Its time for a change

So… Its been a long time since I posted anything of any relevance. This is due to having been super busy with my previous company Zucchi.

However that has all changed now! After three and a half years of running my own company I have decided that its not for me. I gave it my all, but in the end I was becoming too much of a Salesman and I missed getting stuck in with code.

I’ve now moved on and have joined the fantastic team at Magma Digital who have been leaders in PHP software development for somewhere in the region of 14 years as well as heavily involved in the PHP community having been a essential part of the PHPNW user group and conference.

This means I should be able to pick up where I left off all those years ago and start being more active again.

See you soon

Flexbox cross browser

Despite having been around for a while and having been through a couple of revisions, its support across browsers can vary greatly. From “Candidate Recommendation” on Chrome/Opera, “legacy flexbox” on Firefox and no support at all on IE9 and earlier.

Making flexbox work consistently across browsers was a challenge for us on a recent project, but I have found a solution that seems to work quite well.
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Creating Custom Routes in Silverstripe 3.1

We wanted to create a Route to our custom Products Controller in our products module for SilverStripe 3.1, such as: “http://www.examplesite.com/products/<product-slug>”

However looking at the Controller Documentation it was not clear how to create a route without an Action being supplied. In our example above the action is not specified, as we just want to use ‘view’.

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Set up SilverStripe 3.1 using only Git (No Composer)

We recently tried to use composer to set up SilverStripe 3.1, but ended up with a dependency nightmare. In order to work around this we decided to make use of Git submodules.

First set up your Git repository and run:

Next set up a site directory for the code inside your Git repository. Then navigate to SilverStripe Installer in your browser and Download a copy. Extract files, and copy contents to site folder. Now we need to add the CMS and Framework. Navigate in a browser to the Git Hub repositories for CMS and Framework. Now copy the HTTPS clone URL for each project and run the following, to add these as Git sub modules.

Now delete mysite/_config.php and load the site. Follow the normal install instructions displayed and you will have a running version of SilverStripe 3.1

Enabling MYSQL_CLIENT_INTERACTIVE with Doctrine 2 on Rackspace Cloud Database

We recently ran into problem using Doctrine 2 connecting to a Rackspace Cloud Database using the MySqli Driver.

Problem:

We have a long running PHP script that can sometimes run for hours at a time whilst processing information. This script requires a connection to a database, but has long periods of inactivity where there is no actual interaction with MySQL. By default MySQL uses the “wait_timeout” setting which states, how long an inactive connection can exist before it is killed. This is normally fine with web pages requests, as it is usually a short lived request. Unfortunately you do not have the ability to alter this setting when using Rackspaces Cloud Database.

Solution:

When using the MySQLi extension you can create a connection in “interactive mode” by passing the “MYSQLI_CLIENT_INTERACTIVE” flag, which will then use the “interactive_timeout” setting. On Rackspace this is set to 8 hours!

Annoyingly Doctrine does not allow you to pass any flags to the MySQLi Connection. So we overrode Doctrine\DBAL\Driver\Connection with our own Driver which then allows us to pass a “flags” parameter through.

Feel free to look at some of the other helpful features in we have added to Doctrine 2 here: ZucchiDoctrine

Installing PECL extensions for Zend Server 6

Recently we have revisited using Zend Server for some of our projects and decided to give the new version 6 a chance to prove itself.

Overall its a big improvement over version 5. There are still some things that are extremely annoying but we have decided that we can overlook them.

However there is one thing that we couldn’t do without. By default you will find that a number of PECL extensions will not install out of the box (at least this is what we experience using the Debian based install).

To fix this you will need to make sure you install the additional packages in ubuntu

  • php-5.4-source-zend-server or php-5.3-source-zend-server depending on the php version you are using
  • autoconf
  • build-essential

Once this is done you should now be able to install extensions from PECL without too much hassle.

Introducing ZuQ – A Simple ZeroMQ Queuing Daemon

We recently had the need to create a queuing system to replace an implementation of RabbitMQ that was being used on a previous project. The reasoning behind this is that the requirements of the project required a very custom implementation of a queuing system that would drastically alter in architecture as the project grew and RabbitMQ just wasn’t going to fit the bill. However to start with we required something super simple and efficient that could be expanded and developed as required. After a little investigation and a lot of recommendation from others we decided to use ZeroMQ as our transport layer for that very reason, as we could build something which could span across multiple servers and was fast.

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