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Marc Aube:
Choosing your project's dependencies
June 02, 2015 @ 11:01:59

Marc Aube has shared some thoughts about picking your project's dependencies and considerations to think about when building your applications.

If you work on any non-trivial project, chances are you'll install one or many external dependencies at some point. [...] However, you shouldn't bring any library in your codebase. While Packagist has, at the time of writing, around 60000 packages you could use in your project, most of them are not production quality. Here's a list of things to look for when choosing a generic library for a mission-critical project, in no particular order.

Among the things he suggests, there's tips like:

  • Ensure it has a stable version
  • That it's extensible
  • It's active and maintained
  • The license permits the intended use
  • It has quality documentation

For each he offers a brief paragraph or two explaining the point and examples where appropriate of projects matching the topic.

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Link: http://marcaube.ca/2015/06/choosing-dependencies/

Lorna Mitchell:
Code Reviews Before You Even Run The Code
June 02, 2015 @ 09:50:01

Lorna Mitchell has posted a list of helpful tips to perform good code reviews on submissions before even trying to run the code for correctness.

I do a lot of code reviewing, both in my day job as principal developer and also as an open source maintainer. Sometimes it seems like I read more code than I write! Is that a problem? I'm tempted to say that it isn't. To be a good writer, you must be well-read; I believe that to be a good developer, you need to be code-omnivorous and read as much of other people's code as possible. Code reviews are like little chapters of someone else's code to dip into.

She offers several tips you can follow to make the reviews you do more effective including:

  • Ensuring you understand the change
  • Are the changes where you'd expect?
  • Does the commit history make sense
  • Evaluate the diff to ensure the changes themselves are valid

She only then recommends trying out the code. Following the suggestions above can help ferret out issues that may be hidden by just running the code and not fully looking into the changes.

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Link: http://www.lornajane.net/posts/2015/code-reviews-before-you-even-run-the-code

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Youtube Videos in PHP Categories, Search and Suggestions
May 20, 2015 @ 11:47:14

The SitePoint PHP blog continues their series showing how to integrate content from the YouTube API into your application with this new tutorial. It covers the use of categories, searching and suggestions.

In the first part, we introduced the Youtube API and built a small demo to list the most popular videos on Youtube. In this part, we will extend our application to have search functionality, and we'll also list the available categories on Youtube to let the user narrow down their area of interest.

He starts with with the updates you'll need to make to the routes and controllers for the "categories" functionality and the API call needed to popular the content. He updates the "videos" page to show the category information and integrate the category into the pagination. Next up is the search, allowing the users to find videos based on a search string. The search route/controller/view functionality is added as well. He ends the post talking about a way to extend the demo and advice to keep an eye on quotas and implementing cache.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/youtube-videos-php-categories-search-suggestions/

Lorna Mitchell:
5 Reasons to Consider Upgrading Your PHP Platform
February 06, 2015 @ 12:04:35

Lorna Mitchell has a new post today with five things that you could gain by upgrading your platform, mostly centered around the changes PHP has made recently.

In recent years, the release cycle of PHP has become much shorter. We now have a much more controlled and well-publicised process of releases, and moving between each version is no longer a leap of faith. The newer versions have HUGE performance improvements, great features, and better security, and the software is free to use. Yet we have a very, very long tail of PHP installations on older versions (around 75% on entirely unsupported versions at this point). Many of the companies I talk to think that upgrading will be pointless and painful, but that's not my experience of migrating PHP projects. Here are a few things you might like to think about or be aware of before you make the decisions that "not broken" is good enough for your applications.

She offers her list of five things, each with a bit of summary and a few links to more information on the topics:

  • Improved Performance
  • Security and Support
  • New Syntax
  • Traits
  • Built In Webserver

She also technically includes another in the list (#6 in the top 5, naturally) talking about the password hashing functionality that's been introduced in recent versions and how much simpler it can make your life.

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Link: http://www.lornajane.net/posts/2015/5-reasons-to-consider-upgrading-your-php-platform

SitePoint Web Blog:
How Do You Work With Other People's Code?
September 26, 2014 @ 10:58:56

The SitePoint Web blog has a recent post from Matthew Setter offering some helpful hints on working with other people's code. In it he shares suggestions ranging from the technical out to a bit more "learning oriented" to get up to speed on concepts and techniques.

Dealing with code created by other people is a fundamental skill for a developer. Give it a year and other people's code could even be your own. Today I'm going to look at some of the best approaches for how to deal with other people's code, read legacy code, effectively. It's not an easy topic to cover.

He's broken it down into a list of several different topics, each with their own descriptions and links to tools or reading resources for more information:

  • Interact
  • Observe
  • Run Tests
  • Fix Bugs designed for Newcomers
  • Find Available Resources
  • Use a Good IDE
  • Read Books & Blogs
  • Contribute to Documentation
  • Be Considerate

He puts some good emphasis on that final point, reminding the reader that it's not just years of experience that make for a better developer, it's more about skill.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/work-peoples-code/

Codeacy Blog:
Your Greatest Code Quality Threats and How to Solve Them
June 23, 2014 @ 09:22:42

On the Codacy blog there's a recent post that looks at some of the biggest threats to code quality (six of them) and some brief advice on how you can prevent them. Code quality goes beyond just style guides and common coding practices too.

