Cutting through the static

Submitted by Larry on 29 November 2023 - 4:28pm

Static methods and properties have a storied and controversial history in PHP. Some love them, some hate them, some love having something to fight about (naturally).

In practice, I find them useful in very narrow situations. They're not common, but they do exist. Today, I want to go over some guidelines on when PHP developers should, and shouldn't, use statics.

In full transparency, I will say that the views expressed here are not universal within the PHP community. They do, however, represent what I believe to be the substantial majority opinion, especially among those who are well-versed in automated testing.

Continue reading this post on PeakD.

Object properties, part 2: Examples

Submitted by Larry on 9 January 2021 - 6:33pm

In my last post, I went over some of the pros and cons of various proposals for making PHP objects more immutable-ish, and the contexts in which they would be useful. I also posted the link to the PHP Internals list, where it generated some interesting if meandering discussion (as is par for the course on Internals).

One of the requests was for sample code to demonstrate why I felt particular feature proposals were better than others. Fair enough! This post is in response to that request, and I think it will help illuminate the challenges better.

For this exercise, I chose to experiment with a junior version of the PSR-7 request object as a concrete example. The code below is not exactly PSR-7; it's a representative sample of portions of a naive, slightly reduced scope version of PSR-7 requests only, and using all PHP 8.0 features available. The goal is not a complete working object, but sufficient real-world representative examples of situations that an immutability plan would need to address.

Continue reading this post on PeakD.

Object properties and immutability

Submitted by Larry on 28 December 2020 - 5:30pm

There has been much discussion in recent weeks in PHP circles about how to make objects more immutable. There have been a number of proposals made either formally or informally that relate to object property access, all aimed at making objects safer through restricting write access in some way.

Since my last mega post on PHP object ergonomics was so well-received and successful (it resulted in both constructor promotion and named arguments being added to PHP 8.0, thanks Nikita!), I figure I'll offer another summary of the problem space in the hopes of a deeper analysis suggesting a unified way forward.

Continue reading on PeakD

Drupal 8: Happy, but not satisfied

Submitted by Larry on 3 December 2015 - 1:55am

Two weeks ago (hey, I've been busy and trying to sleep for once), after 1716 days of work by more than 3312 people the Drupal community finally released Drupal 8, the latest release of the best community-driven web software in the world. The blogosphere is already filled with congratulatory blog posts celebrating the immense accomplishment, and deservedly so.

A number of people recently have asked me how I feel about Drupal 8's release, especially around the PHP community. Overall, my answer has to be that I'm happy, but not satisfied.

Beyond Abstract classes

Submitted by Larry on 7 January 2014 - 1:18am

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.

Dropping forward

Submitted by Larry on 17 October 2013 - 10:37pm

A little over a month ago, a few Drupal developers announced something new: A fork of Drupal called Backdrop. There's been quite a bit of talk about it, of course. While I don't plan to be using it myself, Backdrop has raised a number of valid points and criticisms of Drupal that are worth discussing.

The danger of privates, and composition vs. inheritance

Submitted by Larry on 11 December 2012 - 10:43pm

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.

Backward compatible APIs

Submitted by Larry on 2 January 2012 - 12:05am

As we begin a new year, it seems appropriate that the discussion of backward compatibility has come up yet again in Drupal. It's a perennial question, and you can tell when a new Drupal core version is ready for prime time when people start complaining about lack of backward compatibility. It's like clockwork.

However, most of these discussions don't actually get at the root issue: Drupal is architecturally incapable of backward compatibility. Backward incompatibility is baked into the way Drupal is designed. That's not a deliberate decision, but rather an implication of other design decisions that have been made.

Drupal developers could not, even if they wanted to, decide to support backward compatibility or "cleanup only" type changes in Drupal 8. It is possible to do so in Drupal 9. If we want to do that, however, then we need to decide, now, in Drupal 8, to rearchitect in ways that support backward compatibility. Backward compatibility is a feature you have to design for.

What Symfonic Drupal means

Submitted by Larry on 24 October 2011 - 10:49pm

Earlier today, Dries committed a patch that adds two Symfony2 Components to Drupal: ClassLoader and HttpFoundation.

On its face it's a fairly simple patch; the new code in it is maybe a dozen lines. But it's an important part of a larger shift within Drupal to better embrace the modern web, on the server as well as the client.

Objects, property visibility, and trade-offs

Submitted by Larry on 4 October 2010 - 10:52pm

As if on cue, the public vs. private debate has sprung up again within Drupal. The timing is fitting given my last blog post on programming language paradigms. Of course, property visibility is not a new debate, and the PHP community debates this subject from time to time (sometimes humorously).

What I believe is usually missing from these discussions, and what I hope to offer here, is a broader picture view of the underlying assumptions that lead to different conclusions about when different visibility is appropriate (if ever).

In short: It's the difference between procedural-think and object-think.