Archive for the ‘Zend Framework’ Category

Uganda Web Developer Workshops: Rotary Style – Idea looking for Partners and Direction

This is an idea that has been growing in my mind, and I seem to finally have a handle on it. I have been a professional PHP web developer for the last 12 years, and have gone through the learning and transition cycles from learning a new language from Visual Basic 6 and MS Access to Java/JSP/Servlets to PHP, and developing in the language from direct database access using mysql_query through a custom developed database class into Zend Framework for 2 years with Doctrine 1 and 2 ORMs.

My biggest challenge has to do with the fact that there are no places to go and talk code, PHP/Javascript/Database in Uganda, along with the experiences and challenges facing web development with “need-to-have” practices like:

  1. Refactoring
  2. MVC design for web applications
  3. Version control – branching, merging, version tagging and management
  4. Testing – unit and functional testing, load testing
  5. API development (okay this is pushing the enveloper)
  6. Continuous integration, code quality metrics – complexity, modular development, cyclomatic complexity
  7. Team Style development – PSR 0 and PSR 1 compatibility
  8. Frameworks – Symfony, Zend Framework, Kohana, JQuery, Twitter Bootstrap
  9. Advanced CSS and HTML 5 – style guides, browser targetting, mobile development

I am also looking at doing this Rotary style, 1 hour developer meetings once in 2 weeks, then later once a week, same night, same location.

The bottom line is that we develop the quality of the available pool of web developers by growing a community, having role models, to also put a brighter face on the industry, improve perceptions and make it clear that this is an area that has professional practices. It is a win-win for all involved

Any ideas who has done this before, what were your challenges and trials, who would like to partner on this?

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Display Contents of Different File Formats Word/Excel/Powerpoint/PDF/RTF as HTML

This is a typical problem which I also raised on Stack Overflow (http://stackoverflow.com/questions/11061929/php-extract-text-from-different-file-formats-word-excel-powerpoint-pdf-rtf#comment14475398_11061929), but there seemed no single resource around the web to solve this particular problem, so since I have solved it I thought it would make sense to provide an approach and a solution, it can be refined better with time

Problem: We have a web application that allows different users to upload different files to share with others, the file types are limited. However just before downloading a file, the user needs to see a preview of the file contents, which is where it becomes tricky since each  file type is different.

Approach:

1. Identify the extension of each file

2. Display the text or HMTL from each file using the appropriate library for the file type, since there is no unified library

The base class is https://gist.github.com/2941076 which requires the path to the file and the extension (since the extension is already stored in the database I do not try to extract it from the file)

The libraries used for the different types of files are the key to the solution:

1. MS Word Documents – LiveDocx Service within Zend Framework (http://www.phplivedocx.org/2009/08/13/convert-docx-doc-rtf-to-html-in-php/) the steps are:

– Create a Mail Merge Document using the word document as a template

– Connect to the LiveDocx service (here you need SOAP and SSL enabled on your local LAMP installation)

– Save the generated document, and render it as HTML

2. MS Excel – PHPExcel from Codeplex so simple its scary (http://phpexcel.codeplex.com)

– Create a PHP Excel class to read the file

– Create an HTML writer to render the HTML

– Save the HTML to a file and read its contents

3. PDF text extract – http://pastebin.com/hRviHKp1 

– Create an instance of the PDF2Text class holding a reference to the PDF file

– Decode the PDF which extracts the text out of the file

d) Powerpoint – Work in Progress to be added later

More as I work in the power point extractions

Doctrine 2 – Day 2 – Model Validation using Symfony Validator Service in Zend Framework

It is just Day 2 of my experiences in the trenches, regular work, had kept me from this but I managed to get some time to keep digging. As a followup to my Doctrine 2 – Day 1 – Commentary from the Trenches. The models are up and configured, and the unit testing is setup following steps from Michelangelo van Dam’s presentation (http://www.slideshare.net/DragonBe/unit-testing-zend-framework-apps).

One of the major process that we are implementing with this migration is detailed unit testing which was tougher with the Doctrine1. With the unit test infrastructure setup, the next item on the agenda is model validation. From previous experience (before Doctrine 1) and with Doctrine1 it is critical to be able to specify validation rules using annotations without having to write PHP if statements. Being a ZF person, the first step to look was the ZF validator classes. While they seem to be well integrated with the forms, they would prove to be too verbose to use for validation of models, since I also need to be able to specify multiple validators per column, and this would not cut it for me.

