Technical Documentation

Supported Browsers

  • Current and recent Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Safari, Seamonkey, Opera, and Chrome versions are all supported
  • Requires Browser to have Javascript enabled – the CORAL interface relies heavily on AJAX, JQuery and JQuery plugins

Server-Side Requirements and Setup


CORAL runs with a MySQL 5 backend. Each CORAL module uses its own MySQL schema. The recommended format for schema name is coral_MODULENAME_prod, e.g. coral_resources_prod. Since the database name is set in the configuration.ini file this name can be easily changed. For security purposes it is recommended to have a “coral” user which has select, insert, update and delete privileges only (no create table privileges). This “coral” user should have access to all CORAL databases for interoperability.

The CORAL modules are heavily data-driven. As a result we have provided an initial “snapshot” of our data which will be inserted when the MySQL tables are created. Most of this data may be edited through the front-end if desired – refer to the user guide for more information. For data models and the MySQL Workbench file, refer to

Server-side scripting

A supported version of PHP 5 is a requirement for CORAL since it uses Object Oriented code. If you are unsure whether you’re running PHP 5, be sure to install using the web installation script since it will validate your version. See Installation section, below. Please note, a minimum version of PHP 5.5 is supported.


Authentication is required for CORAL since all users are given specific privilege levels (for more on privilege levels refer to the user guide). CORAL has two choices for authentication – either to tie in to your university/library’s authentication system or to install the CORAL Authentication Module. The Authentication Module also has built in LDAP functionality. For more information on the CORAL Authentication module, please refer to the Authentication Documentation.

To utilize your library’s existing authentication system, you will need to know the Server Variable name to use within PHP. This is a setting within configuration.ini called “remoteAuthVariableName” which will be set in the installation process (see Installation, below). The remoteAuthVariableName indicates the PHP server variable name that is set in Apache upon authentication and so CORAL will recognize the user’s login. Different server setups may have different variable names. Assuming you’re using an authentication system already, you can do a phpinfo script to see if this variable is being set and what it is. (just make a .php file and put <?php phpinfo(); ?> in it ) Probably the easiest way to find the variable name would be to search for your user ID.

If you still have problems using your existing authentication system, we would recommend subscribing to the listserv and looking at the archives to see how other institutions have made it work, or searching the forum. As a last resort, each module has ‘user.php’ in the root directory which can be modified to retrieve your users’ login ID.

Also, the .htaccess file should require your authentication system, or you should have another way to require authentication. If you have questions about this, contact your system administrator.

CORAL has limited LDAP username lookup available in most modules. This is different than the more complete LDAP integration present in the Auth module. Within each of the modules (except for Licensing) any user allowed by the .htaccess may visit the site; if LDAP has been set up in the configuration.ini it will display their name in the upper right hand corner. This connection is optional.

Application Architecture

CORAL is written using object oriented code. All classes and configuration are defined under the /admin/ directory. The admin directory has an .htaccess file in order to prevent web users from accessing config data.

/directory.php is used to load all of the classes. This is called from every page and for the ajax functions and also contains some globally used functions.

/admin/configuration.ini defines config settings (module settings, database and ldap)

Common classes are in /admin/classes/common/ - includes configuration, database connection, LDAP, Utility, Email


All database tables have matching classes and all database SQL code is done within methods of these classes.

Every class extends the DatabaseObject for generic SQL handling (retrieving all values, inserts, updates, deletes). DatabaseObject is in /admin/classes/common/ and the database classes are located in /admin/classes/domain/

Web side

Pages - admin.php, index.php, detail view scripts and reports are all shells for positioning divs. Within each div data is updated via ajax calling ajax_htmldata.php. This way when changes are made to the data the display can be immediately updated without needing to refresh the entire page.

A jquery plugin called thickbox is used to display the “popup” forms with the grayed out background.

ajax_forms.php contains all of the html for forms that are being used by thickbox.

ajax_processing.php contains all of the processing (eventually sql insert/updates, etc) that utilize the database classes - this is where data is sent after being entered in the forms

header.php and footer.php are defined within /templates/ directory.

user.php and setuser.php are used for authentication.

/css/styles.css is the general css file used by all pages in coral.


All javascript code is stored under /js/ directory. This directory contains javascript for base pages (index.php, admin.php) where the names of files correspond with the javascript file name. (e.g. admin.php uses admin.js)

The directory /js/plugins/ directory contains third party javascript (jquery library, autocomplete, thickbox and other plugins) .

The /js/forms/ directory contains all javascript files corresponding to the thickbox forms that are generated from ajax_forms.php

Naming standards

If you would like to contribute code / database changes to the project it is recommended that you stay within the following naming conventions.

Database Naming:

  • Attribute and entity names in singular form and using present tense
  • Entity names are uppercased with no spaces or underscores between words (camel case)
  • Attribute names have first word lower cased, subsequent words have first letter upper case
    • e.g. documentID, sentDate, documentText
  • Primary keys are always Auto Incrementing Integers beginning with the table name and ‘ID’ suffix
    • e.g. for the “Document” table, “documentID” is the name of the primary key
    • (note that the generic database object expects this naming convention – if you do not use this name, you must override the primary key name in the class)
  • When possible, attribute names are suffixed with class words
    • Code - Has a list of possible values e.g. INV, ENC
    • ShortName - Name
    • Identifier (ID) - Unique Identifier, generally surrogate key
    • Number - Numeric value
    • Indicator (Ind) - A Boolean value (0/1)
    • Date - Date
    • DateTime - Date and time stamp


  • Refer to previous sections for directory structure, script locations and script naming.
  • Variable, class and attribute names mimic the database standards with camel case.
  • Method names are prefixed with:
    • Is – Answers a question, returns true/false, e.g. for User class isAdmin() method
    • Get – retrieves a value
    • Set – sets a value

Database Schema

For an overview of the database schema see CORAL Database Schema