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Jeff Geerling:
Streaming PHP - disabling output buffering in PHP, Apache, Nginx, and Varnish
Apr 06, 2016 @ 13:45:27

In a recent post to his site Jeff Geerling shows you how to disable the output buffering that PHP includes and create "streaming PHP" code similar to Drupal's recently introduced BigPipe handling.

For the past few days, I've been diving deep into testing Drupal 8's experimental new BigPipe feature, which allows Drupal page requests for authenticated users to be streamed and loaded in stages—cached elements (usually the majority of a page) are loaded almost immediately, meaning the end user can interact with the main elements on the page very quickly, then other uncacheable elements are loaded in as Drupal is able to render them.

[...] BigPipe takes advantage of streaming PHP responses (using flush() to flush the output buffer at various times during a page load), but to ensure the stream is delivered all the way from PHP through to the client, you need to make sure your entire webserver and proxying stack streams the request directly, with no buffering.

He decided to try out different configurations to see if he could reproduce the same thing outside of Drupal and - good news, everyone - he found a reliable way. He starts with a basic procedural script that emulates BigPipe and calls a flush inside a loop to push the latest output to the waiting client. While this cooperates on the command line the browser doesn't cooperate the same way. A small tweak helps it work, so he shows how to reproduce this reliably across the full stack - Nginx, Apache and Varnish.

He ends with a quick warning for those using VMWare/VirtualBox about some oddness he experienced in buffering the responses and includes a way to test if it's your script or the VM causing the trouble.

tagged: stream output disable buffering apache nginx varnish tutorial

Link: http://www.jeffgeerling.com/blog/2016/streaming-php-disabling-output-buffering-php-apache-nginx-and-varnish

Freek Van der Herten:
A modern package to generate html menus
Mar 25, 2016 @ 11:17:38

In this new post to his site Freek Van der Herten shares a new package he's worked up to help generate and maintain the status of menus in a Laravel application. While this example is Laravel-centric, there's also a framework-agnostic package that can be used in any application structure too.

Virtually every website displays some sort of menu. Generating html menus might seem simple, but it can become complex very quickly. Not only do you have to render some basic html, but you also have to manage which item is active. If a menu has a submenu you’ll also want the parents of an active item to be active. Sometimes you want to insert some html between menu items.

There are some packages out there that can help generating menus, but most of them have a messy API or have become victims of feature creep. Thanks why we decided to create our own modern menu package that has a beautiful API to work with.

He spends the rest of the post introducing the package, starting with the generation of a basic menu (and something a bit more complex). He also shows the use of the isActive method call to mark something as "active" but the package will handle that automatically for you if you'd like to keep it simple. He ends the post with a listing of the components that make this menu handling work (three of them) and some of the "modern PHP" functionality that they use.

tagged: menu package library html generate output manage active

Link: https://murze.be/2016/03/a-modern-package-to-generate-menus/

Andreas Gohr:
Visualizing XDebug Traces
Feb 29, 2016 @ 12:49:44

Andreas Gohr has posted an interesting article to his site showing you how you can easily visualize XDebug stack traces and make them a bit more clear than the usual output dump.

As alluded to in yesterday's post, I'm currently hunting an elusive bug with xdebug. The problem is, that it only happens sporadically and when I know it happened it is too late to set a break point. So usual debugging methods don't work. Instead I want to use xdebug's execution tracing: let it log all function calls and then pick through the log when the bug occurs.

[...] To ease my debugging I looked for tools that could read the computer readable format. I found a few promising candidates, but in the end they either didn't work or they did not provide what I needed. So instead of hunting the bug, I built a tool

His tool takes in the XDebug output and turns it into something much more readable and properly nested.

tagged: tool library nested output trace stack debugging xdebug

Link: http://www.splitbrain.org/blog/2016-02/27-visualizing_xdebug_traces

Leonid Mamchenkov:
Weird PHP error output bug
Dec 10, 2015 @ 10:41:06

In a post to his site Leonid Mamchenkov shares an interesting output bug he came across in his work developing cron jobs and how they handled his errors.

We came across this PHP bug at work today. But before you go and read it, let me show you a use case. See, if you can spot the problem. We had a cron job script which [ran a PHP script and echoed a string when complete].

[...] We use similar code snippets all over the place, and they work fine. This particular one was a new addition. So the cron job ran and “Updating products failed” part happened. Weird. The PHP script in question has plenty of logging in it, but nothing was logged.

After adding more and more logging to the process and PHP script, nothing obvious was standing out. Finally, they noticed that the filename was incorrect but normally that would cause an error in the PHP command line execution. The tricky part here was in how PHP handled its errors. Their error_log and display_errors settings were such that the PHP "missing file" error was being swallowed up and not displayed.

tagged: bug cron output error missing file errorlog displayerrors

Link: http://mamchenkov.net/wordpress/2015/12/10/weird-php-error-output-bug/

Lorna Mitchell:
PHP: Calling Methods on Non-Objects
Oct 19, 2015 @ 10:53:57

In a quick post to her site Lorna Mitchell describes a small difference in error messaging that's changed between PHP versions when trying to call methods on non-objects between versions 5.5, 5.6 and the upcoming PHP 7.

