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Stanislav Malyshev:
PHP 5.4 (Looking Back) & 5.6 (Looking Forward)
September 01, 2014 @ 09:42:13

In two new posts to his site Stanislav Malyshev takes a look both forward and back at the PHP language, where it came from in the 5.4 version and ahead into the just released 5.6 version discussing the good, bad and road ahead.

With 5.6.0 having been released and 5.4 branch nearing its well-earned retirement in security-fixes-only status I decided to try and revive this blog. As the last post before the long hiatus was about the release of the 5.4, I think it makes sense to look back and see how 5.4 has been doing so far.

Having taken a look in the past, now it's time to look into the future, namely 5.6 (PHP 7 is the future future, we'll get there eventually). So I'd like to make some predictions of what would work well and not so well and then see if it would make sense in two years or turn out completely wrong.

In the look back at 5.4 he talks about some of the good (the release process, $this in closures) and some of the "not so good" including traits and the overall adoption rate. He also includes a few "don't know" items such as the overall performance and the inclusion of the mysqlnd driver. In the look forward he talks about the impact of things like constant expressions, phpdbg and function/constant importing (for better or for worse). He also briefly mentions two hurdles to the adoption of 5.6: OpenSSL becoming more strict and the overall adoption rate.

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Link: http://php100.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/php-5-6-looking-forward/

Derick Rethans:
On Backwards Compatibility and not Being Evil
August 22, 2014 @ 09:20:55

Derick Rethans has shared some of his thoughts on how to not be evil when it comes to making changes in languages like PHP. He suggests that any backwards compatibility break should be treated with the weight it deserves and not just thrust upon users.

This is a repost of an email I sent to PHP internals as a reply to: "And since you're targetting[sic] the next major release, BC isn't an issue." This sort of blanket statements that "Backwards Compatibility is not an issue" with a new major version is extremely unwarranted. Extreme care should be taken when deciding to break Backwards Compatibility. It should not be "oh we have a major new version so we can break all the things"

He talks about the two kinds of backwards compatibility breaks: obvious things where features are removed or changed in a major way and subtle changes in how the underlying code for PHP works ("subtle changes"). He points out that most of the frustrations from users comes from the second type, making for a slower adoption rate and maybe not even adopting at all.

Can I please urge people to not take Backwards Compatibility issues so lightly. Please think really careful when you suggest to break Backwards Compatibility, it should only be considered if there is a real and important reason to do so.
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evil backwards compatibility break major version opinion

Link: http://derickrethans.nl/bc-dont-be-evil.html

Sherif Ramadan:
A Software Engineer's Job
August 05, 2014 @ 11:07:54

Sherif Ramadan has a new post to his site today that tries to answer the question "what does a software developer really do?"

As a software engineer I have to learn to see things differently, because my job requires that I solve problems. Though not only is it important that I come up with a solution, but equally important that I can express the solution in code. [...] It is equally important to recognize that not all problems have technical solutions. Some problems are better solved by social solutions.

He talks about the influence that some of the major services have had on the social aspects of our lives and how they're mostly a "convenience to mankind". He suggests that the job of a software engineer has multiple aspects, and not just technical ones. They're required to see things differently, be able to understand the problem well and express the solution in a clear and practical set of code.

The engineer must figure out which problems are worth solving through technology, in order to save people time and money, and defer those which do not to more social means. Let humans do what they do best and computers do what they do best.
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software engineer job opinion technology social

Link: http://sheriframadan.com/2014/08/a-software-engineers-job/

Reddit.com:
What constitutes the "PHP community"?
July 18, 2014 @ 12:09:37

There's a good conversation happening over on Reddit today about what constitutes the "PHP community" and how it can be defined. JordanLeDoux wonders if those who just write PHP are included in that group as well.

One conversation was with a dev who hates PHP because (mostly) they work with code that was written by some non-PHP dev who was asked to write it. The other was with /u/krakjoe from the PHP internals team, where I was commenting on a sentiment that sometimes finds its way into the internals mailing list: if you want a real programming language, then go use one. In both cases, I made the assertion that most people who utilize PHP or edit a script aren't actually part of the PHP community. [...] How can someone that is functionally isolated from any other person working in PHP be part of the PHP community?

Responses to the post are, for the most part, encouraging suggesting that

  • There's not a single "PHP community" but many smaller ones
  • sub-communitiies can revolve around technology or a product
  • The different definitions of community
  • The broad range of skills that "PHP developers" are known to have

Check out the full post for more opinions and share your own!

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Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/PHP/comments/2ayxkg/what_constitutes_the_php_community/

Dominic Tancredi:
PHP is a dying language - A Rebuttal
June 24, 2014 @ 09:47:14

In a recent post to his site Dominic Tancredi has posted some of his own opinions about the PHP language, a rebuttal to all of those who say that PHP is dying.

A junior programmer with a master's asked me, "Is PHP a dying language being taken over by trending technologies like Ruby on Rails?" Here are my thoughts. Order. It all comes down to order. Order is what defines us, clarifies ideas. Order allows us to get to market quicker, safer, and less defects. Order is a pristine engine that is maintainable, scalable and extendable.

He talks about the evolution of web development language over the years: how Ruby on Rails was the "next big thing" for a while and how PHP, despite starting from a small community grew into something a bit haphazard and crazy. Out of that craziness, though, came what he calls the "PHP Renaissance", a time when PHP is gaining order, standards are being defined and good practices are winning over the old ways. He mentions some adoption numbers and reinforces a suggestion from Phil Sturgeon that we all need to act more like a community and less like a tribe (or a set of tribes, centered around tools or techniques).

