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Freek Lijten:
Sane defaults over Exceptions
Jan 18, 2017 @ 10:19:13

In a new post to his site Free Litjen talks about defensive programming and the part that sane default handling plays when dealing with exceptions that might pop up.

With over half a million visitors a week and lots of scrapers, bots and other stuff visiting, these exceptions and fatal errors clog up logging quite a bit. Not to the point that we can't handle the volume, but it generates false positives in monitoring channels and it is something we do not want to act upon anyway.

So while I'm happy to see some defensive programming I would be even happier if exceptional situations would be silently resolved to default situations.

The post starts with a quote about defensive programming and how, despite it not being an ideal use, many applications had been seen using exceptions to handle errors and messaging. He proposes another methodology where a set of default values are used instead of just failing on any error hit with the input. The idea has merit but it can also lead to other frustrations like hidden errors in testing and situations where an exception makes more sense than a default.

tagged: sane default value exception error handling defensive programming

Link: http://www.freeklijten.nl/2017/01/04/Sane-defaults-over-Exceptions

SitePoint PHP Blog:
A Crash Course of Changes to Exception Handling in PHP 7
Nov 02, 2016 @ 11:10:09

The SitePoint PHP blog has a tutorial they've posted that shares information about changes in the exception handling in PHP 7 and what you need to know about them (and potentially change in your application).

Exception handling saves your code in the most unusual circumstances. PHP 7 has introduced two new classes that assist a developer in handling errors with ease, and that’s what we’ll look at in this post. Before the introduction of these classes in PHP 7, exception error classes were written to handle the different types of errors.

They start with the new "Throwable" interface that's the base for both the "Exception" and "Error" class types. From there the article talks about the "Error" type, showing the list of new errors included in PHP 7: ArithmeticErrors, TypeError, ParseError and AssertionError. It also includes code examples for each showing when they'd be thrown and how you can catch them (more specifically than just catching all exceptions).

tagged: changes exception handling php7 crashcourse

Link: https://www.sitepoint.com/a-crash-course-of-changes-to-exception-handling-in-php-7/

Alain Schlesser:
Structuring PHP Exceptions
Oct 31, 2016 @ 10:46:25

Alain Schlesser has written up a new post for his site sharing some of his suggestions for structuring your PHP exceptions including localization, catching them and using them with named constructors.

I seem to constantly work on improving my habits regarding the use of exceptions. I think it is an area that I haven’t yet fully explored, and it is very difficult to find anything more than very basic explanations and tutorials online. While the consensus is to use exceptions, there is very little information on how to structure and manage them in a larger codebase. The larger and more complex your projects become, the more important it is to start with a proper structure to avoid expensive refactoring later on. Your client will surely be thankful!

In this article, I want to talk about the way I currently set them up and use them in PHP, in the hopes to spark some discussion on the topic and get further feedback.

He starts with a few thoughts about why even using exceptions is a good idea (over just errors) and how to build on the included SPL exception set. He then gets into the suggestions about:

  • naming conventions
  • using named constructors to encapsulate logic
  • working with localized exception messages
  • catching exceptions

He ends the post by suggesting one last piece that can help make catching and handling exceptions easier - a centralized handler, something potentially like BooBoo from The PHP League.

tagged: exception handling tutorial naming namedconstructors localization catching

Link: https://www.alainschlesser.com/structuring-php-exceptions/

Leonid Mamchenkov:
Adventure in composer private repositories
Apr 22, 2016 @ 09:19:44

In this new post to his site Leonid Mamchenkov talks about some of his "adventure with Composer private repositories" in some of his deployment work with CakePHP 3 applications.

As good as the Packagist is, there is often a need for a repository or a package elsewhere. Whether it’s a commercial library, or sensitive corporate code, having an ability to store it outside of public eye and handle with the same ease and the same tool as the rest of the dependencies is a very welcome feature.

[...] We are setting up similar development and deployment process, but now for CakePHP-based projects. Things are much easier, since CakePHP 3 natively supports composer for the application itself and for its plugins. But we still have the need for private repositories here and there, so we follow the same setup as we did for WordPress.

Unfortunately he was getting a RuntimeException when he was trying to pull in a plugin through the same private repository workflow. Not only had he not seen the error before but the autoloader was configured as defined and other plugins were working with the same structure. As it turns out, it was the composer.json of the main application repository that was the problem. He includes the fix he made to the configuration on a sample CakePHP 3 project, showing how to switch it to a "vcs" type for more correct handling.

tagged: composer private repository issue runtime exception composerjson configuration

Link: http://mamchenkov.net/wordpress/2016/04/21/adventure-in-composer-private-repositories/

What Are Laravel Exceptions?
Apr 18, 2016 @ 12:25:35

In a new tutorial posted on the TutsPlus.com site they get into some detail about what exceptions are in Laravel-based applications, when to use them and how to make your own.

As a PHP developer, you may use exceptions, because they allow you to notice when something has gone wrong or the user has acted in an unusual way (such as division by zero). Without exceptions, your application would end up presenting unwanted errors and being much more difficult to debug. It is also important that you halt execution immediately and take another course of action.

Exceptions are really simple, and they will make your development progress easier. When you learn how to use exceptions, this will be a usual part of your development.

They start by explaining what exceptions are (in the strictest sense, a definition from Martin Fowler) and an example of how one is caught in PHP. They briefly talk about when to use exceptions and how they're implemented in Laravel. The post finishes with a look at creating your own exception types and where to place them in your application. They also make the suggestion of using the Assertion package to verify data and catch the AssertionFailedException if there's an issue.

tagged: laravel exception example tutorial overview usage

Link: http://code.tutsplus.com/tutorials/what-are-laravel-exceptions--cms-25816

Clean Code and The Art of Exception Handling
Apr 13, 2016 @ 09:43:50

While not specific to PHP (the examples are in Ruby, in fact) this new tutorial on the Toptal.com blog has some good information and suggestions around the use of exceptions in your applications.

