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Working With SuiteCRM Beans Model

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Working With SuiteCRM Beans Model

Let's take a look at beans — which are the Model in SuiteCRM's Model View Controller (MVC) architecture — and how to work with them.

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Beans are the Model in SuiteCRM’s MVC (Model View Controller) architecture. They allow retrieving data from the database as objects and allow persisting and editing records. This section will go over the various ways of working with beans.

The BeanFactory

The BeanFactory allows dynamically loading bean instances or creating new records. For example, to create a new bean, you can use:

Example 1: Creating a new Bean using the BeanFactory

$bean = BeanFactory::newBean('<TheModule>');
//For example a new account bean:
$accountBean = BeanFactory::newBean('Accounts');

Retrieving an existing bean can be achieved in a similar manner:

Example 2: Retrieving a bean with the BeanFactory

$bean = BeanFactory::getBean('<TheModule>', $beanId);
//For example to retrieve an account id
$bean = BeanFactory::getBean('Accounts', $beanId);

getBean will return an unpopulated bean object if $beanId is not supplied or if there’s no such record. Retrieving an unpopulated bean can be useful if you wish to use the static methods of the bean (for example see the Searching for Beans section). To deliberately retrieve an unpopulated bean you can omit the second argument of the getBean call. I.e.

Example 3: Retrieving an unpopulated bean

$bean = BeanFactory::getBean('<TheModule>');

BeanFactory::getBean caches ten results. This can cause odd behavior if you call againgetBean and get a cached copy. Any calls that return a cached copy will return the same instance. This means changes to one of the beans will be reflected in all the results.

Using BeanFactory ensures that the bean is correctly set up and the necessary files are included etc.


The SugarBean is the parent bean class and all beans in SuiteCRM solutions extend this class. It provides various ways of retrieving and interacting with records.

Searching for beans

The following examples show how to search for beans using a bean class. The examples provided assume that an account bean is available names $accountBean. This may have been retrieved using the getBean call mentioned in the BeanFactory section e.g.

Example 4: Retrieving an unpopulated account bean

$accountBean = BeanFactory::getBean('Accounts');


The get_list method allows getting a list of matching beans and allows paginating the results.

Example 5: get_list method signature

    $order_by = "",
    $where = "",
    $row_offset = 0,
    $show_deleted = 0)

Controls the ordering of the returned list. $order_by is specified as a string that will be used in the SQL ORDER BY clause e.g. to sort by name you can simply pass name, to sort by date_entered descending use.date_entered DESC You can also sort by multiple fields. For example, sorting by date_modified and id descending.date_modified, id DESC


Allows filtering the results using an SQL WHERE clause. $where should be a string containing the SQL conditions. For example in the contacts module searching for contacts with specific first names we might use.contacts.first_name='Jim' Note that we specify the table, the query may end up joining onto other tables so we want to ensure that there is no ambiguity in which field we target.


The row to start from. Can be used to paginate the results.


The maximum number of records to be returned by the query. -1 means no limit.


The maximum number of entries to be returned per page. -1 means the default max (usually 20).


Whether to include deleted results.


get_list will return an array. This will contain the paging information and will also contain the list of beans. This array will contain the following keys:


An array of the beans returned by the list query.


The total number of rows in the result.


The offset to be used for the next page or -1 if there are no further pages.


The offset to be used for the previous page or -1 if this is the first page.


The offset used for the current results.


Let’s look at a concrete example. We will return the third page of all accounts with the industry usingMedia 10 as a page size and ordered by name.

Example 6: Example get_list call

$beanList = $accountBean->get_list(
                                //Order by the accounts name
                                //Only accounts with industry 'Media'
                                "accounts.industry = 'Media'",
                                //Start with the 30th record (third page)
                                //No limit - will default to max page size
                                //10 items per page

This will return:

Example 7: Example get_list results

    //Snipped for brevity - the list of Account SugarBeans
    [list] => Array()
    //The total number of results
    [row_count] => 36
    //This is the last page so the next offset is -1
    [next_offset] => -1
    //Previous page offset
    [previous_offset] => 20
    //The offset used for these results
    [current_offset] => 30


get_list is useful when you need paginated results. However, if you are just interested in getting a list of all matching beans you can use.get_full_list The get_full_list method signature looks like this:

Example 3.8: get_full_list method signature

            $order_by = "",
            $where = "",
            $show_deleted = 0

These arguments are identical to their usage in theget_list only difference is the argument$check_dates. This is used to indicate whether the date fields should be converted to their display values (i.e. converted to the users' date format).


The get_full_list call simply returns an array of the matching beans


Let’s rework our get_list example to get the full list of matching accounts:

Example 9: Example get_full_list call

$beanList = $accountBean->get_full_list(
                                //Order by the accounts name
                                //Only accounts with industry 'Media'
                                "accounts.industry = 'Media'"


Sometimes you only want to retrieve one row but may not have the id of the record. retrieve_by_string_fields allows retrieving a single record based on matching string fields.

