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SitePoint PHP Blog:
4 Best Chart Generation Options with PHP Components
June 26, 2015 @ 08:30:29

The SitePoint PHP blog has a new article posted sharing four of the best charting libraries they've seen for use in your PHP applications. Options include both server and client side tools, making finding one for your situation easier.

Data is everywhere around us, but it is boring to deal with raw data alone. That's where visualization comes into the picture. [...] So, if you are dealing with data and are not already using some kind of charting component, there is a good chance that you are going to need one soon. That's the reason I decided to make a list of libraries that will make the task of visualizing data easier for you.

He starts with a brief comparison of the server side versus client side options, pointing out some high level advantages and disadvantages of each. He then gets into each of the libraries, giving an overview, an output example and some sample code to get you started:

  • Google Charts (Client Side)
  • FusionCharts (Client Side)
  • pChart (Server Side)
  • ChartLogix PHP Graphs (Server Side)

He ends with a wrapup of the options and links to two other possibilities you could also evaluate to find the best fit.

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Lorna Mitchell:
Code Reviews Before You Even Run The Code
June 02, 2015 @ 09:50:01

Lorna Mitchell has posted a list of helpful tips to perform good code reviews on submissions before even trying to run the code for correctness.

I do a lot of code reviewing, both in my day job as principal developer and also as an open source maintainer. Sometimes it seems like I read more code than I write! Is that a problem? I'm tempted to say that it isn't. To be a good writer, you must be well-read; I believe that to be a good developer, you need to be code-omnivorous and read as much of other people's code as possible. Code reviews are like little chapters of someone else's code to dip into.

She offers several tips you can follow to make the reviews you do more effective including:

  • Ensuring you understand the change
  • Are the changes where you'd expect?
  • Does the commit history make sense
  • Evaluate the diff to ensure the changes themselves are valid

She only then recommends trying out the code. Following the suggestions above can help ferret out issues that may be hidden by just running the code and not fully looking into the changes.

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SitePoint PHP Blog:
Automatic PHP Code Generation with Memio
May 05, 2015 @ 11:52:07

On the SitePoint PHP blog a new tutorial shows you how to generate code with Memio, a relatively new PHP-based tool that lets you define "models" as structures for the code you need generated.

Ever thought of writing code responsible for generating certain PHP classes, methods, properties automatically? Read on to get the details on when exactly automatic code generation may be helpful and - what's most important - how to implement it properly using the Memio library.

He starts with a bit of introduction to the basic concept of code generation and mentions a few places it's currently used. Then he gets into the examples, starting with a bit of code showing how to get Twig loaded and injected into the Memio instance. From there he shows a simple example of creating a class with a single method and single line of code. With the basics understood, he gets into a more "real world" example of generating ORM classes with getters and setters for the different properties/column names.

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Marc Morera:
Visithor, Testing Your Routes Without Pain
May 05, 2015 @ 09:25:55

In his latest post Marc Morera shares a new tool he's created to help with testing routes for specific HTTP code responses and other attributes of your "HTTP layer" - Visithor.

Many years ago I was thinking about a simple and fast tool to test specific routes, expecting specific HTTP codes and providing an easy environment of ensuring properly your HTTP layer. So... I present you Visithor, a PHP based library that provides you this functionality, with a simple configuration definition and a very easy way of installation.

He starts with a few quick commands to get the library installed (either globally or local to the project) and how to create the first configuration file. This file defines the tests to execute as a set of URLs with allowed HTTP response codes. He also shares a Symfony2 bundle that can be used to integrate it with your current application, allowing for more flexibility in route check configuration and environment settings. He also includes a quick example of integrating it with your Travis-CI build as a "script" command to be executed.

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SitePoint PHP Blog:
Inspecting PHP Code Quality with Scrutinizer
April 29, 2015 @ 11:24:24

The SitePoint PHP blog has a recent tutorial showing you how to use the Scrutinizer service to evaluate the quality and "pain points" in your PHP code, be it a library or full application.

We've gone through a decent number of tutorials about code quality, inspections, auto-build systems and so on here at SitePoint. [...] In this article, we'll take a look at Scrutinizer CI - a continuous integration tool that's quite expensive and closed to private projects, but very handy for public ones.

He starts with a quick comparison of Scrutinizer versus (and really plus) the popular CI service Travis CI. He then walks you through the setup of Scrutinizer to evaluate your application automatically when code is pushed to GitHub. He then gets into the configuration options the service provides including filters, specific checks to evaluate and other tools to execute in the evaluation build. The article then gets into examples of the reports that are provided and a bit of detail about what each view provides. There's also options to hide certain errors that you know aren't actually problems and the "follow up" links it provides for the issues you may not understand.

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Christopher Pitt:
Co-operative PHP Multitasking
March 30, 2015 @ 12:47:41

Christopher Pitt has posted a new article on about when an "array is like an adventure" when in the context of co-operative PHP multitasking. In it he shows how to make code work asynchronously with out the use of extensions, only generators.

