Glad-I-Was-Here (PHP, MySQL)

Compared to Hello World, Glad-I-Was-Here is a slightly more complex “guestbook” web application that uses a SQL database to store guestbook entries. This application has been implemented using several different programming languages and relational databases, so it can act as an example how to package UBOS Apps built with various common web technologies.

This section describes the possibly simplest-to-understand implementation using PHP and MySQL.

If you have not already read through the Hello World App documentation, we recommend you do so first as we’ll only discuss things in this section that were not covered before.

Here is a screen shot of the App in action:


To obtain the source code:

% git clone

Go to subdirectory gladiwashere-php-mysql.

Package lifecycle and App deployment

Like all other Apps on UBOS including Hello World, gladiwashere-php-mysql is built with makepkg, installed with pacman and deployed with ubos-admin.

% makepkg -f
% sudo pacman -U gladiwashere-php-mysql-*-any.pkg.tar.xz
% sudo ubos-admin createsite

Specify gladiwashere-php-mysql as the name of the App. This will set up a website on your UBOS device that runs gladiwashere-php-mysql.

Manifest JSON

Let’s examine this App‘s UBOS Manifest JSON file. It is very similar to helloworld‘s, but has several more entries:

  "type" : "app",

  "roles" : {
    "apache2" : {
      "defaultcontext" : "/guestbook",
      "depends" : [
      "apache2modules" : [
      "phpmodules" : [
      "appconfigitems" : [
          "type"         : "file",
          "name"         : "index.php",
          "source"       : "web/index.php",
          "type"         : "file",
          "name"         : "config.php",
          "template"     : "tmpl/config.php.tmpl",
          "templatelang" : "varsubst"
          "type"         : "symlink",
          "name"         : "gladiwashere.php",
          "source"       : "web/gladiwashere.php"
    "mysql" : {
      "appconfigitems" : [
          "type"             : "database",
          "name"             : "maindb",
          "retentionpolicy"  : "keep",
          "retentionbucket"  : "maindb",
          "privileges"       : "select, insert"
      "installers" : [
          "name"   : "maindb",
          "type"   : "sqlscript",
          "source" : "sql/create.sql"
  • In addition to the apache2 role, this App also has a mysql role. Like in the apache2 role, the contained AppConfigItems (entry appconfigitems) tell UBOS what needs to be provisioned so the App can be run successfully. In the mysql role, these are items all related to MySQL.

    Here, we tell UBOS to provision a new database for each deployment of Glad-I-Was-Here, together with a new database user and a unique database credential. This database user will have database privileges select and insert but no others, because that’s all the Glad-I-Was-Here App needs.

    The database’s symbolic name is maindb. This will NOT be the actual database name at deployment time. Instead, UBOS will create a (random) database name. To understand why this is useful, consider which database name, and database username and password should be used by this App. If it was hardcoded, it would create a big security problem, and only a single installation of Hello World (or any other App that hardcoded its information) could run on the same device. Neither is desirable.

    So UBOS automatically generates a unique name, and uses that. To be able for you to refer to it, we use a symbolic name, here: maindb. You will see that below when we discuss how the PHP code connects to the correct database with the correct database user and credential, using the template mechanism.

  • The rententionbucket and retentionpolicy fields express that this database contains precious information that needs to be backed up when a backup is run, and kept during software upgrades. If those were not given, UBOS would discard the data in the database during upgrades and backups.

  • The optional installers section allows the developer to specify actions to be taken after the database has been provisioned for the first time (but not after upgrades). Here, a script of type sqlscript needs to be run whose source can be found at /ubos/share/gladiwashere/sql/create.sql. As you would have guessed, this script initializes the tables of the database. UBOS runs this script with more privileges (create) than the App‘s database user has, which explains why the database user can get away with select and insert privileges only.

  • Back above in the apache2 section, phpmodules lists the PHP modules that the App requires. In this case, it needs MySQL drivers. These are names of PHP modules as found in /etc/php.ini and the like.

  • The second appconfigitem in the apache2 role specifies a template file, instead of a source. Together with a templatelang, this indicates that variable substitution should be performed during deployment when copying the file.

    Here, the template file is the following (omitting the PHP comment for brevity):

    $dbName   = '${appconfig.mysql.dbname.maindb}';
    $dbUser   = '${appconfig.mysql.dbuser.maindb}';
    $dbPass   = '${escapeSquote( appconfig.mysql.dbusercredential.maindb )}';
    $dbServer = '${appconfig.mysql.dbhost.maindb}';

    which will be transformed into the actual deployed file that looks like this:

    $dbName   = 'somedbname';
    $dbUser   = 'somedbuser';
    $dbPass   = 'some\'dbpass';
    $dbServer = 'localhost';

    where somedbname etc are the values for the provisioned database. Above we said that maindb was the symbolic name of the to-be-provisioned database. This symbolic name allows us now to refer to various bits of information related to that database. For example, ${appconfig.mysql.dbname.maindb} refers to the actual name of the MySQL database whose symbolic name is maindb. You can see other such variables for database user, password and host.

  • The third item creates a symbolic link.

Visit Glad-I-Was-Here (PHP, Postgresql) for a version of this App that uses PHP and Postgresql, Glad-I-Was-Here (Java, MySQL) for one that uses Java, and Glad-I-Was-Here (Python, MySQL) that uses Python.