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Link: http://dominic-tancredi.com/posts/php-is-a-dying-language-a-rebuttal

Reddit.com:
PHP devs -What are your 'must have' tools and apps?
June 23, 2014 @ 12:54:45

If you're a PHP developer and are looking for some new tools to "up your game" and improve your development life, check out this new post to /r/php on Reddit.com. Developers of all kinds have shared tools they've found useful in their own development (and maybe you can too).

In other words, what tools make your development life easier and why? Can be anything from database design to FTP clients to workflow planners. Which tools can you just not live without?

Among the many tools on the list are things like:

  • PHP CodeSniffer
  • PHPUnit
  • IDEs like PHPStorm, Netbeans and editors like Sublime Text
  • Git
  • Composer
  • Vagrant/VirtualBox
  • Xdebug
  • Redis
  • Behat

Check out the full post for the complete (and growing) list.

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musthave tools applications opinion reddit

Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/PHP/comments/28r11n/php_devs_what_are_your_must_have_tools_and_apps/

Codeacy Blog:
Your Greatest Code Quality Threats and How to Solve Them
June 23, 2014 @ 09:22:42

On the Codacy blog there's a recent post that looks at some of the biggest threats to code quality (six of them) and some brief advice on how you can prevent them. Code quality goes beyond just style guides and common coding practices too.

In the process of building Codacy, I've learned that software companies in different life stages have different needs in terms of code quality. Early startups have, for example, very different needs in comparison to digital agencies and freelancers. There is however a common ground that links them all together: code quality is not being taken seriously enough, regardless of the stage. If this resonates with you, take action today. Continuous improvement is the central piece of software engineering craft.

Among the six things in their list are suggestions like:

  • Using continuous integration
  • Living with broken windows
  • Heterogeneity (code styles)
  • Not using static code analysis

They also link to some tools that can help fix some of these suggestions including JSHint, some PHP static analysis tools and CSSLint for CSS.

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Link: http://blog.codacy.com/2014/06/19/your-greatest-code-quality-threats-and-how-to-solve-them/

Reddit.com:
What exactly is 'model' in MVC?
June 20, 2014 @ 11:25:48

If you're relatively new to the world of the MVC (Model-View-Controller) design pattern and its use, you may be trying to figure out exactly what each piece is. One of the more difficult relationships is between models and controllers, more specifically what each are supposed to contain. In this discussion over on Reddit several people weigh in on their opinions and own suggestions about what models should be.

Sometimes I feel I should avoid session in model ... but sometimes I feel using session in controller is putting business logic in controller which is bad ... sometimes I feel I should avoid $_POST and $_GET in model ... but sometimes I feel receiving data in controller and then send all of them to model is an unnecessary move ... sometimes I feel one model should represent almost everything about one certain table ... sometimes I feel it's almost god pattern if that table is the core of your application, but separate the model into many model is confusing too since they are using the same table. I wanna be a Model Master who can explain 'Model' very well. Who can help me plz.

Comments on the post explain models in several different ways including:

  • Thinking of it as a representation of "domain" functionality
  • Models as a 1-to-1 relationship with database tables
  • The differences between them and collections
  • Links to some helpful libraries like Eloquent and Doctrine
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model mvc modelviewcontroller opinion definition

Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/PHP/comments/28luto/what_exactly_is_model_in_mvc/

Grant Lovell:
Why PHP doesn't suck anymore
June 17, 2014 @ 09:04:07

In a recent post Grant Lovell shares some of the reasons why he thinks PHP doesn't suck anymore based on his presentation from the Waterloo-Wellinton Webmakers.

Chances are if you have been in web development for any amount of time you have done some work with PHP and maybe it was a great experience like it was for me, or perhaps it was hours and hours of digging through WordPress code to figure out why a plugin wasn't working. [...] A friend from U of W was giving me a hand setting up the catalog and introduced me to PHP. He was able to build the whole catalog, at least a basic first version, in one afternoon. You can imagine I was pretty excited about something that I thought was going to be weeks of cutting and pasting being done in a few short lines of PHP code. From then I was hooked.

He looks at a brief history of PHP, from its beginnings as a set of simple scripts by Rasmus Lerdorf out to the current push and support of the language by big companies like Facebook. Despite all of this, he points out that PHP "went wrong" somewhere along the way thanks to things like bad tutorials and practices. He talks about the GoPHP5 initiative and some of the signs of improvement in PHP: frameworks, Composer, the FIG and the "PHP renaissance." He looks into the future and sees only improvement thanks to better tutorial content (on various sites) and the increased amount of cooperation between developers wanting to make the language better.

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Link: http://transmission.vehikl.com/why-php-doesnt-suck-anymore/

Mathias Verraes:
When to Use Static Methods
June 16, 2014 @ 10:20:52

Mathias Verraes has followed up his previous post about named constructors in PHP with a bit more clarification about when to use static methods (as he did in his "multiple constructor" examples previously).

Some of the reactions to my last blog post on Named Constructors in PHP, originate from the notion that static methods are inherently bad and should never be used. This is rather overgeneralized. Static methods are nothing more than namespaced global functions. Namespacing, I think we can all agree on, is great. As for global functions: We use those all the time. The native functions in PHP form our basic building blocks.

He talks about the main problem with their use, the shared global state, and compares it to a more stateful service. His solution is to either move to a normal object state (that allows for internal tracking) or think more about abstractions and how they relate.

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Link: http://verraes.net/2014/06/when-to-use-static-methods-in-php/


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