In the process of building Codacy, I've learned that software companies in different life stages have different needs in terms of code quality. Early startups have, for example, very different needs in comparison to digital agencies and freelancers. There is however a common ground that links them all together: code quality is not being taken seriously enough, regardless of the stage. If this resonates with you, take action today. Continuous improvement is the central piece of software engineering craft.

Among the six things in their list are suggestions like:

  • Using continuous integration
  • Living with broken windows
  • Heterogeneity (code styles)
  • Not using static code analysis

They also link to some tools that can help fix some of these suggestions including JSHint, some PHP static analysis tools and CSSLint for CSS.

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Link: http://blog.codacy.com/2014/06/19/your-greatest-code-quality-threats-and-how-to-solve-them/

Adam Culp:
Developer Anxiety, we're not alone
May 23, 2014 @ 09:39:07

In his latest post Adam Culp discusses something that developers are all to aware of, whether they will admit it openly or not, is a feeling of anxiety around problems they have, both personal and work/development related.

Yesterday I was approached by a developer, apprentice, friend, and sometimes mentor, who was having some personal issues. I consider this person to be very strong, and capable of great things. [...] During the conversation it was revealed how they're experiencing HUGE anxiety, complete with panic attacks, and are even consulting a physician who prescribed medication for it. [...It's a] common misconception is that anxiety is caused by the stress of the moment, which is simply not true. [...] For each of us the cause is slightly different, because we each struggle with our own problems and OCDs.

Adam shares some of the common stressors developers can feel around their work and life including not being "busy enough" at work, wanting to contribute but not knowing where to start and loud or open work spaces. He includes a few bits of advice on these things, some from his own experience including how to say "no" to deadlines, talking and sharing with others and doing some kind physical activity. Be sure to check out the comments for thoughts and ideas from other members of the community too.

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Link: http://www.geekyboy.com/archives/880

Reddit.com:
Can anyone suggest a php ecommerce solution that isn't terrible?
March 28, 2014 @ 12:56:42

Over on Reddit.com there's a good discussion (with plenty of feedback) to a user looking for "a PHP ecommerce solution that isn't terrible" to replace their aging implementation.

I've been using Lemonstand V1 for a couple of years now, it's been really decent, though they're zoning it out to make way for V2. They're moving to a cloud hosted monthly cost, without a lot of core features from V1, which means my agency needs to find an alternative. Obviously the one that stands out is Magento, but I've logged in and clicked around and looks so bad. [...] I have recently found "builtwith.com" which seems to show usage stats for different ecommerce systems, though I cannot seem to find anything very good on that list which looks reliable. The most promising thing I could find was called "Sylius" (http://sylius.org/) which looks fantastic, BUT, it's newish, and there are no docs, it's not being supported by a company, it's only being held up by the community. Can anyone suggest any other alternatives to look into?

The comments to the post range from suggestions of other solutions to attempts to reinforce ones already mentioned:

  • "I'd go with the biggest names in eCommerce for PHP. That will give you the most leverage. We run our own ecommerce software and when your missing a community, features, and market share, it will be a ruff battle selling customers on your solution who are aware of software like Magento."
  • "No, sorry. No joke. Every ecommerce solution I touched is terrible. And Magento is hell."
  • "Drupal with the Ubercart module is pretty nice."
  • "You have checked out OpenCart, haven't you?"
  • "WooCommerce has been pretty good if you're on WordPress. Actually similar to Magento."
  • "In my experience none stand above the rest and all have their drawbacks, especially when you just need to getting something slightly custom up and running. We most recently used CS Cart and it was not terrible."

Check out the post for more feedback and suggestions.

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Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/PHP/comments/21flle/can_anyone_suggest_a_php_ecommerce_solution_that/

Reddit.com:
What are the must see talks/tutorials about php?
December 11, 2013 @ 12:47:36

On Reddit.com a conversation has started about some of the "must see" talks or tutorials that are out there for PHP. It starts with a suggestion of this talk about Symfony2 and includes other suggestions of:

If you have a talk or tutorial you think is a good resource for any level of PHP developer, head over and add it to the list!

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Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/PHP/comments/1shr8o/what_are_the_must_see_talkstutorials_about_php/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Easy Wins For More Performant PHP
November 14, 2013 @ 16:18:53

The SitePoint PHP blog has a new post today with some easy wins you can update your PHP applications with to gain some overall performance. These five helpful tips cover a few different topics, including some that make use of external tools to provide that extra boost of speed your app may need.

Making your website more performant can require a lot of layers. From setting up a reverse-proxy cache with Varnish to configuring a group of load balancers, there are many well-documented options. What if you're just starting out? What if you have a smaller application? Are there things you can do now that will make difference? This article will explore easy wins for more performant PHP you can implement either as standard practices for your development team or principles you can retrofit for an existing application.

Their five tips involve using:

  • At least PHP 5.4
  • Autoloading with classmaps
  • A reduced amount of memory in classes
  • XDebug to do some profiling
  • OpCode caching
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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/easy-wins-performant-php/


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