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Community News:
PHPUnit Announced End of Life on PEAR Installation Method
April 21, 2014 @ 10:29:53

There's a new addition to the GitHub wiki that's quite important for the PHPUnit users out there. Sebastian Bergmann has officially announced the end of life for the PEAR version of the installer for the popular PHPUnit tool.

Since PHPUnit 3.7, released in the fall of 2012, using the PEAR Installer was no longer the only installation method for PHPUnit. Today most users of PHPUnit prefer to use a PHP Archive (PHAR) of PHPUnit or Composer to download and install PHPUnit. Starting with PHPUnit 4.0 the PEAR package of PHPUnit was merely a distribution mechanism for the PHP Archive (PHAR) and many of PHPUnit's dependencies were no longer released as PEAR packages. Furthermore, the PEAR installation method has been removed from the documentation. We are taking the next step in retiring the PEAR installation method with today's release of PHPUnit 3.7.35 and PHPUnit 4.0.17.

Included in this end of life, they'll also be decommissioning pear.phpunit.de to happen no later than the end of 2014.

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Link: https://github.com/sebastianbergmann/phpunit/wiki/End-of-Life-for-PEAR-Installation-Method

Nikita Popov:
Methods on primitive types in PHP
March 17, 2014 @ 12:11:22

In his latest post Nikita Popov highlights one of the topics from this post, primitive types as objects, and some alternative options.

A few days ago Anthony Ferrara wrote down some thoughts on the future of PHP. I concur with most of his opinions, but not all of them. In this post I'll focus on one particular aspect: Turning primitive types like strings or arrays into "pseudo-objects" by allowing to perform method calls on them. [...] Note that this isn't far off dreaming, but something that already exists right now. The scalar objects PHP extension allows you to define methods for the primitive PHP types. The introduction of method-call support for primitive types comes with a number of advantages.

Among the advantages he lists:

  • The opportunity for a cleaner API (instead of the current, sometimes oddly named functions)
  • Improved readability
  • Polymorphism through a "cleaning up" of shared methods
  • Loose Typing

He also looks at possible ways that other primitive types could be handled (like "null" or "float") and some of the problems that could come up when passing objects around. Since the values could be an object or scalar, how would you know the difference. He finishes off the post with a look at the current state of things, including that there's not much resistance just that there hasn't been a good API defined to make it work.

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Link: http://nikic.github.io/2014/03/14/Methods-on-primitive-types-in-PHP.html

MaltBlue.com:
Do We Use Magic Methods or Not?
December 13, 2013 @ 10:39:20

In the latest post to his MaltBlue.com site Matthew Setter takes a look at magic methods. He tries to answer a few basic questions about them - are they worth using and can you truly test effectively when they're in use.

As a freelance Zend Framework developer, I'm always looking to improve the quality of the applications I produce. So over the last 6 - 12 months, I've been learning as much as possible about testing. During this time, I've found the way I code's dramatically changing (and improving). [...] In a recent development session, I attempted to test some of my ZendDb based classes, specifically the code which used the magic methods for dynamically building where clauses. [...] I can't speak for what it's like using PHPUnit's mock objects, as I always use Mockery instead. But after attempting to do so in Mockery, I hit a stumbling block when trying to test the chained call.

His example is a call to "lessThanOrEqualTo" to create his where clause that makes use of the "__get" magic method to get and return "Where" object. After some research (and conversations on IRC) he started wondering if the magic methods were worth the trouble they may cause during testing. He references this post and lists several of the comments made about their use, most of them not in favor.

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Link: http://www.maltblue.com/php/php-magic-methods-or-not

Chris Hartjes:
The Power of the BrowserProxyMob
November 19, 2013 @ 10:49:38

In this new post to his site Chris Hartjes shares a tool he's found to help with automated front-end testing for web applications - BrowserMobProxy

At work I have been involved with an effort to put some automated front-end testing in place. The combination of Behat, Mink running tests using PhantomJS is a good one for this. Open source, easy to configure, handles JavaScript-heavy pages reasonably well. There was just one wrinkle in our plans: our use of local host files. [...] So clearly what was needed [to solve a hosts file switching issue] was a proxy. After doing a little bit of digging around I found a solution: BrowserMobProxy.

He briefly introduces the tool and helps you get it installed (as well as the library you'll need to interface with the proxy). His library hooks into a running PhantomJS instance and the BrowserMobProxy, generates the right hosts file (not included) and continues on with the tests.

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Link: http://www.littlehart.net/atthekeyboard/2013/11/18/the-power-of-the-browserproxymob/

Mohammad Emran Hasan:
Concurrent HTTP requests in PHP using pecl_http
October 07, 2013 @ 10:42:09

Mohammad Emran Hasan has posted a quick example of using the pecl_http extension to make concurrent HTTP requests.

The pecl_http extension has a little gem that can be handy at times - HttpRequestPool. Using this, you can send concurrent HTTP requests and can gain efficiency in fetching non-related data at once. For example, from an external source if your application needs to retrieve an user's profile, their order history and current balance, you can send parallel requests to the API and get everything together.

His code shows three example connections to a made up URL on three different endpoints. With the HttpRequestPool functionality, all three can be requested at once and tracked to extract the response body.

