You could make an ItemCreator method that specifically handles these things in some capacity.
Interesting concept. I import the data from an external source, maybe I could set the value when importing, but would prefer if the "(empty)" value would be only visible when outputting and not in database.
You could use a presenter class for your model, using the package by shawn ;)
Still, a good solution, but not general enough. Still have to define every attribute and it's output. Considering I got some amount of columns in the database it isn't exactly what I want.
Maybe you could try implementing model events
saving (perhaps in your BaseModel) which would deal with conversion while retrieving and saving records.
This way you could adjust "filtering" of model attributes tied to your needs. Plain foreach loop on attributes swapping
(empty) to emptystring and vice-versa would do the job I think.
In that case, derive your own class from Eloquent and override the getAttributeValue() method to return 'empty' if attribute == ""
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