite> SELECT * FROM item;
1|Example list item|2012-04-19 09:32:56

RedBeanPHP has created the database for us, created a table called item with reasonable fields and then inserted the record into this table.

9. Read the documentation

You can read the manual at

I have also created a cheat sheet which you can download in PDF format from the Cheatography website.

10. Download the code from github.

The result of following this guide has been put together as a "zf1-redbeanphp" project on github.

UPDATE: If you are using Zend Framework 2, I have written a module that integrates RedBeanPHP ORM with Zend Framework 2. Please read this post.