Developer Manual

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The developer manual is aimed at people who will be contributing to the project and to a certain extent to those who intend to hack ARK to use it for their own ends. As a general rule, if you find yourself doing extensive hacking, please let us know as we would be happy to consider adding new code to the project.

If you don't know why you are reading this documentation, you are probably looking in the wrong part of the manual. For information on installation and administration see the administrator section of the manual.

Work to create developer documentation including migration of old documentation (Ticket #122) is ongoing (as of 21st Oct 2016) but in the meantime please contact a member of the ARK Development Team if you can't find what you are looking for within these pages.

Background Reading

ARK model

An incomplete guide to the overall structure of ARK, its file structures etc.

ARK Data Storage

An overview of the ARK data storage model


An overview of filters and how they work (theoretical)

Standards and Guidance

Coding standards are simple and follow the PEAR system rigidly without exception. See the page blow for further detail. Some further guidance is given below to try to help you build new code in a way that fits into the overall ARK style. This material is incomplete at this stage.

Coding Standards

An overview of the coding standards with a link to PEAR.

Adding a New Page

How to add a new page to the system

Data Entry Pages

How the data entry pages fit together. Possibly needs to be re-written as something more generic

Page Header Block

example code for a page header block. Possibly needs to be made into a more generic code snippets page

Developing Subforms

A brief guide to developing new subforms

Accessing User Information

How to get access to the logged in user's information which is held in the SESSION

ARK log

An overview of the log system with detailed notes (note that this system is currently not fully working)

Markup and Aliases

An overview and guide

Error and Message Handling

An overview and guide

Configuration Settings for Developers

An overview for developers of the config system

Developer Documentation

The code is documented in detail within the header blocks for each file and the documentation blocks for each function. This doucmentation is in the process of being categorised and grouped for easier reading, but can be consulted at:

[PhpDocumenter Output]

Detailed reference material for every function and script in the system - NB this is for ARK v0.7, and has not yet been updated for the latest release(s).


Some info on the software used to create the documentation from the header blocks

API Documentation

As of v1.1 it is possible to access ARK using an API via a URL - which currently responds with a JSON object.

The following methods can be used:

describeARK - this provides some simple metadata about the ARK instance

describeItems - this provides a list of all the types of modules available

describeFrags - this provides a list of all the different types of data available within the ARK instance (it lists the different 'types' of dataclass available

describeFilters - this provides a list of all available filters

describeSubforms - this provides a list of available subforms (for transclusion)

describeFields - this provides a list of available fields

getItems - this returns an array of items of a specified module

getFrags - this returns an array of data frags attached to a specified item

getFilter - this returns the result of a saved filter or a free-text search

getFields - this returns an array of the fields attached to an item with their values

getConcepts - this is a wrapper page which retrieves the definition of a particular concept

transcludeFilter - this returns a fully rendered HTML representation of a filter result

transcludeSubform - this returns a fully rendered HTML representation of a subform

putField - this is for putting values to an ARK. Use this for adding, editing or deleting fields

XMLParser - this is mainly used internally by the spatial elements of ARK to retrieve and present GML data