Archive for July, 2007

A Warm Welcome to Hydra

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Central Florida PHP would like to extend a warm welcome to our newest sponsor, Hydra Studio. Hydra is a design firm based out of Lake Mary, FL and is lead by a good friend, Bobby Jones (the designer, not the bum or the golfer). Bobby will be stopping by during our next meeting to meet us all and to hand out some Hydra swag.

It is also worth mentioning that Hydra is hiring. There home page only lists a few openings, but I have an inside scoop that there may be a few all-php jobs that they want to give us first dibs on. So come out on Saturday ready to learn and to network!

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Creating and Consuming Web Services in PHP 5

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Programming applications with web services can sound pretty scary for developers new to the subject. With countless acronyms like SOAP, REST, RPC, and WSDL floating around, one may quickly become overwhelmed by the potential complexity this may add to an application. Fortunately, PHP 5 is well equipped with native support for creating and consuming web services.

Saturday, August 4, 2007 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm
DeVry University - Room 108, 4000 Millenia Blvd, Orlando, FL
Michael Girouard, Central Florida PHP

This talk will consist of three parts:

Web Services: An Overview

This will serve as a basic introduction to web services and how they are useful. Different types of web service models will be discussed, highlighting the pros and cons of each. Some popular web service providers will be discussed to illustrate real-world applications for implementing their service into your application.

Consuming Web Services

This is where we roll up our sleeves and dig into some code. To begin, an RSS feed will be parsed as a brief introduction to handling the request and response process. This will also introduce tools used to parse XML data which is the primary data exchange format used by web services. From there we will interact with some common web services provided by Yahoo! and XMethods to cover more advanced topics.

Creating Web Services

The last topic to be discussed will be how PHP can act as a web service provider. Both SOAP-based and REST-based approaches will be explored.

Slides and code samples will be available after the talk has been given. Please post any questions or comments relating to this talk in our discussion group.

PHP4 End of Life Announcement

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

The community wanted it and evidently the guys upstairs did too. I just read on Slashdot that PHP has announced that PHP 4 is on its way out by the end of the year.

This is big news and will affect quite a bit of people — specifically project developers and web hosts. Read the discussion that follows for the community’s [somewhat biased] reaction. As an active PHP5 (and sometimes still PHP4) developer, this is wonderful news. PHP 5 has been around for the past three years and has been stable for the past two years. A lot of hard work has been put into making PHP 5 a faster, more stable, and more secure platform for web developers to use.

According to the official PHP announcement:

The PHP development team hereby announces that support for PHP 4 will continue until the end of this year only. After 2007-12-31 there will be no more releases of PHP 4.4. We will continue to make critical security fixes available on a case-by-case basis until 2008-08-08. Please use the rest of this year to make your application suitable to run on PHP 5.

Migration guides also exist to make the transition easier:

SQL Tip: Getting Available Letters

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

I’m in the middle of writing a glossary application with a table full of terms and definitions. Part of the requirements was to have an “index” of letters as the navigation at the top. Each letter would then browse the glossary for entrees beginning with that letter.

The SQL to get a list of all available letters is quite simple:

SELECT DISTINCT SUBSTR(`term`, 1, 1) AS `letter` FROM `terms`;

If you’re familiar with PHP’s substr function, you will notice that the syntax is exactly the same:

substr(’string’, start_position, length)

Be sure to check up on the SUBSTR function in the MySQL manual for more information.

Two Podcasts You Must Subscribe To

Monday, July 9th, 2007

If you’re not into the whole Podcasting thing yet, you need to be. Free education (and entertainment) is very hard to come by these days and when it comes along you should embrace it fully.

I’ve subscribed to many PHP related podcasts over the last two years or so and only two really stand out amongst the rest. It only seems natural that they come from two of the industry’s most influential leaders: Zend and php|architect.

PHP Abstract is a newer podcast offered by Zend’s Developer Zone. They have short episodes (usually no longer than 10 minutes) that are very informative for most PHP developers. At the time of this writing, they have released nine episodes all of which I’ve listened to at least twice. Zend has worked very hard lately at putting a focus on helping out the community and this is just another great resource that is freely made available to us.

The Pro::PHP podcast, presented by php|architect, is another podcast hosted by Sean Coates and my good friend Paul Reinheimer. Pro::PHP is offers more of a casual, less formal approach to podcasts. You can really have fun while listening to Sean and Paul’s conversation and still learn quite a bit. Also, you can expect these podcasts to be considerably longer than those in PHP Abstract (usually averaging about 30 minutes in length).

Make sure to add these to your iTunes (or whatever client you happen to use). You certainly won’t regret it!

The Time Has Come: Go PHP 5

Friday, July 6th, 2007

It’s common knowledge that PHP 5 is the latest and greatest release of PHP. It’s object model being completely revamped, instances passed by reference, the reflection API, and the piles and piles of language improvements over the years speak volumes of the stability of our beloved language. So what gives? Why is PHP 4 still around, actively developed and supported to this day?

It’s quite obvious that you can’t just abandon a version’s users once something new and improved has come out — that wouldn’t be profitable for the community. Instead, do as all good communities do: train, educate, and allow some time for upgrading. Now three years have passed since PHP 5 was announced and it’s time to move on. is a site/movement that have set a firm date to stop community support of PHP 4 and to make the minimum version requirement to 5.2. Their proposed date is February 5, 2008. Although the site is a bin minimal and doesn’t provide any resources beyond a list of supportive hosts and applications, I still feel that this movement is a good one and carries with it great potential. I made the switch to coding entirely PHP 5 about one year ago and I have yet to run into any problems whatsoever.

What is the communities reaction to the thought of dropping support for PHP 4?

Upcoming Meeting Dates

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Wonderful news guys: I have new meeting dates confirmed! They are as follows:

  • Saturday, August 4th
  • Saturday, August 25 (Instead of September 1, allowing traveling for Labor Day on September 3)
  • Saturday, September 29
  • Saturday, October 27

Meetings for the above dates will be held at DeVry University in Room 108 from 3pm to 5pm. I will be presenting a talk on Web Services on August 4th (witty title coming soon, I promise). I would love to see some folks step up and give some talks for the other three slots. Please propose any ideas in our discussion group.

Be sure to plan around these dates! More information will follow once more specific details come my way.

Zend Framework Hits 1.0

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

Just shy of the two year anniversary, Zend Technologies has released version 1.0.0 of the Zend Framework for production use.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, the Zend Framework is a rock-solid framework written in PHP 5 that offers solutions for most of the issues web developers face on a day-to-day basis. It is completely open source and falls under a very loose license and their contributers must also agree to and fill out a Contributer License Agreement which is based on Apache’s. In other words, feel free to pick it up and use it in your projects without fear of IP violations.

While using it, you may notice that it has a PEAR-like feeling to it (even though they don’t use all of PEAR’s coding standards throughout the library). As a result, its “use at will” architecture allows you to load only the necessary components in your application as well as insures that it plays well with other frameworks.

One criticism that I have with the framework is that there is no project creation utility, specifically for the MVC libraries. Granted, this slightly goes against the deliberate openness of the framework, but MVCs aren’t noted for their ease of set-up. This could be a bit premature since the framework is still a little young. I’m sure that we will see it evolve quite a bit over the years.

I’d love to see someone [else] put together a talk about this so everyone can benefit from a full presentation of the code. Let’s hear what you think!