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Sherif Ramadan:
A Software Engineer's Job
August 05, 2014 @ 11:07:54

Sherif Ramadan has a new post to his site today that tries to answer the question "what does a software developer really do?"

As a software engineer I have to learn to see things differently, because my job requires that I solve problems. Though not only is it important that I come up with a solution, but equally important that I can express the solution in code. [...] It is equally important to recognize that not all problems have technical solutions. Some problems are better solved by social solutions.

He talks about the influence that some of the major services have had on the social aspects of our lives and how they're mostly a "convenience to mankind". He suggests that the job of a software engineer has multiple aspects, and not just technical ones. They're required to see things differently, be able to understand the problem well and express the solution in a clear and practical set of code.

The engineer must figure out which problems are worth solving through technology, in order to save people time and money, and defer those which do not to more social means. Let humans do what they do best and computers do what they do best.
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Link: http://sheriframadan.com/2014/08/a-software-engineers-job/

Three Devs & A Maybe Podcast:
Introduction to Software Testing
June 24, 2014 @ 11:19:43

The Three Devs & A Maybe podcast has released their latest episode out into the wild: Episode #30, an Introduction to Software Testing. Hosts Michael Budd, Fraser Hart, Lewis Cains and Edd Mann discuss all things testing, and not just for PHP.

In this episode we introduce the very important topic of software testing. Starting off with why you should consider the automated testing route, we move on to discuss the different types of testing available. Some of the topics discussed include Quality Assurance, TDD/BDD, Unit Testing, Integration Testing, Functional Testing and Acceptance Testing.

Topics in this episode include design patterns, PHPUnit, Hamcrest PHP, Composer and Codeception. You can listen to this latest show either using the in-page player or by downloading the mp3.

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Link: http://threedevsandamaybe.com/posts/introduction-to-software-testing/

NetTus.com:
You Requested It, We Made It Free PHP Testing Course
June 05, 2014 @ 10:26:49

On NetTuts.com today they've made an announcement about a new PHP testing course they're making available for free. The course is an introduction to testing your PHP applications and is taught by Andrew Perkins.

In this course, Andrew Perkins will teach you the very basics of testing in the PHP language. Learn what is needed to test PHP applications and why testing is important. Explore the differences between regular testing, test-driven development (TDD) and behavior-driven development (BDD). Along the way, take a look at the various frameworks that are available, to make sure your PHP websites run just as you expected. And lastly, compare and contrast the different types of tests that you can run such as unit, functional, and acceptance tests.

The training course covers a lot of the basics behind testing and several of the tools you can use along the way including PHPUnit, Codeception and Behat. It's a pretty quick overview, so don't expect too much in-depth coding and testing examples. The course with all videos included comes in at just a bit over an hour of content. You can find out more and sign up to have access to the training here.

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Link: http://code.tutsplus.com/tutorials/you-requested-it-we-made-it-free-php-testing-course--cms-21283

Francesca Krihely:
Why Free Software Isn't Free
May 01, 2014 @ 10:14:36

Francesca Krihely has a new post today taking about one of the realities of using open source software. While the cost of it might be "free", in truth it isn't.

Why is it so hard to move off your old FOSS tools to new FOSS tools? Free and open software is changing the world, and has been for quite some time. While the price of open source software is usually $0 there are a number of hidden costs associated with building on top of new FOSS tools. The hidden cost is what makes community your biggest asset in open source.

She gives a more "real world" kind of situation where a company has a lot of legacy technology in place from years of work. She points out that moving to the latest technology has both benefits and drawbacks (including the "opportunity cost of moving slower" because of the shift). There's an emphasis put on the community around projects too. Without a vibrant community around it, even the best, most well-written code out there is going to stagnate. For a company that's relying on it for their product, that's almost not worth the risk.

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Link: http://francescak.me/blog/2014/04/30/why-free-software-isnt-free/

Wojciech Sznapka:
Software developers care too much about tools
April 29, 2014 @ 09:17:24

In his latest post Wojciech Sznapka suggests that software developers care too much about tools and not enough about software quality and structure.

Lately I see perilous situation in software development area. There are plenty of good devs so much bounded to tools. By tools, I mean mostly frameworks. [...] First of all, we all need to admit, that quality of modern MVC framework raised a lot, comparing with state of things few years ago. [...] On the other hand, there's huge temptation to write own frameworks, ignoring the great work of community.

He talks about more of the benefits of using a framework but instead of being dependent on it for your application, make it just another tool. He recommends quality, decoupled and well-designed code separate from the framework. Additionally, he suggests using things like domain driven design to encourage reusability and accurately modeled business needs in the code.

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Link: http://blog.sznapka.pl/software-developers-care-too-much-about-tools

The PHP.cc Blog:
Disintegration Testing
March 20, 2014 @ 10:20:25

In this new post on thePHP.cc blog today Sebastian Bergmann relates the unfortunate disintegration of the Mars Climate Orbiter (back in 1999) back to a lesson on software testing and errors.

