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Mark Baker:
PHP Generators – Sending “Gotchas”
Oct 11, 2016 @ 11:54:52

In this post to his site Mark Baker has shared some "sending gotchas" when generators are used in you PHP code. The focus of the article is on the "sending" part, pushing data into the generator for evaluation and use.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably already aware of just how useful PHP’s Generators are for improving performance and/or reducing memory overheads while keeping your code clean and easy to read.

Unlike their equivalent in some programming languages, PHP’s Generators allow you to send data into the Generator itself; not simply at initialisation (the arguments that we pass to the Generator when instantiating it); but also between iterations. This has its own uses, and again, allows us to move code from our main blocks and methods into the Generator itself. [...] However, there are a few “gotchas” when we combine Generators that both return and accept data in this way, and it really helps to be aware of them when we’re developing, otherwise it can create problems.

He starts simple, showing a generator that uses integers passed in as the starting number and addition interval for each loop. He gets a bit more complex in his next example, having a method called inside the loop. While the first instance of this behaves as expected, the second (after minor modification) yields unexpected results. He walks you through what's happening to produce those results and one possibility on how to get it corrected.

tagged: generator gotcha issue unexpected results debugging workaround

Link: https://markbakeruk.net/2016/10/08/php-generators-sending-gotchas/

Laravel News:
Improved model generation with Laracademy Generators
Sep 08, 2016 @ 11:18:24

The Laravel News site has a quick tutorial posted showing you how using smarter generators to make model classes can help reduce your development time in Laravel applications (using a package to help adds the "smarts" needed).

Laravel provides the Artisan command line tool that allows you to save time by including several generators. Some examples include make:controller, make:model, and make:migration.

Building on top of this idea is a third party package named Laracademy Generators that will automatically generate your models based on your database structure.

They show first the normal process for creating a model and matching migration with the "artisan" command. Once this migration is run and the table is created, they can show how to automagically enhance the model with the generators package, using it to read from the table in the database and update the model with "fillable", "casts" and "dates" properties filled in.

tagged: model generator laracademy package improved database migration

Link: https://laravel-news.com/2016/09/improved-model-generation-with-laracademy-generators/

Sculpin Blog:
Deprecating Phar Distribution and Embedded Composer
Sep 02, 2016 @ 12:18:29

On the Sculpin blog Beau Simensen has posted an update about a change in how the project will be released in the future, most notably deprecating the phar release and switching to an embedded Composer installation.

If you are currently using a globally installed phar distribution for Sculpin you should migrate to a per-project Composer installed version of Sculpin as soon as you can. [...] Any plans for Sculpin 3 would have required reworking the phar build and distribution process

In typical programmer fashion, I let myself get bogged down in the details of eventually needing to deploy Sculpin 3 phar builds rather than working on Sculpin 3. What little time I had to spend on Sculpin last year was sunk on solving this problem. [...] The last officially available Sculpin phar is not compatible with PHP 7.

He talks about his earlier goals to make v3 of Sculpin PHP 7-only but, in the process of the work to get to that point, several roadblocks came up preventing it. He talks about self-updating phars and finally realizing that, for the good of the project, a move to the embedded Composer setup is the best method for keeping dependencies in sync. He ends the post with the steps you'll need to take to migrate from the phar release to the managed version and an example commit of how the Sculpin site itself was migrated.

tagged: sculpin static generator project phar embedded composer update

Link: https://blog.sculpin.io/2016/08/31/deprecating-phar-distribution-and-embedded-composer

Introducing Jigsaw, a Static Site Generator for Laravel Developers
Apr 20, 2016 @ 13:33:40

On the Tighten.co blog there's a new post introducing Jigsaw, a static site generator for Laravel developers they've created in the course of their own work.

That's right, Tighten has created a Laravel-based static site generator named Jigsaw, and we think it's pretty great.

Before I write another line of this post, I want to address the looming question: Why create another static site generator? In PHP alone there are two, and since we soft-launched Jigsaw there's already been another Blade-based static site generator launched.