Next stop was Symfony2 validator service (http://symfony.com/doc/current/book/validation.html) provides validators with annotations support. So that was the easy part, the hard part was yet to come integration. The integration followed the steps below:

a) Add Symfony Validator service to library folder, easy, just download a package from https://github.com/symfony/Validator

b) Register the Symfony Validator annotations – this is where I had problems (more later)

c) Add the Symfony Validators to the model properties

d) Add validation code which needed a validate() method in the base class from which all entities are derived, which requires @ORM\HasLifecycleCallbacks (so that the model can hook into the lifecyle call back models) @ORMPrePersist and @ORM\PreUpdate for the validate method to ensure its called before the models are saved (first time) or updated. More details on the Doctrine annotations can be found at http://docs.doctrine-project.org/projects/doctrine-orm/en/latest/reference/annotations-reference.html

So what problems did I face.

1. From the Doctrine documentation, you use the annotations directly, for example @Id, however experience has shown that you need to namespace and alias them see note from Symfony integration http://symfony.com/doc/current/book/doctrine.html . So I had to change all the Doctrine annotations to use @ORM namespace

2. The default annotation driver only supports a single namespace so you will need to update as per the pastebin below

http://pastebin.com/embed_iframe.php?i=feiKsVxg

Now I am a happy camper, got my models working using Symfony validations, we only have to write code for custom validations which happens only about 20 – 30% of the time.

As a parting shot, the Symfony team and community have done a great job for PHP, why because they provide standalone components (similar to Zend Framework), but each of their components can be used without the rest of the framework. As I was investigating the validator usage and issues, I found a thread where Fabien Potencier and team were discussing annotation support in Symfony. However they also noted that Doctrine Commons had better support, so they stopped the work on Symfony annotation support and just used the services of the Doctrine team. This is how all software development should be done, and is a torch to the rest of us. I am a convert, and happy to be a proud member of the PHP community.

Update May 8, 2012

I had promised to provide some sample snippets of what I am using for the integration with Bisna integration and Symfony validation that I ended up using so here we go https://gist.github.com/2638526 The files are as follows:

a) application.ini – there is nothing special here from Bisna. Includes the cache configuration, prod/staging/dev/test environments all of which inherit from production

b) index.php – from the public folder or htdocs – this may not be perfect but it works and am looking for ways to simplify it

c) Bootstrap – this is the file we use, highlight:

– Storing the entity manager instance in the Zend_Registry, we have a utility method which loads it from the registry and another which also provides a connection from the entity manager so its fully encapsulated

– intialization of the Zend_DB adapter, we need this since we are using the Zend_Session to save the sessions in the database

– the last config is for other resources we use. We have a dependency on the Zend_Registry class as it hides a lot of complexity

d) Document.php – a sample model class

– it extends BaseEntity which provides automatic getters and setters through the __call method, some required fields like id, datecreated, last  update date and last updated by (not all models extend this class only those which need those auditing fields)

– Why do we have getCategoryID(), setCategoryID() for the category property instead of mapping the categoryid field from the database see the next post in the series https://ssmusoke.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/doctrine2-day-3-proxies-associations-relationships/

– Unlike the Doctrine2 defaults we do not use tablename_id but rather tablenameid for the foreign keys so we have define them in each relationship.

Please let me know what I can do to make this any clearer, thanks for reading

State of PHP Feb 2012 – Symfony 2, Zend Framework 2, IDE Support, MySQL

There is just too much going on so I thought I should put these thoughts down so that I do not lose my mind from the excitement and anticipation that comes from things moving very fast and innovation being spured at a pace which is mind boggling.

PHP

In my opinion the stabilization of PHP 5.3 which introduced namespaces (similar to Java Packages) was the first shot across the bow, and I expect 5.4 with traits to bring even more reusability. However our hosting providers are slow to upgrade most are still running PHP 5.2, without general availability for 5.3 just starting to appear

Frameworks

There are two main frameworks in the bull pen Symfony 2 (http://symfony.com/) and Zend Framework 2 (http://zendframework.com/) currently in beta. However they are as different as can be. While Symfony 2 has been refactored from a full blown framework to a bunch of core reusable components, its moving towards ZF2, in that its not trying to be all MVC, forms etc, but is rather a set of building blocks to provide web application framework. So good is it that Fabien Potencier the lead developer has a series on how to build your own framework on top of Symfony at http://bit.ly/zVLi7X

ZF2 on the other hand is a bunch of reusable components which you can mix and match with other frameworks which also provides an MVC, ORM etc.

