Archives For php

* By “The Right Way”, I mean following the guidance and practices at the PHP: the Right Way website. I make no claims this is the “best” way :-)

Works n my machine badgeMac OS X is a pretty good web developer OS. It comes as standard with PHP, Ruby and Apache all out of the box, and the underlying UNIX system makes it easy to add in other languages and components to suit your needs. On top of that, some of my favourite development tools are on the Mac, so unless I’m writing .NET code, nearly all my development is on an (ageing) Mac Mini.

Now, while all that stuff comes as standard on OS X, lately it seems Apple has made it harder to get to. The versions shipped with OS X also tend to be a little behind the latest releases. As a result, most Devs I know use something like MAMP to make the server-side of their environment as easy as running an app. Personally, while I think MAMP works, and is a good time-saver (and I’ve been using it for the last year or so), but I like to get into the nitty-gritty of the system and get things running “native”. So last night I fired up the terminal and got PHP set up on my Mac with the latest version, and following the Right Way Guidelines. As a result I have PHP 5.4, Composer, the PHP Coding Standards Fixer, and MySQL all setup quite slickly (i.e. to my preferences).

The whole process was pretty easy, but does involve the command line. If this makes you uncomfortable, then it might be best to skip the rest of this post.

This all worked on my Mac, but I make no guarantees about it working on yours, and I’m not responsible if you break something.

If you find any glaring problems with this guide then leave a comment/get in touch, and I’ll make any required edits.

Step 1: Setup Your PATH

Edit the hidden .bash_profile file in your home directory. If you use Sublime Text 2 you can use the following command:

    subl ~/.bash_profile

TextMate has a similar mate command, or you can use vi(m)/nano/emacs/whatever.

It’s possible you already have a line defining your PATH variable. It’ll look something like export PATH=<something>. I’ve found it most useful to change the PATH so /usr/local/bin is at the start, making sure anything you install there is used over the system defaults in /bin. Add this as a line below your existing PATH definition (or just add it in, if you don’t have an existing line):

    export PATH=/usr/local/bin:${PATH}

Step 2: Install Brew

Strictly speaking, Brew (aka Homebrew) isn’t required, but I used it to install MySQL later, and it does make it stupid easy to install stuff into OS X. I think you should install it. The best instructions are found on the Homebrew home page, so go have a read there. There are a few pre-requisites, but nothing too difficult.

Step 3: Install PHP-OSX

Now we’re beginning to get somewhere! PHP-OSX is the latest versions of PHP compiled for OSX by Liip. Installation is a real doddle, from the command line:

    curl -s | bash -s 5.4

Follow the prompts given, including entering your password. After a few moments everything will have installed. For convenience I created a symbolic link to the newly installed PHP binary in /usr/local/bin:

    ln -s /usr/local/php5/bin/php /usr/local/bin/php

Step 4: Install Composer

Now we have PHP installed, it’s time to look at the nice-to-haves, like a good package/dependency manager. Composer is relatively new on the block, and allows others to download your code and automatically grab any dependencies by running a simple command.

You can install Composer in your project, or you can install it globally. I prefer globally. As with PHP, installation is simple, from the command line:

curl -s -o /usr/local/bin/composer
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/composer

Step 5: Install PHP Coding Standards Fixer

Another nice-to-have, this little tool will try to find and fix parts of your code where it does not conform to one of the PHP Coding Style Guides. Installation is almost identical to Composer:

curl -o /usr/local/bin/php-cs-fixer
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/php-cs-fixer

Step 6: Install MySQL

If you installed Brew in step 2, then you’re good to go with this little command:

    brew install mysql

It’ll take a few minutes, but you shouldn’t need to intervene at all. Once done you will need to run two more command to setup the MySQL tables:

    unset TMPDIR
    mysql_install_db --verbose --user=`whoami` --basedir="$(brew --prefix mysql)" --datadir=/usr/local/var/mysql --tmpdir=/tmp

If you didn’t install Brew, then you will need to install MySQL through some other means, such as packages on the MySQL website. I can’t help you with that, I’m afraid.

