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Joe Fallon:
Immutable Objects in PHP
Aug 27, 2015 @ 11:53:36

Joe Fallon has a post to his site talking about immutable objects in PHP, objects that once the property values are set they cannot change.

When I first learned to program, I made many objects that were mutable. I made lots of getters and lots of setters. I could create objects using a constructor and mutate and morph the heck out of that object in all kinds of ways. Unfortunately, this led to many problems. My code was harder to test, it was harder to reason about, and my classes became chock full of checks to ensure that it was in a consistent state anytime anything changed.

[...] Now, I favor creating immutable objects. The folks over in the functional camp are super excited about this concept. However, it’s been around for quite a while and it has so many benefits.

He talks about how immutable objects make it easier to not only test code but also allow for more rational reasoning about their contents. He points out that they also make it easier to understand the state of an application should an exception arise. He then gets into some examples of immutable objects, creating an ImmutableClass and a ImmutableClassBuilder to help create instances based on values provided.

tagged: immutable object introduction class builder example benefits

Link: http://blog.joefallon.net/2015/08/immutable-objects-in-php/

David Sklar:
Fixing Broken UTF-8
Aug 27, 2015 @ 10:48:29

David Sklar has a post to his site showing you how to fix broken UTF-8 characters in content being passed through the normal string functions.

When working on the i18n bits of Learning PHP 7, I had a problem. My example showing how plain string functions such as strtolower() and strtoupper() mangle multibyte UTF-8 characters was making the book formatting/rendering pipeline barf. The processing tools are expecing nicely formatted, valid, UTF-8 encoded HTMLBook files. It didn’t like the mangled invalid UTF-8 characters in my example output.

To fix this, I wrote the following function to replace invalid UTF-8 sequences with the Unicode Replacement Character (U+FFFD).

He includes the code for this method that walks through the string, character by character, and checks the bytes it contains to see how it needs to be translated. There's plenty of comments in it too, explaining what it's doing as it goes along.

tagged: fix broken utf8 character function example unicode replacement

Link: http://www.sklar.com/php/2015/08/25/fixing-broken-utf8/

Barry vd. Heuvel:
Comparing Blade and Twig templates in Laravel
Aug 26, 2015 @ 10:02:32

Anyone that has looked at using a templating library in their application has probably come across both Blade (in Laravel) and the Twig libraries. In a post to his site Barry vd. Heuvel compares these two templating libraries based on their features, security and (briefly) performance.

In my company, we use Twig instead of Blade for our Laravel projects. I know there are a lot of developers that also prefer Twig over Blade. So the question ‘Why choose Twig over Blade?’ often pops up. The reason is usually just a matter of preference, but in this post we’re going to compare the Blade and Twig templating engines side-by-side.

He starts with an "about" for each library, giving some basic background and examples of simple templates. He talks about using Twig in Laravel (vs Blade) and then lists some similarities and differences between the two. Following this high-level list he gets into more detail on each feature of the libraries including:

  • Outputting variables
  • Control structures
  • Template inheritance and sections
  • Security and context

Each section includes a description of the feature and a template example showing how it's put to use. He ends the post with his thoughts on which one you should pick for your project, but notes that, like many things in development, the answer is "it depends" on your project and team's needs.

tagged: compare blade template twig library feature overview example

Link: http://barryvdh.nl/laravel/twig/2015/08/22/comparing-blade-and-twig-templates-in-laravel/

Vertabelo.com:
ORMs under the hood
Aug 26, 2015 @ 09:55:01

The Vertabelo site has posted a tutorial that gives you an "under the hood" view of ORMs and what they're doing in the background to help make accessing your database information easier.

It often happens that if something is loved, it is also hated with the same power. The idea of object relational mapping fits into this concept perfectly. You will definitely come across many opposite points and fierce discussions as well as unwavering advocates and haters. So if you have ever asked whether to use ORM or not, the answer “it depends” will not be enough.

They start with a definition of an ORM to get everyone on the same page, highlighting how they represent database contents and what some of the benefits are in using them. From there the article talks about the importance of good SQL and a few common dangers in using an ORM and not knowing SQL. Then the article gets into how ORMs work and some of the common design patterns they can implement. It lists some of the more popular ORMs (for Python, Java and PHP) and covers some of the main disadvantages to their use. The article ends with examples of some of the libraries mentioned, highlighting the Propel ORM for the PHP world.

tagged: orm behindthescenes introduction advantages disadvantages types propel example

Link: http://www.vertabelo.com/blog/technical-articles/orms-under-the-hood

Evert Pot:
Save memory by switching to generators
Aug 11, 2015 @ 09:45:51

Evert Pot has a post to his site showing you to conserve memory with generators in your PHP scripts. Generators are a language feature that allows you to generate/manipulate data like an iterator without needing to pre-generate the array beforehand.

Since the release of PHP 5.5, we now have access to generators. Generators are a pretty cool language feature, and can allow you to save quite a bit of memory if they are used in the right places. [...] It's not uncommon in complex applications for the result of a function like our [example] to be passed to multiple functions that mangle or modify the data further. Each of these functions tend to have a (foreach) loop and will grow in memory usage as the amount of data goes up.

