Category Archives: open source

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

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.

phpBenelux : conference done – slides up – webcast coming soon

phpBenelux 2011 was a huge success. After last year’s one-day conference the phpBenelux team decided to add a half day of conference and add a half day of tutorials as well. I wasn’t able to attend many of the talks, but heard a lot of good things about the talks, the food, the atmosphere, etc.

On Friday, I presented a tutorial called ‘Caching and Tuning fun for high scalability’ at the phpBenelux Conference. The slides are now available here (Slideshare). If you were at my talk, please rate it here ( Since it was the first time I gave this talk, any feedback would be most welcome.

Sadly, because of issues with servers (2 disk failures and a burnt out CPU), I was unable to present the planned live benchmark, so I will do a webcast in March in which I will go through the step-by-step process of getting a site from having no performance and no scalability to the point where it can scale way beyond Slashdot-effect handling levels. That way, people who follow the webcast can see for themselves what effect each of the changes (adding the different kinds of caching, distributing the cache, adding Nginx, adding reverse proxies, tuning the DB, tuning the Webserver and ofcourse tuning the frontend) has on the performance and the scalability of the Website. It will definitely be an eye-opener for a lot of people !

For an exact date, check back here in Feburary or follow me on Twitter @wimgtr

Automated PHP 5.3 compatibility testing for your (old) code

Update (Mar 5, 2012) : check here for the latest version, supporting PHP 5.4 as well.

Update (Dec 22, 2010) : code has seen some minor modifications to ensure compatibility with the latest PHP_CodeSniffer release (1.3.0RC1) – thanks to Sebastian Bergmann. Also updated the instructions below.

Note (Dec 22, 2010) : this compatibility test will also test all testable cases for 5.0, 5.1 and 5.2

So you or your team has built anywhere between 5 and 500 projects in PHP 4, 5.1 and 5.2 over the past 5 years. And now PHP 5.3 is there, offering a lot of very interesting features, including namespace support, late static binding (finally !), closures, nested exceptions and a bunch more (see the new feature list).

So naturally, you’d like to upgrade. But doing so might break some old code. Why ? Because of some backward incompatibilities :

  • New reserved keywords (goto, namespace)
  • Deprecated functions that will throw an error (the brand new E_DEPRECATED error in fact !)
  • Call-by-value on functions with by-reference parameters will now raise a fatal error
  • and again… many more (see the list)

So how do you ensure your code is PHP 5.3 ready ? Well, there’s a few options.

Option 1 : run your unit tests

You just knew I was going to say that, didn’t you ? Yes, unit tests are still the best way to test the inner working of your code. Although even 100% code coverage will not guarantee a bugfree system ofcourse (some bugs are by design, others by neglect, others…)

Option 2 : test your application

Seems logical, doesn’t it ? Install PHP 5.3 on a separate environment or on your test environment and test the entire application. Ofcourse there are issues for some :

  • Old projects often don’t have any budget allocated for this kind of tedious testing
  • Testing an old project is not easy if the original developers aren’t around anymore… so the testing is best done by the actual user… but you don’t want users to see how their application breaks “because of old code”
  • If you have a lot of projects, testing them one-by-one could take a while… maybe 5.4 will be out by then :p

Option 3 : automate your PHP 5.x compatibility tests

Although the first 2 options are really required to ensure your code is PHP 5.3 ready, using automated tests can get you a long way in detecting deprecated functions, unsupported extensions, etc.

Because I’m in charge of moving about 50 projects to PHP 5.3 in the next few weeks/months, I decided to make at least part of this tedious task a little smoother (and faster).

To use the system, all you need is PHP_CodeSniffer and a new sniff standard I created. You will see errors and warnings popping up if part of the code is not PHP 5.3 compatible.

What’s being tested

  • Deprecated functions
  • Deprecated php.ini directives set via ini_set() or retrieved via ini_get()
  • Deprecated assigning of the return value of new() by reference
  • Prohibited names in function name, class name, namespace name and constant name
  • Magic methods can no longer be private, protected or static
  • Removed, unsupported or deprecated extensions
  • All of the above is being tested for PHP 5.0, 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 compatibility issues

How to download and install

~ > git clone git:// PHP53Compatibility

  • Copy the PHP53Compatibility directory to {your pear path}/PHP/CodeSniffer/Standards

How to run

Start PHP_CodeSniffer like this :

phpcs --standard=PHP53Compatibility

Sample output

FILE: C:\temp\bla.php


4 | ERROR | Function name, class name, namespace name or constant name can
| | not be reserved keyword 'goto' (since version 5.3)
6 | ERROR | Extension 'dbase' is not available in PHP 5.3 anymore
12 | ERROR | Function name, class name, namespace name or constant name can
| | not be reserved keyword 'const' (since version all)
12 | ERROR | Function name, class name, namespace name or constant name can
| | not be reserved keyword 'const' (since version all)
12 | ERROR | Function name, class name, namespace name or constant name can
| | not be reserved keyword 'const' (since version all)
12 | ERROR | Function name, class name, namespace name or constant name can
| | not be reserved keyword 'const' (since version all)
12 | ERROR | Function name, class name, namespace name or constant name can
| | not be reserved keyword 'const' (since version all)
14 | ERROR | Function name, class name, namespace name or constant name can
| | not be reserved keyword 'do' (since version all)
16 | ERROR | Function name, class name, namespace name or constant name can
| | not be reserved keyword 'goto' (since version 5.3)
18 | ERROR | Function name, class name, namespace name or constant name can
| | not be reserved keyword 'namespace' (since version 5.3)
20 | ERROR | Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in
| | PHP 5.3
31 | ERROR | Magic methods must be public (since PHP 5.3) !
31 | ERROR | Magic methods can not be static (since PHP 5.3) !
36 | ERROR | Extension 'mhash' is not available in PHP 5.3 - use the 'hash'
| | extension instead
42 | ERROR | Extension 'msql' is not available in PHP 5.3 anymore
48 | WARNING | The use of function magic_quotes_runtime() is discouraged
50 | WARNING | The use of ini directive 'safe_mode' is discouraged

Some important notes about the system

  • The system checks for deprecated functions, new reserved keywords and other changes from PHP 5.0 to 5.3. However, it doesn’t check for every incompatibility, only a subset that was easily testable using PHP_CodeSniffer. So you still need to check your application manually to see if it runs properly. However, at least part of the job has been made a little easier.
  • You need to run the tests on a system with PHP 5.3 installed (sounds logical, but seemed like a good idea to mention it…)
  • The tests were written on a sunny afternoon with lots of interruptions, so they’re all but perfect. Please let me know if you find bugs, things missing or just want to flame me 😉

As always, no guarantees that it will do the job… but if you feel it’s of use to you, let me know in the comments !