PHP

Posts about the server side scripting language PHP

Creating A Game With PHP Part 1: Detecting Key Input

8th November 2020 - 6 minutes read time

I was watching a documentary about old computers on YouTube recently and it showed a video of an early computer game creating using the command line. This wasn't a text based adventure game, but a game creating using text for the graphics running as a program on the command line. This got me thinking that creating something like this should be possible using PHP. If it was possible on a 30 year old computer then surely it's possible to get PHP to do it, right? I thought it might be interesting to create a series of posts showing how to put this together.

New Features And Breaking Changes PHP8

29th October 2020 - 19 minutes read time

PHP8 will be released on November 26th 2020 and there is lots being written about the upcoming features in this release has now been released! As this is a major version there will be new features as well as breaking changes so it's important to be aware of what is changing. This will make it easier to think about how PHP8 will effect your applications and what actions you will need to take to ensure you can upgrade without incident.

I thought I would go through a few of the main changes to see whats going to be in the next PHP release.

Running PHP8

A good first step is to look at how to install PHP8 so that you can check it out for yourself. If you are using Ubuntu then the simplest way to install PHP8 is to use the existing ondrej/php PPA library. This can be installed using the following commands.

Committing The Composer Vendor Directory

13th September 2020 - 21 minutes read time
When installing composer dependencies those dependencies are downloaded and stored in the 'vendor' directory. There are options available to install this into a different location than the composer.json file, but it's generally found in the same directory. The vendor directory contains quite a bit of code, which is especially the case if your project contains quite a lot of dependencies. More often than not though, this directory will not contain any code that you have actually written. It will contain the necessary third party libraries that allow your code to work correctly.

Map A Value Between Scales

14th August 2020 - 3 minutes read time

A common technique when creating graphics or visual representations of data is to map a value between two scales. This is useful when working on a set of values and you need to map them to a different set of values in order to show them on a graph.

The maths involved here is essentially figuring out the relationship between the value (v) in our initial scale (x, y) and multiplying this by the maximum range of the second scale (a, b).

  1. a + (b - a) * ((v - x) / (y - x))

Taking the value of 0.5, which is in the scale 0 to 1. Mapping this to the scale 0 to 100 means we make the following calculations.

0 + (100 − 0) × ((0.5 − 0) ÷ (1 − 0))

This results in the value of 50.

The Splat Operator In PHP

5th August 2020 - 5 minutes read time

The PHP splat operator (...) has been available in PHP since version 5.6. When it was introduced I made note of it but have never really used it, so I thought it might be interesting to explore it a little.

Internally, the ellipsis operator in PHP is called T_ELLIPSIS, although I have heard a few different names for the operator in the past. This includes names like:

  • Ellipsis
  • Unpacking operator.
  • Packing operator.
  • Three dots operator
  • Spread operator
  • Splat operator

Personally, I think the splat is the correct name for this operator, so I'll be using that from now on.

Using PDO To Create A Data Access Object

4th August 2020 - 12 minutes read time

A Data Access Object (DAO) is a way of taking data out of a database or API and present it in a unified way across your application. As a design pattern this has uses in standardising how a particular bit of data is passed around, without having to resort to using arrays to accomplish the same job.

I was doing some work with PHP's PDO library the other day when I noticed that I could fetch data out of a database using the fetchAll() method with the PDO::FETCH_CLASS flag. This flag automatically returns the data in an object. This got me thinking more about how this worked, but I couldn't find many articles talking about this. Hence this post.

Setting Things Up

Let's take a class called SpecialText that will store an ID and some text, along with a __toString() method to allow the printing of those values. We will use this class throughout this post to store data from the database.

PHP:CSI Get Price In Pence

17th July 2020 - 14 minutes read time

I was looking at some malfunctioning code the other day where the price was pulled out of one API service and sent to another API. The problem stemmed from the fact that the value coming out of the first API was as a string and the second API required the price in pence as an integer.

The difference in formats here meant that the number had to be converted from one format to another. During this process it was found that the value was sometimes out by a single pence.

For example, whilst the first API sent over a value of £20.40, the second API received a value of 2039, which is one penny out. This class did have some unit tests, but the tests but had failed to account for this rounding error.

As it turned out, this wasn't the only problem with the class in question, so I thought I would write up a quick PHP:CSI showing the problems and how I solved them.

Spelling Words With The Elements

6th June 2020 - 6 minutes read time

The other day I was tasked with creating the weekly quiz for my family. I decided it would be good to do a section that would consist of 10 words that were spelled using symbols of the chemical elements. The questions would be presented as a list of element names, like this.

Barium Carbon Potassium Tungsten Argon Darmstadtium

This breaks down to the element symbols in the following way.

  1. Barium = Ba
  2. Carbon = C
  3. Potassium = K
  4. Tungsten = W
  5. Argon = Ar
  6. Darmstadtium = Ds

Putting that all together we spell out a word.

Using Deployer To Deploy Drupal 8 Sites

28th April 2020 - 10 minutes read time

Deployer is a PHP based deployment tool that I have been using very successfully for a number of months now. It comes with a number of different recipes to deploy a variety of PHP based applications, including Laravel, Symfony, Yii, and Drupal.

I first found Deployer when looking for a deployment package that suited my needs. Phing had been my tool of choice for a number of years, but it had proved problematic trying to debug the XML syntax when things needed tweaking. As I was deploying PHP applications it made sense to me to use a PHP based system to do the deployment. I looked at tools like Capistrano, but as I wasn't that familiar with Ruby I was worried that I wouldn't be able to debug mistakes or customise the deployment process easily.

Overwriting Command Line Output With PHP

12th April 2020 - 5 minutes read time

The other day I was trying to print some output to the command line and then overwrite the output afterwards. It turns out that there are a couple of ways to do this so I thought I would detail a few of them here.

By far the simplest way of doing this is to run the "clear" command, which we can run via the system() function in PHP. This will clear the output of the command line ready for you to print out whatever you need. The downside to this is that the entire terminal window is cleared. Another downside is that once the output is complete scrolling up will reveal the output that was cleared out.