Developing software in the Real World

2014 in pictures

2014 is coming to an end, so as usual, let's look back at the year as highlighted by the photos that I've taken. This year, I took at least one photo every day, so there's been plenty for me to choose from! I've done this recap in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. January As usual, there was flooding in Worcester, but clearly the biggest personal event of the month was breaking my elbow… continue reading.

Recursively deleting elements from an array

I had a need recently to delete items from a nested associative array and also any empty sub-arrays. My initial thought was to use array_walk_recursive, but this doesn't work as you can't unset nested elements and you only have access to the leaves. Clearly I needed a recursive function. I'm sure that this has been done many times before, but this is my solution:

with this test:

This is very similar to how… continue reading.

SSL certificate verification on PHP 5.6

I recently updated my local OS X Zend Server installation to PHP 5.6 and when I ran composer self-update, I got this error message:

Googling around, I finally worked out that there have been various SSL improvements in PHP 5.6 and that the problem was that it couldn't find any OpenSSL certificates on my system. This isn't a total surprise as OS X has been moving away from using OpenSSL internally in favour of… continue reading.

Overriding the built-in Twig date filter

In one project that I'm working on, I'm using Twig and needed to format a date received from an API. The date string received is of the style "YYYYMMDD", however date produced an unexpected output. Consider this:

creates the output:

This surprised me. Then I thought about it some more and realised that the date filter is treating my date string as a unix timestamp. I investigated and discovered the problem in twig_date_converter:… continue reading.

Converting databases between MySQL and SQL Server

I regularly deal projects that target SQL Server, but mostly develop against MySQL to avoid having to run a full Windows stack locally all the time. One of the nice things about PHP with DBAL and Migrations is that the database is pretty well abstracted from my code. Of course, this means that I don't target any of the specialist features, but for these projects, this hasn't been an issue. To convert data from SQL… continue reading.

Validating JSON with ZF2's Zend\Validator

Let's say that you have an admin form where the user can enter JSON and you'd like to validate that the JSON parses before allowing the user to submit. To do this, you can use the rather excellent jsonlint project by Jordi Boggiano. Obviously, add it via Compser :) Usage is simple:

We can wrap this up into a Zend Framework 2 validator quite easily:

Simply add RKA\Validator\Json to the input filter of… continue reading.

Autocomplete Phing targets on the command line

Shortly after writing my last post, it crossed my mind that it would be nice if I could autocomplete the targets in my Phing build file on the command line. In order to do this, I read Buddy Lindsey's Quick and Dirty Write Your Own Bash Autocomplete and made it do what I needed! Start by creating a new bash completion file in the bash_completion.d directory. This file needs executable permission. This directory can usually… continue reading.

A few Phing tips

Following on from my last post, here's a few other Phing things that I've found helps me. Hiding targets from Phing -l I have a number of dependent targets in my build.xml that I don't want listed when I run phing -l. The easiest way to do this is to add the hidden="true" property to the targets I want to hide:

The output of phing -l now shows just the foo target as I… continue reading.

Using Phing to SSH into a Vagrant box

Now that I've started using migrations, I've discovered a minor irritant. I run this project on a Vagrant VM and have discovered that I keep forgetting to ssh into the vagrant box before running the migrations script. The obvious solution is to automate this and I decided to use Phing to do so. Firstly, I needed to install the PHP ssh2 extension:

I'm on OS X, so installed libssh2 via homebrew and as the… continue reading.

My "new" blogging habit

I've just come across Andy Baio's Middling post and this bit really resonated with me: Twitter and Waxy Links cannibalized all the smaller posts, and as my reach grew, I started reserving blogging for more "serious" stuff — mostly longer-form research and investigative writing. From around September 2013, I found that I was in this situation. I was only posting here once or twice a month, mainly as I felt that I should only blog… continue reading.