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!
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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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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

Using an Existing Vagrant Setup for PHP Development

I've been hearing great things about puppet, chef, vagrant, and friends for a while now, but since I work on my own I tend to either develop straight onto my ubuntu machine or grab an appropriate existing VM and use that. So I read about this brave new world of virtualisation but (as with most tools) they can be hard to introduce on your own, and I didn't.

Then I went to WhiskyWeb, which had a hackathon. I'm unclear on exactly what happened because my attention was elsewhere but it seems like @JayTaph showed off puppet and vagrant to @deizel*, who immediately built a vagrant setup for joind.in, which is an open source project that I'm currently leading. With the shiny new technology all packaged for me, I decided it was time to take a look! Continue reading

Speaking at Leeds PHP

On Monday 19th March I'll be speaking at PHP Leeds. The topic is all things git and github; as an open source project lead I see lots of very capable programmers taking their first steps with github. In this session we'll talk about how you can use these tools to contribute to open source (or your own projects, of course), covering both "what to click in the web interface" and "what to type at the command line" for git and github respectively. Come along if you want to know more about git, open source, or github!

Thoughts on Running an Open Source Project

I spoke in the unconference at PHPUK last week, on running an open source project. I thought I would collect together my thoughts into one place before I lose the scratty piece of paper I wrote them down on. I'm not sure I'm the right person to be giving advice exactly, but these are the things that, having been project lead on joind.in for a while, I think are important.
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API Serving JSONP

disclaimer: I am not a client-side developer, and I don't write javascript. However I am committed to supplying useful APIs of all kinds, and JSONP falls into this category

Early in the development of the new Joind.In API, someone else started consuming the service to populate the javascript widgets they were making*. Since these scripts are intended to be used on many external pages, and they retrieve data from the joind.in API, cross-domain issues were a problem. Continue reading

QR Codes with Google Charts API

I'm a big fan of the google charts API - it draws much better-looking graphs than I would ever manage and all I have to do is assemble the right URL to make it work. I recently got a feature request to add QR codes to joind.in, so that speakers and event admins could easily allow people to link in to a particular talk page.
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PHP Returning Numeric Values in JSON

When I wrote about launching a prototype of a new joind.in API, quite a few people started to try it out. My friend David Soria Parra emailed me to point out that many of the numbers in the API were being returned as strings. He said:

It's just a standard problem of PHP REST services. When I try to access it with java I have to convert it over and over again to ints.

I did have a quick look at the PHP manual page for json_encode but I didn't see anything mentioning this. A few weeks later (my inbox is a black hole and it takes a while to process these things) I fell over a throwaway comment to an undocumented constant JSON_NUMERIC_CHECK, and I added the constant name to my todo list. In the time it took for me to actually get around to googling for this, some wonderful person updated the PHP manual page (this is why I love PHP) to include it as a documented option, and someone else had added a user contributed note about using it.

It turns out, this constant does exactly what I need. Here's a simple use case:

echo json_encode(array('event_id' => '603'));
echo json_encode(array('event_id' => '603'), JSON_NUMERIC_CHECK);

and the output:

{"event_id":"603"}
{"event_id":603}

There are probably some situations in which you don't want all your looks-like-a-number data to be returned as a number, but for now it seems to be a good fit for api.joind.in.