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QaFoo Blog:
How to Refactor Without Breaking Things
Jun 09, 2016 @ 20:31:50

On the QaFoo blog there's a new post sharing some helpful hints that you can use to refactor your code without breaking things in a legacy codebase.

Refactoring means to change the structure of your code without changing its behavior. It is an essential part of everyday programming and should become knee-jerk for your whole development team. Refactoring is very helpful to cleanup feature spikes, revise earlier decisions and keep a maintainable codebase in the long run. In a perfect project world - with extensive automated tests of various types - this is just a matter of getting used to. But there are only very few such projects. So getting into proper refactoring is much harder. This article will show you important tips to master this challenge with your team.

They point out two things that can help you ensure you break as little as possible: good tests and "baby steps". They go into a bit more detail on these two sections, mentioning how they help with the refactoring process and techniques to follow in the process.

tagged: refactor break functionality tests babysteps tutorial

Link: https://qafoo.com/blog/085_how_to_refactor_without_breaking.html

Laravel Daily:
Three new features in Laravel 5.2.22
Mar 01, 2016 @ 11:17:53

The Laravel Daily site has a quick post on the heels of the latest minor release of the Laravel framework, v5.2.2, that includes some of the new features that came along with it.

Two days ago Taylor Otwell released a new minor version of Laravel framework – 5.2.22. Along with some small fixes, there are a few new functions, let’s look into them.

The three features they talk about aren't major changes to the framework but they are helpful to those needing these little tweaks:

  • Validate array distinct (a new rule to validate if array has only different values)
  • fullUrlWithQuery (automatically adding query parameters to a url() kind of call)
  • Blade: continue and break (more flow control in Blade templates)

Examples are included showing how to use the new functionality as well.

tagged: laravel feature release array distinct fullurlwithquery blade continue break

Link: http://laraveldaily.com/three-new-functions-in-laravel-5-2-22/

Paul Jones:
Semantic Versioning and Public Interfaces
Jun 03, 2015 @ 09:16:33

Paul Jones has an interesting post to his site that makes the link between software versioning and public interfaces your code provides. He points out that, despite semantic versioning helping to define how to version your code, there's still some ambiguity about it and backwards compatibility.

Adherence to Semantic Versioning is just The Right Thing To Do, but it turns out you have to be extra-careful when modifying public interfaces to maintain backwards compatibility. This is obvious on reflection, but I never thought about it beforehand. Thanks to Hari KT for pointing it out. Why do you have to be extra-careful with interfaces and SemVer? [...] If we remove a public method, that’s clearly a BC break. If we add a non-optional parameter to an existing public method, that’s also clearly a BC break. [...] However, if we add a new public method to the concrete class, that is not a BC break. Likewise, changing the signature of an existing method to add an optional parameter is not a BC break either. [...] But what happens with an interface?

He suggests that changing current functionality (such as adding a non-optional parameter) is a backwards compatibility break but in an interface so is adding a new method. By adding a method you "break" the implementation someone already has, causing plenty of trouble for the users. He wonders about the right approach for making these updates, if it's creating a new interface or just extending the current one and having users migrate. He also includes a few update notes about abstract classes and how Symfony handles BC breaks too.

tagged: versioning public interface backwardscompatibility break bc abstract symfony

Link: http://paul-m-jones.com/archives/6136

thePHP.cc:
PHP breaks backwards compatibility
Jan 28, 2015 @ 10:41:22

In this new post on thePHP.cc blog Stefan Priebsch talks about some of the backwards compatibility breaks that will be coming with PHP's next major version, PHP7.

According to the PHP project's current time line, PHP 7 is scheduled to be released later this year. The version number 6 will be skipped for good reasons. As is expected of a new major release, there will be some breaks in backwards compatibility. Such breaks are always a double-edged sword: some have been eagerly awaiting the removal of legacy features, others expect that existing software keeps working without modifications. The PHP project is notorious for keeping some sins of the past dating back to PHP 3 in an effort to ensure backwards compatibility. Now, with the release of PHP 7, the decision has been made to remove some features that have been marked as "deprecated" in PHP 5.

He talks about how PHP will be "re-engineered" for this major release including a uniform variable syntax and some of the things this could break (like Magento 1). He also mentions the removal of the mysql (not mysqli) extension and a major issue - that PEAR has stopped working in recent versions of PHP7 (built from the current codebase) because of how it calls non-static methods statically.

tagged: php7 break backwards compatibility deprecated

Link: http://thephp.cc/news/2015/01/php-breaks-backwards-compatibility

Tony Marston:
Please do not break our language
Jan 15, 2015 @ 09:40:25

Tony Marston has posted a plea to the core developers of the PHP language when it comes to some of the changes happening with constructors in classes: "please do not break our language."

This post is addressed to PHP's core developers who are proposing to break our beloved language yet again in the next major version of PHP (version 7) by removing functionality which has worked perfectly for years simply because it does not fit in with their ideas of how it should be done today. I am talking about PHP RFC: Remove PHP 4 Constructors (and this post on php.internals) which proposes that all code with PHP 4 style constructors be made invalid in favour of the "correct" method which was introduced in PHP 5. This is despite the fact that both types of constructor have lived quite happily side by side for over a decade and that large volumes of code, including PEAR libraries, were written in the PHP 4 style.

He suggests that this kind of change would require quite a bit of code to be changed, causing headaches for a large audience out there using older PHP code. He then gets into some of his opinions and thoughts about who "owns" PHP - is it the core development team working on the language itself, the community that uses the language (or a combination of both)? He proposes two definitions of "improvement" in respect to the needs of developers using the language and core developers. He suggests that the core developers are changing the language "just because they can" and that breaking backwards compatibility with something like this is a big mistake.

