Working with Beans

Beans are the Model in SuiteCRM’s MVC (Model View Controller) architecture. They allow retrieving data from the database as objects and allow persisting and editing records. This section will go over the various ways of working with beans.

The BeanFactory

The BeanFactory allows dynamically loading bean instances or creating new records. For example to create a new bean you can use:

Example 3.1: Creating a new Bean using the BeanFactory
$bean = BeanFactory::newBean('<TheModule>');
//For example a new account bean:
$accountBean = BeanFactory::newBean('Accounts');

Retrieving an existing bean can be achieved in a similar manner:

Example 3.2: Retrieving a bean with the BeanFactory
$bean = BeanFactory::getBean('<TheModule>', $beanId);
//For example to retrieve an account id
$bean = BeanFactory::getBean('Accounts', $beanId);

getBean will return an unpopulated bean object if $beanId is not supplied or if there’s no such record. Retrieving an unpopulated bean can be useful if you wish to use the static methods of the bean (for example see the Searching for Beans section). To deliberately retrieve an unpopulated bean you can omit the second argument of the getBean call. I.e.

Example 3.3: Retrieving an unpopulated bean
$bean = BeanFactory::getBean('<TheModule>');

BeanFactory::getBean caches ten results. This can cause odd behaviour if you call getBean again and get a cached copy. Any calls that return a cached copy will return the same instance. This means changes to one of the beans will be reflected in all the results.

Using BeanFactory ensures that the bean is correctly set up and the necessary files are included etc.

SugarBean

The SugarBean is the parent bean class and all beans in SuiteCRM extend this class. It provides various ways of retrieving and interacting with records.

Searching for beans

The following examples show how to search for beans using a bean class. The examples provided assume that an account bean is available names $accountBean. This may have been retrieved using the getBean call mentioned in the BeanFactory section e.g.

Example 3.4: Retrieving an unpopulated account bean
$accountBean = BeanFactory::getBean('Accounts');

get_list

The get_list method allows getting a list of matching beans and allows paginating the results.

Example 3.5: get_list method signature
get_list(
    $order_by = "",
    $where = "",
    $row_offset = 0,
    $limit=-1,
    $max=-1,
    $show_deleted = 0)
$order_by

Controls the ordering of the returned list. $order_by is specified as a string that will be used in the SQL ORDER BY clause e.g. to sort by name you can simply pass name, to sort by date_entered descending use date_entered DESC. You can also sort by multiple fields. For example sorting by date_modified and id descending date_modified, id DESC.

$where

Allows filtering the results using an SQL WHERE clause. $where should be a string containing the SQL conditions. For example in the contacts module searching for contacts with specific first names we might use contacts.first_name='Jim'. Note that we specify the table, the query may end up joining onto other tables so we want to ensure that there is no ambiguity in which field we target.

$row_offset

The row to start from. Can be used to paginate the results.

$limit

The maximum number of records to be returned by the query. -1 means no limit.

$max

The maximum number of entries to be returned per page. -1 means the default max (usually 20).

$show_deleted

Whether to include deleted results.

Results

get_list will return an array. This will contain the paging information and will also contain the list of beans. This array will contain the following keys:

list

An array of the beans returned by the list query

row_count

The total number of rows in the result

next_offset

The offset to be used for the next page or -1 if there are no further pages.

previous_offset

The offset to be used for the previous page or -1 if this is the first page.

current_offset

The offset used for the current results.

Example

Let’s look at a concrete example. We will return the third page of all accounts with the industry Media using 10 as a page size and ordered by name.

Example 3.6: Example get_list call
$beanList = $accountBean->get_list(
                                //Order by the accounts name
                                'name',
                                //Only accounts with industry 'Media'
                                "accounts.industry = 'Media'",
                                //Start with the 30th record (third page)
                                30,
                                //No limit - will default to max page size
                                -1,
                                //10 items per page
);

This will return:

Example 3.7: Example get_list results
Array
(
    //Snipped for brevity - the list of Account SugarBeans
    [list] => Array()
    //The total number of results
    [row_count] => 36
    //This is the last page so the next offset is -1
    [next_offset] => -1
    //Previous page offset
    [previous_offset] => 20
    //The offset used for these results
    [current_offset] => 30
)

get_full_list

get_list is useful when you need paginated results. However if you are just interested in getting a list of all matching beans you can use get_full_list. The get_full_list method signature looks like this:

Example 3.8: get_full_list method signature
get_full_list(
            $order_by = "",
            $where = "",
            $check_dates=false,
            $show_deleted = 0

These arguments are identical to their usage in get_list the only difference is the $check_dates argument. This is used to indicate whether the date fields should be converted to their display values (i.e. converted to the users date format).

Results

The get_full_list call simply returns an array of the matching beans

Example

Let’s rework our get_list example to get the full list of matching accounts:

Example 3.9: Example get_full_list call
$beanList = $accountBean->get_full_list(
                                //Order by the accounts name
                                'name',
                                //Only accounts with industry 'Media'
                                "accounts.industry = 'Media'"
                                );

retrieve_by_string_fields

Sometimes you only want to retrieve one row but may not have the id of the record. retrieve_by_string_fields allows retrieving a single record based on matching string fields.

Example 3.10: retrieve_by_string_fields method signature
retrieve_by_string_fields(
                          $fields_array,
                          $encode=true,
                          $deleted=true)
$fields_array

An array of field names to the desired value.

$encode

Whether or not the results should be HTML encoded.

$deleted

Whether or not to add the deleted filter.

Note here that, confusingly, the deleted flag works differently to the other methods we have looked at. It flags whether or not we should filter out deleted results. So if true is passed then the deleted results will not be included.

