Hired by Zend

I’ve recently been hired by Zend as a PHP developer for them. Many thanks to Andi, Daniel, Mike, and especially Matthew for their consideration and support throughout the process.

I start on Tuesday, and will be spending three weeks out in California as part of my initial time with them. After that, I’ll be telecommuting from home (in Memphis TN). I’m very excited about this change of employment; Zend are big guns in PHP world, and it’s a big deal to me to be working for them. 🙂

I’m not sure yet as to my specific duties, although I get the impression it will be for internal development (not client work). I don’t know if I’ll be part of the framework development process (although I sure hope so!). Obviously there are non-disclosure issues, so I may not be able to talk about my work there much (although again I hope I will be able to do so, as I think Zend suffers from a little closed-mouthedness in regard to the wider PHP community, and could do with some regular blogging).

What does this mean for Solar, Savant, Yawp, and the rest of my public projects? In a philosophical sense, I don’t know; but in a practical sense, I see no reason why my work on these will suffer or drag in any way, once the first few weeks in California are complete.

So if I’m less responsive to emails than normal for the next 3-4 weeks, that’s why. 🙂

Solar 0.9.0 Released

Solar is a simple object library and application repository for PHP 5. You can view the rather extensive change log here.

This release is a major break to backwards compatibility, mostly because we now use PDO for the SQL database API abstraction (as opposed to the homegrown solution I was using in preparation for PDO). The distribution includes a number of migration documents to help users of prior versions move to the new system.

I want to specifically mention one aspect of the Solar SQL system, the Solar_Sql_Select object. This is probably not new in the PHP world, but it’s the first time I’ve done anything like this, so I want to talk about it.

One of the problems with database portability is that you can’t depend on a LIMIT to work the same way across database backends; indeed, it may not even exist as such. Different DB abstraction packages use different methods to support LIMIT emulation, either by rewriting the SELECT statement, or by supporting only the portions of a LIMIT clause available to the particular backend.

What Solar_Sql_Select does is let you programmatically build a SELECT statement, and it keeps the clause portions separated internally. It then combines those portions in a manner specific to the database backend driver, putting the appropriate LIMIT clauses in the right place. Here’s a quick example; let’s build this SELECT statement.

SELECT id, date, type, name
FROM example
    date >= '2005-01-01' AND
    date <= '2005-01-31' AND
    type IN('a','b','c')
LIMIT 10,50

(The LIMIT in this case is to grab 10 rows starting at row 50.)

The equivalent Solar_Sql_Select code is:

$select = Solar::object("Solar_Sql_Select");

// the basic columns
$table = 'example';
$cols = array('id', 'date', 'type', 'name');

$select->from($table, $cols);

// WHERE clauses for the date
$select->where('date >= ?', '2005-01-01');

$select->where('date <= ?', '2005-01-31');

// WHERE clause for the type
$types = array('a', 'b', 'c');

$select->where('type IN(?)', $types);

$select->limit(10, 50);

$statement = $select->fetch('statement');

Some notes:

  • You can use $select->fetch() to retrieve the ‘statement’ as built, or actual results using ‘all’, ‘col’, ‘row’, ‘PDOStatement’, etc.
  • In this example, quoting happens on-the-fly, and quoting an array returns a comma-separated string of the individually-quoted array values. However, you can also use named placeholders (:start_date, :end_date, :type_list) and then use $select->bind() to bind data to those placeholders all at once. All hail the glory of PDO. 🙂

In the above Solar-based PHP code, when MySQL is the driver, the $statement contents will look something like the initial example. However, when using the Microsoft SQL driver (which does not support LIMIT, only TOP), the resulting SELECT looks something like this:

    SELECT TOP 10 *
    FROM (
        SELECT TOP 60 id, date, type, name
        FROM example
            date >= '2005-01-01' AND
            date <= '2005-01-31' AND
            type IN('a','b','c')
        ) AS solar_limit_rev
        ORDER BY id DESC
    ) AS solar_limit

Which looks like a mess, but these guys seem to think it works. The point is that by keeping the SELECT clauses separate until you build the statement, you can manipulate the individual pieces with great precision for better portability.

Another thing about Solar_Sql_Select is that paging is built in. If you wanted to grab page 5, where pages are 10 rows each, you can do this:

// instead of $select->limit(10,50) ...
$select->paging(10); // 10 rows per page

$select->limitPage(5); // limit to page 5

Also, row-and-page counting is built in.


// instead of $select->fetch() ...
$total = $select->countPages();

$total = array(
    'count' => number_of_rows,
    'pages' => number_of_pages

You can see more extensive Solar_Sql_Select docs here (although they are not "real" docs, just migration examples).

Yawp 1.2.0 Released

Yawp is “yet another web programming” foundation for PHP4 (it works in PHP5, too, but is not E_STRICT compliant). It composes a number of PEAR classes into a single encapsulating class so that you can concentrate on writing business logic, not instantiating your support objects. Yawp is a single PHP file, and uses a single .ini file for its configuration.

Among other things, Yawp lets you define “hook” scripts to execute at certain times. For example, a “start” hook runs every time you call Yawp::start(), a “stop” hook executes every time you call Yawp::stop(), and so on.

One of the issues with a “start” hook is that it runs only after the internal Yawp objects have been instantiated (DB, Auth, Log, etc). Sometimes, however, a developer will want to run scripts **before** the objects are created, perhaps in order to replace the standard Yawp objects with objects of his own. That kind of functionality was not available in Yawp 1.x and earlier without a lot of extra work.

The guys at Babel.com.au got tired of this, and one of their developers (Justin Randell) sent me a major patch to add a new kind of hook, the “prep” hook, which is now available in the new Yawp 1.2.0 release.

“Prep” hooks run almost immediately in the Yawp::start() process: right after the configuration file text is loaded, and before the first internal Yawp object is created. Thereafter, each internal Yawp object creation routine checks to see if it has already been created by a prep hook, and skips creation if so. This allows a great deal of control over the Yawp internal objects. (One note of caution: if you override a default object like Auth, make sure your overriding API matches the API expected by the Yawp static convenience methods, otherwise those convenience methods will break.)

In other news, the Yawp::getObject() method had a bug in it where, if a requested object did not exist, there was no return statement. This bug was not an issue in PHP 4.3.x and earlier, but in PHP 4.4.x (when the internals of the engine were changed somewhat) that behavior causes an error stating “only variables may be returned by reference.” The fix was simple: if the object doesn’t exist, return null (instead of having no return statement at all).