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How Blackfire leverages Docker
May 01, 2015 @ 10:08:34

The PHP debugging service (from SensioLabs) has a new post to thier blog today talking about how the service makes use of Docker to build the environments for testing out their users' code.

As you may know, Blackfire was represented at the SymfonyLive conference in Paris. During this event, several people came to us and asked how we use Docker at One of our goals is to make profiling straightforward for anyone, and it means that we need to be able to easily test our product on a lot of different platforms. And Docker gives us the ability to spin up new containers in milliseconds.

Moreover, our website relies a lot on different tools, so containers can also help us reach an iso-production development environment. But Docker is only available on Linux and a big part of the Blackfire's team is using MacOS X. So how one using MacOS X can use the best of both worlds?

The post goes on to talk about their use of the boot2docker tool and how they can use it to help with the environment customization most developers want out of their testing. They show how it updates the network settings, works with file sharing, allows for multiple domain names/containers and solutions to some other common issues including no container access, no name resolution and a "bonus" section with a Skydock plugin for custom DNS naming.

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ServerGrove Blog:
Useful Linux command-line tools to work with PHP projects
April 24, 2015 @ 11:16:20

The ServerGrove blog has posted a new tutorial with a selection of useful command line tools to help you in working with your PHP applications. None of them are PHP specific but are Unix-based commands that can help in every day development.

Linux provides a lot of interesting command-line tools that we can use when working with PHP projects. In this post we give you some useful commands.

They include examples of commands that can help with:

  • Find all PHP files in the current directory
  • Check the syntax of all PHP files in the current directory
  • Get the size of each Composer dependency
  • Find suspicious PHP files
  • Find files with abstract classes
  • List PHP settings for the xdebug extension
  • Find empty files and/or directories
  • List files currently open by a PHP process

As mentioned, most of the tools themselves are not PHP specific but these example commands do relate to things that are more in a PHP context.

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useful linux commandline tool context example list


Pádraic Brady:
Introduction to Humbug A Mutation Testing Framework for PHP
April 08, 2015 @ 09:34:13

While he's mentioned it in other posts to his site, Pádraic Brady has officially posted an Introduction to Humbug to his site today. Humbug is a mutation testing framework that lets you determine the actual effectiveness of your unit tests through "mutation testing" methods.

You may already be familiar with the concept. In Mutation Testing, defects which emulate simple programmer errors are introduced into source code (your canonical code is untouched) and the relevant unit tests are run to see if they notice the defect. The more defects that are noticed, the more effective the test suite is presumed to be. The methodology relies on the theory that a quantity of relatively simple defects, either in isolation or combined, provide as much useful information as would a series of more complex defects.

He talks about the differences between mutation testing and the more traditional code coverage metrics. He points out that code coverage, while a decent high-level metric, should never be used as a quality metric. Using Humbug allows you to determine the real effectiveness and "coverage" of what you're testing. He then gets into how to use the tool, outlining:

  • Installation of the library as a phar
  • Generating a configuration file
  • Execute the command to run your tests (to ensure they're passing) and execute the mutation testing

The execution is broken into several stages: executing your tests for passing, breaking up the source into tokens to determine mutability, replacement of content with mutations in a temporary version of the source and a final execution of the test suite to determine the mutation results. He includes some example output from the tool on a moderately large codebase and how to interpret these results. He ends the post talking about the logs that Humbug generates, the overall performance of the tool and an experimental feature that's in the works called "Incremental Analysis".

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Eric Barnes:
How To Validate an array of form fields with Laravel
April 07, 2015 @ 09:48:34

Eric Barnes has a new post to his site showing you how to validate form input in a Laravel application using the form requests feature.

If you've used Laravel's form validation for any length of time, then you know it's a powerful system. It makes the tedious task of validation very simple while still keeping the door open for complex rules. In this tutorial, I want to show you a simple and easy way of validating forms that contain dynamic fields. A common use case for these types of forms is when you would like to allow a user to add more fields to a form.

His example uses a form with a handful of text fields rendered with a simple "for" loop in the template. He then helps you make a new Request instance (OrderRequest) and adding custom validation rules into its "rules" method. In this case, he sets a rule that the content is required and can be no longer than 255 characters. He also shows how to use the custom messages functionality, defining custom values for each of the form's fields.

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SitePoint PHP Blog:
Laravel Blade Recursive Partials with @each
April 02, 2015 @ 08:21:50

On the SitePoint PHP blog there's a post from editor Bruno Skvorc showing you how to create recursive partials in Blade, the templating library that the Laravel framework uses internally for rendering output.

n this tutorial, we'll go through the process of implementing recursive partials in Laravel's Blade templating engine by means of the @each command. This will allow us to render data structures with an arbitrary number of nested children without needing to know the maximum depth of the array.

