If you’re a developer are are looking on a way to brush up on some of your “soft skills” in your career of choices, you should check out this day long camp being organized by Cal Evans – Day Camp 4 Developers.
Invest a Saturday in your career. Learn the skills you need from your five camp counselors. We promise no wallets or lanyards. This one-day, technology agnostic, online conference will feature 5 sessions in a single track. You participate in this live conference from the comfort of your own home or office. (or anywhere you have internet connectivity) In addition, you will be able to download all of the sessions after the conference for off-line review.
The event will last all day – seven hours on a Saturday – and can be accessed from anywhere you have a computer to run the GoToWebinar software. There’s a cost of $35 USD for each attendee or $30 USD in groups of 10 or more. If you’re interested check out the Day Camp 4 Developers site or just go on and register! You can see the schedule here.
On the Zend Developer Zone there’s a new post by Vikram Vaswani about a method for creating PDF files directly from a Zend Framework application (hint: it uses Zend_Pdf).
PHP comes with a number of options to help developers dynamically generate PDF files from within their applications. The Haru and PDFlib extensions offer a complete API for dynamic PDF generation, and there also exist a number of open-source PHP components that can be used for the same purpose. This article will introduce you to one such component, the Zend_Pdf component that ships as part of the Zend Framework, and illustrate how it can be used to perform sophisticated PDF operations from within a PHP application.
The tutorial walks you through some of the introductory steps to using the component (outside of the framework) and create a sample PDF with some basic text. It gets more technical by adding in pictures, text wrapping, drawing lines and shapes, styling text and using things like the My_Pdf_Table feature to easily create tables. There’s even a bit at the end about using the properties of the file to set things like title, subject and author.
Kevin Schroeder has posted another excerpt from his “You Want to Do WHAT with PHP?” book to his blog today. This time it’s from the third chapter that looks at character encodings like UTF-8 or ISO-8859-1.
I realized that while this 3.5-year PHP consultant knew Unicode, UTF-8, character encodings such as ISO-8859-1 or ISO-8859-7, I didn’t understand them as well as I thought I had. With that I threw this chapter in the book. Knowing about character encoding is what many developers have. Not as many truly understand it. In this chapter I try to de-mystify character encoding as a whole.
The excerpt introduces character encoding and what it really is – a translation for the computer to be able to handle the human language. The problem comes in when multiple tools try to define the same sort of letters/chatacters in different ways. He gives an example of a “hello world” string in a normal ASCII format versus one from the EBCDIC format and how it would be rendered by an ASCII-understanding browser.
In this new post to his blog Brian Swan talks about a tool that’s been released by the IIS Team at Microsoft to make it even simpler to run multiple versions of PHP under IIS – the PHP Manager.
Not only does the PHP Manager make it a no-brainer to run different PHP versions side-by-side on IIS, it makes it easy to register PHP with IIS, configure various PHP settings, enable/disable PHP extensions, remotely manage PHP configuration via the php.ini file, and check the PHP runtime configuration and environment (i.e. see the output of phpinfo()).
Brian goes through a six step process to use this new tool to set up both PHP 5.2 and PHP 5.3 versions on an IIS server. It’s as simple as installing the tool, registering new PHP versions and customizing the configurations. They’d love feedback on the tool so leave them comments here or report bugs here.
Derick Rethans is republishing an article series he wrote (originally for php|architect) about the garbage collection that is included with the PHP 5.3 releases. He kicks off the series with this first post introducing internal variable handling.
Before we start with the intricate details of PHP’s new GC engine I will explain why it is actually needed. This, combined with an introduction how PHP deals with variables in general is explained in this first part of the column. The second part will cover the solution and some notes on the GC mechanism itself, and the third part covers some implications of the GC mechanism, as well as some benchmarks. But now first on to the introduction.
He introduces the concept of a “zval” – the container PHP uses internally to handle variables (along with its “is_ref” and “refcount” to tell the interpreter if it’s a reference or not). He also shows how these relate to the variables you set in your applications as well as a mention of the xdebug_debug_zval function of XDebug to show how it’s handled behind the scenes. He also shows how references are handled with accompanying images to show the flow. If you’d like more information on variable handling, Derick points to this article for more detail.
Ilia Alshanetsky has a suggestion for those setting up PHP and Apache2 for the first time – beware of the default configuration!
About a week ago, I was doing some upgrades on my development machine and came across a rather nasty issue when it comes to how .php(s) files are associated with PHP in Apache. It seems that a number of distros including Gentoo (which is what I was using) are using the [same] configuration directive to make the PHP module parse PHP files
The problem comes from their use of “AddHandler” versus “AddType” when telling Apache which files to parse as PHP. The first allows anything with “.php” in its filename to be parsed while the second limits it to just files ending in “.php”. Check your configuration to ensure you’re not open to this issue, especially if there’s scripts/files outside of your control.
Wouter Lagerweij has posted a list of books he thinks every programmer should read to help them get a better handle on their process overall (they apply to any language out there, really).
When discussing books on software engineering with colleagues, I got the idea of listing the best books I’ve read in the past 15 years. Because it seems useful, but also because that will allow others to tell me which ones I should have read.
He lists five books that cover some of the “meta” about programming:
Another great .NET Rocks Live Weekend show, Carl and Richard talk to Sahil Malik about Sharepoint 2010.