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Lorna Mitchell:
Logging to Stdout with Monolog
June 09, 2014 @ 09:08:10

Lorna Mitchell has a quick post today showing how you can use the popular Monolog logging library to log messages and data to stdout, the standard output stream of whatever is executing the script.

My worker scripts have really basic logging (as in, they echo when something happens, and I can see those in the supervisord logs). Which is kind of okay, but I wanted to at least add timestamps in to them, and maybe send emails when something REALLY bad happened. I'm a huge fan of Monolog so I grabbed that, but it wasn't immediately obvious which of the many and varied options I would need for this fairly simple addition. It turns out that the right thing to use is the ErrorLogHandler.

She includes a few lines of sample code that use the "ErrorLogger" to output the message. It includes the log level, a timestamp, the message itself and any additional contextual information you pass in.

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Evert Pot:
jCard is now a thing
January 21, 2014 @ 11:04:18

In his most recent post Evert Pot talks about jCard, a JSON-based format that was recently approved to serve up VCard personal information data in an easier-to-parse format.

I'm a big fan of this format. vCards have been around since 1995, and even though we've had a pretty significant update in 2011 in the form of vCard 4.0, the format is still complicated to parse, has a number of problems that go all the way back to the early days. [...] The biggest problem with vCards, is that upon a first glance, the format seems extremely easy to parse and generate with just a couple of string manipulation functions. When you dig deeper into the specifications though, you'll notice that it's actually really complex and hosts a ton of edge cases.

He includes an example of how to generate the jCard format using the Sabre/Object and the resulting output, both in the traditional vCard format and the new jCard structure.

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Sameer Borate:
Easy PHP debugging with Kint
November 07, 2013 @ 11:24:02

Sameer Borate has posted about using Kint, a "more powerful debugger" that lets you output more data than just the usual var_dump or print_r provides and in a much more readable format.

My standard debugging tool when using PHP is xdebug. Pairing xdebug with Komodo gives me a very productive environment for building PHP applications. However, testing an application code on a hosted server can be many times frustrating as one has only the print_r and var_dump functions at our disposal. What I need is a library that I can easily install on the server and start using. Although there are a few debugging libraries around, one of my favorites is Kint.

He walks you through the installation of the tool and provides an example of the most basic usage (and output) from a call to the tool's "dump" function. He also gets into some of the additional features the library provides including intelligent formatting, debug tracing and limited theme configuration.

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Phil Sturgeon:
Named Parameters in PHP
September 02, 2013 @ 10:52:40

in a new post to his site Phil Sturgeon talks about a new (old?) proposal to introduce named parameters into PHP.

Named Parameters for PHP is not a new conversation. It's reared its head several times - so much so that the named parameters RFC says: "Since the topic continually gets re-raised, and now PHP has an RFC process, the discussion should be recorded in an RFC (Note this is yet to be done) so the same arguments don't have to be revisited."

He notes the negative attitude that seems to currently be shown in the RFC and has made the offer to rewrite it to be more impartial to the subject at hand. In the comments of the post there's also some feedback about the different syntaxes and varying levels of support for the proposal.

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Basic CSV Output in Zend Framework 2
July 18, 2013 @ 09:20:42

Matthew Setter has a new post on the MaltBlue site about creating CVS output from a Zend Framework 2 based application. Instead of writing to a CSV file on the local file system, he opts to push the information out to the user directly in the browser.

Today's tutorial is a simple one. We're going to look at a simple way of rendering CSV output in Zend Framework 2 using a combination of a View Template and Controller Action. We're going to see just how easy it is to generate content and send it to the browser, instead of rendering a standard .pthml template.

He includes the module configuration that sets up the location of the CSV template file and defines the "download/download-csv" header. The view template is pretty simple - just a loop of the results that calls fputcsv to push the data info a file handle. The code for the controller is also included, showing how to create a view model to push the data out.

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Whoops! PHP Errors for Cool Kids
June 06, 2013 @ 10:46:12

On there's a new post spotlighting an interesting tool you can use to help make debugging an easier (and prettier) experience in PHP, the Whoops library.

Whoops is a small library, available as a Composer package, that helps you handle errors and exceptions across your PHP projects. Out of the box, you get a sleek, intuitive and informative error page each time something goes pants-up in your application.

It provides you with detailed error messages, a "code view" of where the error was found, support for Ajax/JSON requests and providers for several popular frameworks. The system is made up of a set of handlers that execute in order to provide the resulting page of output. He goes through how to install the tool (via Composer) and what you'll need to know to put it to use. He shows how to change up some of the configuration options and add in some extra info to the output. There's also a section specifically about integrating it with the Laravel 4 framework.

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Keith Casey:
Refactor vs Rebuild New Years make New Beginnings
January 09, 2013 @ 09:23:31

Keith Casey has an interesting new post to his site looking at a common dilema among development groups - whether refactor or rewrite is a better option for the state of the current codebase when it comes time for a change.

In software development, we're spoiled. We can write a single line of code and do some interesting things. If we add a framework, that single line of code is backed up by thousands.. and can do even more impressive things. [...] I can't tell you how many people have pitched me to "rewite web2project using [framework x]." At first pass, it sounds like a great idea. We can lay the foundation for doing things "right." We can use the latest and greatest tools, technology, and concepts. Even better, we don't have to figure out all that old crappy code! It's open source so it's free anyway. Everyone wins! How many times have you looked at an application and thought "I could rebuild that in a weekend!"

He points out the "seductive" nature of this kind of thinking and some of the things that it can hide from your immediate vision. These are things like: the lessons that were learned and implemented in the current code, catch up vs new development on the project and the possibility of "killing the community" as they'd no longer know which part of the project to contribute to.

He suggests instead of worrying about a rewrite, that development groups worry more about managing technical debt in their applications and reducing that piece by piece instead.

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Hasin Hayder:
Running Zend Framework Applications in AppFog
November 15, 2012 @ 09:28:30

Hasin Hayder has a quick post to his blog today about how you can configure an AppFog instance to be able to run Zend Framework-based projects on them.

AppFog is quite a popular polyglot PaaS (Platform as a Service) provider and it comes with a generous free plan for the developers. [...] Recently, I was looking for a solution on how to host a Zend Framework based application in AppFog. The main problem was that the url must point to the /public folder inside the app and from there it is initialized. After searching for some time, I found the clue in AppFog's doumentation which is you'll have to redirect all the traffic from the parent domain to the /public/index.php file using the URL rewrite rules.

The rewrite rules are included in the post for easy cut-and-pasting. With the recently announced closing of their phpFog service (in favor of just supporting AppFog) I'm sure this tip could come in handy for a lot of developers out there.

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Adam Culp:
Clean Development Series Part 4, Rewrite dilemma
November 12, 2012 @ 10:28:30

Adam Culp has published the fourth part of his "Clean Code" series to his site today (see more about parts 1-3 here) with a look at the "Rewrite Dilema" - whether it's more productive to just rewrite or to try to refactor.

Unfortunately the first reaction to a poorly written application is usually a resounding "rewrite". Developers feel like a weight is lifted from their shoulders, as the manager hears a distant "cha-ching" sounds of money slipping away. [...] In the managers mind a rewrite means it must all be duplicated, and that's not far from the truth when we consider the salaries of an entire development team for the time it will take to rewrite the entire application.

Adam talks about some of his experience in the past with challenging applications and a typical scenario where one group in the company splits off and creates the new version while another maintains the old. He suggests, however, that refactoring may be a more viable option. While it might not seem easier to handle overall, the end results could lead to a more stable system and could take less time than starting from scratch.

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Nikita Popov:
How to add new (syntactic) features to PHP
July 30, 2012 @ 09:54:34

Nikita Popov has a new post to his site looking at how you can add your own syntactic features directly to PHP (requires knowledge of the C language).

Several people have recently asked me where you should start if you want to add some new (syntactic) feature to PHP. As I'm not aware of any existing tutorials on that matter, I'll try to illustrate the whole process in the following. At the same time this is a general introduction to the workings of the Zend Engine. So upfront: I apologize for this overly long post.

He covers the usual "life" of a PHP script, how tokenization is handled and what happens when the script is parsed, compiled and executed. Code snippets are included to show you the points to add in your own syntax item - in their case, adding an "in" operator to see if a value is in an array (a one word version of this).

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