COmanage Registry can track each change made to a Model through the use of Changelogs. When a record is modified, the old values are archived in order to provide an audit or change log of the modifications that were made. Changelogs are implemented using a custom Cake Behavior (ChangelogBehavior).

Changelog Behavior operates using a modified copy on write design. When a record is changed, the old values are copied to a new record, and then the original record is updated with the new values. There are two reasons for this design: it avoids massive rekeying when a record is updated (otherwise related Models would all need to be re-keyed to point to the new record), and because it's tricky within Cake to rewrite the record ID in the middle of an operation. (That is, for /foos/edit/23, Cake really wants the item being edited to be #23, and not some new number.) It is simply easier to make the archived copy the new record.

This behavior can be modified using the model variable $relinkToArchive. If a Model defines a related hasOne or hasMany Model in this variable, then ChangelogBehavior will relink the related model to the archive copy, as part of the afterSave callback. This is useful for maintaining historical context, such as for Petition attribute definitions. If the Model relationship is belongsTo, a similar rewrite happens, but in beforeSave and with the assumption that the parent model is what was changed. (The belongsTo relationship is used for when related Models are saved simultaneously as part of a saveAll or saveAssociated call.)

See also: Understanding Registry Deletion

Enabling Changelogs for a Model

Behavior Priority

ChangelogBehavior must execute before ContainableBehavior in order to properly filter results from contain'd finds. The default priority for behaviors is 10, so setting the priority to 5 will cause the ChangelogBehavior to execute first.

NormalizationBehavior should execute before ChangelogBehavior in order to clean up data before any save happens.


As with other Behaviors, the appropriate Model should define something like

$actsAs = ("Changelog" => array('priority' => 5));

In order to support Changelogs, a Changelog-enabled Model must define several fields. As described below, these fields are used to track changed records:

  • revision
  • deleted
  • actor_identifier
  • model_id

For performance reasons, model_id should be indexed.

$relinkToArchive should also be defined if needed, as described above. 

class Model1 extends AppModel {
  public $hasMany = array('Model2');
  public $relinkToArchive = array('Model2');

When a hard delete must be performed, ChangelogBehavior can be initialized with the setting expunge set to true. This setting is also supported by StandardController, via the controller level setting $useHardDelete.

$model->reloadBehavior('Changelog', array('expunge' => true));

class ModelController extends StandardController {
  public $useHardDelete = true;

About actor_identifier

actor_identifier stores the username (identifier) of whoever made the change. This is a string rather than a foreign key into cm_co_people for several reasons:

  • No need for foreign keys and Model relations, which must be added to each Changelog model, and are tricky to automatically create for tables created in schema.xml before cm_co_people.
  • Audit integrity is maintained even after an expunge.
  • Some models are not attached to a CO, so tracking a CO Person as an actor doesn't quite make sense.

Extended Attributes

Extended Attributes are handled differently. They are treated as "extensions" of CoPersonRole, and archived copies are manually maintained by CoPersonRolesController.


What ChangelogBehavior Does

ChangelogBehavior intercepts find, save, and delete requests to transparently manage the Changelog records.

Save (Add)

  • revision is set to 0.
  • actor_identifier is set to the current username.

Save (Update)

  • The prior values are copied to a new row, and model_id is set to point to the parent record.
  • revision is incremented.
  • If the Model defines related models in $relinkToArchive, those related models will be re-keyed so that the related records point to the archived attribute instead of the current attribute. (By default, related models remain linked to the current attribute.)


  • deleted is set to true (effecting a soft delete), unless ChangelogBehavior is initialized with the setting expunge set to true (in which case a hard delete is performed).


  • By default, a find that does not request a specific record ID will be modified to return the most current revision and to exclude deleted records.
  • A find with the changelog parameter archived set to true will return all records, not just those described above. 

    $args['conditions']['Model.field'] = $requestedField;
    $args['changelog']['archived'] = true;
    $Model->find('all', $args);
  • By passing the changelog parameter revision, a find can request a specific revision for a record: 

    $args['conditions'][''] = $requestedId;
    $args['changelog']['revision'] = $requestedRevision;
    $Model->find('first', $args);
  • If ChangelogBehavior is initialized with the setting expunge set to true, all records will be returned, not just those described above.

Sample Relations 

Changelog ERD example

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