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SitePoint Web Blog:
How to be a Good Developer
October 13, 2014 @ 11:54:17

On the SitePoint Web Blog there's a recent post by George Fekete with a few suggestions about how to be a good developer, regardless of the language or technology you're using.

As a PHP developer, or any kind of developer as a matter of fact, you need to constantly improve yourself in this ever-changing industry; you need to learn and use new knowledge every day. What successful developers have in common, is that they care about programming a lot, they are professionals treating good programming practices as a form of art. In this article, you'll learn about how to be a better developer by following the "etiquette" of programming and you'll learn how to use this information to perhaps teach others to better themselves.

He starts with some tips about "being professional" overall that include things like being responsible and having a strong work ethic. Then he moves into writing good code. This isn't about actual code examples, more about good practices and tools. He also shares some tips about how to keep things (and yourself) on track and tips on how to "be a master" when it comes to social interactions and the work you're doing.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/good-developer/

Twilio Blog:
How to Build an MMS Ticketing System Using PHP, Laravel and Twilio
October 03, 2014 @ 12:18:54

On the Twilio blog there's a recent post showing the construction of some fundamental parts of a MMS ticketing system using Laravel and Twilio for the messaging.

Have you ever arrived at a movie, flight or concert and realized you've forgotten your paper ticket? Imagine how much worse it would be if you showed up at Willy Wonka's front door, but forgot your golden ticket! To prevent an epic disaster such as this, we're going to build an app that delivers Willy Wonka's golden ticket directly to your phone using MMS. All the Oompa Loompas have to do is scan it. Not Willy Wonka? Don't worry, this code should be useful for any app or company that distributes tickets. Hopefully computers are more helpful with the golden ticket than last time.

The application makes use of a few libraries outside of the Laravel framework structure to handle the various functional pieces: one for creating QR codes and another for sending the messages via Twilio. They walk through some of the basic setup for the first endpoint and the "Golden Ticket Distribution" page. He then uses the Endroid QR code library to generate a code based on a string and outputting it to the user. Using a few pieces of data from the URL (in $_GET), they define the phone number to send to and the name of the user. Finally they tie it into the Twilio messaging system and send the MMS message containing the resulting QR code.

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Link: https://www.twilio.com/blog/2014/09/how-to-build-an-mms-ticketing-system-using-php-laravel-and-twilio.html

NetTuts.com:
Refactoring Legacy Code - Part 10 Dissecting Long Methods with Extractions
September 19, 2014 @ 09:41:54

NetTuts.com is back with the latest part of their "Refactoring Legacy Code" series for PHP. In this latest article (part 10) they work on pulling apart longer methods into smaller, more manageable chunks.

In the sixth part of our series we talked about attacking long methods by leveraging on pair programming and viewing code from different levels. We continuously zoomed in and out, and observed both small things like naming as well as form and indentation. Today, we will take another approach: We will assume we are alone, no colleague or pair to help us. We will use a technique called "Extract till you drop" that breaks code in very small pieces. We will make all the efforts we can to make these pieces as easy to understand as possible so the future us, or any other programmer will be able to easily understand them.

This "extract 'till you drop" mentality (from Robert Martin) has you look at a piece of code and find the logic and lines that can be split out and isolated without removing functionality and interaction. They include some random code from a Stack Overflow post (checking if a number is a prime) and show how to split it out, making the logic and structure less complex and more understandable. They start with a unit test to ensure the result is the same post-refactor and fixing a few bugs along the way. They split it out into two different methods and move it from a more linear approach to something recursive.

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Link: http://code.tutsplus.com/tutorials/refactoring-legacy-code-part-10-dissecting-long-methods-with-extractions--cms-22182

VitalFlux.com:
Top 10 PHP Code Review Tips
September 10, 2014 @ 11:15:31

On the VitalFlux site there's a recent post sharing a few tips (a Top 10 list) of things to think about when doing code reviews.

This article represents top 10 areas to consider while you are taking up the task to do the code review of a PHP project. The other day, I had a discussion with one of the PHP senior developers who asked me about where to start on the task related with reviewing a PHP web application and, we brainstormed and came up with the list. Interestingly, apart from few, most of them can be pretty much applied to applications written with other programming languages as well.

Their top ten list of things to look for during code reviews extend beyond just the syntax of the code and good coding practices. They also suggest things like:

  • Adherence to Business Functionality
  • Object-Oriented Principles
  • Security
  • Integration Patterns/Protocols

Code reviews, if done effectively and efficiently, can be a major benefit for producing quality code that not only adheres to standards but also follows good practices and principles (like SOLID).

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Link: http://vitalflux.com/top-10-php-code-review-tips/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Asset Access Restriction Methods - Block Unwanted Visitors
September 05, 2014 @ 10:11:45

In a new tutorial from the SitePoint PHP blog today Jeroen Meeus looks at a way to protect parts of your application from being used and abused. He shows you how to protect various parts of you site, including images and actual pages, with the help of either your web server or bits of code.

When building an awesome web app or website, we sometimes want people to be able to embed parts of our web app/website into their own. That could be an iframe holding a 'like' button, a simple image that they want to reuse or even our entire app embedded in an iframe. But how do we control who has access, who is allowed to use up our bandwidth and query our service? We define the problem as controlling access to assets. By assets we mean: anything that can be queried from our site.