If you have been in the Java world, Symfony is more like Spring Source () while Zend Framework is Apache Jakarta (http://jakarta.apache.org/)

Interesting tweet that sums it all up:
Every time a developer complains about php, the #Symfony2 community creates another great, namespaced, decoupled and reusable component

IDE Support

Zend Studio 9 was let loose at ZendCon, Oracle released Netbeans 7 (which supports ZF1, and Symfony), Eclipse PDT is chugging along, PHP Storm from Jetbrains creating  a storm with others  Vim, Notepad++, Sublime Text basically all you need to do is pick your poison.

Communities

Github (http://www.github.com) is the new Facebook and LinkedIn for developers, where all the action is happening for all the major PHP communities, you had better be there. Forking and making changes is as easy as a button press. I am yet to push my first commit to a project but I am getting there.

MySQL

The best know web database is getting losta love from Oracle, and also the community led by Percona, SkySQL, Monty DB, and many others. Where it seemed lost with lost of FUD during the $1bn Sun takeover by Oracle, it seems to just be gaining steam (at least from my viewpoint as a consumer, developer and user). Now at 5.5, with 5.6 starting to appear over the horizon …

While there is a barrage of NoSQL solutions, Hadoop leading the charge, MySQL provides a NoSQL interface via HandlerSocket (https://github.com/ahiguti/HandlerSocket-Plugin-for-MySQL) and MySQL Cluster (http://www.mysql.com/products/cluster/)

Supporting Infrastructure

This is where all the fun happens, who is using the language and what are the trends. Here is a snapshot:

  1. Content Management Systems – WordPress is getting lots of love, while Joomla now at 2.5 supports databases other than MySQL. Drupal is adopting Symfony 2 as its core framework while Magento runs off a modified ZF1 kernel, while XOOPS (http://xoops.org) is being rewritten to use ZF1 or two
  2. Template Engines – an area where battles are found won, and lost. Smarty now at 3.0 (www.smarty.net), has to battle Twig (http://twig.sensiolabs.org)  which is surging due to its usage in Symfony 2
  3. Web services – JSON, XML, AjaX, Rest Interfaces are no longer buzz words they are the norm with native support being baked into PHP
  4. Object Relational Mappers (ORMS) are one of the core developer architectural choices, in PHP we have ZF Table (Table Gateway), Doctrine 1 (Active Record), Doctrine 2 (Data Mapper), Propel (not used) in addition to plain old PDO all of which provide rich choices. Interesting is that Doctrine 2 provides an mapping for MongoDB which shows its versatility similar to Hibernate for Java
  5. Continuous Integration – with Hudson and Jenkins, and now Travis which is also hooked into Github provides a great way to continuously monitor the quality of your development
  6. Quality Control – PHP Unit has always been there but now we have mess detectors, and other metrics (do not make sense of them yet), but whatever you want to measure there is probably a tool for it.
  7. UI Toolkits – JQuery took the world by storm with JQuery UI providing a set of theme-able components, but we have HTML5 boiler plate and Twitter Bootstrap which are simplifying the cross browser issues we developers face.
  8. Performance – always a PHP problem but it has improved through 5.3 to 5.4, and other techniques like OP Caches are becoming more maintream, Memcache is pre-built into Apache …

Exciting times to be a PHP web developer oopsss we are not web developers we are Software Mechanics (http://www.brandonsavage.net/the-mechanics-of-code/)

Doctrine2 – Day 1 – Commentary from the Trenches

The new year is here so it is time to get cracking on infrastructure for the year’s development projects. There are a number of things we have been putting off, but now that a number of our client hosts support PHP 5.3, it is the right time to move up the stack for our ORM from Doctrine 1.2 to Doctrine 2 (which feels more like Hibernate) than anything else.

Well step 1 was downloading it, I went straight to Github (https://github.com/doctrine) , got the Doctrine-ORM unpacked it dropped it into the library/Doctrine and was chugging away when I got errors. Seems like some classes were missing …

Tip #1: Download the ORM or DBAL packages from the main project website and you will get all required classes

Anyway classes in tow, I started cutting away at the Doctrine 1 classes to remove all that is not supported it is alot. Doctrine 1 was an Active Record implementation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_record) which meant that you had to extend a base class Doctrine_Record, while Doctrine 2 is a data mapper (http://martinfowler.com/eaaCatalog/dataMapper.html), you write POPOs (Plain Old PHP Objects) for which you provide the mapping metadata so the database access is handled by a service layer.

