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Inviqa techPortal:
"Your code sucks" - Tips on giving feedback
July 25, 2014 @ 12:15:21

If you're a part of a development team anywhere, chances are at one point or another you've asked for someone else to take a look at your code and give their opinions. Maybe it was you looking over a coworker's latest addition and it was...somewhat lacking. How can you say it in a constructive and nice way? The Inviqa techPortal has some suggestions.

Feedback on performance matters. It not only maintains quality, refines and hones performance, but it can also improve morale and trust, and build relationships. It can stop minor problems from escalating into major capability issues. It's something that every people manager or team leader should be doing as standard, and yet it's so hard to get right. For some people, giving good feedback is easy. [...] Delivering negative feedback can be a tricky process so how do you give negative feedback, or (as the much hackneyed phrase would have it) "constructive" feedback?

The post includes a list of six things to think about as you provide feedback to other developers (and even as a manager to your employees). The list suggests things like making it timely, listening to their side of things and setting a plan for resolving the issue.

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Link: http://techportal.inviqa.com/2014/07/23/your-code-sucks-tips-on-giving-feedback-2/

Rob Allen:
Use statements
March 17, 2014 @ 10:13:08

Rob Allen's latest post focuses in on something that's been a part of PHP for a while now, back when namespacing was introduced - the "use" keyword. He shares some thoughts, both from others and himself, about whether or not they make code more readable.

I was having a discussion on IRC about use statements and whether they improved code readability or not. [...] Those longer class names make it a little hard to quickly parse what it going on. The [example with "use" statements] is clearly less cluttered, but is at the expense of ambiguity. Exactly what class is User? I would have to go to the top of the file to find out. Should I use aliases? If so, how should I name them?

He went out to Twitter for advice from other PHP developers on the issue too. The feedback from his question came mostly in support of the "use" statements:

  • "I think use statements just abstract where the class is coming from. Some people find that useful."
  • "I think it's helpful seeing all of the packages used by a class without having to look through the full code."
  • "One reason I like them is that I can glance at a file and know dependencies immediately."
  • "I do appreciate what you are saying about the indirection use statements introduce."

There's also a bit of talk about "aliasing" with namespaces rather than the full classname, then using the namespace and class name in the code to "minimise ambiguity".

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Link: http://akrabat.com/php/use-statements/

Stefan Koopmanschap:
How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
November 01, 2013 @ 12:49:51

Stefan Koopmanschap recently posted a great new article about how you can get the most out of conferences and what they have to offer besides just the sessions.

At the most excellent PHPNW conference, Kat convinced me to deliver the first unconference talk of the day. It took me a while to get the right topic. I ended up with a topic I felt everyone at the conference could use for the rest of the two days that they were there: How to get the most out of a conference. For those that were not there, I want to try and put my unconference talk into a blogpost, so that everyone can use this information for their next conference.

He's broken it down into a few different major topics including the obvious "learn from the best" as well as:

  • Learn and meet the best
  • Find your new colleagues (or new friends)
  • The backchannels
  • Hack away! (at hackathons)

He also makes a great recommendation about providing feedback - not only is it important to the conference to let them know they've done a good job, but also to the speakers to help improve their skills.

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Link: http://leftontheweb.com/blog/2013/10/25/How_to_get_the_most_out_of_a_conference/

7PHP.com:
Speaker & Attendee Feedback Of The Previous Laravel4 Talk Of NomadPHP June 2013
July 08, 2013 @ 09:42:12

7PHP.com has a new post that shares some of the feedback - from both the speaker and other attendees - of the latest Nomad PHP meeting featuring Phil Sturgeon talking on Laravel 4.

Previously on thursday 27th July 2013 (8pm CDT), NomadPHP hosted their 2nd talk which was about "Laravel 4" - the speaker being Phil Sturgeon. I also announced my 2nd free ticket giveaway for this online event - a generosity awesomely made possible by the ever-awesome @NomadPHP organizer; Cal Evans. In this short (as compared to the previous one) article, the spotlight will be on the speaker and an attendee. I'm thankful to both for their responses and sharing their NomadPHP experience with us. We'll also have a quick (as in very quick) glance at the ticket winners.

The article starts with some of the feedback from Phil and his observations from the speaker side of things. This is followed by the attendee perspective from Don Gilbert, a maintainer of the Joomla framework. They talk about the goods and bads of the presentation and things they think the virtual user group could improve on in the future.

