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Amine Matmati:
Testing PDF content with PHP and Behat
Jul 31, 2015 @ 13:49:52

In this post to his site Amine Matmati shows you how to use Behat (with a bit of additional PHP) to test the contents of a rendered PDF file.

If you have a PDF generation functionality in your app, and since most of the libraries out there build the PDF content in an internal structure before outputting it to the file system (FPDF, TCPDF). A good way to write a test for it is to test the output just before the rendering process.

Recently however, and due to this process being a total pain in the ass, people switched to using tools like wkhtmltopdf or some of its PHP wrappers (phpwkhtmltopdf, snappy) that let you build your pages in html/css and use a browser engine to render the PDF for you, and while this technique is a lot more developer friendly, you loose control over the building process.

He shows how to get all of the required software installed including the smalot/pdfparser library used to read in the contents of the PDF file. He initializes a Behat test directory and writes a simple test, checking for a string of some "Lorem ipsum" text in the document's title and that it contains only one page. Some additional methods have to be created to integrate the PDF parsing and string location/page counting and code is included for each. When all the pieces are put in place, executing the test passes for both checks. You can find the code for the tutorial in this repository that also includes two sample PDFs to work with.

tagged: integration test behat contents string pages tutorial

Link: http://matmati.net/testing-pdf-with-behat-and-php

Creating flamegraphs with XHProf
Jul 30, 2015 @ 10:08:27

The Platform.sh blog has a post showing you how to create flamegraphs with XHProf for your application's execution and overall performance. A "flamegraph" is just a different sort of graph stacking up the execution times for the methods and functions in your application so they look more like a "flame" than just numbers.

One of the most frequent needs a web application has is a way to diagnose and evaluate performance problems. Because Platform.sh already generates a matching new environment for each Git branch, diagnosing performance problems for new and existing code has become easier than ever to do without impacting the behavior of a production site. This post will demonstrate how to use a Platform.sh environment along with the XHProf PHP extension to do performance profiling of a Drupal application and create flamegraph images that allow for easy evaluation of performance hotspots.

While they show it at work on a Platform.sh instance, the method can be altered slightly to work with your own application with the right software installed. Their example uses the brendangregg/FlameGraph library to do the majority of the graphing work. He shows how to have the code switch on XHProf during the execution and where to put the file for later evaluation. They include the resulting directories and files created from the execution and how to view the resulting (SVG-based) graphs directly in a browser.

tagged: xhprof flameframe execution performance graph tutorial platformsh

Link: https://platform.sh/2015/07/29/flamegraphs/

Younes Rafie:
Using Selenium with PHPUnit
Jul 30, 2015 @ 09:51:20

In this tutorial posted to the SitePoint PHP blog Younes Rafie shows you how to combine Selenium with PHPUnit to do acceptance testing on your application. Where PHPUnit and unit testing is more about testing the "pieces" of your application, acceptance testing it more about checking the interface and functionality for correctness according to requirements.

Testing is a really wide subject, whether it be unit testing, functional testing, acceptance testing, etc. In this article, we’re going to see how you can do acceptance testing using Selenium. I will use a practical example to illustrate a real use case. I will assume that you already know how to do unit testing using PHPUnit, or that you at least have a grasp of what it’s all about.

He starts with a few definitions around what acceptance testing is and how Selenium can help in performing these evaluations. He uses a simple user registration page for his tests and includes commands to get PHPUnit+Selenium installed as well as an alias to start the Selenium server. He then creates a first test case, setting up the Selenium "browser" to use in later requests. He then gets to testing the page itself, setting up some data providers for the content to inject into the form both valid and invalid. He shows how to work with the DOM inside of your tests and making both a valid and invalid form submission. He also shows how to use a different browser (he defaults to Firefox) and how to check of the current document is ready for evaluation, that is if all Javascript has fired and finished.

tagged: selenium phpunit acceptance testing unittest tutorial

Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/using-selenium-with-phpunit/

Alejandro Celaya:
Working with custom column types in Doctrine. Enums.
Jul 30, 2015 @ 08:37:45

Alejandro Celaya has a post to his site showing you how to work with custom types in Doctrine, more specifically with the "enum" type.