Results

retrieve_by_string_fields returns a single bean as it’s result or null if there was no matching bean.

Example

For example to retrieve the account with name Tortoise Corp and account_type Customer we could use the following:

Example 3.11: Example retrieve_by_string_fields call
$beanList = $accountBean->retrieve_by_string_fields(
                                array(
                                  'name' => 'Tortoise Corp',
                                  'account_type' => 'Customer'
                                )
                              );

Accessing fields

If you have used one of the above methods we now have a bean record. This bean represents the record that we have retrieved. We can access the fields of that record by simply accessing properties on the bean just like any other PHP object. Similarly we can use property access to set the values of beans. Some examples are as follows:

Example 3.12: Accessing fields examples
//Get the Name field on account bean
$accountBean->name;

//Get the Meeting start date
$meetingBean->date_start;

//Get a custom field on a case
$caseBean->third_party_code_c;

//Set the name of a case
$caseBean->name = 'New Case name';

//Set the billing address post code of an account
$accountBean->billing_address_postalcode = '12345';

When changes are made to a bean instance they are not immediately persisted. We can save the changes to the database with a call to the beans save method. Likewise a call to save on a brand new bean will add that record to the database:

Example 3.13: Persisting bean changes
//Get the Name field on account bean
$accountBean->name = 'New account name';
//Set the billing address post code of an account
$accountBean->billing_address_postalcode = '12345';
//Save both changes.
$accountBean->save();

//Create a new case (see the BeanFactory section)
$caseBean = BeanFactory::newBean('Cases');
//Give it a name and save
$caseBean->name = 'New Case name';
$caseBean->save();

Whether to save or update a bean is decided by checking the id field of the bean. If id is set then SuiteCRM will attempt to perform an update. If there is no id then one will be generated and a new record will be inserted into the database. If for some reason you have supplied an id but the record is new (perhaps in a custom import script) then you can set new_with_id to true on the bean to let SuiteCRM know that this record is new.

We have seen how to save single records but, in a CRM system, relationships between records are as important as the records themselves. For example an account may have a list of cases associated with it, a contact will have an account that it falls under etc. We can get and set relationships between beans using several methods.

get_linked_beans

The get_linked_beans method allows retrieving a list of related beans for a given record.

Example 3.14: get_linked_beans method signature
get_linked_beans(
                $field_name,
                $bean_name = '',
                $order_by = '',
                $begin_index = 0,
                $end_index = -1,
                $deleted = 0,
                $optional_where = "");
$field_name

The link field name for this link. Note that this is not the same as the name of the relationship. If you are unsure of what this should be you can take a look into the cached vardefs of a module in cache/modules/<TheModule>/<TheModule>Vardefs.php for the link definition.

$bean_name

Used to specify the bean name of the beans you are expecting back. Not needed in current versions, kept for backward compatibility or for the unlikely event you have an old style relationship.

$order_by

Optionally, add a clause like last_name DESC to get sorted results (only available from SuiteCRM 7.4 onwards).

$begin_index

Skips the initial $begin_index results. Can be used to paginate.

$end_index

Return up to the $end_index result. Can be used to paginate.

$deleted

Controls whether deleted or non deleted records are shown. If true only deleted records will be returned. If false only non deleted records will be returned.

$optional_where

Allows filtering the results using an SQL WHERE clause. See the get_list method for more details.

Results

get_linked_beans returns an array of the linked beans.

Example 3.15: Example get_linked_beans call
$accountBean->get_linked_beans(
                'contacts',
                'Contacts',
                array(),
                0,
                10,
                0,
                "contacts.primary_address_country = 'USA'");

Relationships

In addition to the get_linked_beans call you can also load and access the relationships more directly.

Loading

Before accessing a relationship you must use the load_relationship call to ensure it is available. This call takes the link name of the relationship (not the name of the relationship). As mentioned previously you can find the name of the link in cache/modules/<TheModule>/<TheModule>Vardefs.php if you’re not sure.

Example 3.16: Loading a relationship
//Load the relationship
$accountBean->load_relationship('contacts');
//Can now call methods on the relationship object:
$contactIds = $accountBean->contacts->get();

Methods

get

Returns the ids of the related records in this relationship e.g for the account - contacts relationship in the example above it will return the list of ids for contacts associated with the account.

getBeans

Similar to get but returns an array of beans instead of just ids.

getBeans will load the full bean for each related record. This may cause poor performance for relationships with a large number of beans.

add

Allows relating records to the current bean. add takes a single id or bean or an array of ids or beans. If the bean is available this should be used since it prevents reloading the bean. For example to add a contact to the relationship in our example we can do the following:

Example 3.18: Adding a new contact to a relationship
//Load the relationship
$accountBean->load_relationship('contacts');

//Create a new demo contact
$contactBean = BeanFactory::newBean('Contacts');
$contactBean->first_name = 'Jim';
$contactBean->last_name = 'Mackin';
$contactBean->save();

//Link the bean to $accountBean
$accountBean->contacts->add($contactBean);
delete

delete allows unrelating beans. Counter-intuitively it accepts the ids of both the bean and the related bean. For the related bean you should pass the bean if it is available e.g when unrelating an account and contact:

Example 3.19: Removing a new contact from a relationship
//Load the relationship
$accountBean->load_relationship('contacts');

//Unlink the contact from the account - assumes $contactBean is a Contact SugarBean
$accountBean->contacts->delete($accountBean->id, $contactBean);

Be careful with the delete method. Omitting the second argument will cause all relationships for this link to be removed.

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