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Link: http://emranhasan.com/2013/09/concurrent-requests-in-php-using-pecl_http/

Brandon Savage:
The Cardinal Sin Of Object Inheritance
September 09, 2013 @ 12:38:04

Brandon Savage talks about the "cardinal sin" of working with object inheritance in PHP applications - adding public methods to a class that extends/implements another.

I know I've committed this sin, and you probably have too. The sin of which I speak is a grave one, and it violates several well known and established principles of object oriented application development. What is this sin of which I speak? It is none other than the addition of new public methods to an object that extends or implements abstract class or application interface, in violation of both the Liskov Substitution Principle and the Dependency Inversion Principle.

He talks some about the Liskov Substitution Principle first, pointing out that adding those new methods makes the new object non-replaceable as the Liskov principle requires. As far as the Dependency Inversion Principle, the practice breaks it because you'd be depending on those new methods as concrete, not abstracted from the parent. He makes a few recommendations as far as ways to prevent violating these principles including using multiple interfaces or creating multiple abstract classes for different public APIs.

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Link: http://www.brandonsavage.net/the-cardinal-sin-of-object-inheritance/

Marco Pivetta:
Accessing private PHP class members without reflection
August 15, 2013 @ 12:53:55

Marco Pivetta has posted about an interesting trick you can do with closures in PHP related to accessing private properties inside classes.

A couple of weeks ago I was working on a very tricky issue on ProxyManager. The problem is simple: instantiating ReflectionClass or ReflectionProperty is slow, and by slow, I mean really slow! The reason for this research is that I'm trying to optimize a "hydrator" to work with larger data-sets by still keeping a low initialization overhead. PHP 5.4 comes with a new API for Closures, which is Closure#bind(). Closure#bind() basically allows you to get an instance of a closure with the scope of a given object or class. Neat! That's basically like adding APIs to existing objects! Let's break some OOP encapsulation to fit our needs.

He shows how to use this "bind" feature to reach into an object, in this case a "Kitchen", and extract the value of an internal, private property. He also talks some about the performance of this method versus the more typical use of Reflection. He includes two other quick examples too - accessing the same private properties by reference and an abstracted "property reader" closure that uses the bind trick on any object.

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Link: http://ocramius.github.io/blog/accessing-private-php-class-members-without-reflection

PHPMaster.com:
Using cURL for Remote Requests
August 08, 2013 @ 09:09:13

PHPMaster.com has posted a tutorial showing you how to use the cURL functionality that can be built into PHP. Note that not all PHP installations will have this extension installed, but most will these days. You can find out by making a phpinfo page.

If you're a Linux user then you've probably used cURL. It's a powerful tool used from posting mails to downloading the latest My Little Pony subtitles. In this article I'll explain how to use the cURL extension in PHP. The extension offers us the functionality as the console utility in the comfortable world of PHP. I'll discuss sending GET and POST requests, handling login cookies, and FTP functionality.

He walks thorough the basic flow of a request and how to set options on the cURL handle to modify its behavior. Several more "real world" examples are also included:

  • Retrieve a Web Page
  • Log in to a Website (via POST data, not HTTP Auth)
  • Working with FTP
  • Sending Multiple Requests

That last one changes things up a bit and uses the curl_multi_init function to create the connection and allow for the multiple request streams to happen.

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Link: http://phpmaster.com/using-curl-for-remote-requests

Paul Reinheimer:
PHP and Async requests with file based sessions
July 24, 2013 @ 09:52:43

Paul Reinheimer had a problem - when he was making asynchronous requests back to his server from his frontend (Ajax) there was a slowness he noticed when more than one connection was fired off. In this new post to his site he traces through how he found the answer and what he did to fix it.

Digging a little deeper into the queries being executed, I was expecting return times in the order of 200ms, not the several seconds I was seeing. Installing XHGui only furthered my confusion: session_start() was the culprit with incredibly high run times.

He thought first about the number of session files (stored locally) being too large and causing issues, but that turned out to be a false lead. Instead, the issue was something PHP does by default...and does correctly. When PHP executes, it locks the session file, preventing another process from writing to it. This caused the delay he saw until it was unlocked. His solution? Use session_write_close immediately after writing information to unlock the session for further use.

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Link: http://blog.preinheimer.com/index.php?/archives/416-PHP-and-Async-requests-with-file-based-sessions.html

VG Tech:
PHP Perform Requests in Parallel
July 23, 2013 @ 10:58:11

On the VG Tech blog today Espen Hovlandsdal has a quick tutorial showing you how to run cURL requests in parallel using the curl_multi_* functions included in PHP.

Ever had to request multiple HTTP-resources in your web application? Often, you need data from one request to be able to request the second - in this case there is little you can do but wait for the first to return. However, if the requests are not dependent on each other, you can use a pretty cool trick: curl_multi_*.

He first gives a single-threat example, showing how you might loop through a set of URLs to make the request and get the response. As an alternative, he shows the "multi" version right after. It sets up a "queue" of handles to different requests and executes them until they stop returning data. He also includes an example using the Guzzle HTTP client that makes it look cleaner and wraps some additional functionality around the requests.

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Link: http://tech.vg.no/2013/07/23/php-perform-requests-in-parallel


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