The first part of the article lists three reasons for making the tool, pointing out the ecosystem they used (different from others), the focus on Laravel developers and the easy transition from a Jigsaw site to a full Laravel one. From there the post talks about what Jigsaw is and how you can get started using it (installation and configuration guide included). It also includes examples of "first pages" to help you get started and the result. The post finishes with a look at variable handling, custom front matter values, deployment and how to convert the site from Jigsaw to Laravel should the need arise.

tagged: jigsaw static site generator laravel introduction installation tutorial

Link: http://blog.tighten.co/introducing-jigsaw-a-static-site-generator-for-laravel-developers

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Building an Spress Svbtle Theme – Responsive Static Blogs!
Feb 11, 2016 @ 12:47:11

On the SitePoint blog there's a tutorial posted showing you how to create a responsive site template in Spress, a static site generator written in PHP.

You may have heard of Sculpin – a static site generator for PHP. [...] While easy to use and fast to set up, Sculpin’s development has stagnated a bit and the documentation leaves much to be desired. Spress is, in a way, its spiritual successor. Much better documentation, much more flexible configuration, much easier to extend, and just as easy to use with almost the same API and commands.

He starts by helping you set up a basic site to work with on a Homestead Improved instance. Once that's up and running (including an install of Spress) he creates the simple site and starts in on the rebuild of the Svbtle theme. He briefly explains how Spress themes work and then includes the code/layouts you'll need to reproduce the theme. The post includes a screenshot of what the end result should look like in two different browser sizes (responsive, remember).

tagged: spress static site generator responsive theme svbtle tutorial

Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/building-an-spress-svbtle-theme-responsive-static-blogs/

Mark Baker:
A Functional Guide to Cat Herding with PHP Generators
Jan 19, 2016 @ 10:05:13

In this post to his blog Mark Baker looks at a feature added in PHP 5.5 - generators - and how to use them with some of the array handling functionality PHP provides.

When working with arrays in PHP, three of the most useful functions available to us are array_map(), array_filter() and array_reduce().

[...] However, these functions only work with standard PHP arrays; so if we are using Generators as a data source instead of an array, then we can’t take advantage of the functionality that they provide. Fortunately, it’s very easy to emulate that functionality and apply it to Generators (and also to other Traversable objects like SPL Iterators), giving us access to all of the flexibility and power that mapping, filtering and reducing can offer.

He starts with a more "real world" example of using a generator in a handler for GPX files, XML files storing GPS data. He gives an example of the typical file contents and shows a simple generator script (class) that he uses to grab chunks of the file at a time instead of reading it all in and parsing it from there. He then uses this generator along with a bit of extra handling to mimic array filtering, transformation and reducing the data being returned.

tagged: functional generator tutorial array filter reduce transformation

Link: http://markbakeruk.net/2016/01/19/a-functional-guide-to-cat-herding-with-php-generators/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Randomness in PHP – Do You Feel Lucky?
Oct 29, 2015 @ 13:52:24

The SitePoint PHP blog has a post from author Nicola Pietroluongo talking about randomness in PHP. In the tutorial he talks about randomness, how it relates to cryptography and what's coming in PHP 7 to help.

This article analyzes problems related to random number generation used for cryptography purposes. PHP 5 does not provide an easy mechanism for generating cryptographically strong random numbers, while PHP 7 solves this by introducing a couple of CSPRNG functions.

He starts off by talking about what a CSPRNG (cryptographically secure pseudorandom number generator) is and some of the things it could be used for. He then moves on to the functionality coming in PHP 7 with the addition of the random_* functions for getting random bytes and random integer values. He talks briefly about what's going on "behind the scenes" of the generation and provides a simple code example with a randomized "dice roll" and the resulting numbers. He ends the post mentioning the random_compat library that can be installed for pre-PHP 7 applications that provides the same functionality just without those two functions defined.

tagged: random generation csprng number generator tutorial php7 php5 randomcompat

Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/well-do-ya-punk/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Memory Performance Boosts with Generators and Nikic/Iter
Oct 20, 2015 @ 09:31:24

On the SitePoint PHP blog there's a tutorial posted showing you how to get some performance gains in your PHP applications using the "Iter" library from Nikita Popov.

