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Christian Mackeprang:
Writing good code: how to reduce the cognitive load of your code
Jun 22, 2016 @ 11:19:36

Christian Mackeprang has a post to his site with some ideas about reducing the "cognitive load" of your code - basically making it easier to follow, read and understand.

Low bug count, good performance, easy modification. Good code is high-impact, and is perhaps the main reason behind the existence of the proverbial 10x developer. And yet, despite it’s importance, it eludes new developers. Literature on the subject usually amounts to disconnected collections of tips. How can a new developer just memorize all that stuff? “Code Complete“, the greatest exponent in this matter, is 960 pages long!

I believe it’s possible to construct a simple mental framework that can be used with any language or library and which will lead to good quality code by default. There are five main concepts I will talk about here. Keep them in mind and writing good code should be a breeze.

His tips center around concepts like:

  • following coding standards for consistency
  • clarification through modularization
  • overall readability and application structure
  • good naming on variables and methods/functions

For each topic he gives a brief summary and some example code, usually showing what not to do and a solution or two to help with the clarification.

tagged: cognitive load understand readability consistency modularization

Link: http://chrismm.com/blog/how-to-reduce-the-cognitive-load-of-your-code/

Grok Interactive:
Importing Large CSV Files with PHP Part 1: Import Using One Query
Sep 23, 2015 @ 12:19:33

The Grok Interactive blog has posted a tutorial, the first part in a series, showing you how to work with large CSV files in PHP.

Importing CSV files into your application can become a problem when the file is really big, > 65,000 rows big. Each row of the file needs to be parsed, converted into an object, and then saved to a database. All of this needs to happen within a 30 second timeout window. It may sound like an impossible task, but there are actually a couple of solutions that can solve this problem. While working on a project at Grok, I was tasked with doing exactly that.

He talks about the method he tried initially for parsing the large files, splitting it up into different files and processing them as chunks. He points out that it relies on the file system, though, and this made it difficult to debug. He finally came up with a different, more simple solution: importing the files directly into MySQL via a LOAD DATA LOCAL INFILE command. He shows how to set this up in a controller and "importer" class that handles the upload and import via the importFileContents method (complete code included). He walks through what the code is doing and includes a few notes about the configuration of the database connection to specify additional options on the PDO connection to allow the local file load.

tagged: tutorial csv file import large processing chunk mysql load file query

Link: http://www.grok-interactive.com/blog/import-large-csv-into-mysql-with-php-part-1/

Dylan Bridgman:
Improving perceived load time
Aug 06, 2015 @ 09:43:34

On Medium.com Dylan Bridgman has posted a tutorial with a few tips helping you improve the perceived load time of your application, the time between when the page starts loading and the user can first do something with its contents.

In this article I will concentrate on perceived load time. That is the time from when a page starts loading until the user is able to proceed. There have been other articles on this topic, some of which go into far more detail in some areas. My intention is to give a summary on the latest information and what you should be doing in PHP. I will link to additional information where applicable.

He breaks the advice up into three main categories: output buffering, multiple connections and using correctly structured pages. Under each section there's a few sub-points with more information, details on implementation and links to other additional information. He also includes an example that combines all of the advice into one PHP/HTML script outputting some basic content.

tagged: perceived load time tutorial outputbuffer thread structure

Link: https://medium.com/@dylanbr/improving-perceived-load-time-a83aa32851b0

Matt Stauffer:
Conditionally Loading Service Providers in Laravel 5
Mar 12, 2015 @ 10:16:35

Matt Stauffer has a new post to his site showing you how to conditionally load providers in your Laravel-based application with some additional code in the AppServiceProvider.

Since Laravel 5 flattened a lot of the environment-specific structures, much of the configuration that was once stored in different config directories for each environment has now moved into .env files. But one that can't just live in .env is the environment-dependent loading of service providers.

He starts with a look at the normal service provider loading process, using the application configuration and adding them to the "providers" list. This loads them every time a request is made, even if they're not needed. His solution adds some code to the "register" method in the AppServiceProvider class to check the environment (like "production" versus "dev") and loads different providers based on the result.

tagged: condition load service provider laravel5 appserviceprovider register

Link: https://mattstauffer.co/blog/conditionally-loading-service-providers-in-laravel-5

Freek Lijten:
Separating models and logic for storing and loading
Feb 16, 2015 @ 10:53:43

In a recent post Freek Lijten shares a simplified version of a solution he came up with to separate models and their logic between the fetch and save operations.

Basically I am wondering how storing data and retrieving data are different and how you should / could model this. Since we need different information while storing and retrieving information it makes sense to model those actions in different ways. The how is still bothering me and in this post I give a possible solution. I truly hope I can get some reactions and thoughts of other people in on how they would solve these kind of problems.

