Category Archives: PHP

PHPConsistent : a new tool to verify your calls and documentation quality

Back in 2009 and 2010 I wrote about a PHPUnit patch I wrote to automatically verify parameter types in function calls. The feature never made it into PHPUnit and honestly it didn’t really fit into the feature set either. Although I still plan on releasing it as a PHPUnit extension that you can easily load, I’ve since been using it outside of PHPUnit, not just on tests, but on any PHP code.

Introducing PHPConsistent

PHPConsistent will verify your code using both dynamic and static analysis.

The goal is to improve code quality of your code and the libraries you use by :

  • Verifying your code is making calls using the right parameters and parameter types
  • Verifying if the in-line documentation (docblock) of the called functions/methods is accurate

It will compare :

  • Parameter types specified in the docblock <-> types of parameters passed upon calling the function/method
  • Number of parameters specified in the docblock <-> number of parameters actually present in the function/method definition
  • Names of parameters specified in the docblock <-> names of parameters actually present in the function/method definition

Sample output

Invalid type calling SomeClass->GiveMeAnArray : parameter 3 ($somearray) should be of type array but got boolean instead : library/App.php (line 5)
Parameter names in function definition and docblock don't match when calling JustAnotherFunction : parameter 2 ($inputFilename) should be called $inputFile according to docblock : application/Bootstrap.php (line 214)
Parameter count in function definition and docblock don't match when calling OneMoreFunction : function has 6 but should be 5 according to docblock : application/Bootstrap.php (line 215)

Performance

Keep in mind that PHPConsistent relies on Xdebug’s trace functionality, making it quite slow. It also needs to analyze the output of that trace, making it even slower. So it’s definitely not something you want to run on a production environment !

Want to know more ?

Check out the PHPConsistent Github page

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PHPCompatibility update

Update (Nov 3, 2013) : changed the parameters to reflect the new changes in PHP_CodeSniffer

Just a quick post about the updates made to PHPCompatibility.

I did a talk on PHP 5.4/5.5 at Zendcon, not just about what’s new and why you should upgrade, but also about the way PHPCompatibility can ease the pain. I received very good feedback, as well as very interesting questions. As a result, I added a feature I’ve wanted to add for a long time : the option to specify which PHP version to check for.

Here’s the caveat : it requires a change to PHP_CodeSniffer. I’m hoping that change will be accepted soon. From that point onwards, if you have the latest PHP_CodeSniffer (you might want to get it from Github).

So then you will be able to do :

phpcs --standard=PHPCompatibility --runtime-set testVersion 5.4 <path-of-your-php-files>

You can also test for backwards compatibility of your code by specifying versions like 5.2, which causes it to check whether you’re using functions or keywords not known to this older version. Quite nice if you’re coding on PHP 5.5, but your system engineer tells you half way through the project the project will have to be deployed on 5.2.

Important note : if you want to test backwards compatibility, it’s best to run on the latest PHP version available (5.5 right now), for the simple reason that if you have, for example, the keyword ‘yield’ in your code, PHP_CodeSniffer can only recognize it when you’re running PHP 5.5. It can only tell you it’s not available in previous versions if it actually knows what it is.

Expect more compatibility tools soon, as I have some more ideas, such as how to automatically figure out whether and where you’re still relying on register_globals and magic quotes ;-)

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Conferences, development, ideas, …

I just returned from PHPCon Poland, a very nice conference taking place in the middle of beautiful scenery. Although there were only 5 talks in English (3 of which were given by Belgians – Thijs Feryn, Michelangelo Van Dam and myself), the conference was definitely interesting and fun.
I gave a relatively new talk, that I first presented as a 20-min ‘lightning talk’ at ZendCon Uncon 2011. It’s evolved into a 45-min talk (ok, it was only 38-min so I can add some content next time) titled ‘Remove PHP calls and scale your site like crazy’ in which I explain more about the Nginx extension we’re building to improve the performance and scalability of sites with user-specific content. I received some pretty good feedback on Joind.in and lots of people approached me afterwards, wanting to learn even more about it.

I also submitted 6 talks for Confoo, which is supposed to be one of the best web development conferences out there. Not sure if I’ll make it, but if you want to help out, feel free to vote for me. Registration is required to vote, but takes only a minute.

Lots of ideas buzzing in my head, but sadly not enough time to work on them. The Nginx thing is cool, but it’s what I call ‘phase 1’… which means there’s a ‘phase 2′ (in fact, there’s even a ‘phase 3′). But since that requires even more time, it’ll probably be for when phase 1 has been completed.

In the meantime, we’re on the hunt for people looking for a new challenge. If you’re looking to be seriously challenged, check out our jobs page and feel free to tweet/mail/call me ;-)

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PHP 5.4 compatibility checks using PHP_CodeSniffer

Update (27 Nov) : Support for PHP 5.5alpha is included.

