Validating Email Addresses in PHP

A very quick snippet today because I've told two people to use this approach in the last few days and both of them told me they didn't know about it. How to check if an email address is valid in PHP: use one of the Filter functions, like this:

 
$email1 = "nonsense.something@dottiness";  // not a valid email
$email2 = "dotty@something.whatever";  // valid email
 
$clean_email1 = filter_var($email1, FILTER_VALIDATE_EMAIL); // $clean_email1 = false
$clean_email2 = filter_var($email2, FILTER_VALIDATE_EMAIL); // $clean_email2 = dotty@something.whatever

The Filter extension was new in PHP 5.2, but is one of the unsung heroes of the language. It's rare for me to ever describe one approach as the "right" way to do something - but for validating data, Filter really is excellent, offering both validating and sanitising filters and generally making it super-easy to clean up incoming variables. Many of the frameworks offer equivalents, and I'm sure many of those are wrapping this too.

Installing PEAR Packages Offline

As with most tools that work really well, I know very little about PEAR. I mean, I use it all the time, and I love it for getting all the extensions installed that I need for the work I do. But I've never made a PEAR package, or channel, and I've been happy to leave all those things in the hands of the smart people who have created what we have today.

However I'm now in a situation where I might need to install PEAR packages with a connection that may or may not be working, and I'm not sure exactly which packages I might need, so I wanted to know whether I could use PEAR as my packaging tool even when I wasn't able to reach the usual channels. And guess what? I can! Continue reading

PHP 5.4 Benchmarks

Today I'm giving my first ever talk at OSCON - about PHP 5.4 (I'll also be giving my second ever talk at OSCON, about RESTful services; it's a busy day!). My talk includes some benchmarks which I thought I'd also share here, mostly because I like pretty graphs - and this one is pretty:

graph comparing performance of PHP versions
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Bit.ly API: Bundles and Short URLs

I am a huge fan of bit.ly and use their tools for a wide variety of different things. They recently did a big relaunch with some lovely new features, which are for the most part pretty good, but which are inaccessible in places. In particular, it seems that there aren't any short URLs for the bundles - which is annoying for me as I use that feature a lot!

To get around this, I used their API to make a page which lists my bit.ly bundles, and creates shortlinks for each of them (once you've created a shortlink for a given URL once, bit.ly just re-uses the same ones the next time you ask to shorten the same URL, so this is less silly than it sounds).

In case the code is helpful, I thought I'd share. Continue reading

LAMP and Beyond, 30th June in Manchester

Just wanted to share news of an event that I'll be at in a couple of weeks: LAMP and Beyond. This event is organised by PHPNW and held at Madlab in Manchester on June 30th (it's a Saturday).

The idea is that we bring together a bunch of interested developers plus a few people who know something about some of the technologies which are often used with LAMP but aren't part of the acronym - and work on ... whatever you want to work on! Between us we'll be able to advise on choosing and implementing new technologies for solving particular problems, troubleshoot some sticky issues, and maybe whip up some new projects to give you a chance to play with something new and shiny!

If you want to join, you can get tickets (but be quick, there aren't many left) on eventbrite: http://lampandbeyond.eventbrite.com/ - see you there!

Proof that PHP 5.4 is Twice as Fast as PHP 5.3

So recently I was working on some benchmarks for different versions of PHP, because I heard that PHP 5.4 is "faster" and since I'm a data geek I want to know how much faster! Now, PHP 5.4 is, in general, faster than PHP 5.3 but not twice as fast* unless you pick a use case which has been particularly optimised.

My first attempt at benchmarking the two versions produced this:

graph showing php 5.4 taking half the time of php 5.3
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Fetching Your Talks from the Joind.In API

I'm a regular speaker at a variety of (okay, mostly technical, so not really that varied!) events, and I submit talks to many CfPs (calls for papers). Whenever this happens, I tend to look back at whether I have any existing talks that I gave and liked and which would be a good fit. I use my joind.in speaker page for this: http://joind.in/user/view/110 as it's simpler than dredging through my directory of talks/articles on my hard drive (this is now rather large and unmanageable!).

I've recently been thinking that I should also do a better job of linking through to the various talks I'm giving/have given - and at around the same time I was contacted by the good folk at mojoLive about integrating against joind.in. To cut a long story short, the joind.in API now has the functionality for users to retrieve their list of talks! Continue reading

PHP Recursive Function Example: Factorial Numbers

I spun up the simplest example I could think of to illustrate a recursive function to a PHP beginner the other day, and I thought I'd share. I often don't post really basic content but I should - people are beginning to be beginners all the time, after all!

Factorials

Factorials are a very easy maths concept. They are written like 5! and this means 5 * 4 * 3 * 2 * 1. So 6! is 720 and 4! is 24.

6! is the same as 6 * 5!, or 6 * 5 * 4! ... and this is where the recursive functions come in. Continue reading