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Michael Dowling:
Favor Hash Lookups Over Array Searches
March 21, 2014 @ 10:47:34

Michael Dowling has a recent post to his site comparing the performance of hash lookups versus array searches.

A common programming requirement is to match a string against a set of known strings. For example, let's say you were iterating over the words in a forum post and testing to see if a word is in a list of prohibited words. A common approach to this problem is to create an array of the known prohibited words and then use PHP's in_array() function to test if the string is found in the list. However, there's a simple optimization you can make to significantly improve the performance of the algorithm.

He includes two pieces of sample code - one showing the searching of an array using in_array and the other running an isset to locate a key. He points out that the in_array method is quite a bit slower than the hash (key) lookup and includes a benchmark script to prove it.The results are pretty clear, with the hash lookup coming in about 480% faster than the in_array. He also points out that as the size of the strings you're comparing grows, the performance of in_array drops even more.

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Link: http://mtdowling.com/blog/2014/03/17/hash-lookups-over-array-search/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
The Pros and Cons of Zend Certification
February 10, 2014 @ 11:35:49

The SitePoint PHP blog has a new post that weighs the pros and cons of getting the Zend PHP Certification. The Zend Certified PHP Engineer is described as "a measure of distinction that employers use to evaluate prospective employees".

As a PHP developer, you may have been asking yourself how to improve your skills, gain reputation or become more professional in your work. One of the ways of doing so is to get through a certification programme. The only one that covers PHP itself (not a particular framework or software solution) is being delivered by the Zend company. In the remainder of the article I will focus on this particular certificate and describe its advantages and disadvantages. At the end I will also mention some other certification programs that may be valuable to a PHP developer.

He starts with a bit of general information about the certification including some of the categories it covers. He then gets into the pros and cons, listing two items for each. He suggests that it's a good way to measure your knowledge but there is a question of how much it really proves to get a passing score.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/pros-cons-zend-certification/

PHPClasses.org:
Lately in PHP Podcast #43 - "Is Facebook HHVM going to Replace Zend Engine in PHP6"
January 20, 2014 @ 11:36:41

On the PHPClasses.org site today they've published the latest episode in their "Lately in PHP" podcast series, Episode #43 - "Is Facebook HHVM going to Replace Zend Engine in PHP 6".

The Facebook HipHop Virtual Machine, HHVM, has been evolving a lot, so PHP developers are considering it as a possible replacement for Zend Engine in PHP 6. This was one of the main topics discussed by Manuel Lemos and César Rodas in the episode 43 of the Lately in PHP podcast. They also discussed other topics like FastCGI support in HHVM, having PHP function naming consistency plans for PHP 6, TLS peer verification for secure connections, and using Composer to install JavaScript, CSS and images for PHP projects.

You can listen to this latest episode either through the in-page player, by downloading the mp3 or watching the live video recording from the Google Hangout.

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Link: http://www.phpclasses.org/blog/post/225-Is-Facebook-HHVM-going-to-Replace-Zend-Engine-in-PHP-6--Lately-in-PHP-podcast-episode-43.html

Lorna Mitchell:
Zend Certified PHP Developer 5.5
January 08, 2014 @ 09:23:45

If you're thinking about taking the Zend Certified PHP Developer (5.5) test but aren't sure exactly where to start, Lorna Mitchell has provided a list of some good resources to help you out.

Yesterday I updated my previous ZCE certificate to the Zend Certified PHP Developer qualification (the new ZCE for PHP 5.5 also got a new name). Since the ZCE 5.3 exam is no longer available and I work with various clients to prepare their teams for these certifications, it was important to me that I keep my own certification up to date. Now I've done that, I'd like to share some resources for others doing the same thing.

She points to a few things that could help you make the grade:

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zend certified developer test certification resource list

Link: http://www.lornajane.net/posts/2014/zend-certified-php-developer-5-5

Inviqa techPortal:
Create a RESTful API with Apigility
December 04, 2013 @ 09:29:15

On the Inviqa techPortal they've posted a new tutorial from Rob Allen introducing Apigility, the recently announced API management and creation tool from Zend. He uses his usual album/music illustration to show how to create a simple API inside the tool.

On the 7th October 2013, Zend introduced Apigility to the world. Once you get beyond the name, you see a very interesting project that allows you to easily create a web service without having to worry about the nitty-gritty details. Which details? Well, Apigility will handle content negotiation, error handling and versioning for you, allowing you to concentrate on your application. In the recently tagged 0.7 release, Apigility also supports both HTTP and OAuth2 authentication. In this tutorial we will create a simple REST API that allows us to view a list of music albums, showing how to start using Apigility and how to publish an API using this tool.

He walks you through all the steps you'll need to create the basic API, more specifically around the "Albums" data and functionality:

  • Creating a new project with Composer
  • Using the Admin dashboard to create a new API
  • Making a new REST endpoint (albums)
  • Building an Album collection endpoint (with Collection, Entity and Resource)
  • Making the data model, including the table SQL

He includes all the code you'll need for these last few items and shows the curl calls to make for grabbing a single and multiple album listings. There's also a brief discussion in there about how Apigility handles API versioning with some internal handling.