We chose to use PHP Annotations over YAML and XML so that we do not introduce any dependencies and maintain the mapping metadata within the model classes.

Next step was integration with Zend Framework, so I followed the instructions at the Mayflower Blog (http://blog.mayflower.de/archives/799-06.12.-Doctrine-2-Zend-Framework-Integration.html)  with the following tweaks:

  1. Application.ini – instead of using doctrine.connectionParameters maintained the resources.db.params configuration which we use for storing sessions in the database using Zend_Session
  2. Bootstrap – load the resources.db settings and change configurations user to username and adapter to driver which Doctrine2 expects.
  3. Change production caching to ArrayCache since the shared hosts do not usually support APC, this will change on a project to project basis.

At least now the pages load now into the model configurations. We use two base classes BaseRecord was the one which extends Doctrine_Record in 1.2, and BaseEntity which provides commonly used properties id (autoincrement), datecreated, created by, lastupdate date and last updated by columns which are common to all tables.

First step was to add the mapping annotations, the column definitions are similar to Doctrine 1 with sensible defaults, which helps. However the associations were a mean piece of code, since the Doctrine 2 conventions are a total mismatch to normal database terminologies which I was used to. Opened a github issue too at https://github.com/doctrine/orm-documentation/issues/80 (my first Github and Open Source issue)

Anyway what is interesting in the association mapping is that the mapping columns are defined in the annotation and private variables are not defined for the mapping columns (at least I do not see that in the examples) may come back to bite me later when I start saving the entities, but that is for another time

So anyway classes setup, now the next problem I ran into. In Doctrine 1, the Doctrine_Record provided two methods:

  1. Merge – which merges data into the object
  2. SynchronizeWithArray – same as merge, but had an added function, if you have relations defined and do not pass information in them, then the relations are removed, which was excellent for cases where you need to remove relations in a hurry

Where does this leave me now, action items are:

  1. Setup automated binding of an array of data to the object, and how to deal with relations …
  2. Update the application code to enable an object to load its details from the database … seems crude I will look at what others do
  3. Add Validators since Doctrine2 provides none. Now I need to poke into how I can use Zend_Validators without too much overhead and new changes for my team …

Anha one last one, I wanted to have a PDF of the documentation, since I wanted to use it on my PC faster than opening pages, but none was available. I pinged Jonathan Wage (http://www.jwage.com/) and he pointed me to Read the Docs ( http://readthedocs.org/) which generates documentation for projects from Github etc, so you should check it out. Anyway I searched for Doctrine ORM documentation, downloaded a PDF and now I am in business.

All in a day’s work, and I hope to keep plodding and poking into it as promised.

My take on Day 1, the models feel light weight and more like POJOs, well I think PHP is becoming more and more enterprise ready as it supports core patterns of Enterprise Architecture a Martin Fowler religion that I subscribe to …

Till next time

PHP Wishes 2012 – Interfaces and Standard Web Application Project Layout

Since Santa is listening, below are my PHP wishes for 2012:

  1. Standard Interfaces like Java which are used by many projects so that developers and architects focus on implementation
  2. Standardized Web Application Project Layout just like J2EE Web Application Directory Structure (http://java.sun.com/blueprints/code/projectconventions.html) or Linux Standard Base (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_Standard_Base)

I am learning Symfony 2 over the next coupla weeks, and though I am already familiar with Zend Framework 1, I am looking forward to Zend Framework 2 performance enhancements.

The question is that why is it so hard to get consensus for the betterment of all developers and aiding the momentum of the language forward?

Zend Framework Hidden Gems – Zend_Measure

Just had a bit of a problem today dealing with displaying file sizes of uploaded reports in an application we are upgrading using Zend Framework. When the files are uploaded, the file sizes are stored in bytes, but for display we need to show the sized in KB as the typical file size is between 60k and 2,048KB (2MB).

Looking through http://php.net I came across some scripts that we could use, but I was looking for a versatile re-useable solution. Well that is when I came across Zend_Measure (http://www.framework.zend.com/manual/en/zend.measure.html).

How did we use it, well, very simply:

  1. Added Zend_Measure library files into our application library folder (we do not install all components by default, we add them as we need to)
  2. Created a new Zend_Measure_Binary (http://www.framework.zend.com/manual/en/zend.measure.types.html) class instance
  3. Add the filesize in bytes
  4. Change the type from bytes to kilobytes (the conversion types are available as constants)
  5. Call the toString() method to output the formatted type

Now we have a reusable element which can be used …

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