StateMachineBehavior for CakePHP

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Type: cakephp-plugin

1.1 2013-10-03 12:19 UTC


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Documentation is not finished yet either. See the tests if you want to learn something, as all aspects of the state machine is tested there.

What is a State Machine?



First you need to alter the tables of the models you want to use StateMachine:

ALTER TABLE `vehicle` ADD `state` VARCHAR(50);
ALTER TABLE `vehicle` ADD `previous_state` VARCHAR(50);


  • Callbacks on states and transitions
  • Custom methods may be added to your model
  • is($state), can($transition), on($transition, 'before|after', callback) and when($state, callback) methods allows you to control the whole flow. transition($transition) is used to move between two states.
  • Roles and rules
  • Graphviz


You can add callbacks that will fire before/after a transition, and before/after a state change. This can either be done manually with $this->on('mytransition', 'before', funtion() {}), or you can add a method to your model:

public function onBeforeTransition($currentState, $previousState, $transition) {
    // will fire on all transitions

public function onAfterIgnite($currentState, $previousState, $transition) {
    // will fire after the ignite transition

The state callbacks are a little different:

public function onStateChange($newState) {
    // will fire on all state changes

public function onStateIdling($newState) {
    // will fire on the idling state

Naming conventions

  • Transitions and states in $transitions should be lowercased and underscored. The method names are in turn camelized.


    shift_up   => canShiftUp() => shiftUp()
    first_gear => isFirstGear()

How to Use

App::uses('StateMachineBehavior', 'StateMachine.Model/Behavior');

class VehicleModel extends AppModel {

    public $useTable = 'Vehicle';

    public $actsAs = array('StateMachine.StateMachine');

    public $initialState = 'parked';

    public $transitionRules = array(
        'ignite' => array(
            'role' => array('driver'),
            'depends' => 'has_key'

    public $transitions = array(
        'ignite' => array(
            'parked' => 'idling',
            'stalled' => 'stalled'
        'park' => array(
            'idling' => 'parked',
            'first_gear' => 'parked'
        'shift_up' => array(
            'idling' => 'first_gear',
            'first_gear' => 'second_gear',
            'second_gear' => 'third_gear'
        'shift_down' => array(
            'first_gear' => 'idling',
            'second_gear' => 'first_gear',
            'third_gear' => 'second_gear'
        'crash' => array(
            'first_gear' => 'stalled',
            'second_gear' => 'stalled',
            'third_gear' => 'stalled'
        'repair' => array(
            'stalled' => 'parked'
        'idle' => array(
            'first_gear' => 'idling'
        'turn_off' => array(
            'all' => 'parked'

    public function __construct($id = false, $ds = false, $table = false) {
        parent::__construct($id, $ds, $table);
        $this->on('ignite', 'after', function($prevState, $nextState, $transition) {
            // the car just ignited!

    // a shortcut method for checking if the vehicle is moving
    public function isMoving() {
        return in_array($this->getCurrentState(), array('first_gear', 'second_gear', 'third_gear'));

    // the dependant function for "ignite"
    public function hasKey($role) {
        return $role == 'driver';


With the model above, we have the following methods:

isParked()    onStateParked()
isStalled()   onStateStalled()
ignite()      canIgnite()         onBeforeIgnite()    onAfterIgnite()
park()        canPark()           onBeforePark()      onAfterPark()
isFirstGear() onStateFirstGear()
shiftUp()     canShiftUp()        onBeforeShiftUp()   onAfterShiftUp()

class Controller .... {
    public function method() {
            'Vehicle' => array(
                'title' => 'Toybota'
        // $this->Vehicle->getCurrentState() == 'parked'
        if ($this->Vehicle->canIgnite('driver')) {
            // $this->Vehicle->getCurrentState() == 'first_gear'


Here's how to state machine of the Vehicle would look like if you saved:


into fsm.gv and ran:

dot -Tpng -ofsm.png fsm.gv