Serde: A modern serialization library for PHP 8.1

A while back, I announced the release of my AttributeUtils library and its powerful attribute-based analyzer.

That library was built primarily to support the many edge cases I needed for Crell/Serde, a new, robust serialization/deserialization library built specifically for PHP 8.1.

Continue reading this post on PeakD.

Larry 1 August 2022 - 5:21pm
On the use of Enums

Enumerations are a feature of many programming languages. However, we should perhaps say "many languages have a feature called enumerations." What that means in practice has a lot of language-specific semantic nuance, and trying to use the feature of one language as though it were the feature of another language can lead to all kinds of broken code. (That's true of most language features.)

So how are Enumerations best used in PHP, specifically? Let's have a look at some examples, and see where they should, and shouldn't, be used.

Continue reading this post on PeakD.

Larry 27 June 2022 - 10:38am
Benchmarking Serialization

I was discussing recently with a TYPO3 colleague about performance, specifically caching. Both he and I are working on systems that may involve hundreds or thousands of objects that need to be cached for later use. The objects themselves are fairly small, but there's a large number of them. The data format is only internal, so we don't need anything standardized or parsable by outside systems.

PHP actually has two options for this use case: serialize()/unserialize() and var_export()/require(). But which is better?

Quick, to the benchmark mobile! The results I found were not at all what I expected.

Continue reading this post on PeakD.

Larry 21 June 2022 - 2:42pm
Much ado about null

null has a controversial history. It's been called "the billion-dollar mistake" by its creator. Most languages implement null, but those few that do not (such as Rust) are generally lauded for their smart design by eliminating a class of errors entirely. Many developers (myself included) have argued that code that uses null or nullable parameters/returns is intrinsically a code smell to be avoided, while others (also myself included, naturally) have argued that is too draconian of a stance to take.

Anna Filina has a very good three-part series (properties, parameters, and returns) on how to avoid null in PHP generally. Alexis King has a related post (excuse the Haskell) on how to avoid needing edge cases like null in the first place.

However, I want to go a bit deeper and try to understand null from a different angle, and tease out the nuance of why one would really want to use it, and thus what we should be doing instead. To get there we'll have to go through a tiny little bit of type theory, but it will be quick and painless, I swear.

Continue reading this post on PeakD.

Larry 13 May 2022 - 11:24am
A robust, powerful, easy to use attribute parser for PHP

After sitting on it for a while, I am pleased to release a PHP library for robust, powerful attribute handling in PHP 8.1: Crell/AttributeUtils. It's a robust, centralized tool for slicing, dicing, and reverse engineering classes in PHP using attributes.

The basics

The basic model of Attribute Utils is to analyze a class "with respect to" some attribute. That attribute may be defined on the class, or not. (Both options have meaning.) That attribute may be associated with attributes on properties or methods, which are all scanned together to produce a picture of a class.

Continue reading this post on Hive.

Larry 21 April 2022 - 4:56pm
PHP Tricks: Multi-value match()

Last time, I talked about fun uses of the match() expression in PHP, using unconventional types of expressions on the right-arm branch. This time, I want to expand that discussion to include fun tricks on the left-side of the `=>`, and how you can easily match by multiple values at the same time.

I'm going to assume you have read the previous installment about how match() works and what an "expression" means. Also, I don't claim to be the original source of these tricks. I'm just documenting them because they're cool. Let's dive in.

Continue reading this post on Hive.

Larry 19 April 2022 - 11:41am
PHP Tricks: Uncommon match() expressions

Recently, I've been helping a new developer out in a chat room. He's still learning PHP and working through tutorials, with lots of questions along the way. Earlier this week, by accident, he stumbled across a use of match() statements I'd not considered before. While technically not right for his use case, it did suggest another, potentially valid use for match() I'd not seen. Let's add it to the list of cool things you can do with match().

Continue reading this post on Hive.

Larry 15 April 2022 - 1:15pm
PHP Tricks: Access control bypass

This is old-hat to some people, but it's still a nice trick.

PHP has long supported Java-esque property and method access control. Object properties and methods may be marked public, protected, or private to control what other code may access them. The general recommendation for years is that properties should be non-public in almost all cases, unless you're using the new readonly flag in PHP 8.1.

(There's a good case to be made that object-level encapsulation is the wrong model in the first place, and package-level visibility is the superior model. I happen to agree with that argument, but that's neither here nor there for the time being.)

Most of the time, you want to respect the visibility set by the code's author. It's telling you how an object should be used, and if you do otherwise you're on your own. However, there are cases in meta-programming situations where you need to be able to bypass the visibility in order to manipulate the state of an object in a dynamic fashion. The most common scenarios are serialization, de-serialization, hydration from an ORM, and similar.

Continue reading this post on Hive.

Larry 16 March 2022 - 1:15pm
Advent of Functional PHP: Review

Over the last few weeks, I've been following Advent of Code 2021, using Functional PHP as an approach. It's been a fun and educational process, at least for me and apparently for a few other people, at least given how popular the articles have been.

For reference, the full list of articles in this series is here:

Larry 29 December 2021 - 7:10pm
Advent of Functional PHP: Day 10

For the 10th Day of Advent of Code, we're asked to solve a matching braces problem. This is a common parser exercise, but it's made a bit more complex in this case by using multiple types of braces. Specifically, we're handling a series of lines that contain ( and ), but also < and >, [ and ], and { and }.

The story jazzes it up as being the code of our submarine's navigational computer, which consists entirely of braces in a sort of eldritch horror version of brainfuck, but that's mostly just a distraction.

Larry 24 December 2021 - 7:14pm