Doctrine is currently the most used ORM in PHP. It makes it very easy to work with databases in an object oriented way. It comes with a set of built-in column types that map database types with PHP types. For example, the datetime column type, persists the value of an entity column as a datetime in the database and handles it as a DateTime object when the entity is hydrated.

Type conversions work both ways, so column types take care of casting database to PHP types and vice versa. In this article I'm going to explain how to define custom column types so that we can persist our own objects into the database and hydrate them back.

He points out that, while PHP itself lacks the "enum" data type, you can simulate it with a library like this. He uses this library to create a custom Doctrine object type that mimic enums in the getting and setting of a value to one of a few options. In this case it's values representing the CRUD methods. He shows the code to link the Type back to the Action which then gives it understanding of what the valid enum values can be. He also points out another package that he published recently that takes some of the work out of creating the boilerplate code for the enum.

tagged: package action tutorial enum type doctrine custom library

Link: http://blog.alejandrocelaya.com/2015/07/28/working-with-custom-column-types-in-doctrine-enums/

Joeri Verdeyen:
How I develop in PHP with CoreOS and Docker
Jul 29, 2015 @ 11:41:14

Joeri Verdeyen has posted a tutorial showing you how to use a combination of CoreOS and Docker as a PHP development environment. This is an alternative to the more frequently used Vagrant VM provisioning popular among developers.

I’ve been using the Vagrant provisioned-with-Ansible-setup for a while now. But for the last month(s) I’ve been playing around with things like: Docker, boot2docker, CoreOS, etcd, .. I managed to setup a fast and easy way to develop my PHP applications. Symfony2 is my preferred weapon of choice, so I’ll explain how I’m developing a Symfony2 app.

He starts with the software you'll need installed to get his example up and running, all installable via "brew". He shows how to configure the CoreOS via Vagrant and bring the box up. He then sets up the Docker client to point to the newly created VM as its server. He then creates a docker-compose.yml file to set up the necessary services including nginx, MySQL and (of course) PHP. He then shows the command to run the container, execute the configuration and ensure that all containers are configured correctly. Finally he runs the Composer installation command (Symfony2, remember) and clear the cache.

tagged: coreos docker vagrant development environment tutorial configuration symfony2

Link: https://www.jverdeyen.be/docker/how-php-symfony-coreos-docker/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Speeding up Existing Apps with a Redis Cache
Jul 28, 2015 @ 10:27:06

The SitePoint PHP blog has posted a tutorial that want to help you speed up your applications with Redis, adding in caching to help reduce the overall processing load your app has to expend.

The application in question, when executing a query, runs off to Diffbot’s API and makes it query the dataset. The subset is then returned and displayed. This can take up to 5 or so seconds, depending on the busyness of Diffbot’s servers. While the situation will undoubtedly improve as they expand their computational capacity, it would be nice if a query executed once were remembered and reused for 24 hours, seeing as the collection is only refreshed that often anyway.

Considering the fact that implementing this cache costs us literally nothing (and actually reduces costs by reducing strain on the servers), adding it in is an easy win, even if it weren’t used as often as one would hope. There is no reason not to add it – it can only benefit us.

He helps you get Redis up and running as a service on the local system and installing the Predis, the PHP library you'll use to talk with Redis for setting and getting the cached information. He includes a few code snippets showing how to send the search off to the DiffBot API, return the results and push them into the cache as serialized data with a day long timeout. He also mentions the phpiredis extension to reduce some of the overhead that could be cause by using a PHP library versus an extension.

tagged: speed performance redis cache tutorial introduction predis phpiredis

Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/speeding-up-existing-apps-with-a-redis-cache/

Understand Overriding in Magento: Controllers
Jul 24, 2015 @ 11:19:45

The NetTuts.com site has posted a tutorial (the third and last in their series) showing how to override controller handling in Magento. In the previous posts they showed how to override functionality related to the models and blocks (frontend layout elements).

In Magento, the controller is responsible for handling incoming requests, and it's a backbone of the Magento routing implementation. [...] As I said in the previous tutorial, it's never recommended to change core files directly, as it makes upgrading Magento really difficult. To avoid this, we should follow the standard way of making desired changes to core files: we should either use event observers or override core files with our custom module files. We'll discuss the overriding feature today.