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Link: http://techportal.inviqa.com/2013/12/03/create-a-restful-api-with-apigility/

Zend Blog:
Rise of the Native Cloud Developer - ZendCon Keynote
October 11, 2013 @ 12:54:22

If you weren't able to make it to this year's ZendCon conference that just happened in Santa Clara, you can get at least a little piece of it from this new post to the Zend blog. It's a video from a keynote session from Peter Magnusson titled "Rise of the Native Cloud Developer."

At his keynote session at ZendCon, he shared some of the important and sometimes unexpected lessons Google learned while building for the cloud - such as the importance of lightweight execution containers, relying on failure, and how to overcome the speed of light when building distributed systems.

And then he went ahead to discuss about the rise of the "Cloud Native" developer - how engineers and organisations large and small now using these principles to build truly robust and scalable services, and businesses.

You can watch it embedded in the post or full size on Youtube.

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zend zendcon13 cloud native developer keynote video

Link: http://blog.zend.com/2013/10/10/rise-native-cloud-developer/

Rob Allen:
Investigating Apigility
October 10, 2013 @ 09:48:05

A few days ago at this year's ZendCon PHP conference Zend introduced Apgility, a frontend that makes creating REST APIs with Zend Framework v2 as simple as pointing and clicking. Rob Allen has taken a more in depth look at the tool and has posted his findings to his site.

At ZendCon 2013, Zend announced Apigility which is intended to ease the creation of APIs. It consists of these things: a set of ZF2 modules that do the heavy lifting of creating an API, an application wrapper for creating standalone web API applications, a built-in administration website for use in development to define the API. Rather nicely, it supports REST and RPC and deal with error handling, versioning & content negotiation for you.

He uses his usual demo application (based on this repository) and shows how to get the software installed and running on the built-in (PHP 5.4+) web server with Composer. He walks you through the things you'll need to update in the application to fit it in with the Apigility structure, but they're pretty minimal. Once you fire up the server you'll be dropped into the main Apigility admin interface. From there he shows you how to set up a custom "album" endpoint and testing it with a simple cURL call.

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Link: http://akrabat.com/zend-framework-2/investigating-apigility/

Davey Shafik:
Everything You Need to Know About OpCode Caches
October 01, 2013 @ 10:49:48

Davey Shafik has a new post to his site today sharing everything you need to know about opcode caches, the mechanism that's works "behind the scenes" to cache the execution of the opcode paths for later reuse.

Last year I wrote a talk called "Fast, Not Furious: How to Find and Fix Slow Code" - a performance talk covering profiling, memcache and some other stuff. As I often do - to hedge my bets = I stuck a few slides on the end "just in case" I ran through everything too quickly and needed to fill in time. These slides were on APC, the Alternative PHP Cache, and went just a little into tokens and how APC works under the hood. I really enjoyed presenting those 6 slides, and I've been wanting to expand on that topic ever since then. Well, after a few weeks of hard work, some input from some great people, including Sara Golemon, Elizabeth Smith and Julien Pauli, I'm so very happy to publish PHP Performance I: Everything You Need to Know About OpCode Caches.

The result is published over on the Engine Yard Developer Center and has been made into a 20 minute screencast (with original slides here). He covers what they are, which ones are out there, the common execution cycle and what happens when the opcodes are cached.

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Link: http://daveyshafik.com/archives/68838-everything-you-need-to-know-about-opcode-caches.html

Gary Sieling:
Scraping Google Maps Search Results with Javascript and PHP
July 29, 2013 @ 12:23:21

Gary Sieling has a new post to his site about scraping Google Maps data with a combination of PHP and some simple Javascript. It makes use of callbacks and timers to get the data already returned from their API.

Google Maps provides several useful APIs for accessing data: a geocoding API to convert addresses to latitude and longitude, a search API to provide locations matching a term, and a details API for retrieving location metadata. For many mapping tasks it is valuable to get a large list of locations (restaurants, churches, etc) - since this is valuable, Google places a rate limiter on the information, and encourages caching query results.

He includes the code (both front- and back-end) that you'll need to make the system work. It makes a request to the Google Maps API as usual but then adds a listener with a callback. This takes the latitude/longitude data and runs a "get details" method to get more information. The result is then POSTed to PHP and written out to a file.

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Link: http://garysieling.com/blog/scraping-google-maps-search-results-with-javascript-and-php

Lorna Mitchell:
Twitter Search API Using PHP and Guzzle
July 11, 2013 @ 12:49:45

Lorna Mitchell has a new post to her site today showing how she connected to Twitter with Guzzle, the popular PHP-based HTTP client (also used in the Amazon Web Services PHP client).

In case you missed it, Twitter updated their APIs recently, so that you have to authenticate to use even their search APIs to return publicly-available results. This is an increasing trend for API providers, to provide either very limited or nonexistent access for unauthenticated users, I think so they can rate limit consumers that swamp them. To cut a long story short, that meant I needed to update my dashboards that keep an eye on twitter searches to do more than just call file_get_contents in the general direction of the right URL.

She walks you through the creation of the client complete with the OAuth plugin (included with Guzzle) to make an OAuth request to api.twitter.com. With the client created, she shows a simple search call to the "tweets" endpoint.

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Link: http://www.lornajane.net/posts/2013/twitter-search-api-using-php-and-guzzle


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