PHP Quick Stack Trace in Exception Handler

PHP and frameworks built from it have many great tools to assist with debugging (I particularly like XDebug) but sometimes you can find yourself in a situation where the "helper" features aren't all that much help ... in my case this was a framework totally determined to output HTML from my commandline script and to only show me 5 lines of stack trace, which wasn't enough for my complex application. I had to look up how to generate a nice stack trace inside an exception handler so here it is in case I want it again some time (future me, you're welcome!) Continue reading

How to Choose PHP Hosting

I've been thinking a lot about the state of hosting in PHP lately, mostly as a result of working with a few different clients on their setups (including one that bought brand new hosting a month ago and got a PHP 5.3.3 platform), and also being at DrupalCon and meeting a community who is about to make a big change to their minimum requirements. With that in mind, here are my thoughts and tips on choosing hosting. Continue reading

Compiling PHP Extensions

There are lots of reasons why you might like to compile your own PHP extensions. For me those reasons are usually:

  • The extension isn't available on pecl (e.g. uprofiler)
  • The extension is on pecl, but you need the newest version or a branch with a particular feature or fix in it, perhaps for testing
  • You are fixing an extension yourself (yay, we need more people like you!)

Related: If you followed my previous post on compiling PHP, be aware that in the php/bin/ folder there is a pecl binary that will install extensions correctly for whichever version of PHP it belongs to, so you may not need to read the rest of this post. However if you do, the paths follow on from the examples in that post.

I haven't seen a really approachable guide anywhere, we tend to speak of extensions in hushed tones, and actually it isn't particularly tricky so here is my quick how-to guide. Continue reading

Running Multiple Versions of PHP

When I advise people about upgrading their PHP version, I say things like "just run your test suite with the new version" "just grab the new version and try your site with the built-in webserver". A couple of people recently have asked for more detail on how to actually achieve these things so here's a quick primer on getting new PHP without touching anything to do with your existing PHP installation. Continue reading

New PHP Videos on OReilly.com

I am delighted to announce that I have new video titles available! I'm delighted for two reasons: selfishly, because these things take a lot of prep and I am pleased they are done; but also because I think it is very good news that a key industry player such as O'Reilly recognises PHP's place in the world and works hard to publish new content in this area.

There are two videos available: PHP Web Services and Intermediate PHP (subtitle: a bunch of things Lorna thinks will make developers' lives and applications better!), you can click through (disclaimer: affiliate links!) to get more information and a detailed chapter outline for each course. I hope that either or both of them will be useful to you. 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

PHP and Git Training Course Dates

I've had a little flurry of enquiries about training lately, so I thought I'd mention the courses I have coming up, as especially the PHP ones are topics that I don't run public classes on all that often. At the time of writing I have some space on all of these classes: Continue reading

Zend Certified PHP Developer 5.5

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.

Sample Questions Pack

One really important step in preparing for this exam is to get an idea of what kind of questions you might be asked - in terms of the format of the questions and the topics. I have a pack of 70 questions which I use when delivering ZCE preparation courses, but I also sell it separately and it is now updated for PHP 5.5

This pack is now available from https://leanpub.com/zce

As well as questions, this includes answers with detailed explanations of how those are reached and links to further reading. There is also some advice about the format of the exam and what to expect on the day itself.

Links Bundle

The PHP Manual is fabulous, but sometimes you need a more conceptual explanation. I maintain a bundle of links to blog posts or other tutorials on the various topics involved in ZCE, which you may find helpful to dip into for your own study:

http://www.lornajane.net/zce-links-collection

If you find any broken links, or have any resources you think should be included, just let me know. I intend for this to be a living document that we can share.

Revision Flashcards

My advice for cramming for ZCE is always the same: you need to recap all areas of the manual but focus especially on strings and arrays, because while there will be an average number of questions on these topics, it's common to see strings and arrays used in questions that are really about function scope, or inheritance, etc.

For my own revision, I created flashcards by taking the PHP manual and making them into double-sided PDFs that I could cut up and use (you could do this with a single-sided printer, print the odd pages first and then put the paper through again - for duplex printers beware that you need to choose "short side").

Here are the String and Array flashcards that I used for myself (they're not perfect, but I found them useful so if you want to download them, you can. The main omission is that I stripped < and > characters which makes for interesting string comparison documentation).
Hopefully some of these resources will help you prepare for your own professional certification - good luck :)

Setting Multiple Headers in a PHP Stream Context

Last week I tried to create a PHP stream context which set multiple headers; an Authorization header and a Content-Type header. All the examples I could find showed headers built up as a string with newlines added manually, which seemed pretty clunky and not-streams-like to me.

In fact, you've been able to pass this as an array since PHP 5.2.10, so to set multiple headers in the stream context, I just used this:

<?php
 $options = &#91;"http" => [
    "method" => "POST",
    "header" => ["Authorization: token " . $access_token,
        "Content-Type: application/json"],
    "content" => $data
    ]];
$context = stream_context_create($options);

The $access_token had been set elsewhere (in fact I usually put credentials in a separate file and exclude it from source control in an effort not to spread my access credentials further than I mean to!), and $data is already encoded as JSON. For completeness, you can make the POST request like this:


Video Course on Learnable: OOP PHP

I'm delighted to announce that my new video course on Object-Oriented PHP is now available on Learnable! It's very much an introduction, aiming to cover WHY objects are so cool as well as how to declare and use one. The course is a mix of video (filmed in my kitchen, welcome to my home everyone!), screencast, a couple of exercises for you to try, and also plenty of sample code to download. If you are just looking to get started with OOP, or know someone who is, then hopefully this will help you out.

On a related note, I'm also doing a Sitepoint "Talk with the Experts" session on 11th April (early morning UK time, as a special treat for everyone in Europe and further east, that doesn't happen often!). There are more details here: http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?1012242-Talk-Object-oriented-PHP-with-the-Experts and I hope you can join me then.