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Sound of Symfony:
Episode 3 - Developer Experience
August 20, 2014 @ 12:05:07

The Sound of Symfony podcast has posted their latest episode today: Episode #3, "Developer experience. Join hosts Magnus Nordlander and Tobias Nyholm as they talk about the Symfony project's recent emphasis on the developer experience.

In this much belated episode we talk about developer experience and getting new coders into your open source project. The episode features not one, but two interviews. First up we have a short talk with Ryan Weaver about the DX initiative and the DX hack day, and afterwards we talk to Cathy Theys from Drupal about Drupal's mentoring efforts and how you can make your project more welcoming to new developers.

The episode includes the two interviews and mentions of several topics including the name of the next release of PHP and the announcement of the Symfony Live London 2014 speakers. You can listen to this latest episode either through the in-page player or you can download the audio file for offline listening. If you enjoy the episode, consider subscribing to their feed to get the latest episodes delivered as they're released.

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Link: http://www.soundofsymfony.com/episode/episode-3/

Matt Frost:
Avoiding Burnout
July 28, 2014 @ 09:59:32

Matt Frost (one of the two hosts on the Loosely Coupled podcast) has a new post to his site about some of his own experiences and advice around avoiding burnout.

Writing software is an incredibly gratifying profession; the idea that you can take a problem and find creative solutions through the use of technology is what drives a lot of us forward. What happens though when the drive is gone? What happens when that nifty little side project, training course, blog post or book goes from being nifty to being a drudgery? I came to this point a number of months ago and stayed there for a while, having now come out of this funk there are some things I learned that I'd like to share.

He talks about some of his own trouble with burnout, the project he was involved in and what it taught him about dealing with it (and life in general). He gives some sensible advice including "don't sit at your desk all day" and "prioritize things". The advice is simple and to the point - avoiding burnout is something only you can do for yourself. Waiting for things to "just get better" isn't going to work.

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Link: http://shortwhitebaldguy.com/blog/2014/07/avoiding-burnout

Symfony Blog:
Improving REST in Symfony
July 11, 2014 @ 12:15:56

On the Symfony blog there's a recent post about a new effort being started to help improve REST in Symfony-based applications. William Durand talks about some of the current tools and some of the missing features/difficulties each has. This effort wants to help change that.

Building APIs with Symfony is not new. We've done that since the early beginning of Symfony: Askeet, Jobeet, it's been a long time! Nowadays, more and more web applications are made of an API and a client side application. Sharing data across applications using APIs also became an essential feature. [...] For most of us, it is not as clear as it should be, and we can certainly do better than what we have right now! Hence the creation of a working group to gather both people and knowledge for REST in Symfony: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/resting-with-symfony.

The target of the group is just about anyone associated with the development of APIs: developers who build them, developers to contribute to Symfony's REST functionality, people with questions about REST and, really, anyone else interested. It's a part of their wider developer experience initiative they've recently ramped up.

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Link: http://symfony.com/blog/improving-rest-in-symfony

Matthias Noback:
A better PHP testing experience Part I Moving away from assertion-centric testing
July 07, 2014 @ 17:53:45

Matthias Noback has a new post today, part one in a series, looking at moving away from assertion-centric testing and more towards descriptive unit tests.

In the introduction article of this series I quickly mentioned that I think unit testing often focuses too much on assertions. [...] I used to preach these things myself too (yes, "development with tests" often comes with a lot of preaching). But now I don't follow these rules anymore. I will shortly explain my reasons. But before I do, let's take a step back and consider something that is known as the Test framework in a tweet, by Mathias Verraes.

He breaks up the rest of the article into three sections, each with a few paragraphs of description and code where appropriate:

  • Something is the case, or not
  • Only one assertion for each test?
  • Write assertions first and then work towards them?

He talks about the idea of "Arrange Act Assert" and makes some recommendations as to how to be more descriptive in your tests and make them easier to read and follow in the future.

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Link: http://php-and-symfony.matthiasnoback.nl/2014/07/descriptive-unit-tests/

Symfony Blog:
First Online Symfony Community Hack Day July 5th!
July 01, 2014 @ 11:58:07

On the Symfony blog today Ryan Weaver has posted a note about the first ever Symfony online community hack day coming up on July the 5th.

Last week, I talked about the Symfony Experience, and announced a new Developer Experience Initiative. [...] And now it's time to put our ideas into action, with the first community hack day on July 5th. This hack day is for everyone and we'll focus on tasks from all around the Symfony world: the core code and third party bundles. This is our chance to really push on things that never quite get done as well as they could: third party bundle documentation, exception messages, shortcuts, etc.

The event will be happening on July 5th from 9am to 8pm Central European Time (3am to 2pm Eastern time in the US) and will be run from the #symfony channel on the Freenode IRC network. There'll be plenty to do, so if you're interested in getting involved, reach out to Ryan or Javier once you're on and they can point you in the right direction. More information can be found on the Symfony blog.