Last week I got the opportunity to share recent work with my colleagues, at SilverStripe. I was going to present Async PHP today, but since I covered ReactPHP last week; I decided to talk about something slightly different. So here's a post about cooperative multitasking.

He starts with some basic arrays and other things that act like them and can be iterated through (Traversable). He talks about implementing custom iterators to act the same way and the use of IteratorAggregate to "cheat" a bit when making them. The he gets into generators, showing how they can be used to iterate similarly. He shows how it's possible to send data to a generator, throwing exceptions inside them and the use of "coroutines" to create asynchronous code. He builds up a queue system with this method and shows how they execute with some simple echo output. He also shows the use of RecoilPHP, another coroutine-based library, to replace the main kernel for a ReactPHP script. He also mentions IcicleIO as another option.

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Julien Pauli:
Zoom on PHP objects and classes
March 26, 2015 @ 12:50:49

Julien Pauli has a recent post to his site that "zooms in" on objects and classes with a look behind the scenes at how they're handled in the PHP source (at the C level) with plenty of code examples and explanations as to how they work.

Everybody uses objects nowadays. Something that was not that easy to bet on when PHP5 got released 10 years ago (2005). I still remember this day, I wasn't involved in internals code yet, so I didn't know much things about how all this big machine could work. But I had to note at this time, when using this new release of the language, that jumps had been made compared to old PHP4. The major point advanced for PHP5 adoption was : "it has a new very powerful object model". That wasn't lies. [...] Here, I will show you as usual how all this stuff works internally. The goal is always the same : you understand and master what happens in the low level, to make a better usage of the language everyday.

The article does a great (if lengthy) job of covering everything that happens with PHP's objects and class system, including stats about memory consumption. He includes both the PHP code and the C code to illustrate what's happening with classes, interfaces, traits and object methods/attributes (including object references). He also talks about what "$this" is and how class destructors are handled.

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Piotr Pasich:
Ant, composer and code quality tools
March 18, 2015 @ 11:33:47

In his latest post Piotr Pasich shares some handy tips (and tools) to help you use Composer to do some of the common tasks you might use Ant or Phing for.

I decided to start with something uncomplicated - a simple solution that could help me solve a prosaic, but annoying issue. For instance, XML format. No, I won't fight with it. I see it as great and practical, however mostly I don't need so sophisticated code to cover my needs - the yaml usually fits the purpose. [...] Yet, do I really need this flexibility [of XML configuration] when I use vagrant or docker to maintain the same environment as on the production? For 90% of PHP projects probably I won't use all of the features of the virtualization tools. I only want to install necessary libraries, check the code quality before committing or introduce fixtures. Most of those points are easily feasible in composer.

He then shows how to execute these checks through the functionality included with Composer to run custom scripts. His example measures the quality of the code based on the results first from a single run of the PHP Mess Detector (phpmd) command. He then extends this with the open source contribution he mentions earlier with his CodeQualityThreshold library allowing not only for more checks (phpmd, phpcs, phpcpd, etc) but also allows you to configure the thresholds for each class if desired. He includes an example of it in action and screenshots of the results.

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Derick Rethans:
Code Coverage Finding Paths
January 07, 2015 @ 09:33:13

Derick Rethans has continued his series looking at the code coverage handling that XDebug and PHPUnit make available, allowing you to find the spots in your code not tested much easier. In this new post he talks about a new feature coming to the XDebug tool - branch and path coverage.

Picking up from where we left last time, in this second article we will look at some upcoming functionality in Xdebug. Sebastian has been pressuring me for years to add branch and path coverage to Xdebug, with issue #1034. In the post I will show you what "branch and path coverage" is, and how it helps.

How does this new type of coverage differ from the current functionality? Derick goes on to explain the difference via a simple example (and its resulting coverage). In the first example, using the XDebug available today, shows a fully tested function despite not all paths being testing correctly (a false coverage report). He gets into the "under the covers" changes he's made including how the opcodes are reported and changes he's made to the VLD to make it handle the branching smarter and make coverage more than just a "lines covered" metric. He shows an updated graph of the new coverage/branch flow and what a resulting coverage report might look like with the new "Paths" reporting.

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Stefan Koopmanschap:
UWYC Use What You Can
January 05, 2015 @ 10:15:21

In his latest post, Stefan Koopmanschap shares an interesting idea he thinks more software developers would do well to adopt - Use what you can (or "don't do it yourself).

In her book, Amanda Palmer talks about DIY, and how when you start asking for help, Do It Yourself is a strange term. Instead, she suggests UWYC, which stands for Use What You Can. I think software developers can learn a lot from this mindset. As Palmer says: "I have no interest in Doing It Myself." This is exactly how we should approach software development.

He points out that, for the most part, the tasks and needs of most software have been solved. There already exists functionality to do those things, so why would you need to create your own? By doing so, you only increase your load as a developer, shifting the hard work of maintenance and improvement into your already loaded work schedule. He does make a good suggestion for using other people's code, though: filter the solutions (according to criteria like following good practices, documentation and if it's in active development).

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