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Derick Rethans:
Questions from the Field Should I Escape My Input, And If So, How?
January 27, 2015 @ 09:22:04

In his latest post Derick Rethans shares his answer to a question he was asked at a recent PHP conference regarding the escaping of input before use in a MongoDB query.

At last weekend's PHP Benelux I gave a tutorial titled "From SQL to NoSQL". Large parts of the tutorial covered using MongoDB-how to use it from PHP, schema design, etc. I ran a little short of time, and since then I've been getting some questions. One of them being: "Should I escape my input, and if so, how?". Instead of trying to cram my answer in 140 characters on Twitter, I thought it'd be wise to reply with this blog post. The short answer is: yes, you do need to escape.

He uses the rest of the post to get into the longer answer, a bit more detail about why you should escape and what kinds of things can be done. He points out that, because of how MongoDB queries are created, SQL injection is much more difficult. He does remind you that superglobals can also be used to send arrays too which could lead to unexpected data input. He gives an example of how this would work and why it would be a problem.

So although MongoDB's query language does not require you to build strings, and hence "escape" input, it is required that you either make sure that the data is of the correct data type.
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Link: http://derickrethans.nl/escape-input.html

SitePoint Business & Marketing Blog:
Do You Need an API?
January 14, 2015 @ 11:05:32

In a new post to the SitePoint Business & Marketing blog Chris Ward asks an interesting question that applies to both the business side and development: do you need an API?.

API stands for 'Application Programming Interface' and as the name implies, creating one is a technical process. This article will talk very little about how to create an API as there are a myriad of methods to undertake that. This article aims to focus on the business side of APIs and supply advice for non-technical folk. [...] You may be a forward thinking individual inside of an organizational structure that doesn't share your views. How can you convince others around you that having an API may be good for your business?

He talks about three of the main kinds of organizations out there that usually have APIs including government, civic and science organizations and most other online services that integrate them into their core services. He also tries to help you answer the question for your own organization by listing some of the positives it can provide as well as some of the negatives that could balance them out. He ends the post with one final recommendation if you do choose to implement an API: "Don't reinvent the wheel".

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api need question positive negative business marketing

Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/do-you-need-an-api/

Mathias Noback:
Some questions about the command bus
January 12, 2015 @ 09:46:46

Mathias Noback has continued his series looking at the use of command busses in PHP applications. In this third part of his series, he answers some questions that have been asked by his own readers.

So far we've had three posts in this series about commands, events and their corresponding buses and handlers: a wave of command buses, responsibilities of the command bus, from commands to events. Now I'd like to take the time to answer some of the very interesting questions that by readers.

He answers questions about:

  • The difference between commands and events
  • Disadvantages of using a command bus
  • The command as constructor argument
  • How to return a value from the command bus
  • Could commands handle themselves?

Each question comes with a portion of the question from the original author, an explanation and some code where needed to illustrate his point.

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Link: http://php-and-symfony.matthiasnoback.nl/2015/01/some-questions-about-the-command-bus/

Toptal.com:
The Insider's Guide to PHP Interviewing
June 26, 2014 @ 10:43:39

The TopTal.com site has posted some suggestions on things to ask when interviewing PHP developers, especially those shooting for a senior level role.

Ubiquitous…that is definitely one word you could use to describe PHP in relation to the web. It really is everywhere. [...] What makes PHP so popular and widely-used? While there's no single answer to this question, PHP's ease of use is certainly a significant contributing factor. [...] But therein lies much of the challenge of finding highly-skilled PHP developers. PHP's relatively low barrier-to-entry and 20 year history means that PHP developers have become practically as ubiquitous as the technology itself. Yet while many can legitimately claim to "know" PHP, those who are true experts in the language are capable of producing software that is much more scalable, functional, robust, and maintainable.

There's a wide range of questions included in their list, each one with a brief description and the "right" answers a knowledgable candidate might give. This includes questions about:

  • Defining and using closures
  • What "global" is and when to use it
  • Describing the PHP superglobals
  • The use of "static"

There's also a section for the even more advanced development positions out there with questions about PHP's internals (the actual C code) as well as the differences between some built-in object types.

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Link: http://www.toptal.com/php#hiring-guide

Master Zend Framework:
Simplifying Unit Testing (and asking for help when needed)
March 20, 2014 @ 11:54:16

On Matthew Ssetter's "Master Zend Framework" blog today he talks about simplifying unit testing and some of his experience with getting too complicated in his own testing practices.