One of the most important tasks in software testing is to find the smallest scope in which a test case can be implemented. The smaller the scope in which a test is run, the faster it can be executed and the more precise its result. Unit Tests exercise one unit of code in isolation from all collaborators. Integration Tests verify the interaction of two or more collaborators in isolation from the rest of the system. Edge-to-Edge Tests run the software as end-to-end as possible in a single process (and without using a web browser or a web server). End-to-End Tests, or System Tests, look at the whole system and in the case of a web application send a HTTP request from a web browser to a web server running the software to inspect the HTTP response that is sent back.

He talks some about the difference between unit tests and acceptance tests and how "easy and seductive" functional tests can be over unit testing. He points out how fragile (and sometimes slow) this can be though, and how their failure only shows a problem and not where it is.

The promise of being able to develop both the business model as well as the software that implements it in an agile fashion should be reason enough for enterprises to invest in a modern, highly decoupled software architecture. And when the members of the software development team communicate well, both among themselves and with the other stakeholders, then there is not much that can really impede the success of the project.
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Link: http://thephp.cc/viewpoints/blog/2014/03/disintegration-testing

Jonathan Hill:
How much does it cost to be a web developer?
March 14, 2014 @ 11:17:48

Jonathan Hill has taken an interesting perspective in his recent post looking more at some of the average financial costs around being a web developer.

With Software Development topping 2014′s top jobs list, I thought I would share how much it cost me to become a web developer, and what my monthly expenses look like nowadays.

He breaks it down into a few different categories, listing an average price for each:

  • Initial (start-up) costs for hardware and software
  • Training costs
  • Recurring costs

Obviously, not all of the software and tools he lists are needed for every software developer, but it does give some perspective. Thankfully, he also links to some free alternatives to the tools he mentions that can reduce these costs as well.

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Link: http://jonathonhill.net/2014-02-19/how-much-does-it-cost-to-be-a-web-developer/

Coding the Architecture:
Five things every developer should know about software architecture
March 05, 2014 @ 11:57:58

While not specific to PHP, this new article on the Coding the Architecture blog gives some good insights on what developers should know about software architecture.

Now I may be biased, but a quick look at my calendar hints to me that there's a renewed and growing interest in software architecture. Although I really like much of the improvement the agile movement has provided to the software development industry, I still can't help feeling that there are a large number of teams out there who struggle with a lack of process.

[...] Put very simply, software architecture plays a pivotal role in the delivery of successful software yet it's frustratingly neglected by many teams. Whether performed by one person or shared amongst the team, the architecture role exists on even the most agile of teams yet the balance of up front and evolutionary thinking often reflects aspiration rather than reality. The big problem is that software architecture has fallen out of favour over the past decade or so. Here are five things that every software developer should know about it.

Each of the five things comes with a paragraph of explanation (and some links to additional resources):

  • Software architecture isn't about big design up front
  • Every software team needs to consider software architecture
  • The software architecture role is about coding, coaching and collaboration
  • You don't need to use UML
  • A good software architecture enables agility
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Link: http://www.codingthearchitecture.com/2014/03/05/five_things_every_developer_should_know_about_software_architecture.html

Cal Evans:
Let's be honest...
January 28, 2014 @ 10:50:17

Cal Evans has posted a sort of "call to arms" for the developers out there, asking them to be more honest with software estimates and think realistically about the project and its complexities.

As developers, we see projects not as a job that must be done, but as art that can be created, as a project that needs to be crafted. It's not a spreadsheet of numbers to us, it's a sketch on a napkin of something we want to build. As such, we see the big picture, but miss the details. So when we tell a customer/client/family member "Yeah, I can build that this weekend". In our mind, we mean it. We honestly think the project is simple enough to be built in a weekend. It rarely is though.

He goes on to talk about some of his own experience with the "just a weekend" claims and the over-promising that comes easily to devs. He suggests a few things to link about as you're estimating your next project - can you actually do it (not a "learn on" project) and thinking about when it will be done based on availability, not just desire and work in isolation.

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Link: http://blog.calevans.com/2014/01/27/lets-be-honest/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Continuous Deployment Revisited
September 19, 2013 @ 12:52:50

On the SitePoint PHP blog today David Shirley has a new tutorial looking at continuous deployment with a bit more detail than his previous post.

In an earlier article I talked about what Continuous Deployment was and how it fits into the modern programming process. We took a small swipe at how it works, but some people (okay, one person) felt that I could have gone into more detail and they were right. [...] The essence of Continuous Deployment is that you use automated tools to do a lot of the heavy lifting. This means there may or may not be a bit of a learning curve when you first get started. A number of software elements are brought into play, and if you already know how to use those, great. If you don't, just remember that this is a learning curve, not a barrier.

He's broken down the rest of the tutorial into sections relating to the different pieces needed to effectively set up a continuous deployment (CD) system:

  • Effective use of version control
  • Commitment to automated testing
  • Setup and use of automated build software
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continuous deployment series detail versioncontrol testing build software

Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/continuous-deployment-revisited


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