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Link: http://7php.com/feedback-nomadphp-june-2013/

Reddit.com:
I want a job as a developer. Here's my situation, can you help?
June 20, 2013 @ 11:17:48

On Reddit.com there's a recent post asking what kinds of things someone can do to gain the skills they need to get a job as a web developer. Disregard the comment at the top and get straight to the good stuff - there's lots of great recommendations here including:

  • "take the time to take algorithm classes , UML classes and db modelling classes and , very important , read other people's code"
  • "Work on stuff that interests you." and "Work on stuff that doesn't interest you but solves a problem for someone else"
  • "Pick a major CMS (doesn't matter which one) and tear it apart."
  • "Go through the PHP tracks on codeacademy.com"
  • "Go to MIT Open Courseware and start reading up data structures and algorithms."
  • "Just keep programming. You'll do stupid things, but having to do those things should become annoying."

Unfortunately, the poster started things out with a "don't tell me to read a book" mentality, so there's some responses in there about that. Don't let that disuade you from some of the other answers, especially if you're new to PHP, though.

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Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/PHP/comments/1gpmr5/i_want_a_job_as_a_developer_heres_my_situation

Chris Hartjes:
Standards, Soapboxes, and Shamans
January 21, 2013 @ 13:16:47

In this latest post to his site Chris Hartjes shares some of his thoughts about the recently approved PSR-3 standard (for logging) and some of the reception that the other PSRs (PSR-0, 1 & 2) have gotten from the PHP community.

For those who pay attention to the workings of the PHP community you might have heard about the "PHP Standards Recommendations" that have been coming out of the PHP Framwork Interop Group. [...] More recently this group has been working on a standard for logging interfaces called PSR-3. I spoke about this on Twitter, and I will repeat it here: I think PHP programmers should get behind PSR-0 and efforts like PSR-3. I feel that PSR-1 and PSR-2 are solutions looking for a problem and seem, to me anyway, to me out of place with the solutions offered by PSR-0 and PSR-3.

He likens the PHP PSRs to the Python enhancement proposals (PEPs) and, more specifically, to the PEP-8 - their own version of "coding standards" that was highly championed by Guido van Rossum and put into wide practice.

Any programming language community that does not work as hard as possible to make it easier to integrate other's libraries of code together [by standardizing their formatting] is asking for irrelevancy.
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Reddit.com:
Can We Revive php.net User Notes Or Kill It?
September 13, 2012 @ 12:56:44

In this discussion on Reddit, there's talk about the user comments feature on the PHP.net site and the value they provide to the language and community.

The question, however, has always been "how useful is this feature really and does it bring more harm than good?". It's not that easy to answer since there are so many notes submitted by a wide range of users and some will likely go unnoticed while others seem to get undue attention due to their positioning near the top of the user-notes section of a particularly trafficked page.

The poster proposes a few things that could help make them a bit more effective (and useful overall) including voting on the note contents, flagging potential issues and sorting the notes based on popularity/age. He's put together a proof of concept as seen here with some of the new features.

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Community News:
FixThatCode.com Launched
July 30, 2012 @ 10:55:48

Rafael Dohms has started up a new project that wants to help developers get help on their broken code via collaboration with others - FixThatCode.com.

Coding is an art. There are many ways to paint an apple, but which is better? Most of the code we write everyday can be written in better ways to achieve different objectives. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes. Code quality can be observed through various identifying markers. Perhaps you're not aware of them, don't have time to look for them or are too caught up in the moment to notice? That's where FixThatCode.com steps in!

There's a few different categories you can ask for help in including "Make this code better", "Make this code faster" and "Give me feedback". So far there's some interesting examples to look at - mostly in the "Feedback" category as developers look to further their skills by learning from others. The site's still just starting out, but I could see it becoming a good resource to any community - not just PHP!

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Community News:
php|tek 2012 Wraps Up
May 25, 2012 @ 16:26:22

This year's php|tek 2012 conference has just wrapped up - some great sessions were presented, contributions were made at the hackathon and patches gathered by all.

If you attended this year's event, please be sure to give the speakers some feedback (on Joind.in) and, if you weren't able to, check out the "Slides" section for the presentations.

Topics at this year's event included:

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Reddit.com:
What are some genuine criticisms of PHP?
April 05, 2012 @ 10:09:04

On Reddit.com there's a long thread with responses to the question "What are some genuine criticisms of PHP?" with opinions ranging from small issues (like syntax) out to more community-related topics.

PHP tends to get a lot of flak, but mostly it is for something that isn't really the fault of PHP. Things like "there is so much bad PHP code out there" may be true but you can write bad code in any language. You shouldn't be mixing PHP, SQL and HTML, and you should be escaping/parameterizing variables for queries. (Thankfully this is less prevalent nowadays.) So do many PHP criticisms actually hold true today, now we have namespaces and we have buried crap like magic quotes at the bottom of the ocean?

Other comments cover things like

  • PHP's namespace implementation
  • poor web services support
  • Less code audits, more "roll-your-own fever"
  • Function naming and parameter order
  • weak OOP functionality

Check out the full post for lots more opinions and add yours too!

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