Correct way to deal with application-wide data needed on every pageview

I am currently involved in the development of a larger webapplication written in PHP and based upon a MVC-framework sharing a wide range of similarities with the Zend Framework in terms of architecture.

When the user has logged in I have a place that is supposed to display the balance of the current users virtual points. This display needs to be on every page across every single controller.

Where do you put code for fetching sidewide modeldata, that isn't controller specific but needs to go in the sitewide layout on every pageview, independently of the current controller? How would the MVC or ZF-heads do this? And how about the rest of you?

I thought about loading the balance when the user logs in and storing it in the session, but as the balance is frequently altered this doesn't seem right - it needs to be checked and updated pretty much on every page load. I also thought about doing it by adding the fetching routine to every controller, but that didn't seem right either as it would result in code-duplication.


Well, you're right, having routines to every controller would be a code-duplication and wouldn't make your code reusable.

Unlike suggested in your question comments, I wouldn't go for a a base controller, since base controllers aren't a good practice (in most cases) and Zend Framework implements Action Helpers in order to to avoid them.

If your partial view is site-wide, why don't you just write your own custom View Helper and fetch the data in your model from your view helper? Then you could call this view helper directly from your layout. In my opinion, fetching data through a model from the view doesn't break the MVC design pattern at all, as long as you don't update/edit these data.

You can add your view helpers in /view/helpers/ or in your library (then you would have to register your view helper path too):

class Zend_View_Helper_Balance extends Zend_View_Helper_Abstract

    public function balance()
        $html = '';
        if (Zend_Auth::getInstance()->hasIdentity()) {
            // pull data from your model
            $html .= ...;
        return $html;

Note that you view helper could also call a partial view (render(), partial(), partialLoop()) if you need to format your code in a specific way.

This is a pretty simple example, but to me it's enough is your case. If you want to have more control on these data and be able to modify it (or not) depending on a particular view (or controller), then I recommend you to take a look on Placeholders. Zend has a really good example about them here on the online documentation.

More information about custom view helpers here.

When you perform such a task, consider using the Zend_Cache component too, so you won't have to query the database after each request but let's say, every minute (depending on your needs).

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