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Link: http://symfony.com/blog/first-online-symfony-community-hack-day-july-5th

Symfony Blog:
Making the Symfony Experience *Exceptional*
June 18, 2014 @ 12:52:34

In this new post to the Symfony blog Ryan Weaver talks about some steps the project is making to help improve the "developer experience" (DX) around using the framework. There's four things listed that they're trying out to see if they can improve the framework even more.

When Symfony was released, we (the community) thought a lot about the Symfony experience: working on documentation, improving error messages and creating open source bundles. But since then, innovation has slowed down and the Symfony experience has stopped evolving. Today, the Symfony Framework is still the highest quality PHP Framework available. But the Symfony experience has stagnated. The good news is that improving the developer experience is easy, and it involves you!

He includes the "four easy steps" that any developer using Symfony can follow to help out the development team and make things even easier (and more intuitive) to use:

  • The DX (Developer Experience) Label (on the Symfony issues list on GitHub)
  • Adding a suggested DX Label for your own repository
  • Working on DX issues at a Community Hack Day
  • Being Aggressive, Focusing on Beginners
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Link: http://symfony.com/blog/making-the-symfony-experience-exceptional

Snipe.net:
Why You Should Stop Stalling and Start Presenting
June 13, 2014 @ 11:47:01

In her latest post Snipe does her best to motivate those out there that have thought about speaking or presenting at a technology conference but are "stalling" and finding excuses not to. The post pulls from some of her own past experiences as a speaker in various communities, PHP and otherwise.

My last post generated a bit of buzz when it was posted to HackerNews recently, so I figured I'd take this opportunity to reiterate something I've been saying on Twitter for a while now. If you have never presented a conference before, make this the year you change that.

She breaks the rest of the post up into different reasons to stop making excuses and just do it:

  • It is an incredible experience that makes you better at other things
  • You will meet great people and learn about their experiences
  • Even if you suck the first time, it really is okay, even if it doesn't feel like it at the time
  • It's great for your career
  • If you are part of an underrepresented minority, your peers need to see you on that stage
  • Your audience is actually far more forgiving than you imagine
  • You're smarter than you think. Things that are obvious to you are not obvious to everyone else
  • It feels really fucking awesome talking about stuff you care about

She also shares a few panic-aversion tactics she's worked up over the years including starting small, working with "power poses" and a reminder to use the "presenter view" feature in your presentation software of choice.

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Link: http://www.snipe.net/2014/06/why-you-should-stop-stalling-and-start-presenting/

Dawn Casey:
Things Developers Say
June 05, 2014 @ 09:13:45

In this new post from Dawn Casey (wife of the infamous Keith Casey) she talks about some of her "growing pains" around becoming a new developer and the learning process. She's come up against some interesting problems in the course of her learning, both good and frustrating.

In the course of my learning development (seven months at this point) I've heard quite a few things from other veteran developers, all of whom were trying to be helpful. Or I'd ask a question and get one of these things in response because it makes sense to *them*…they don't realize I have no point of reference. [...] I'm frustrated because they can't explain whatever it is I don't understand..mostly because I don't understand exactly what it is I'm not understanding.

Her frustration comes not only from not being able to ask the right questions, but also from being a "blind deaf alien" thrown into the world of development. She point out an issue common to those trying to get into programming: the wealth of information one needs to know before getting started. She also mentions another common problem, particularly for new developers (or those looking to improve one certain skill): the sometimes unhelpful nature of other, more experienced developers. While some are happy to help and guide you through the learning process, there's others that will just toss you a tutorial link and call it a day.

Here's the gist of what I'm saying: There is so much back-knowledge needed to be a web developer today that many are derailed for months trying to learn everything they need to know before they can learn anything at all. PLEASE REMEMBER THIS!!
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Link: http://sdawncasey.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/things-developers-say/

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

Yannick Mahe:
The Walking Dead the consequences of living with a legacy PHP framework
August 20, 2013 @ 13:51:21

Yannick Mahe has posted some thoughts (from personal experience) about living with a legacy framework and some of the consequences that come with it. In his case, it's a Symfony 1.0-based application that would require a complete rewrite to migrate even up to the Symfony 2.x range.

At our company, our main web app is based on Symfony 1.0, a PHP framework released in 2008. It was developed by a company called Sensio and open-sourced shortly after. It was a great framework when it came out, with all the good ideas from Ruby On Rails, CakePHP, etc. as well as great documentation, tutorials and a growing community.

[...] Since that framework came out, its subsequent versions, Symfony 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 came out and died out. The 1.4 version came with a 3 year long term support promise from Sensio which ended in 2012. All the 1.X versions are based on the same overall architecture, and same principles. Sensio also released Symfony 2.0, 2.1, 2.2 and very recently, 2.3. which have a whole new architecture.

He talks about some reasons why they're not migrating (the risk involved, the product focus, etc) and some of the trials they did to see what kind of effort would be involved. He then puts some context around working with a legacy framework, pointing out that:

  • You can no longer rely on the community and time is lost figuring things out yourself
  • Documentation is harder to find
  • The ecosystem (ex. plugins) is no longer seeing new features or updates
  • The compatibility issues with newer versions of PHP
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Link: http://blog.yannickmahe.com/symfony/2013/08/19/the-walking-dead.html


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