A New Book About The N+1 Problem, and an Update to MLAPHP

I’ll have a new book finished and ready for you soon: Solving the N+1 Problem in PHP. Although I have written and spoken about the N+1 problem several times over the past few years, this book is an extended disstertation on the topic.

Describing the N+1 problem is one thing, and talking about the solutions in the abstract yet another. But how to diagnose and discover the problem, as well as refactoring strategies to resolve N+1 problems in your codebase? Those are something else, and they are what the new book provides, similar to the strategies I presented in Modernizing Legacy Applications in PHP. At about 40 pages of narrative and code, in many ways the new N+1 book serves as a topic-specific add-on to MLAPHP.

Speaking of which, MLAPHP is getting an update! The update is nothing extensive, mostly typo fixes and a couple of added details, all from attentive and interested readers. Current owners will receive the update for free.

So when will they be completed? Monday. And there’s a special deal involved for the week they’re finished.

MLAPHP is just about a year old, so to celebrate this new book, if you purchase both MLAPHP and the N+1 book as a bundle next week, they will each be about 50% off. That’s a total of $23.99 $22.99 (suggested $39.99 $28.99) for both books, with a 45-day money-back guarantee backed by Leanpub.

After the sale week, they’ll go back to their normal prices, so this is your chance to get a bigger bang for your buck. Of course, the new N+1 book is only $5.99 (suggested $7.99), so it’s not exactly a bank-breaker in the first place.

More updates when the new book and the update are finalized!

UPDATE (Fri 20 Mar): The bundle is now available at https://leanpub.com/b/mlasn1php. Go get it while you can!

Back On The Market!

After a year spent writing my book, working on Aura, speaking at conferences and user groups, advising startups, and proposing new design patterns, I am back on the market.

I’ve been writing PHP code since 1999, and in that time I’ve been everything from a junior developer to a VP of Engineering. If you have a PHP codebase that requires some attention, especially a legacy app that needs to be modernized, I’m your man. I’m also excellent as a leader, mentor, manager, and architect, on small teams and on large ones.

Resume and references available on request. Contact me by email (pmjones88 at gmail) or on Twitter @pmjones if you want to talk!>

UPDATE (Tue 19 Aug): Well that was quick. I’m off the market again, and looking forward to productive efforts with my new employer. My deepest gratitude to everyone who expressed interest; I am truly humbled by the whole experience. Thank you to all.

Book Announcement: Modernizing Legacy Applications in PHP

There you are, working late for the second night this week. Everyone else in the office has gone home. Most of the lights are out. Yesterday it was trying to copy a feature over to a different section of the site, because marketing wanted their new client to see it there. Today, you have just finished tracking down a globals-related bug in an SQL query embedded in a page script. It revealed itself only after yesterday’s feature addition. You had to search across scores of PHP files to find it. You commit the change, push it to the common repository, and update the bug report so that QA can check on it.

Although you are relieved, you are still frustrated and worried. Who knows what break this fix will reveal? The work should not be this hard.

Your Legacy Application

You were so excited when you got the job. The interviews went well. You clearly knew more than almost everyone else there. The other developers seemed like they really needed your help and expertise. The managers gave you a new laptop and a new LCD screen so you could be as efficient as possible. It was the perfect setup. You were eager to get to work showing off your skills and abilities to make the application sing, and get the project back on schedule.

But then you checked out the code base. It was a mess. It had been architected over several years by mulitple different lead developers, and it showed. There was no consistent pattern to any of the structure. The oldest core of the system was a collection of “include” files that ran several levels deep. Later, someone had bolted on some class-oriented libraries, and third person has decided to try a framework rewrite. All of it was done in a different coding styles, with different naming conventions. The codebase is a mixed-up aggregagation of PHP, HTML, SQL, JS, and CSS, frequently all in the same file. And there are no tests at all! The “tests” are the QA team running over the site once or twice a week.

After that first day, when you felt so enthusiastic, you have been reduced to feeling like a brand-new beginner every day since. It’s humiliating. Each day has been a new frustration, a new “WTF?” moment replayed in a dozen different ways. You want very much to to improve the codebase as it is, so that you can impose some sense and reason onto it, but the code is such an overwhelming mess of spaghetti that you don’t even know where to start.

Overwhelmed and drowning in bad code that you inherited from others, you’re ready to give up.

Modernize Your Legacy Application

But what if I told you it didn’t have to be this way? What if I told you there was a specific series of small, incremental changes you could make over time to slowly make the codebase better, more modern, and thereby reduce your own sense that things are futile?

My upcoming book, “Modernizing Legacy Applications in PHP”, does exactly that. Using my talk “It Was Like That When I Got Here” as a starting point, I condense 15 years of fixing PHP codebases into a collection of specific steps to complete in order. As you apply these small fixes, each one building on the last, you will be able to restructure your codebase from a spaghetti mess to a testable, organized, modernized application, free of globals and mixed concerns.

Would you like to have that knowledge, distilled into an easy-to-understand book? Sign up on the mailing list below, and you’ll be the among the first to:

  • Find out how the book is going (and when it’s ready for purchase!)

  • Receive hints on how to improve your codebase now

  • Get a free pre-publication chapter

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Nashville PHP User Group

I was lucky enough to be in town for the inaugural Nashville PHP User Group as resurrected by Ben Ramsey last week. The presentation by Josh Holmes was interesting though over-long.

My favorite part of these things (as always) is meeting the other attendees. We retired to a nearby bar after the meeting, where I cliqued up with Brian Dailey, Ryan Weaver, Jeremy Kendall, and others. Here are some of the books, blogs, and podcasts that came up in our discussion:

If anyone there remembers other stuff we talked about, leave a comment and I’ll put it in the main entry.