You'll need to be familiar with custom module creation to be able to follow along (see here if not) but other than that they provide everything you'll need. They start by creating the files and folders needed for the custom module including:

  • Module XML definition (Envato_All.xml)
  • Module XML configuration
  • the Envato_Catalog_ProductController controller file (PHP)

The controller extends the pre-existing Product controller but the configuration definitions tell it ti use the "Envato" version instead.

tagged: magento overriding controller tutorial custom xml module

Link: http://code.tutsplus.com/tutorials/understand-overriding-in-magento-controllers--cms-23386

BitExpert Blog:
Think About It: PHP/PostgreSQL Bulk Performance (Part 3)
Jul 24, 2015 @ 10:46:06

On the bitExpert blog they've continued their "Think About It" series of posts looking at optimizations that can be made to different technologies in their stack to increase performance. In this third part of the series they focus in on the changes made to help speed things up with the PostgreSQL database backend.

This article is the last of a three-part series and describes how we optimized the persistence process of bulk data in our code in combination with PostgreSQL. Make sure you covered the first article about how we tweaked PHPExcel to run faster while reading Excel and CSV files and the second article about how we optimized our data processing and reached performance improvements tweaking our code.

They work from the example code provided at the end of part two and update the "update" handling to optimize it a bit. By default it executes an update query for each record so, instead, they modified it to perform a bulk update with an "update from values" format. They could then migrate to a "save all" handler with the complete set of records to save.

tagged: performance postgresql bulk series part3 tutorial phpexcel excel csv

Link: https://blog.bitexpert.de/blog/think-about-it-php-postgresql-bulk-performance-part-3/

Simon Holywell:
International PHP dates with intl
Jul 22, 2015 @ 12:55:33

Following up on his previous post about date/time handling and localization, Simon Holywell has posted an update with information about using the "Intl" extension for PHP to get it working with the more powerful PHP DateTime handling.

I wrote about localising dates (and other data) in a recent blog post, but unfortunately there were some shortcomings where time zones were concerned. As I alluded to in that post there is a way around this via the Intl extension that exposes a simple API to format DateTime instances. Thankfully this follow up post will be quite short as the setup is very simple for those of you on Ubuntu/Debian you can use the repositories.

He includes the commands you'll need to install the extension (via apt-get), compile it via the "pecl" command and update your php.ini file to enable it. He also includes some code examples showing how to use the IntlDateFormatter handling to work with dates, formats and calendars.

tagged: international datetime intl extension tutorial aptget pecl

Link: https://www.simonholywell.com/post/2015/07/international-php-dates-with-intl/

Andrew Embler:
Creating a Z-Ray Plugin for Zend Server 8.5
Jul 22, 2015 @ 11:37:45

In this post to his site Andrew Embler shows you how to create a custom Z-Ray plugin for the Zend Server (v8.5) to show some statistics about requests made to the application.

Zend just released version 8.5 of their Zend Server application server. A major part of this release is the plugin gallery, which provides an App store for Zend Server extensions. These extensions can add application-specific debugging features to the Z-Ray Debugger. We've built one such extension specifically for Concrete5. It didn't take long – just a day or two. That said, there were some bumps in the process, as you're working on a platform for which the documentation hasn't quite caught up yet. With that in mind, I'm going to share my process for building the Concrete5 Z-Ray plugin, in the hopes that it might help someone who is building their own Z-Ray plugin for Zend Server.

The post is pretty comprehensive, sharing all the code you'll need to implement the extension along the way. He's broken it up into sections to help make it a bit more manageable:

  • Create Your Directory
  • Place the deployment.json file in the directory
  • Add Additional Items specified by deployment.json
  • Add the Z-Ray specific Directory
  • Create the Z-Ray PHP Class
  • [Adding] The Logo
  • Basic Panel Details: The Pages Panel
  • Advanced Panel Details: The Blocks Panel

Screenshots also accompany some of the steps showing you what the page output should look like once the files and functionality are in place.

tagged: zray plugin zendserver tutorial application server platform

Link: http://andrewembler.com/2015/07/creating-z-ray-plugin-zend-server-85/