“updated” or “modified”

Published on and tagged with cakephp  convention  database

There are three columns which are automagically filled by CakePHP if they exist: “created”, “updated”, and “modified”. It is probably obvious that “created” is filled at the time a record gets inserted into the database. And “updated” and “modified” when a record is changed.

But what’s the difference between “updated” and “modified”? Well, there is none. You can either use “updated” or “modified”, just don’t use both as that is redundant. And whichever column name you choose, use it throughout your database to be consistent!

14 comments baked

  • Henrik

    I my opinion it is wierd to support both updated and modified dosent seem very Coventional to support multiple choices that way.. It should be created and updated or created and modified

  • Tim Koschuetzki

    @Daniel: I second your opinion.

    @Henrik: It’s a naming preference, nothing not conventional. After all it doesn’t add much code to the framework (and thereby redundance) to support both.

  • Arno E

    What I would like, however, is a “deleted” column with a default value of “null” that gets updated on delete. By default, only fields with a “deleted” value of “null” gets returned. This way we can have non-destructive deletes for accountability practices.

  • dr. Hannibal Lecter


    what you’re looking for is SoftDeletable behavior:


  • cakebaker

    @all: Thanks for your comments!

    @Henrik: I agree with you, it is not that logical to have a choice in that particular case. A convention like “If you are interested in when a record was changed, add a column named “x” to your table and cake will update this column automagically when something is changed” would be enough.

    @Tim: Well, even if you have (almost) no redundancy at the code level you still have redundant conventions. And this means you have to teach people two conventions instead of just one convention…

    @Arno: Yes, that would be a nice feature, but I doubt it will make it in the core. So you have to use something like the SoftDelete behavior mentioned by Hannibal.

  • grigri

    Perhaps it would be an idea for ‘Bundt’ to move this behaviour to a built-in cakephp Behavior.

    This would provide the option of choosing the field names, reducing overhead to models that don’t need it, and providing a basic ‘how-to’ example on automagic fields (browsing through libs/model.php is generally tough going… isolating the precise bits of code to perform this takes a while)

  • Jonah

    I would make sense to me if “created” and “modified” were used by default, but with an option to change them to anything else such as “foo” and “bar” within the model.

  • nateman

    @Jonah: That’s exactly what I was about to suggest. This would be especially useful if you’re porting an existing RoR or other app to Cake.

  • rafaelbandeira3

    @grigri, Jonah, nateman: well it’s definetly a good idea, but let’s say that it’s not that tough to make automagic filling fields, actually it’s pretty easy, and you have all sort of things to make it happen be it by overriding some aside method (create, set, save…) or by simply using beforeSave and afterSave callbacks.

    @cakebaker: strict conventions are much wiser, definetly right!

  • ajmacaro

    New baker’s may use “updated” and some will use “modified”,
    now, to make things simpler. the core decided.

    “Why dont we just support both? and lets move on to the
    next problem. ”

    Hmm, i just thought of that.

    But hey, if theres a greater reason for this. I just hope it
    wasnt “that” complicated.

  • cakebaker

    @all: Thanks for your comments!

    @grigri: Yeah, moving the functionality to a behavior could make it more flexible. On the other hand I’m not sure whether such a flexibility is really necessary… Probably the approach mentioned by Jonah would be a good compromise.

    @Jonah: Yes, that’s a good idea!

    @ajmacaro: Yes, that’s probably the reason. Only, it doesn’t make it simpler, it makes it more “complex” because people now have to learn about two conventions instead of one…

  • mark
  • cakebaker

    @mark: Good to see such old things are discussed by the core devs :)

  • frankeinstein

    I’m pretty sure the “U” in “CRUD” stands for “Update”, and since CRUD appears throughout Cake documentation, it seems only logical that the field names would be “created” and “updated”.

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