PHP has subtly changed the wording of this error between various versions of the language, which can trip up your log aggregators when you upgrade so I thought I'd give a quick rundown of the changes around the "call to member function on non-object" error in PHP, up to and including PHP 7 which has an entirely new error handling approach.

She includes examples of the error messages for PHP 5.5 and 5.6, differing only in how they report back the type of the variable the method was called on (one gets more specific). In PHP 7, however, the message is different because of the major overhaul that error handling has gotten. The new Error inheritance model still has it throw a fatal but it also notes it's an uncaught error which can be caught with the same try/catch as any other exception.

tagged: object error message version php5 php7 example output uncaught

Link: http://www.lornajane.net/posts/2015/php-calling-methods-on-non-objects

php[architect]:
Exporting Drupal Nodes with PHP and Drush
Oct 06, 2015 @ 11:09:11

The php[architect] site has posted a tutorial showing you how to export Drupal nodes with Drush and a bit of regular PHP. Drush is a command line tool that makes working with Drupal outside of the interface simpler and easier to automate.

Drupal 8 development has shown that PHP itself, and the wider PHP community, already provides ways to solve common tasks. In this post, I’ll show you some core PHP functionality that you may not be aware of; pulling in packages and libraries via Composer is a topic for another day.

The tutorial walks through a more real-world situation of needing to export a CSV file that shows a list of nodes added to the site after a specific date. He points out some of the benefits of doing it the Drush way and starts in on the code/configuration you need to set the system up. He shows how to create the Drush command itself and update it with a method to export the newest nodes (after validating the date provided). He makes use of a SplFileObject to output the results from the EntityFieldQuery query out into to the CSV file. He makes use of PHP's generators functionality to only fetch the records a few at a time. Finally he includes the command to execute the export, defining the date to query the node set and how to push that output to a file.

tagged: export drupal node drush commmandline csv output query generator

Link: https://www.phparch.com/2015/10/exporting-drupal-nodes-with-php-and-drush/

Knp University:
Fun with Symfony's Console Component
Oct 06, 2015 @ 10:26:41

In a post to the Knp University blog they show you some of the fun you can have with the Symfony Console component in a single file including a few lesser known (and lesser used) features.

One of the best parts of using Symfony's Console component is all the output control you have to the CLI: colors, tables, progress bars etc. Usually, you create a command to do this. But what you may not know is that you can get to all this goodness in a single, flat PHP file.

They walk you through the creation of a ConsoleOutput object with a simple writeln output of a formatted method. They briefly mention the handling for changing up the output (OutputFormatter and OutputFormatterStyle) before getting into something a bit more complex - table layouts. They end the post with an interesting "hidden" feature inside the component, the Symfony track progress bar (animated gif included to show the end result).

tagged: symfony console component feature pretty output table track progressbar

Link: http://knpuniversity.com/blog/fun-with-symfonys-console

Ignace Nyamagana Butera:
Q&A: Enforcing enclosure with LeagueCsv
Sep 04, 2015 @ 11:19:44

Ignace Nyamagana Butera has a post has a post to his site showing how to use the LeagueCsv library for encapsulation in CSV output.

It is common knowledge that PHP’s fputcsv function does not allow enforcing the enclosure on every field. Using League CSV and PHP stream filter features let me show you how to do so step by step.

He walks you through the process of getting the library installed and using it (seven easy steps) to correctly contain the CSV values according to its contents:

  • Install league csv
  • Choose a sequence to enforce the presence of the enclosure character
  • Set up you CSV
  • Enforce the sequence on every CSV field
  • Create a stream filter
  • Attach the stream filter to the Writer object

Each step includes the code you'll need to make it work and a final result is shown at the end of the post. He does offer a few extra tips at the end of the post around some extra validation he added and where you can register the stream filter.

tagged: leaguecsv csv data output encapsulation stream filter

Link: http://nyamsprod.com/blog/2015/qa-enforcing-enclosure-with-leaguecsv/

Freek Van der Herten:
Speed up a Laravel app by caching the entire response
Jul 20, 2015 @ 08:12:55

Freek Van der Herten has written up a tutorial for his site showing the Laravel users out there how to cache their entire response to speed up the overall performance of their application.

A typical request on an dynamic PHP site can do a lot of things. It’s highly likely that a bunch database queries are performed. On complex pages executing those queries and hydrating them can slow a site down. The response time can be improved by caching the entire response. The idea is that when a user visits a certain page the app stores the rendered page.

With a little help from his package it's easy to enable. Just install the package, add the service provider and you're ready to go. All successful responses will be cached unless told otherwise and cache files will be written out to files by default. He does point out that caching like this, while handy and a nice "quick fix" shouldn't be used in place of proper application tuning methods though. He also links to two other external technologies that could be used for the same purpose: Varnish and Nginx's own cache handling.

tagged: laravel application response cache output serviceprovider package

Link: https://murze.be/2015/07/speed-up-a-laravel-app-by-caching-the-entire-response/

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/