He introduces the basic structure of the application he's working with and how the concept of "documents" ties in. Then he gets into the problem: the differences in data required for the save versus locate and load. His solution is to split out the different pieces (relations) of the document into separate value objects. These objects then only contain the handling to get only the relations needed on the load. He doesn't like the solution, however, because of the amount of overhead it introduces.

tagged: separate model load locate save operation object

Link: http://www.freeklijten.nl/home/2015/02/13/Separating-models-and-logic-for-storing-and-loading

Rob Allen:
Throw an exception when simplexml_load_string fails
Sep 09, 2014 @ 09:27:13

In a quick post to his site Rob Allen shares a class that he's created to handle and throw an exception any time that the load from a SimpleXML parsing fails.

I keep having to look up how to stop the warning that are emitted when simplexml_load_string & simplexml_load_file fail, so this time I've written the world's simplest little class to take care of it for me from now on.

His "Xml" class wraps around the SimpleXML functionality and checks to see if the resulting object is false. If it is, it uses some internal error handling to fetch the error message result and throws it as a "RuntimeException". This error string comes from a "getXMLErrorString" function that uses the libxml_get_errors function to get the resulting error list.

tagged: simplexml load string file fail exception error handling

Link: http://akrabat.com/php/throw-an-exception-when-simplexml_load_string-fails/

Simon Champion:
PHP Upgrade Broke My Data Importer
Jun 27, 2013 @ 12:13:45

In his latest post Simon Champion recounts some of the issues he had when upgrading to PHP 5.4, what's usually a smooth transition from PHP 5.3. His specific problem came in a difference between the previous mysql_query call and the more-correct PDO usage.

Our office is in the thoes of a large-scale upgrade of the servers in our data center. The new version of Debian (version 7, or "Wheezy") has been officially released, having been in beta for the last few millenia, and our Ops team are slowly installing it across all our servers. This is great news, as it means we get to upgrade to PHP 5.4. Woohoo! New shininess. [...] We were ready. The upgrade should have been a breeze. But it wasn't.

He talks about his process of digging through the code trying to figure out why a call to import a CSV file into MySQL was failing. Their Data Importer component started failing with an error from MySQL about the "LOAD INFILE" not being allowed for use. He shares a "work around" that's not ideal (using exec) that manually imports the file into the database. He does point out that it could be something Debian-specific as they don't upgrade the version, just apply security patches retroactively.

We're making an effort to stick to modern PHP coding standards, so we're using PDO throughout, which makes is all the more galling. [...] Given that we do have a work-around now and everything is back up and running, I'm going to have to let this one drop; I don't have the time to try chasing it any more. But I hope this blog post will prove useful to anyone else having the same issue.
tagged: upgrade data importer mysql infile load pdo mysqlquery

Link: http://spudley.com/blog/php-upgrade-broke-my-data-importer

Bob Majdak:
May 16, 2013 @ 10:11:29

In a new post to his site Bob Majdak looks at using SQL in PHP and some of the challenges he's come across (some of them with his own tools). He talks about things line inline SQL, loading SQL by unique key or creating a "build object".

There is no right or wrong way, but no matter what there is no *pretty* way to do SQL inside of a PHP application. I have been having a personal debate with myself all week about how to make SQL statements nicer in an application without going to a huge DBAL package like Doctrine.

He looks at each idea and provides some of the pros and cons about each of them, noting that he hasn't quite decided on which is the best method. Some sample code is included to help clarify the points, showing the "find by unique key" version and how a more complex query might be created with the "builder object."

tagged: sql load unique key build object pros cons method inline

Link: http://catch404.net/2013/05/on-sql-in-php

Bulletproofing Database Interactions with PHPUnit's Database Extension
Apr 10, 2012 @ 08:50:10

On PHPMaster.com today there's a new tutorial showing you how to test your application's interface with the database using "bulletproof" PHPUnit testing.

There's already a great article here that discusses Test Driven Development, but did you know that you can also test the code that interacts with your database? Especially if your application is data intensive, subjecting your CRUD code to a battery of tests is good practice that helps ensure that your application is working correctly. In this article you will be learning how to write database tests in PHP using PHPUnit and its database extension.

Included in the post is an example schema and an example of the seed data (defined as XML) for the testing to use as predictable data in its execution. His test class extends PHPUnit_Extensions_Database_TestCase (instead of the usual PHPUnit_Framework_TestCase) and a test for a basic "getArticles" method in his "IArticleDAO" class. By calling the "createXMLDataSet" method, the test loads in the pre-defined XML records and allows the correct evaluation of the assertions,

tagged: phpunit unittest database load xml dataset tutorial


10 Exceptional Tools For Website Testing
Aug 23, 2011 @ 13:25:22

Sometimes a little (external) testing of your website is in order and Gagan Chhatwal has posted his list of ten tools you can use to check everything from how much load the site can take to what can be done to optimize the load time.

When maintaining or running a website , Webmasters need to keep in mind that one of the pertinent issues they will need to focus on is :Website Testing, which is not only vital for the website itself but for the user as well and one should not overlook its importance. [We have] collected some vital and free website testing tools which will help Webmasters in testing their sites thus saving users to conduct time consuming needless searches in finding the best resources pertaining to Web related tools and info.

Among the tools on the list are services like:

Most of these resources are free services, if not then they have a trial where you can see if it's a good fit.

tagged: testing external service load validate speed monitor