For managing MySQL, I use the excellent Sequel Pro, which is a successor to the venerable CocoaSQL.

As a next step you should look into changing the root password of your MySQL setup. This is a local dev environment, and likely only used locally by yourself, but it’s the proper thing to do.

Bonus Step 7: A Script for Launching MySQL and the PHP Dev Server

To make things a one command startup I wrote myself a little bash script. Now, I am under no illusions this is improvable; it’s my very first bash script (ever), so probably not the “right” way to do this. It’s in a public repo, as well as the public Gist below, so if you want to improve it, feel free! Anyway, it’s functional for now and will start the PHP development server on the port you specify, and set to the (optional) directory, otherwise it will use your current working directory.

To install, run these commands:

    curl -o /usr/local/bin/phpsrv
    chmod +x /usr/local/bin/phpsrv

Usage is straightforward:

    phpsrv 8000 #start on http://localhost:8000 in the current dir
    phpsrv 8000 ~/projects/mysite/ #start on http://localhost:8000 in ~/projects/mysite/


  • Pear doesn’t seem to work, which is slightly annoying, but (to me) no real biggie. I didn’t test this with the built-in version of PHP, so I don’t know whether it worked beforehand. I’ll post an update once I figure it out.
  • I’d like to make bash script smart enough to stop MySQL when the PHP web server stops, but my early attempts haven’t managed to get this working (most likely due to the Ctrl-C used to stop the web server also stopping the script).
  • Throughout this process we’re running scripts directly from the web. This is pretty risky behaviour, especially with unknown/untrusted sources. You should always take a look at the raw script before running it, so you don’t get hit by something malicious.
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Funkatron / The MicroPHP Manifesto

Image representing Heroku as depicted in Crunc...

Did you know you can use custom PHP extensions on Heroku? Neither did I, cos I can’t find it in the documentation. But you can:

I came across this while searching for a way or workaround to use the MongoDB PECL extension on Heroku (don’t get me started on that…).

If you can’t be bothered checking the link, the summary is this:

  1. Create a folder in your app called ‘ext’ or similar.
  2. Copy your extension into this folder.
  3. Create a php.ini file with the following contents:
    extension_dir = "/app/www/ext/"
  4. Deploy

the CodeIgniter logoMost of my small personal projects tend to get built with CodeIgniter (CI), which is a simple to use, fast, lightweight PHP5 MVC framework.

the Facebook logoFor a while now I’ve had an itch to build something fun against the Facebook API so I can start learning how Open Graph works, and as a primer to building a “proper” Facebook integrated application. I also realised I hadn’t actually tried using CodeIgniter 2.x since it was released (quite some time ago). With an abundance of free time this weekend it seemed like the perfect time to get hacking!

Before I could build anything I would need to know one thing: just how do you connect a CodeIgniter app to Facebook?

Continue Reading…

The beauty of web development is that, ultimately, the code behind it is simple. Yes, web apps have taken leaps and bounds over the last few years, and are capable of so much more than ever before, but lets face it – we’re not exactly writing DNA sequencers. Yet.

It frustrates me when I find someone has made life difficult for themselves or the person who will inherit their code, by using the wrong tool for the job. I’m not claiming to be a saint here either – I often look back at some of my own code and shudder (it helps keep me right in the future!).

Consider the following snippet, from the View (presentation) file of an MVC app I inherited:

	echo "<h1>$category</h1>";
	echo "<h3>$company ($name)</h3>";
	echo "<p>";
	echo "$address<br />";
	echo "$town<br />";
	echo "$city<br />";
	echo "$post_code<br />";
	echo "$phone<br />";
	echo "$email<br />";
	echo "</p>";
	echo "<br />";
	echo "<br />";

PHP needs to be used to output the data passed from the Controller, yes, but there’s no need for it to be outputting the HTML too. Let HTML itself worry about that!

