Takeaways from PHPCon, day 2
Get my day one takeaways here.
Day two at PHPCon in Nashville, TN was packed with lots of information that frankly, I’m still digesting. It was well worth the trip and ended much too quickly!
In his “brain dump,” Rasmus Lerdorf shared a collection of unrelated but very useful tips and observations about PHP.
- PHP is the bottleneck, there is no significant difference between nginx/lighthttpd/apache
- Error handling is not optimized in PHP because it should be an infrequent event. Set
error_reporting = -1
realpath_cache_sizein PHP 5.2 can cause excessive filesystem STATs
- Use gearman for out-of-band processing. Threads aren’t needed in PHP.
- Don’t overload apache (8 core CPU = 25-30 apache clients; never more than 50)
- Deploy processes should be atomic and robust (can use Capistrano or Rasmus’ own weploy script)
- Node.js-style event programming is fast and easy (see http://php.net/libevent)
Slides: http://talks.php.net/show/phpcon2011 (ya gotta love the homegrown web-based presentation system!)
The Original Hypertext Preprocessor
Drew McLellan‘s presentation was particularly relevant for me in my role as CTO at Company52, and I consider it one of the best presentations at PHPCon. Drew’s goal was not to market Perch (although he did an awesome job of it without even trying), but rather to share his philosophy of what really great client support is all about, and how it has impacted his work.
- Throwing new features at a problem often doesn’t solve it. Functionality is not enough.
- Find ways to reduce support requests.
- Every support request should be unique (no FAQs).
- Fix areas of confusion rapidly.
- Support your own software – programmers should see issues firsthand.
- It’s OK to be opinionated (“WYSIWYG is evil”), but don’t be dictatorial. It’s not our place to tell people how to work.
- Help customers look good in front of their clients.
- Accept when users are having problems.
- Really great developers solve problems. Excuses simply are not helpful.
The WonderProxy story
- Mistakes – “crouch and hope you don’t get hit”
- No account de-activation
- NIH – wrote paypal IPN code instead of re-using own code
- Mixing Linux distros
- Server account renewals
- Afraid to look at profitability numbers
- Old strategy: blog about problems we encounter – competitors find posts
- New strategy: blog about problems customers have – bring customers instead of competitors
Is it Handmade Code If You Use Power Tools?
Laura Beth Denker of Etsy shared an overview of their continuous integration processes, and how it has greatly improved both confidence and deployment speed. True to Etsy style, Laura came dressed in a handmade outfit from a Nashville-based Etsy vendor, earning a “too much swag” tweet from one listener!
- NEED CONFIDENCE in your code
- Effective testing strategies include functional (human) testing, integration testing (database), and unit testing (foundation)
- Don’t use random data in unit tests
- Test each case in control structures
- Use DBUnit for testing database interaction
- Tests should run rapidly
- Group unit tests and target test groups to run
- network tests (third-party APIs)
- smoke, curl, regex
What happened to Unicode in PHP
Andrei Zmievski’s talk was a frank de-briefing of the failed attempt to bring native Unicode support to PHP6. Although this story is a rather personal one for Andrei, he was honest and incorporated a few surprisingly hilarious bits of humor. The conclusion: native Unicode support will only come to PHP if and when the community wants it — and is willing to put noses to the grindstone. The task is simply too big for his elite band of 10 (including Rasmus himself). Most of the content was historical in nature, but there were a few nice tidbits of information.
- Complete I18N is more than language stuff:
- Character set
- Date/time formats
- Currency formats
- Collation (sorting, contractions – thanks to Andrei for finally helping me to understand what a “collation” is)
pecl/intlhas some useful classes left over from the PHP6 unicode project (
Terry Chay’s closing keynote wove a common thread through all of the presentations given at PHPCon, along with a heaping helping of humor (seedy at times). My favorite part were the Chayisms: http://phpdoc.info/chayism/