In his example, he's rendering the data from a nested set, a folder structure that could potentially go many levels down. He gives an example of the data he's working with in PHP arrays and how it could be outputted in plain old PHP. Of course, things have to be done a little differently in Blade and he includes the templates to do it - the main level and a partial that's used to output the folder information. He shows the use of "@each" in these examples and explains how it works and an example of the output.

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laravel blade recursive child template tutorial example


ServerGrove Blog:
New Symfony installer the fastest way to start your Symfony project
March 27, 2015 @ 12:13:42

The ServerGrove blog has a new post today introducing the new Symfony Installer, a tool that can make getting started with a Symfony2 application quick and easy.

Yesterday, the Symfony team introduced the new Symfony installer. Its main goal is to help developers to create Symfony projects faster. Until now, installing Symfony to start a new project required a few steps. [...] The installer tries to do this in one step. It downloads a compressed file with all the code, including the vendors directory, so you don't need anything else to run Symfony for the first time.

The post shows you how to install the installer via a curl call to fetch the executable. They show how to use it to create a new project, making a demo project and the resulting application and web interface for the demo. They also mention some of the future work that's planned for the installer including HTTPS support and caching improvements. The post finishes up with a quick mention of the code "under the hood" using the Symfony console component.

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Kristopher Wilson:
Using Interfaces Effectively in PHP
March 27, 2015 @ 10:12:32

Kristopher Wilson has a quick post talking about how he thinks you can use interfaces effectively in PHP applications.

Yesterday, a question appeared on Reddit about the purpose of interfaces in PHP. While I was too late to the party to provide an answer to that thread (at least that would get noticed by anybody), I thought it was a great topic of conversation. So let's take a look at interfaces in PHP.

He introduces some of the basics around interfaces and provides some sample code showing how they're created and used (and extended). He talks about some good practices for implementing them in your classes and how this fits into the world of dependency injection. He also includes a bit about type hinting based on the interface implemented and how they can be seen as "contracts" in your code.

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Design Patterns The Command Pattern
March 17, 2015 @ 12:42:22 continues their series covering the basics of design patterns (in PHP) with a new article about the Command design pattern. This pattern is particularly useful for executing self-contained "commands" without other interaction.

In this article, we will be going through the command design pattern. As the name says, in this pattern we will be dealing with executing various commands. [...] Basically a pattern has numerous elements involved, which are as below. In the next section, we will be exploring each element with a code example. I will be taking the example of radio actions-very basic actions would be turning the radio on or off. So let's dive into each element.

Using the illustration of the radio, they go through the creation of the classes for the controls (on/off) and the two matching commands. The invoker is then told to execute the "turn off" command on the radio control object passed in. This sounds a little confusing but the code included in the article makes it clear how this implementation of the command is structured.

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Sameer Borate:
Create a quick REST API using Slim framework
March 16, 2015 @ 10:16:40

Sameer Borate has a quick tutorial posted showing how to create a basic REST API with Slim, the popular microframework for PHP.

During a recent client project, I frequently needed to access a remote database table and update the same for certain fields. This was accomplished using phpMyAdmin on the server. However, it was getting tedious and was prone to accidental updates and deletes. [...] This is all a tedious process and prone to errors. One solution was to create a quick REST api wrapper around the remote database, using which developers could update the database table without any risk of corrupting the data and also with the added benefit of updating the table programmatically.

He uses an example of working with student data (SQL for the table included) and helps you get Slim installed and working with an Apache install. He covers the overall structure of the API he's creating and the code to help make it happen. Obviously he doesn't share the entire codebase - that would be too large. He does show examples of GET and POST requests for the student data to give you something to work from. He finishes the post with a few simple cURL calls to make requests to the API and the responses.

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Programming Are Hard:
Structuring my applications
March 06, 2015 @ 11:25:54

On the Programming Are Hard site there's a recent post looking at PHP application structure and how they handled the structure of one of their applications.

One of the biggest struggles for me, as an app developer, is coming up with an architecture that I'm happy with. It's something I wish other developers talked about more often. I thoroughly enjoyed Kris Wallsmith's SymfonyCon talk. It's very raw and real and doesn't come across as him talking down to anyone at all. Do I agree with everything he says? No, but that's not a bad thing. It's very insightful and I really enjoy taking a peak behind the curtains and seeing how other people do things. This is my attempt at doing just that.

He's broken down the structure into the overall parts and provided examples and summaries of each:

  • The use of packages
  • Entities
  • Events and Event Listeners
  • Commands and Handlers
  • Exceptions
  • Providers
  • Repositories
  • Security functionality
  • Services
  • Testing
  • Validation
  • Value Objects

Each section includes sample code and a description of where in the overall directory structure it fits. The setup is largely based on a Symfony application but it can be extracted (since it's mostly concepts) to most frameworks out there, even custom ones.

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