Recently I was a bit stuck, trying to figure out how to test a section of an application I've been developing. Specifically, I was trying to mock a HydratingResultSet in a controller test, so it could be the return value of a method call on a datasource, my controller needed. I was sure it was the right approach to help ensure the functionality in question was working properly. But no matter what I tried, my tests didn't work, because I wasn't mocking it correctly. [...] I asked for help [on IRC], laying out the problem as I saw it. The first response which came back, from Ocramius, stopped me dead in my tracks: "Why are you trying to do that?"

He includes a bit of background on what he was trying to test and the functionality around it and how, when he stopped to think about it, wondered why he was testing it too. He talks about the refactor he made to his code with a positive end result - the tests now passed. He suggests a few questions to ask yourself when writing your tests such as "am I doing too much?" or "am I testing code in the right place?" Chances are, if you step back and really look at what you're testing, you might realize that the answer to these questions is just to simplify.

He finishes the post with a few suggestions, some of his own personal favorites, of places you can go for help when questions do pop up. He points out that the usual excuses shouldn't be a blocker on asking for help. He is "encouraging you to set your pride, ego and excuses aside and when you're stuck: ask for help."

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Link: http://www.masterzendframework.com/people/right-approach-unit-testing-asking-help

Justin Carmony:
Tech Interviews & Softball Questions
January 10, 2014 @ 09:31:11

Along similar lines as this recent post to the SitePoint PHP blog, Justin Carmony has a new post talking about types of interview questions and the "softball" ones that are commonly used.

While it seems every few months the topic of the interview process goes around the community, and I think the general consensus is most of the time it is ineffective. At DDM, there has been a lot of thought put into our interview process, and so over the next few weeks I hope to share some ideas we've had.

He starts with the "status-quo" of an interview that's set up to ask questions of the candidate, either by a single interviewer or a group, that focuses more on strengths and weaknesses than technical aspects. These usually include the "softball" questions that just about any PHP developer could answer. He then moves on to the more difficult follow up questions relating to specific technologies and features of the language. He also offers some advice on the questions for an interview including writing them down first and ensuring that they're short and to the point.

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Link: http://www.justincarmony.com/blog/2014/01/08/tech-interviews-softball-questions

Easybib Blog:
Extending Composer
October 07, 2013 @ 12:20:41

In this recent post to their site, Easybib shares a presentation and the answers to some questions about extending Composer, the popular package management tool for PHP.

Composer is one of the core tooling we use at EasyBib when we work on the various products for the company. [This] deck of slides is from a talk I gave at the Berlin PHP Usergroup meetup in November. [...] In addition, there were a few questions how dependencies are handle in a project when installed through composer's global command.

They answer questions about loading global vendors (and what should/shouldn't be installed this way) as well as which one wins - the globally installed version or local.

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Link: http://drafts.easybib.com/post/63085455706/extending-composer

Phil Sturgeon's Blog:
Hijacking Headers to Force Downloads
March 29, 2012 @ 11:29:28

Phil Sturgeon shows how you can hijack headers in his latest post to force a download to the client (even on a hosted service like PagodaBox).

The question [I posed on Twitter] was: "How to force a download of any file of any type, not on your server, without Apache tweaking? Images are displaying and need em to download." Essentially, I wanted to be able to link to a file that was not on the server in question and anywhere in the world, which could be of any size, any media type and could be potentially very high traffic.

Answers varied from using readfile to just letting the browser handle it. None of the responses were quick right until he came across one that recommended some settings in an .htaccess file. It uses

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file download force header question htacess


PHPMaster.com:
The PHP People
November 22, 2011 @ 15:31:18

On PHPMaster.com there's a new post by Michelle Sanver about The PHP People, a.k.a the PHP community, and some of the great resources you can use to get help on a problem or just reach out and meet some other PHP-ers in your area (or at a national conference!)

If you're ever stuck on a problem, Google it and you'll find a swarm of users have most likely experienced the same issue and have already shared their solution. If it's not out there, ask in a public forum and people will help you find the answer. And if you've managed to solve it yourself, then write about it! That way you'll be contributing to helping others the same way others are willing to help you. That's one part of the PHP community that makes it really stand out - people share their knowledge and are more than willing to help others along their journey with PHP.

Some resources/places to meet like-minded developers include:

The community in PHP is huge and is growing every day, and it's all about sharing. If you see someone in need and you're able to help, offer him guidance. If you see an open-source project that's great; contribute and help it grow.
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Kevin Schroeder's Blog:
Why do you use PHP?
April 08, 2011 @ 08:48:32

In a new post to his blog Kevin Schroeder asks a simple question - why do you use PHP?

In one or two words, please comment to answer this question. Why do you use PHP?

So far, answers have included "the large community", "ease of development", "portability", "versatility" and the "power" the language offers. Leave your own comment on the post to share your thoughts with Kevin and others in the community.

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