He talks about the problem of "lifting" content and how to fall back to a "deny all, allow some" mentality. He starts with examples of Apache configurations that use mod_rewrite to only allow requests that come from the current domain (trusted) and the "files" directive coupled with Deny/Allow. He also includes an nginx example, showing the same request handling. The code examples show how to use PHP and Javascript to prevent access the same way.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/asset-access-restriction-methods-block-unwanted-visitors/

Matthew Weier O'Phinney:
Testing Code That Emits Output
August 25, 2014 @ 09:45:08

In this latest post to his site Matthew Weier O'Phinney gives his suggestion on how to test (unit test) code that provides some kind of direct output. In his case, his script is outputting header information directly, not as a part of a response string.

Here's the scenario: you have code that will emit headers and content, for instance, a front controller. How do you test this? The answer is remarkably simple, but non-obvious: namespaces.

He talks some about the use of namespaces in PHP classes (and methods, and constants...) and how things can be importing using them. He gives an example of an object that outputs some header and body information (an "Output" abstract class). He shows how to use the class in a simple test, calling "reset" in the setup and teardown methods and asserting the contents of the headers and body for expected content.

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Link: http://mwop.net/blog/2014-08-11-testing-output-generating-code.html

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Check Your Code's Quality with SensioLabs Insight
August 07, 2014 @ 12:25:20

On the SitePoint PHP blog today there's a new post by Peter Nijssen introducing you to the SensioLabs Insight service and how it can improve your code quality (including locating security concerns).

The quality of your code is as important as testing your application. Recently, we have seen multiple articles which hopefully helped you on your way to providing a more stable application. Today, we are going to have a closer look at SensioLabs Insight. If you used Symfony or Silex in the past, you are probably familiar with SensioLabs, since they are the main sponsor of the Symfony framework.

He quickly introduces the service, mentioning what it has to offer and how to get your account all set up (free for open source libraries but it requires the results to be public). He includes some screenshots showing what the setup and scan results of your project might look like. He shows how to get more detail on the findings and how they can easily be exported to your bug tracker for fixing. He also covers some of the configuration you can do (through a YAML file) to tell Insight things like: php.ini settings, directories to exclude and specific rules to run during the scans.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/check-codes-quality-sensiolabs-insight/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Legacy Code is a Cancer
August 04, 2014 @ 11:08:45

In the latest post to the SitePoint PHP blog Bruno Skvorc proposes the idea that "legacy code is a cancer" that can influence decisions and technology choices that shy away from the new and possibly more functional alternatives.

This might come out controversial, but I firmly believe there is no room for legacy code in modern systems. Allow me to elaborate before you sharpen your pitchfork and light your torch. What I mean by that is: there should be absolutely zero reason to keep implementing the functions you're adding to the new version retroactively into the old version, just because some people are still using it, even if the people using it are a vast majority.

He talks about the "support everything for as long as we can" ideal and how it can come back to bite you in the end. He suggests that, at some point, the v1 users have to "be discarded" and dropped for the upgraded version of the application. He talks about failure potentially brining around success and compares applications versus libraries and components and the upgrade path for each. He ends the post with a suggested upgrade path to move the system itself away from legacy support and into the new, latest version.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/legacy-code-cancer/

Expert Developer:
Install PHP CodeSniffer on Windows Machine
July 29, 2014 @ 10:33:45

On the Expert Developer site there's a new tutorial showing you how to get the PHP CodeSniffer tool up and working on a Windows installation. PHP CodeSniffer provides functionality to enforce standards and best practices in your application's development (providing code quality).

In this article we will focus on improving Code Quality. Very first step towards improving code quality is to maintain coding standards across developers. [...] Here we will talk about PHP CodeSniffer, which help us to maintain coding standard across multiple developer. Dealing with CodeSniffer is much easier: create rule set, validate your file against your rule set and get the result immediately. It will immediately show how many mistakes you have made in terms of following coding standards and eventually all developer will start coding as per coding standards you have defined.

There's two main parts to the article: first is getting PEAR installed (a package manager for PHP) and then using it to install CodeSniffer. Complete instructions and commands are included as well as a few screenshots along the way.

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Link: http://www.xpertdeveloper.com/2014/07/install-php-codesniffer-on-windows-machine/

SitePoint Web Blog:
Code Manifesto Words to Live By
July 28, 2014 @ 12:45:29

The SitePoint Web blog has posted an interesting article sharing something called The Code Manifesto. The "code" referenced here isn't so much related to the actual code developers write as it is the conduct they follow in their relationships with others (on a professional level).

The tech industry has a rather bad reputation. Stories of discrimination, disrespect, sexism and outright mistreatment aren't exactly hard to come by. [...] In an industry ostensibly aimed at helping everyone to reach their potential, it's clear that when it comes to issues of equality and respect, the tech world has a long way to go. Kayla Daniels is one person working to try to change this situation. A North Carolina PHP developer, Kayla is behind The Code Manifesto, a list of values she hopes can be a small step in the right direction.

Among the points made in the manifesto are things like:

  • Discrimination limits us.
  • We are our biggest assets. None of us were born masters of our trade.
  • Respect defines us. Treat others as you wish to be treated.
  • Reactions require grace.

The Manifesto was born out of the frustration felt by Kayla in her work in technology. The six points are designed to help with two main things: respect and equality and contributing to the community...all as equals.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/code-manifesto/


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