He then shares some of the comments from the php.internals mailing list on the subject of the constructor change, both for and against. He also points out a few other places where backwards compatibility was broken and the resulting changes that had to be made by developers. He suggests a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" kind of approach

If there is a choice between a lazy or incompetent core developer doing only half a job and leaving the 240 million members of the greater PHP community to clear up his mess, then it should be obvious to anyone who has more than two brain cells to rub together that it is the core developer who needs to put in the extra effort so that the greater PHP community does not have to.
tagged: language opinion backwards compatibility break constructor php4 php5

Link: http://www.tonymarston.net/php-mysql/please-do-not-break-our-language.html

NetTuts.com:
PHP 5.6: What's New
Oct 02, 2014 @ 10:58:59

On the NetTuts.com site there's a new article posted talking about some of the new stuff that comes bundled in PHP 5.6 (the first stable version of which was released at the end of August 2014).

It's been a long time coming, but we finally have a new version of PHP. With it comes a some nice, new features, improvements to existing features, as well as features that have been removed or marked as deprecated. Let's dive in and take a look at everything that's offered by the latest version.

There's several items on the list, broken up into various sections, each with brief explanations:

  • Backward Incompatible Changes (ex: json_decode, mcrypt)
  • New Features (including constant scalar expressions, argument unpacking, phpdbg)
  • Deprecated Features (call to static from non-static context, removal of HTTP_RAW_POST_DATA)

They also link to the list of all of the changed and new functions updated in the PHP 5.6.0 release and moving forward.

tagged: php56 new feature deprecated backwards incompatible break

Link: http://code.tutsplus.com/articles/php-56-whats-new--cms-22101

Derick Rethans:
On Backwards Compatibility and not Being Evil
Aug 22, 2014 @ 09:20:55

Derick Rethans has shared some of his thoughts on how to not be evil when it comes to making changes in languages like PHP. He suggests that any backwards compatibility break should be treated with the weight it deserves and not just thrust upon users.

This is a repost of an email I sent to PHP internals as a reply to: "And since you're targetting[sic] the next major release, BC isn't an issue." This sort of blanket statements that "Backwards Compatibility is not an issue" with a new major version is extremely unwarranted. Extreme care should be taken when deciding to break Backwards Compatibility. It should not be "oh we have a major new version so we can break all the things"

He talks about the two kinds of backwards compatibility breaks: obvious things where features are removed or changed in a major way and subtle changes in how the underlying code for PHP works ("subtle changes"). He points out that most of the frustrations from users comes from the second type, making for a slower adoption rate and maybe not even adopting at all.

Can I please urge people to not take Backwards Compatibility issues so lightly. Please think really careful when you suggest to break Backwards Compatibility, it should only be considered if there is a real and important reason to do so.
tagged: evil backwards compatibility break major version opinion

Link: http://derickrethans.nl/bc-dont-be-evil.html

Reddit.com:
Just a warning, 5.5.13 introduces a backwards incomaptability
Jun 02, 2014 @ 11:56:16

In this recent post to Reddit.com, they point out a recent change in the core of PHP that could cause problems with backward compatibility: a change in the serialization handling to check for implementation of the Serializable interface.

Strings requiring unserialization of objects are now explicitly checked whether the object they contain implements the Serializable interface. This solves the situation where manipulated strings could be passed for objects using Serializable to disallow serialization. An object implementing Serializable will always start with "C:" in the serialized string, all other objects are represented with starting "O:". Objects implementing Serializable to disable serialization using zend_class_unserialize_deny and zend_class_serialize_deny, when instantiated from the serializer with a manipulated "O:" string at the start, will most likely be defectively initialized. This is now fixed at the appropriate place by checking for the presence of the serialize callback in the class entry.

The change corrects a bug that has been used, in certain cases, as a work-around to create objects without calling the constructor. The correct fix for it, if you're using it in your own applications, is to call ReflectionObject::newInstanceWithoutConstructor.

tagged: backwards compatibility break serialize

Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/PHP/comments/26w42x/just_a_warning_5513_introduces_a_backwards/

PHPMaster.com:
Learning Loops
Dec 15, 2011 @ 10:15:00

PHPmaster.com has a new introductory tutorial for those just starting out with PHP (or with programming really) talking about using looping structures for sets of data - for, while/do-while and foreach.

A significant advantage of computers is that they can perform repetitive tasks easily and efficiently. Instead of writing repetitive code you can write a set of statements that processes some data and then have the computer execute them repeatedly by using a construct known as a loop. Loops come in several different flavors in PHP: for, while, do-while, and foreach. I'll introduce you to each of them and show you how they can making repetitive tasks straightforward and easy to maintain.

The tutorial explains a use case for each of the loop types and includes a bit of sample code showing how to put it into practice. It also shares two special keywords that can be used to bypass or break out of your current loop - break and continue.

tagged: introduction tutorial loop dataset for while foreach break continue

Link:

Rafael Dohms' Blog:
Problem Solving technique #1: Taking a mental break
Feb 07, 2011 @ 12:08:44

Rafael Dohms has posted a new tip for developers (and really anyone else that has to concentrate on mentally challenging tasks all day) that could sometime help you break through that wall you've hit in your code - take a mental break.

Developers are modern day artists whose masterpieces are not hung on walls but stretched out thin on web servers all over the world, yes that is very poetic, but I really try to look at developers as artists and puzzle solvers. [...] A different activity, to most its the simple act of going to get coffee or water, taking a stroll outside in the fresh air, some like sports, some like games.. everyone has their escape valve.

He gives an example of a friend (Chester) who, when he hit a mark he just couldn't pass, turned to a set of lego blocks to help clear his mind. The subconscious mind kicks in as you preoccupy the conscious and a lot of times the answer floats up to he top with little or no effort.

tagged: problem solving technique mental break developer

Link: