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SitePoint PHP Blog:
Diffbot Crawling with Visual Machine Learning
August 01, 2014 @ 11:37:12

On the SitePoint PHP blog Bruno Skvorc has posted a tutorial showing you how to use the Diffbot service to extract data from any page. He introduces both the service itself and walks you through a simple request via Guzzle.

Have you ever wondered how social networks do URL previews so well when you share links? How do they know which images to grab, whom to cite as an author, or which tags to attach to the preview? Is it all crawling with complex regexes over source code? Actually, more often than not, it isn't. [...] If you want to build a URL preview snippet or a news aggregator, there are many automatic crawlers available online, both proprietary and open source, but you seldom find something as niche as visual machine learning. This is exactly what Diffbot is - a "visual learning robot" which renders a URL you request in full and then visually extracts data, helping itself with some metadata from the page source as needed.

He uses a combination of a Laravel installation (via a Homestead instance) and a Guzzle request using a fetched token. The service offers a 10k call limit on a 7 day free trial, so you can sign up and grab your token there. He includes code for an example request fetching a SitePoint page and parsing out the tags. He also briefly looks at the custom handling diffbot allows based on CSS-type rules.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/diffbot-crawling-visual-machine-learning/

Joshua Thijssen:
Internal PHP function usage
July 28, 2014 @ 10:05:39

Curious about the usage of the various "internal" (built-in, not user defined) functions in use is a wide range of PHP applications, Joshua Thijssen did some research on GitHub and has shared the results on his site today.

How many internal PHP functions (things like count(), strpos(), array_merge() etc), does PHP have? Depending on which version you use, and how many extensions you have loaded, somewhere between 1000 and 2000 would be a good guess. But how many of these internal functions are you REALLY using?

He created a custom script to fetch the results of a custom query (one that found repos with over fifty stars), grabbed the source and parsed the results looking for these internal functions. He shares the results of his parsing from 967 repos in the remainder of the post, including: the top ten most called, some interesting facts found in the results and some of the "bad" ones in wide use (like "exec" and "mysql_connect").

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internal function usage statistics github parse query

Link: https://www.adayinthelifeof.nl/2014/07/25/internal-php-function-usage/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Piping Emails to a Laravel Application
February 17, 2014 @ 09:13:48

On the SitePoint PHP blog there's a new tutorial posted about piping emails to Laravel (well, a Laravel-based application). He shows how to have your application take data in from the current input, parse it and insert the data into a database.

In project management or support management tools, you will see this a lot: you can reply to an email message and it is automatically visible in a web application. Somehow, these tools were able to get those email messages right into their system. In this article, we are going to have a look at how we can pipe emails to our Laravel 4 application.

He walks you through the creation of an Artisan command, "email.parse", and using the PHP MIME Mail Parser library to extract data. He gets the to, from, title and message contents from the email and shows how to work with attachments too. Finally, he shows how to set up the mail server to pipe the incoming email though the PHP script for parsing.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/piping-emails-laravel-application/

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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vcard jcard json format sabre object parse output

Link: http://evertpot.com/jcard-completed

Igor Wiedler:
Evolving syntax
July 31, 2013 @ 11:44:07

In a new post to his site Igor Wiedler looks forward and suggests some alternate syntax for PHP based around the idea of macros from Lisp. These macros would be parsed at runtime and handled directly as code, compiled down from their custom format.

A very common problem that many software projects have is lack of adoption of new versions. Browsers are an excellent example of this, But it exists on the server as well. [...] This leads to this recursive problem of hosting companies not upgrading because they don't have to, and software not requiring newer versions of their programming language, because they don't want to lose their users. The longer your dependency chain is, the more you suffer from this.

He points out that the easier it is to update these lower level pieces, the simpler it is to introduce new things into your system. He suggest that macro-like functionality for PHP could aid in this goal. He talks some about backporting features and how these marcos could make it easier to upgrade just the things we wanted (or all of them) without having to upgrade PHP itself. He even went so far as to create a tool (galapagos) that does this kind of parsing. His examples implement the 5.4 features of short arrays, $this in closures, function array dereferencing and callable typehinting.

Being able to invent your own syntax is very useful, which instantly becomes apparent when you look at the past. Features get added to languages all the time. What if you could do that easily, within minutes instead of months?
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evolve syntax lisp macro feature galapagos parse ast language

Link: https://igor.io/2013/07/26/evolving-syntax.html

PHPBuilder.com:
Building a PHP RSS Aggregator
April 04, 2013 @ 13:09:13

On PHPBuilder.com today there's a quick tutorial showing you how to build an RSS aggregator that can pull in RSS content and drop it into a MySQL table.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is a Web format that allows website owners to distribute their latest and frequently updated content in a standardized way. RSS feed is actually an XML document that can be easily read by using RSS reader software or built-in functions in programming languages, such as PHP or Java. In this article, the focus will be on building a RSS aggregator in PHP.

