Recently, Anthony Ferrara has been posting a periodic "Beyond" series about software design philosophy. Some in particular have hinted at concepts I've been pondering as well. With his blessing, therefore, consider this a continuation of that series.
PHP 5.4 is not exactly new, but it's finally starting to see actual usage by a decent number of people. Its most notable new feature is Traits, which in PHP are implemented as, essentially, compile-time copy-paste. Conceptually, though, they're a way to mix functionality into a class without using inheritance, and without requiring a separate distinct object for composition. (At least in PHP; the term "trait" appears in other languages for similar but subtly different tools.) That's not to say that they're a surrogate for composition; they most certainly are not. They serve a different purpose, that is, providing code for a class to reuse without using inheritance.
Recently, I was reading an article discussing the implementation of inheritance, such as it is, in Go, Rust, and other new-wave concurrent languages. (Thanks to twistor for helping me track down the link.) It made an interesting point that crystallized for me why it is I am so excited about traits. Specifically, it noted that there are not one but two kinds of code reuse: interface reuse and code reuse.
Recently I had an email conversation with someone about PHP, and how to market a new product to PHP developers, specifically through getting major PHP projects to adopt it. The details of that conversation are not really relevant, but in the course of the discussion a familiar topic came up that I feel warrants a blog post of its own.
There is a schism in the PHP community. A big one. One so big that I don't think many realize it's there, because the gulf across it is just so wide. See, there's not one "thing" called a "PHP Developer"; there are two, and they are so unalike that I have never seen them really see eye to eye.
Well, I've gone and done it. I've managed to setup my most intense conference schedule to date. This fall I will be appearing at no less than five conferences, speaking at least four of them.
If you're into Stalking Crell, here's where you'll find me around the globe this fall.
Earlier today, I posted a brief tweet (isn't that redundant?) about return values in PHP (or really, any language). Originally it was about return values from functions (such an exciting topic, I know), but it ended up generating a fair bit of lively conversation, as well as a patch against Drupal 8. So lively, in fact, that I think it deserves more than 140 characters.
If your function returns a collection, its null value return must also be a collection.
And so 2012 draws to a close. The world didn't end, to the disappointment of many. In some ways it was an eventful year, in others rather ho-hum follow-ups to the excitement of 2011.
In the Drupal world, though, 2012 will go down as the year Drupal finally began replacing NIH with PIE. Compare Drupal's 8.x branch a year ago with it today. A year ago, we had one class of 3rd party PHP code, in an uninteresting corner of the update system. Today, it contains 3rd party code from no less than five different projects: Symfony, Doctrine, Guzzle, Assetic, and Twig. Those libraries are included via Composer, the new and ground-breaking PHP-library-management-system-that-actually-finally-works. Code from at least one more should be landing soon.
Drupal developers, working on Drupal, have contributed to a number of other projects, including Symfony and Symfony CMF, and because of the degree of code sharing happening in the PHP world now have indirectly contributed to a half-dozen other major projects, too. Drupal 8, aside from the technological advances it will offer over Drupal 7, also represents perhaps the largest cultural shift in Drupal or PHP history.
Are you ready for 2013, Drupal? Really?
The private variables debate is going around the PHP world again. Brandon Savage posted a pair of articles pointing out the perils of private variables, boiling down mostly to them making extension infesible or impossible. Anthony Ferrara replied with his own article, arguing that the real problem is using inheritance in the first place rather than composition. I figured I'd weigh in on my own blog rather than in a comment. :-)
As an academic matter, I agree with Anthony. Composition and interfaces are more flexible than inheritance. I've been preaching the interface gospel within Drupal almost as long as I've been preaching Dependency Injection.
For Drupal 8, we want to bake REST support directly into the core system. It's unclear if we'll be able to go full-on hypermedia by the time we ship, but it should be possible to add via contributed modules. For the base system, though, we want to at least follow REST/HTTP semantics properly.
One area we have questions about is PUT, in particular the details of its idempotence requirements. For that reason, I'm reaching out to the Interwebs to see what the consensus is. Details below.
That moment when you realize just how much awesome you have coming up that you're not sure you're going to survive it? Yeah, that.
It's nearly time for the second half of the year conference season, and it looks like my schedule is starting to fill up. I've three conferences and 5 speaking engagements in the coming weeks, so for those interested in Stalking Crell here's where you'll be able to find me:
Aaron Winborn is a longtime Drupal contributor and friend to the community. Since his diagnosis with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Aaron has been trying to enjoy time with his family, to remain productive in his work and to live as normal a life as possible.
As time passes, however, the disease has made his life increasingly difficult as it attacks his nervous system. To cope with the mounting costs of treating his condition, Aaron has set up a special needs trust, and you can make a direct donation from his web site.
As a show of support for Aaron and his family, for the rest of this year, my co-authors and I intend to donate all of our royalties from sales of Drupal 7 Module Development to the special needs trust. You can read reviews and order a copy at Amazon.com.
Not only can you get one of the top books on Drupal 7 development, in so doing you can help out one of the people that has helped to make Drupal as powerful as it is.
On Friday, Dries merged in the first major work from the Web Services and Context Core Initiative (WSCCI). In short, it means we are now making use of all of the Symfony2 Components that we've pulled into core in the past few months.
It is also step one in the biggest change in Drupal's design since Drupal 4.7.