He uses a common example of fetching a set of articles from a database to show how memory consumption could get huge when a large number of articles are involved. He rewrites the example using generators instead, making use of the yield functionality to only fetch one record at a time and map it to the object structure. He also includes a few things to watch out for when using generators including the different return value of the method (iterator, not an array). He also points out an issue where the array_* functions will no work on iterators so you'd need to convert it back to an array before use.

tagged: memory generator switch example records yield

Link: http://evertpot.com/switching-to-generators/

Sameer Borate:
Cron Expression Parser in PHP
Jul 21, 2015 @ 10:15:09

If you've ever worked with the "cron" tool on a unix-based system, you know that there's a special syntax that comes along with defining when the commands should run. It can be difficult to get this timing exactly right, especially if you're very picky about the execution time. In this post from Sameer Borate he shows you a PHP library that can help not only parse current cron configurations but also provides shortcuts for common timings (ex: "daily" or "weekly").

Working with cron scheduling can many times be a frustrating affair. Although setting a few cron jobs at one time can be easy, calculating cron dates in the future in code can get time consuming quickly. The PHP cron expression parser described here can parse a CRON expression, determine if it is due to run, calculate the next run date of the expression or calculate the previous run date of the expression. You can calculate dates far into the future or past by skipping n number of matching dates.

He includes some examples of putting the library to use to define a cron object based on an expression (either via a shortcut or an actual cron time expression). You can then check to see if the cron is "due" or perform some various operations about its run dates. This includes a formatted output of the previous run time, the next run time and the calculation of the next/previous run time based on a relative timestamp.

tagged: cron parser library example tutorial run due evaluation datetime

Link: http://www.codediesel.com/php/cron-expression-parser-in-php/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Validating your data with Respect Validation
Jul 20, 2015 @ 10:49:26

The SitePoint PHP blog has posted a tutorial showing you how to validate your data with Respect (well, their validation library) and ensure the data you're getting is exactly what you're expecting.

Validation is an important aspect of every application’s interaction with data. Instead of reinventing the wheel every time, the community collaborated on some useful packages like Symfony, Laravel, Zend, etc. In this article, we’re going to introduce a lesser known package called Respect Validation, which provides some nice new features.

He starts by mentioning some of the other popular validation packages used widely in the PHP community including the Symfony Validator and Laravel's Illuminate package. For each of these he shows code validating an email address, each with their own slight differences. Using this same example he shows how to implement it in the Respect library, first making use of their custom "email" validator class then via custom chained rules. He also shows how to set custom error messages and provides a more "real world" example with a simple Laravel application. His application takes in user data including username, password and credit card information and uses Respect's library to validate it via a full set of rules. He ends the post with a quick look at creating your own custom rule classes and how to "cross pollinate" them with Zend or Symfony validators.

tagged: respect validation library tutorial laravel example custom errormessage

Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/validating-your-data-with-respect-validation/

Paul Jones:
A Factory Should Create, Not Retain
Jul 08, 2015 @ 08:45:31

Paul Jones has posted his thoughts about factory behavior in PHP applications (well, really any kind of application as it's a pan-language concept). He suggests that factories should only create the objects requested and not persist them.

In a recent Reddit conversation, some of us went off on a tangent about factories. I maintained then, and do now, that a “factory” always-and-only returns a new instance. If you have a “factory” that returns anything other than a new instance, it’s not a factory alone. In the case of factory methods, it is a factory + accessor; in the case of factory objects, it is a factory + registry. A “factory” (whether a factory method or factory object) is one way to separate object creation from object use.

He gives an example of a case where an object needs to be created for a "doSomething" method. His first example shows the creation of the "Item" inline, mixing the creation and use of the object into the same place. He replaces this with a "factory" class/method that only returns the new "Item" requested. He points out that a factory method that retains the object (like as a class property) has the same problem as the first example - retention. Instead he suggests an intermediate "collaborator" that splits out the creation and retention once again.

tagged: factory retain create object method collaborator example

Link: http://paul-m-jones.com/archives/6161

SitePoint PHP Blog:
4 Best Chart Generation Options with PHP Components
Jun 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.

tagged: chart generation option component top4 list example output code

Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/4-best-chart-generation-options-php-components/

Stephan Hochdörfer:
Simple Logging Facade for PSR-3 loggers
Jun 17, 2015 @ 09:56:45

In his latest post Stephan Hochdörfer shares a library he's created to hopefully make it easier for developers to integrate PSR-3 compatible logging libraries into their code, a "logging facade" based on an idea from the Java world.

Lately I have seen more and more libraries picking up PSR-3 when it comes to logging. What a lot of libaries do wrong is that they depend on a concrete implementation of PSR-3, e.g. Mongolog instead of relying on the PSR-3 interface. From what I have seen this is because loggers get instantiated directly within the class. This is not a bad thing but it couples your code to a concrete implementation of PSR-3 which in turn means that there`s no interoperability.

The Java community solved the problem by creating a Simple Logging Facade library (SLF4) which I "ported" to PHP last week.

The library makes provides a simple static interface to setting the PSR-3 logger of your choice and fetching it from anywhere in your application. He includes an example of what the code would look like for a basic Monolog instance. He ends the post talking about this method for getting/setting the logger instance and how it compares to using other options like a dependency injection container or even just a manual call to a setter.

tagged: logger facade factory psr3 monolog example library

Link: https://blog.bitexpert.de/blog/simple-logging-facade-for-psr-3-loggers/