Web development

All about everyone's favorite pseudo-platform, the World Wide Web.

Magical PHP: __call()

PHP is, conceptually, a very traditional language. By that I mean that it is steeped in the C/C++/Java mindset of how a program is put together, rather than the LISP/Javascript/Ruby/Python mindset. That's not a bad thing, necessarily, but it does mean that a lot of the cool dynamic language capabilities in those languages isn't really available to PHP developers. I freely admit to being jealous of functions as first-class objects, for instance.

PHP 5, however does include lots of "magic" capabilities, some in the object model directly and some via SPL Interfaces, that, if used properly, can make up for a lot of that lack of dynamic capaibility. A favorite of mine is the ability to add methods to a class at runtime.

What? You didn't know PHP can do that? Well, that's because it can't. However, we can simulate it pretty closely if we're careful. Let's see how.

Palantir.net is hiring

Are you tired of hearing me talk yet? If not, why not come work for Palantir.net? We're looking for a PHP/Drupal programmer and a web developer/themer. Benefits include a full time position at a small business in Chicago, working on sites for higher education, not-for-profits, and other non-evil clients, a company issue Nerf gun, and access to the company Wii. And getting to work with Larry! Who could ask for a better job?

PHP 4 is going, going, gone

What a week it's been! Eight days ago, we launched GoPHP5.org to try and break the stalemate that kept PHP 4 on past its sell-by date. At launch, we had a half-dozen projects and about 10 hosts that had signed up.

What a difference a week makes.

Go PHP 5, Go!

Go PHP 5!

"Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have." --Margaret Mead

A while back, various people were lamenting the state of PHP 5 adoption, myself included. What to do about it? How to get hosts to let programmers leverage the added functionality that PHP 5 offers? How can we do that without cutting off 80% of our user base?

The solution a few people suggested was team work. If all PHP projects stopped supporting PHP 4 and made the jump to PHP 5 at the same time, none of them is penalized in the market for being "first" and web hosts will have a clear business case to upgrade their systems to PHP 5. We can then all start offering faster, cleaner, more powerful, more secure web software.

But how does one get all PHP projects together to agree on something like that? Actually, it's fairly simple. You ask them.

People vs. Process

I am a regular reader of TheDailyWTF. Aside from being thoroughly entertaining, it's a great way to learn what not to do by example. Sometimes, though, they have a really insightful article, like The Great Pyramid of Agile. It's spot-on.

POTM February: Firebug

So February was an interesting month in my world, so interesting that it's now March and I didn't get around to posting a Project of the Month for February. Well, better late than never I suppose. To parallel GBGames' February Project of the Month, here's a big thank you cheer to my favorite Firefox extension and every web developer's best friend, Firebug.

Web 2.0 in Web 2.0

I normally don't post random "hey this is cool" posts, but this one really is that cool. The second video isn't all that great, giving more of a business talk, but the first one is slick, cool, insightful, and elegant. (About 5 minutes each.) Web 2.0 explained using Web 2.0. Nice!

Sweet 16

When is Unicode not Unicode? When it's UTF-16 instead of UTF-8. Both are properly Unicode character sets, but for reasons that escape me they are not fully compatible. In today's installment of "Fix Microsoft's bugs", we'll look at how to deal with that little problem.

MVC vs. PAC

One of the most common mistakes I see people make when talking about web architecture is with regards to MVC. Generally it comes down to a statement such as this:

It's a web app, so we have to use MVC. That way we separate the logic and presentation, which means keeping PHP out of our display layer. All the important projects do it that way.

Of course, such a statement is false. It demonstrates a lack of understanding about MVC, about web applications, about "important projects", and about software architecture in general. Let's try to clarify, with a little help from Wikipedia.

More on Stupid Quotes

In an earlier entry I talked about different character encodings and how Microsoft manages to break the rest of the world with theirs. Thanks to a chance reading of a SitePoint forum post, I have a little more information on the problem. At least now it has a proper name.

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