Exceptions require special treatment, and an unhandled exception may cause unexpected behavior. The results are often spectacular.

Over time, these errors, and countless others [...] contributed to the impression that exceptions are bad. But exceptions are a fundamental element of modern programming; they exist to make our software better. Rather than fearing exceptions, we should embrace them and learn how to benefit from them. In this article, we will discuss how to manage exceptions elegantly, and use them to write clean code that is more maintainable.

They start by talking about why exception handling is a good thing and some common practices to help make them more manageable. They suggest that good exception handling can also help make your code more maintainable, extensible and readable in the long run. He suggests creating your own kind of exception hierarchy (more possible in PHP 7) and using them to get more specific on the type of exception that was thrown. He recommends not "rescuing" exceptions more than needed (in PHP this is try/catch) and that it's okay to defer the handling for the exception being thrown and not deal with it right away.

He also reminds you that not all exceptions need handling in your own code (sometimes it's up to the user) and that following conventions on naming can help end users better understand why there's an error. Finally, he recommends logging exceptions as they're major errors in your application, not just data problems or smaller bugs.

tagged: clean code exception handling bestpractice hierarchy trycatch convention

Link: https://www.toptal.com/qa/clean-code-and-the-art-of-exception-handling

Rob Allen:
Improved error handling in Slim 3.2.0
Feb 26, 2016 @ 10:46:53

In this recent post to his site Rob Allen, a developer with the Slim framework project, covers some of the improvements around error handling in the latest version of the framework, v3.2.0.

We released Slim 3.2.0 yesterday which includes a number of minor bug fixes since 3.1.0 and also a few nice improvements around the way we handle errors.

He talks about the previous error handling (suppressing them in favor of a bland error page) and how v3.2.0 changes this by writing them to the error log by default. He also talks about changes around the addition of a PHP 7 error handler that works with the PHP 7 Error exception types and functions the same way as the default Exception handler.

tagged: slim slim3 slimeframework error handling improvement errorlog exception php7

Link: https://akrabat.com/improved-error-handling-in-slim-3-2-0/

Questioning PHPUnit Best Practices
Feb 05, 2016 @ 12:13:04

In this new post to thePHP.cc blog Sebastian Bergmann (creator of the PHPUnit unit testing tool) questions of some the current "best practices" involved in using the tool. More specifically he looks at the handling for expected exceptions and proposes a new practice to use going forward.

It is important to keep in mind that best practices for a tool such as PHPUnit are not set in stone. They rather evolve over time and have to be adapted to changes in PHP, for instance. Recently I was involved in a discussion that questioned the current best practice for testing exceptions. That discussion resulted in changes in PHPUnit 5.2 that I would like to explain in this article.

He talks about the currently widely used practice of the @expectedException annotation to define when an exception should be thrown from the code inside the unit test. Sebastian talks about the evolution of this into other annotations around the code and message returned from the exception too. He then proposes the new best practice as a result of some discussion around the annotation method: returning to the use of the setExpectedException method. He provides some reasoning behind the switch including the timing of the exception being thrown (not just "any time" but a more specific time).

tagged: phpunit bestpractice expected exception annotation method expectedexception

Link: https://thephp.cc/news/2016/02/questioning-phpunit-best-practices

Matthieu Napoli:
Approaching coding style rationally
Nov 13, 2015 @ 11:51:07

In a post to his site Matthieu Napoli shares some of his thoughts about "code style rationality" including code formatting in general and some suggestions on one of the harder things in development - naming things.

Habits are sometimes making us blind. We think X looks prettier than Y but that’s just the habit speaking. In this article I’ll try to take a rational approach at coding style. That means leaving the “it looks ugly/better” at the door.

If at any point you feel like something “just doesn’t look good”, breath in, breath out, and try it! Nothing beats hands-on experience, not even some random article on the internet.

He looks at a few subjects specifically (there's way too many to cover them all in detail):

  • the use of trailing commas
  • alignment of values in docblock comments
  • keeping docblock comments minimal
  • using the "Interface" suffix
  • using the "Exception" suffix

He ends the post by reminding readers that the point is to think about code style logically and that no rules are written in stone.

tagged: code style formatting rational approach opinion comma docblock interface exception

Link: http://mnapoli.fr/approaching-coding-style-rationally/

Ross Tuck:
Formatting Exception Messages
Oct 27, 2015 @ 12:09:39

In a post to his site Ross Tuck shares some of his experience and some helpful hints around formatting exception messages and how doing so effectively can make life for fellow developers much easier.

Over the last couple years, I’ve started putting my Exception messages inside static methods on custom exception classes. This is hardly a new trick, Doctrine’s been doing it for the better part of a decade. Still, many folks are surprised by it, so this article explains the how and why.

He shares his tips as a part of a "refactoring" in a simple example, a CSV import where there are failures during the import process on certain lines. He starts with the basic Exception and works through the logic to customize it and make it more useful. He shows the inclusion of additional details in the message, abstracting out the formatting to custom methods based on the error type and using static methods for the more complex message formatting. He also suggests the creation of methods to handle specific error cases with more details than a simple single-line error in a normal exception being thrown.

When you co-locate the messages inside the exception, however, you gain an overview of the error cases. If these cases multiply too fast or diverge significantly, it’s a strong smell to split the exception class and create a better API. [...] Sometimes we underestimate the little things that shape our code. [...] Creating good environments at a high level starts with encouraging them at the lowest levels. Pay attention to what your habits encourage you to do.
tagged: format exception message custom method details static

Link: http://rosstuck.com/formatting-exception-messages/