First came arrays. Then we gained the ability to define our own array-like things (called iterators). But since PHP 5.5, we can rapidly create iterator-like structures called generators. These appear as functions, but we can use them as iterators. They give us a simple syntax for what are essentially interruptible, repeatable functions. They’re wonderful!

And we’re going to look at a few areas in which we can use them. We’re also going to discover a few problems to be aware of when using them. Finally, we’ll study a brilliant library, created by the talented Nikita Popov.

They start with a common problem: loading information line-by-line from a CSV file. They do some filtering and merging of the values but point our a major flaw - large files. These would drag down performance quite a bit and generators might just make for a good solution. He shows a simple "read CSV" generator to get the lines in the file while also reducing the memory needed. Unfortunately the array_map/array_filter methods he was using for sorting don't work with generators. The nikic/iter helps fix this. Code examples are included showing it in use performing the same operations as before. He ends the post with a few other "fun things" including array flattening, slicing and rewinding generators.

tagged: memory performance boost generator nikic iter library tutorial

Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/memory-performance-boosts-with-generators-and-nikiciter/

Paragon Initiative:
Coming to WordPress 4.4: CSPRNG
Oct 12, 2015 @ 12:52:42

The Paragon Initiative blog has a post from Scott Arciszewski about a new feature coming to upcoming WordPress versions - the use of a cryptographically security random number generator starting in version 4.4.0.

At Paragon Initiative Enterprises, we believe that security should be the default state of affairs, not something only in the reach of security experts. That is why [...] our team spends a great deal of time working to improve the security of popular free and open source software.

Today, we're pleased to announce an exciting security enhancement coming to WordPress in the next major version. Starting in 4.4.0, wp_rand() is cryptographically secure on all platforms.

He walks the reader through the "road" that's lead to the introduction of this support and the work he did in the past to help push the project (and others) towards it. Given that the WordPress project has a lot of emphasis on backwards compatibility, effort need to be put into a method that would work across new and old PHP versions. The random_compat library was created and was adopted not only by WordPress but also by several other major PHP projects.

Our part in this long and crazy journey has reached its end. In the course of fixing the same flaw in two distinct projects, the PHP community banded together to identify and expunge a bug in the PHP core, create a new feature in PHP 7, and in some small way helped to secure the CMS that powers more than 20% of websites on the Internet.
tagged: wordpress csprng random number generator cryptography security

Link: https://paragonie.com/blog/2015/10/coming-wordpress-4-4-csprng

Exporting Drupal Nodes with PHP and Drush
Oct 06, 2015 @ 11:09:11

The php[architect] site has posted a tutorial showing you how to export Drupal nodes with Drush and a bit of regular PHP. Drush is a command line tool that makes working with Drupal outside of the interface simpler and easier to automate.

Drupal 8 development has shown that PHP itself, and the wider PHP community, already provides ways to solve common tasks. In this post, I’ll show you some core PHP functionality that you may not be aware of; pulling in packages and libraries via Composer is a topic for another day.

The tutorial walks through a more real-world situation of needing to export a CSV file that shows a list of nodes added to the site after a specific date. He points out some of the benefits of doing it the Drush way and starts in on the code/configuration you need to set the system up. He shows how to create the Drush command itself and update it with a method to export the newest nodes (after validating the date provided). He makes use of a SplFileObject to output the results from the EntityFieldQuery query out into to the CSV file. He makes use of PHP's generators functionality to only fetch the records a few at a time. Finally he includes the command to execute the export, defining the date to query the node set and how to push that output to a file.

tagged: export drupal node drush commmandline csv output query generator

Link: https://www.phparch.com/2015/10/exporting-drupal-nodes-with-php-and-drush/