Easy Lint Check for JavaScript

I'm introducing lint checking on one of my projects, because it didn't have a build process yet and I love this as a great place to start. Oh, and because we managed to commit broken syntax! So I set up a php lint job (I will share my travis config in another post) and tried to work out doing the same thing for JavaScript. Continue reading

Beanstalk, Pheanstalk and Priorities

I've got an application that uses Beanstalkd to queue up messages, and some PHP worker scripts that grab messages from the queue and process them. Messages get added by the web application, but can also be added by cron - and when I add a bunch of messages via cron, I don't want to swamp what the web application is doing! Those cron-added jobs are mostly pretty low priority, generating reports, sending weekly update emails, that kind of thing. Beanstalkd has a concept of priority, so I can create lower priority jobs by using code like this:

<?php

define("LOW_PRIORITY", 2048);  // default is 1024 

$queue =  new Pheanstalk_Pheanstalk($config['beanstalkd']['host'] . ":" . $config['beanstalkd']['port']);

$queue->useTube("scorem")->put(json_encode(array("action" => "my_important_task")), LOW_PRIORITY);

This will add the job to the queue, but anything with a higher priority value (where 1 is the highest priority!) will take precendence. This way I can add as many non-urgent jobs as I want to to the queue without impacting my website performance. My setup has multiple workers and also I tend to write a script that puts loads of tiny jobs on the queue rather than putting one monster task on there. I find this approach a bit more fault-tolerant and also means that incoming tasks can get a chance to get serviced rather than waiting for some crazy huge thing to finish.

I had real issues finding information about the priority settings for beanstalkd and PHP, so hopefully if anyone is looking for it, they will find this post :)

Copy/Pasting and Vim

I'm a vim user and I somehow completely missed this excellent feature until much more recently than I care to admit! Usually vim has its own clipboard, but it doesn't share with the operating system. You will need a vim-gtk install, this isn't available in really basic vim (I'm a little unclear exactly on the dependencies).

To paste between vim and something else, use the + (plus) buffer in vim. It contains the contents of your system clipboard, and you can also write to it. If you're not already using buffers in vim, then you should probably read the excellent documentation but for a very quick start:

  • To copy something into the buffer, select it in visual mode and type "+y
  • To paste from the buffer, type "+P

I had no idea how I'd missed this really fundamental trick, so I thought I'd share!

Quick Switch Between Git Branches

Today's little-known git feature (or maybe everyone knows but me? I only found this a few months ago) is for quickly switching between branches. Usually I would switch branches with:

git checkout [branchname]

However if you switch from one branch to another and want to switch back again (this happens when I'm reviewing changes and wondering if a bug is present on master as well), then you can do so by just doing:

git checkout -

Just a little timesaver in case it's useful to anyone else - I know I've been using it quite a bit!

Wireshark Capture on Remote Server

The joind.in project uses a really nice vagrant setup for its dev platform - which is much needed these days as we move away from a single LAMP stack install to a website plus another website, which talks to an API and caches in redis and deploys with .... you get the picture :) This is great but having everything on the VM can make it a bit trickier to debug what's going on - and with a website that talks to an API that talks to MySQL, that all lives on a VM with port forwards, you can see the problem :)

To get an insight into the traffic going around the place, I've been using Wireshark and it's ability to capture remotely, it's really simple so I thought I'd write down my "recipe" on how to do this in case it's useful. Continue reading

PHP 5.6 and the Splat Operator

We have a couple of new features coming in to PHP 5.6 with names that sound much less exciting than the features they actually represent: "variadic functions" sound positively academic, and "argument unpacking" isn't exactly catchy. However they both use a new operator in PHP which looks like an elipsis (three dots ...) and is referred to as either the splat operator or the scatter operator. I included them in a recent version of my "Upgrading PHP" talk so I thought I'd share the examples here too in case anyone is interested. Continue reading

Using Composer Without GitIgnoring Vendor/

Recent additions to the joind.in API have introduced some new dependencies so we decided we'd start using Composer to manage these - but we don't want to run composer unsupervised. I'm sure this will bring the rain of "just run composer install, it's probably mostly almost safe" criticism, but actually it's quite tricky to run Composer without excluding vendor/ from source control so I thought I'd share how we did it so that anyone who wants to do so can learn from my experience!
Continue reading

Working with PHP and Beanstalkd

I have just introduced Beanstalkd into my current PHP project; it was super-easy so I thought I'd share some examples and my thoughts on how a job queue fits in with a PHP web application.

The Scenario

I have an API backend and a web frontend on this project (there may be apps later. It's a startup, there could be anything later). Both front and back ends are PHP Slim Framework applications, and there's a sort of JSON-RPC going on in between the two.

The job queue will handle a few things we don't want to do in real time on the application, such as:

  • updating counts of things like comments; when a comment is made, a job gets created and we can return to the user. At some point the job will get processed updating the counts of how many comments are on that thing, how many comments the user made, adding to a news feed of activities ... you get the idea. Continue reading

What Does URI Stand For?

I get a lot of complaints about an API that I maintain (http://api.joind.in) which is "missing" the ID field. This ID field is the database's primary key; if the user doesn't have access to the database (they don't), then it seems to me that the primary key probably isn't all that useful.

Instead, the API publishes each record with a unique uri field. If this record is referred to by another record, then this full identifier will be used in every case. If this record should be included in a collection, this exact same identifier will be used there, too. You can reach the resource directly by requesting its URI. In the same way that we might refer to a website by its URL, we refer to records in RESTful systems by their URI*. If you need to store these somewhere for your own use, you can use whatever key you like with the local storage, you may even choose to use the uri field as it is unique.

* URI stands for Unique Resource Identifier