Example 3.10: retrieve_by_string_fields method signature


An array of field names to the desired value.


Whether or not the results should be HTML encoded.


Whether or not to add the deleted filter.

Note here that, confusingly, the deleted flag works differently to the other methods we have looked at. It flags whether or not we should filter out deleted results. So if true is passed then the deleted results will not be included.


retrieve_by_string_fields returns a single bean as it’s result or null if there was no matching bean.


For example, to retrieve the account with name Tortoise Corp and account_type Customer we could use the following:

Example 11: Example retrieve_by_string_fields call

$beanList = $accountBean->retrieve_by_string_fields(
                                  'name' => 'Tortoise Corp',
                                  'account_type' => 'Customer'

Accessing Fields

If you have used one of the above methods, we now have a bean record. This bean represents the record that we have retrieved. We can access the fields of that record by simply accessing properties on the bean just like any other PHP object. Similarly, we can use property access to set the values of beans. Some examples are as follows:

Example 12: Accessing fields examples

//Get the Name field on account bean

//Get the Meeting start date

//Get a custom field on a case

//Set the name of a case
$caseBean->name = 'New Case name';

//Set the billing address post code of an account
$accountBean->billing_address_postalcode = '12345';

When changes are made to a bean instance they are not immediately persisted. We can save the changes to the database with a call to the method of the beansave. Likewise, a call to save on a brand new bean will add that record to the database:

Example 13: Persisting bean changes

//Get the Name field on account bean
$accountBean->name = 'New account name';
//Set the billing address post code of an account
$accountBean->billing_address_postalcode = '12345';
//Save both changes.

//Create a new case (see the BeanFactory section)
$caseBean = BeanFactory::newBean('Cases');
//Give it a name and save
$caseBean->name = 'New Case name';

Whether to save or update a bean is decided by checking the id field of the bean. If id is set then SuiteCRM will attempt to perform an update. If there is no thenid one will be generated and a new record will be inserted into the database. If for some reason you have supplied an id but the record is new (perhaps in a custom import script) then you can set new_with_id to true on the bean to let SuiteCRM know that this record is new.

We have seen how to save single records but, in a CRM system, relationships between records are as important as the records themselves. For example, an account may have a list of cases associated with it, a contact will have an account that it falls under etc. We can get and set relationships between beans using several methods.


The methodget_linked_beans allows retrieving a list of related beans for a given record.

Example 14: get_linked_beans method signature

                $sort_array = array(),
                $begin_index = 0,
                $end_index = -1,

The link field name for this link. Note that this is not the same as the name of the relationship. If you are unsure of what this should be you can take a look into the cached vardefs of a module incache/modules/<TheModule>/<TheModule>Vardefs.php for the link definition.


The name of the bean that we wish to retrieve.


This is a legacy parameter and is unused.


Skips the initial results$begin_index. Can be used to paginate.


Return up to the result$end_index. Can be used to paginate.


Controls, whether deleted or non deleted records, are shown. If true only deleted records will be returned. If false only non deleted records will be returned.


Allows filtering the results using an SQL WHERE clause. See the methodget_list for more details.


get_linked_beans returns an array of the linked beans.

Example 15: Example get_linked_beans call

                "contacts.primary_address_country = 'USA'");


In addition to the callget_linked_beans you can also load and access the relationships more directly.


Before accessing a relationship, you must use the callload_relationship to ensure it is available. This call takes the link name of the relationship (not the name of the relationship). As mentioned previously you can find the name of the link incache/modules/<TheModule>/<TheModule>Vardefs.php if you’re not sure.

Example 16: Loading a relationship

//Load the relationship
//Can now call methods on the relationship object:
$contactIds = $accountBean->contacts->get();



Returns the IDs of the related records in this relationship e.g for the account — contacts relationship in the example above it will return the list of ids for contacts associated with the account.


Similar to get, but returns an array of beans instead of just IDs.

getBeans will load the full bean for each related record. This may cause poor performance for relationships with a large number of beans.


Allows relating records to the current bean. add takes a single id or bean or an array of ids or beans. If the bean is available, this should be used since it prevents reloading the bean. For example, to add a contact to the relationship in our example we can do the following:

Example 18: Adding a new contact to a relationship

//Load the relationship

//Create a new demo contact
$contactBean = BeanFactory::newBean();
$contactBean->first_name = 'Jim';
$contactBean->last_name = 'Mackin';

//Link the bean to $accountBean

delete allows unrelating beans. Counter-intuitively it accepts the ids of both the bean and the related bean. For the related bean you should pass the bean if it is available e.g when unrelating an account and contact:

Example 19: Removing a new contact from a relationship

//Load the relationship

//Unlink the contact from the account - assumes $contactBean is a Contact SugarBean
$accountBean->contacts->delete($accountBean->id, $contactBean);

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