tagbar-phpctags : Vim plugin for PHP developeres


If you are using Vim editor to write PHP code, you probably already know about the excellent tagbar plugin, which lists methods, variables and the like in an optional window split.  Recently, I’ve learned of an awesome phpctags-tagbar plugin, which extends and improves this functionality via a phpctags tool, which has a deeper knowledge of PHP than the classic ctags tool.

Once installed, you’ll have a more organized browser of your code, with support for namespaces, classes, interfaces, constants, and variables.

The curious case of the switch statement

The curious case of the switch statement” is a nice historical perspective on the switch statement in most modern programming languages, where it come from, and how it transformed over the years.  It starts of with ALGOL 58 (yes, a programming language from 1958), and traces the history down to the modern reincarnation of the statement to BCPL (1967!), where it looked like this:

switchon EXPR into {
    case CONST:

Apart from the historical perspective, there is an interesting discussion about how different languages approached the statement, how it varies, and what are some of the benefits of each implementation.

O’Reilly Free Programming Ebooks


O’Reilly is giving away some programming ebooks for free.  Not the greatest of selections, but might still come handy, as subjects vary from Java and Python to micro-services and software architecture.  The books are available in ePub, Mobi, and PDF, but you’ll need to register / login to download them.

PHP: array_merge_recursive() vs. array_replace_recursive()

Here is a nice blog post describing the important differences between array_merge_recursive() and array_replace_recursive() functions in PHP.  These are often overlooked when testing new developments with simpler data structures.  Troubleshooting for it later is not too obvious.

Rundeck – Job Scheduler and Runbook Automation


Rundeck is yet another one of those services that I want to get my hands on but haven’t yet got the time to.  The simplest way to describe it is: cron on steroids.

Rundeck allows one to define the commands and then allow for execution on those commands manually, periodically or based on a certain trigger.  Imagine, for example, a deployment command that needs to run across some servers to which you are not comfortable giving access to developers, or even non-technical users.  You can create a command in Rundeck and give access to certain users to execute it, via clicking a button or two in a user friendly web interface.

A side benefit to using Rundeck versus cron are the metrics.  Rundeck collects metrics like successful and failed executions, execution times, etc.  So it makes it easier for you to see that certain jobs are getting progressively slower or fail on specific weekdays, etc.

The best part is that Rundeck is Open Source and self-hosted, so you don’t need to give sensitive access to some external web service.

Vim 8.0 Released!

The team behind the greatest text editor of all times has release the new major version – Vim 8.0.  It’s the first major release in 10 years!  Brief overview of the changes:

  • Asynchronous I/O support, channels, JSON
  • Jobs
  • Timers
  • Partials, Lambdas and Closures
  • Packages
  • New style testing
  • Viminfo merged by timestamp
  • GTK+ 3 support
  • MS-Windows DirectX support

For a more complete list and details, have a look here.

The TL;DR summary: Vim provides a lot more power now to plugin developers, so we’ll be seeing a boost in both new functionality and old ways getting better.

Here is a mandatory Slashdot discussion with your usual Vim vs. Emacs flame.

P.S.: Emacs has recently released a major update too …

GitHub Improvements

GitHub has recently announced a whole lot of improvements to their service and functionality.  For me personally the following bits were super exiciting.

Improvements to the code review

reviews popover

Approve or require changes

You’re no longer left on your own to figure out if a comment was important. Or if that emoji means “Go ahead, looks great!” Or “Please no, this is likely going to bring the site down!”

With Reviews, you can leave your comments as suggestions, approve the changes, or request additional changes—on any pull request.

Improvements to the GitHub Profile page

github profiles

See what’s behind your green squares

GitHub profiles show your life and career as a developer. We’ve taken the contribution graph to new heights with your GitHub timeline—a snapshot of your most important triumphs and contributions.

But there is more – projects, notes, comment drafts, etc.  Check the full announcement.

BitBucket Pipelines and Docker for PHP Developers

I’ve been meaning to look into Docker for a long while now.  But, as always, time is the issue.  In the last couple of days though I’ve been integrating BitBucket Pipelines into our workflow.  BitBucket Pipelines is a continuous integration solution, which runs your project tests in a Docker container.  So, naturally, I had to get a better idea of how the whole thing works.

Docker for PHP Developers” article was super useful.  Even though it wasn’t immediately applicable to BitBucket Pipelines, as they don’t currently support multiple containers – everything has to run within a single container.

The default BitBucket Pipelines configuration suggests the phpunit/phpunit image.  If you want to run PHPUnit tests only, that works fine.  But if you want to have a full blown Nginx and MySQL setup for extra bits (UI tests, integration tests, etc), then you might find smartapps/bitbucket-pipelines-php-mysql image much more useful.  Here’s the full bitbucket-pipelines.yml file that I’ve ended up with.

MySQL, PHP and “Integrity constraint violation: 1062 Duplicate entry”

Anna Filina blogs about an interesting problem she encountered with when working on a PHP and MySQL project:

MySQL was complaining about “Integrity constraint violation: 1062 Duplicate entry”. I had all the necessary safeguards in my code to prevent duplicates in tha column.

I gave up on logic and simply dumped the contents of the problematic column for every record. I found that there was a record with and without an accent on one of the characters. PHP saw each as a unique value, but MySQL did not make a distinction, which is why it complained about a duplicate value. It’s a good thing too, because based on my goal, these should have been treated as duplicates.

She also mentions two possible solutions to the problem:

My solution was to substitute accented characters before filtering duplicates in the code. This way, similar records were rejected before they were sent to the database.


As pointed out in the comments, a more robust and versatile solution would be to check the collation on the column.

I’m sure this will come in handy one day.

git: history of a source code line

git is one of those tools that no matter how much you know about it, there is an infinite supply of new things to learn.  Here’s a handy bit I’ve discovered recently, thanks to this StackOverflow comment:

Since Git 1.8.4, git log has -L to view the evolution of a range of lines.


And you want to know the history of what is now line 155.

Then, use git log. Here, -L 155,155:git-web–browse.sh means “trace the evolution of lines 155 to 155 in the file named git-web–browse.sh“.

Absolutely brilliant!  I used to suffer through this via an iteration of git blame and git show to the point of custom bash scripts.