	<h1><?= $category ?></h1>
  		<h3><?= $company ?> (<span><?= $name ?></span>)</h3>
			<span><?= $address ?></span>
			<span><?= $town ?></span>
			<span><?= $city ?></span>
			<span><?= $post_code ?></span>
			<span><?= $phone ?> </span>
			<span><?= $email ?></span>

I don’t know about you, but the HTML-based version above is easier to follow and spot coding errors. No doubt someone will point out there’s more HTML tags/bytes in this example than the first, but that is because I coded it with semantics and microformats in mind; add in the right classes and you suddenly have a hCard.

Possibly more importantly in my mind, the HTML example is easier to follow for someone who isn’t PHP literate, like many front-end designers I know.

I’m picking on this example as it’s the most recent I’ve come across, and the first to come hand. It’s not the first example I’ve come across, it won’t be the last, and it’s certainly not the worst!

Pure, simple HTML can be a wondrous thing. Lets try not to spoil it by abusing it with our fancy server-side languages. K.I.S.S!

So I’m writing my first serious bit of PHP in aaaages. This last few months, I’ve either been adapting existing systems to fit the bill, or I’ve been writing ASP (all while learnng Ruby on Rails).

I feel like I’ve been out of the game. Before I fell out of writing my own PHP every day, I was using the CakePHP framework. CakePHP is a wonderful framework. It greatly speeds up development and makes things so much easier.

Unfortunately, frameworks are only of use to the developer or your customer has someone who knows what they’re doing to set up everything for them. When you’re building a product for those who aren’t so technically minded, giving them something like CakePHP/Rails/Django, etc, to install – before they can use the product – is a big no-no1.

So anyway, I’m writing this new product. It’s not terribly exciting, nor should it be particularly difficult… but what looked a piece of cake on paper is going slower than I would like. I need to get my head around the fact I don’t have a framework or existing application doing 90% of the grunt-work for me. All those framework-specific shortcuts and existing functions I’ve grown used to don’t work any more so I need to do things manually2. Joyful.

On the plus side, this is probably the coding equivalent of getting back into shape for a World Championship fight, after getting slower and fatter from being too comfortable – a la Rocky in Rocky III.

Frameworks are a wonderful thing for speeding up development in large projects where you have control over your environment. Just remember not to rely on them too much.

  1. This isn’t to knock the work of the developers of frameworks like CakePHP and Rails, et al – not at all. I think they’re doing great, great work, which makes the lives of countless developers worldwide just that little bit easier.
  2. Another thing keeping me from top-speed is an insistence I’ve put on myself to follow best coding-practices all the way, and most importantly, document everything as I go. I usually write something then document it later once everything else is finished.

Today I fired up TextMate to do my first bit of serious PHP coding since my stroke. I’ve been almost entirely XHTML/CSS since getting out of hospital last August, with a little light coding (ASP mostly) since then.

Probably the closest I’ve got to writing any real PHP in 8 months has been learning the basics of WordPress themes from Blog Design Solutions… To be honest, I’ve not had the same drive or determination to “Just Code It” as I once did.

I’ve been reading 37 Signals’ excellent book, Getting Real today. I’m about three quarters of the way through. I doubt I’ve ever said this about a “tech” book before, but it’s a real “page-turner”; Getting Real pulls you in and is real hard to put down once you get started. All the praise you may have heard about this book is justly deserved—it’s essential reading for developers… hell, it should probably be essential reading for anyone who has to work on just about any type of product or in a team.

While I’ve been reading Getting Real, I’ve been feeling like I want to write code again; I want to write something simple, elegant and real. I want to stop thinking about some of the ideas I’ve had over the last few month – no years – and actually do something. So I set-up a development site and database for one such idea, opened TextMate and created a new project.

It hit me like a slap in the face; I’ve forgotten how to do this. It’s like I’m back on square one… like someone sucked most of my programming ability out of my head. I can remember lots of stuff about various PHP functions, syntax and a million myriad details, but actually doing anything with any of it is another matter. I started thinking about the initial, basic class/data structure I would need and it was like the lights were on but nobody was home.

Looking on the bright-side: if I do have to relearn myslef this stuff, it means I’ll be able to do it with a clean slate and Be Real from the very outset…