For those of you who are new to this concept, check my blog post from a while ago. It will explain the basic concept of using PHP_CodeSniffer to automate compatibility checks. But don’t use the download links, because they point to the old (PHP 5.3) version !

What’s new ?

Quite a few things have changed in this new release :

  • There’s no version specific release anymore. The previous codesniffer standard was called PHP53Compatibility, but it seemed quite stupid to make a new standard for every PHP version out there, especially since that would keep certain people from upgrading to the latest major PHP version. So the new PHPCompatibility standard works for 5.0 – 5.4
  • But since some people simply can’t upgrade to the latest version, I added version information to all the checks. For example : the deprecated  function checker will now tell you that session_register() is deprecated since PHP 5.3 and removed since PHP 5.4 – if you’re running 5.2 and want to move to 5.3, at least you know right away that you’ll have to fix that problem, because otherwise you can’t ever upgrade to 5.4. This version check is available on deprecated/removed function, deprecated/removed php.ini directives and deprecated/removed extensions.
  • Default timezone check has been added : since PHP 5.4, you need to have a default timezone set or PHP will complain. This is ofcourse only useful if you run the tests on a system with identical settings as your production environment.
  • A check for the removed functionality on break and continue was added. (Using a variable or function call as a parameter on break and continue is no longer allowed.)
  • 2 algorithms were removed in the hash extension, so there’s a check for that as well

Where to get it

2 options :

  • Using git : run this in your PHP_CodeSniffer/Standards directory :
    ~ > git clone git://github.com/wimg/PHPCompat_CodeSniffer.git PHPCompatibility
  • Downloading a zip : download here and unzip the file in PHP_CodeSniffer/Standards/PHPCompatibility

How to run it

Start PHP_CodeSniffer like this :

phpcs --standard=PHPCompatibility <path-to-your-PHP-source-directory>

Enjoy !

As always, any feedback (or patches on Github) welcome !

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Zendcon, ACL talk, conferences and other stuff

ACL talk (Zend Webinar)
Remember I promised to post the code of my ACL Webinar somewhere in August ? That didn’t really happen, partly because of a lack of time, partly because after my initial hard drive crash (which made me lose my slides and code), I had another crash in August and then my boot SSD drive crashed in September. Dell was kind enough to replace the power supply, motherboard and 1 disk, but my data was lost (unless I pay over 500EUR to have it recovered, which is a bit too pricy for my liking).
So all those setbacks caused a lot of delay on my promise. Nevertheless, I presented the talk again at the Zendcon Unconference, also mentioning the plans I have in store for version 2. But ofcourse, I’ll have to release version 1 first. Currently I’m using DHTMLX Treeview for the backend treeview interface, but I’m not allowed to redistribute the commercial version I bought. So as soon as I can replace the backend treeview interface with a free one, I’ll release the entire code, including instructions on how to set it up. And since development for version 2 is already underway, I want to make sure I make a good choice there ;-)

Zendcon 2011
Last week I spent a few days at Zendcon in Santa Clara, CA. I saw lots of interesting session there and presented 2 sessions during the Zendcon Unconference (community style version of the main conference) :

  • Creating dynamic ACLs in Zend Framework : the Zend Webinar I presented in August
  • Scaling dynamic sites like static sites : a first glimpse on a new Nginx module we’re building to make dynamic sites behave more like static sites in terms of scalability, without losing their dynamic nature

I received some encouraging comments, so I’m looking forward to presenting more on these topics in the next few months. The Nginx talk should also have some real-world benchmarks the next time I present it.
If you saw either one of my talks, please rate it at Joind.in

Next talks
I’m scheduled to talk at 2 more conferences this year :

  • T-Dose (Technical Dutch Open Source Event) in Eindhoven, The Netherlands on Nov 5-6, 2011 :
    • Nov 5 @ 11:00 : Caching and Tuning fun for high scalability – the talk I presented at phpBenelux, Dyncon and FrOSCon, this time in a condensed 50 minute version – this talk discusses the techniques you can use to keep your site running when it goes from 5 to 5 million visitors/day
    • Nov 6 @ 12:00 : Beyond the code : it’s not (just) about the code ! – a brand-new talk that’s aimed at 80% of developers. Short summary : “Most PHP developers focus on writing code. But creating Web applications is about much more than just wrting PHP. Take a step outside the PHP cocoon and into the big PHP ecosphere to find out how small code changes can make a world of difference on servers and network. This talk is an eye-opener for developers who spend over 80% of their time coding, debugging and testing.”
  • PHP Tour in Lille, France on Nov 24-25, 2011 : Caching and Tuning fun for high scalability – the same talk as on T-Dose, in a condensed version

Working on…
In the next few weeks, expect a few new posts about :

  • A cool new IPv6 project we’ll launch soon
  • Some Zend Framework 2 news and stuff
  • More news on the Nginx module we’re building. At Zendcon, there were 3 large PHP hosters who were interested in testing the solution, so you can expect more posts on that.

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