Confident Coding Report

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at Confident Coding in San Francisco. This was a one-day event for mostly front-end developers, covering the things everyone seems to know but which seem like silly questions to ask - and it has an all-female speaker lineup.
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Ada Lovelace Day 2012: Estelle Weyl

Happy Ada Lovelace day! Technically that's in about half an hour as I write this in the UK but as I'm speaking at FOWA tomorrow morning, I will post this now before I get distracted. Ada Lovelace day is a day of celebrating women in science and technology, and one of the best ways to celebrate those women is to tell their stories. Every year, many woman will tell the story of a woman who has inspired them - you can find more stories on the FindingAda site.

Confident Coding: San Francisco

While I'm in the US in a week or so, I'll be joining a stellar lineup at Confident Coding on October 20th in San Francisco. This is a by-women, for-women event to let us get together in a safe space where there are no stupid questions, and try to cover those tricks that it seems like everyone knows, but we all had to learn sometime!

Personally I'll be speaking about git and also about SSH and things that are not FTP, and anything else I get asked about on the day. The variety of skills in the speaker lineup of this event, organised by the lovely @estellevw, is frankly imporessive and I can't wait to meet all the speakers and attendees! I'm not often in the US at all (I'm a very reluctant traveller and I'm actually there for ZendCon the week after) so this is a rare opportunity for me.

The event is open to everyone, but if you don't identify as female and you want to attend, please bring with you someone who does - and either way you can make use of my discount code! Simply buy a ticket, entering LORNA20 at the checkout for 20% off the ticket price.

Hope to see you there :)

PHPNW Tutorial Day

I've spent the last few days at PHPNW - it was amazing and inspiring and incredibly sociable from beginning to end but I wanted to share some thoughts about tutorial day in particular. For context, I delivered a full-day tutorial at PHPNW this year, entitled "PHP Tools", containing the following topics:

  • git
  • apache virtual hosts
  • api documentation
  • static analysis tools
  • profiling with xhprof
  • deployment with phing

Somewhere along the line my attendees were unexpectedly efficient (or I was impatient) and we ended up ahead of my planned schedule, so I asked if anyone had any questions to fill the final hour or so. Continue reading

Git Cheat Sheet

Today I thought I'd share my "cheat sheet" for git - the commands that I use on a day-to-day basis. I've used entirely the command line tools, since those are the same on every platform. GUI tools and IDE plugins are available for git so it is worth taking a look at what is available for the development environment you use.


In git, you don't checkout code, you clone a repository. You end up with a local repository on your filesystem, which behaves as both the repo and as your working copy. In git, you always clone the whole repo, not a subdirectory, and the metadata is all stored at the top level, in a directory called .git.

When you are ready to clone the repo, create the directory to store it in and change into it. Then type:

git clone [url]

Here's an example, showing a clone of my private repo on github. Continue reading

Github API Access Tokens via Curl

I'm working on some demos for a tutorial I'm giving next month and since I'd like to show off Github's API, I needed an access token for it. They have the usual web flow but I'm cutting as many corners as I can to keep the demos nice and quick, so I looked into the support Github has for generating an API key programmatically. Continue reading

API Documentation with IODocs

I write a lot of APIs, and I also preach that your API isn't finished until it has excellent documentation. Which is great, but that means I therefore have to lead by example and document my APIs :) Enter iodocs from the talented folk at Mashery.

Iodocs is a node.js application (which is fun for a PHP developer. Most developers write a bit of JS, but this one hasn't). You describe your API and all its methods in JSON, and then iodocs presents an interface for you to enter API keys, add parameters to each request and press the "try it!" button. This makes your API call and shows you the results on screen, which seems like a great way to demonstrate what all the various parameters do!

iodocs screenshot
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Do Open Source with Git and Github

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 php|architect magazine.

Often I find absolutely competent programmers, who aren't involved in open source, either because they don't know how to approach a project, or because they just aren't sure how the process even works. In this article we'll look at one example, the conference feedback site, and how you can use GitHub to start contributing code to this project. Since so many projects are hosted on github, this will help you get started with other projects, too.

The tl;dr Version for the Impatient

  1. Fork the main repo so you have your own github repo for the project
  2. Clone your repo onto your development machine
  3. Create a branch
  4. Make changes, commit them
  5. Push your new branch to your github repository
  6. Open a pull request

This article goes through this process in more detail, so you will be able to work with git and github projects as you please.
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Posting Raw Data with Curl

This week I've been working on a feature which handles an incoming API call from an external source (actually Paypal's IPN service). Making external calls into my development platform isn't how I usually work, so instead I captured the body of the request that was being sent, and replayed it against my local script using curl.

I put the data into a separate file, data.txt and then used curl to direct that data at my local URL:

curl -X POST http://localhost/app/test.php --data @data.txt

I find this approach useful for testing, but since I had to look up how to do it, I thought I'd put it here for reference!

The Quest for a Payment Gateway

Although I've been "making websites" for a lot of years, I've mostly avoided the kind where people actually pay for anything. The result of this is that I built Bitestats (elevator pitch: sign up and get a printable summary report of your web stats every month by email) but then got busy and never built the bit where people can actually pay to use it.

I recently carved out some time to correct this situation, and fell into an absolute pit of confusion when I tried to figure out what my options even were. My requirements are that my customers are global, I am UK-based, people will set up a regular subscription, and I don't have (and I think I don't want) a merchant account at this point. I'm not PCI compliant and have no intention ever to attempt that. This post is an attempt to round up some things I found out along the way. Continue reading