They introduce the basics of an RSS feed - a specially formatted XML document with values for individual posts (like "title" and "link". They provide the SQL structure for the "article" and "feed" tables and the code to pull out each "feed" record, parse it and drop that into the "article" table for later consumption. They show two different methods for getting the content - one using file_get_contents and another using cURL.

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rss aggregator tutorial mysql database parse

Link: http://www.phpbuilder.com/articles/php-functions/xml/building-a-php-rss-aggregator.html

PHPMaster.com:
Parsing XML With SimpleXML
February 12, 2013 @ 12:48:34

On PHPMaster.com today there's a new tutorial introducing you to SimpleXML, a handy bit of functionality included with the base PHP install to make working with XML (well, reading it) much simpler.

Parsing XML essentially means navigating through an XML document and returning the relevant data. An increasing number of web services return data in JSON format, but a large number still return XML, so you need to master parsing XML if you really want to consume the full breadth of APIs available. Using PHP's SimpleXML extension that was introduced back in PHP 5.0, working with XML is very easy to do. In this article I'll show you how.

He starts with some basic usage of the SimpleXML parsing, giving an example XML to parse, the resulting object and how to access the data inside it. There's also a bit about dealing with namespaces in the XML you're parsing and a more practical example - parsing the output of a YouTube feed to get links to various videos.

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parse xml simplexml introduction tutorial


Jani Hartikainen:
Parsing and evaluating PHP in Haskell Part 2
January 23, 2013 @ 11:24:34

Jani Hartikainen has posted the second article in his series looking at parsing PHP with Haskell (part one is here). In this new article he builds on the parser he built last time and gets to the actual evaluation of the PHP code.

Last week I wrote a post about a PHP parser / evaluator I wrote in Haskell. I explained some of the parts on how the parser itself was designed to process PHP code into an abstract source tree. Continuing from where we left off in the previous part, in this post I'll discuss the actual evaluation part.

He starts by introducing the structure of the evaluator script, how it's broken up into functionality based on the type of object/data type being handled. He uses a "custom monad transformer stack" to handle the environment for the evaluation as is progresses. He talks about handling statements and expressions, declaring custom functions and the actual execution of the function call. There's also a mention of handling conditionals/looping as well as dealing with PHP's type juggling.

if you're interested in seeing the final result (and maybe trying it out for yourself) you can find the full source on Github.

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haskell parse evaluate monad transformer functions expressions looping typejuggling


Igor Wiedler:
Binary parsing with PHP
September 25, 2012 @ 12:17:41

Igor Wiedler has a new post to his blog showing how to work with binary data in your PHP applications a few different built-in functions including unpack and bindec.

Binary operations in PHP are a bit strange. Since PHP was originally a templating layer for C code, it still has many of those C-isms. Lots of the function names map directly to C-level APIs, even if they work a bit differently sometimes. For example, PHP's strlen maps directly to STRLEN(3), and there are countless examples of this. However, as soon as it comes to dealing with binary data, things suddenly become very different.

He starts off looking at "the C way" to unpack a string (getting the ASCII values of each character) and shows how *not* to do it in PHP with ord. Instead he uses "unpack", bitwise operators and bindec to work with the actual binary data of the string.

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binary parse ord unpack tutorial bindec bitwise


PHPMaster.com:
Generate Documentation with ApiGen
August 02, 2012 @ 09:44:43

On PHPMaster.com today there's a new tutorial showing you how to generate API documentation with the help of the ApiGen documentation tool and some commenting in your code.

If you're writing undocumented code, you should stop this very moment. I'm serious. Drop everything, save and quit, and focus on improving this essential part of your workflow. [...] ApiGen is a docblock parser like PhpDocumentor. PhpDocumentor has been around for much longer than ApiGen, but unfortunately its development is somewhat stunted and it lacks in terms of modern documentation and examples.

He shares an example class, fully commented to show off the right way to handle the DocBlocks and goes through each of the "@" types and explains what they're for. Also included are the instructions for getting ApiGen installed (via the PEAR installer) and a sample command to generate the docs from the source. You can find out more about ApiGen and some of its other options on it's main site.

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api documentation tutorial apigen docblock parse tool



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