— issue #14 {June 2015} —


Hello, and welcome to the fourteenth issue of Equilibrium.

Over the years, I've written code in several languages -C++, Java, JavaScript, Python, SQL, to name some- and I'm sure I'll write in more in the future. My main income though comes from a language that sometimes is (for a lack of a better term) weird and full of inconsistencies in the naming of its core functions, but at the same time so flexible, powerful, and allows you to write good code (if you want to) that really makes me love it. You probably figured out by now that I'm referring to PHP.

PHP Logo

Earlier this month, PHP became 20 years old. I was listening to an episode of the Laravel podcast (which is featured in this issue), where the hosts were discussing their first encounters with PHP, as well as which was the release of the language that was the most important for them. That discussion inspired me to document and share my own history with the language.

My first superficial encounter with PHP was in the early 00's, with one of its last 4.x releases. I started using it more in my own small web-related projects (while I was a student) after the 5.0 version was released. The first time I found myself in charge of a PHP-based production code was while I was working at my second job, were -among other things- I had to maintain a Joomla-based website. I really disliked it; Joomla, not PHP.

Laravel Logo

Thankfully, the company had already in mind to create a new and more complex portal so I decided to build it using a PHP framework. I chose CakePHP and that was the first time I used a framework in production. Over the years, I've worked with a number of frameworks (CakePHP, Zend, Symfony, CodeIgniter) and even built my own, as a lot of developers do. After I discovered Laravel a few years ago though, it instantly became my framework of choice.

Regarding language features, in my opinion, the biggest breakthrough that the language had was when the 5.3 version was released, which introduced -among other features- namespaces, closures, etc. Afterwards, with each one of its releases, PHP is becoming even more powerful. At the moment of this writing, we are waiting the release of version 7.0.

Composer Logo

Talking about breakthroughs, I feel I have to mention Composer, a PHP dependency manager which provided something that the PHP ecosystem really needed. Finally, a personal breakthrough was when I started utilising PHP's CLI capabilities by writing command-line scripts to help me with a lot of tasks in my projects. If you are a PHP developer and haven't had the opportunity to write a command-line tool using PHP yet, have a look at Symfony's Console Component, as well as Laravel's Artisan (which is powered by the aforementioned component).

Happy birthday PHP!

As always, enjoy the issue!

.blogs (interesting reads from around the web)

Why do airplane windows have tiny holes? — slate.com, 2015

A tiny hole on an airplane window

The answer to the question you always think about when you board a plane, but you never remember to search for when you land.

The art of command line — github.com/jlevy, 2015

"This is a selection of notes and tips on using the command-line that I've found useful when working on Linux. Some tips are elementary, and some are fairly specific, sophisticated, or obscure. This page is not long, but if you can use and recall all the items here, you know a lot."

Software engineers should write — shubhro.com, 2014

"Software engineers should write because it promotes many of the same skills required in programming. A core skill in both disciplines is an ability to think clearly. The best software engineers are great writers because their prose is as logical and elegant as their code."

I fooled millions into thinking chocolate helps weight loss. Here's how.
— io9.com, 2015

It should go without saying, but some people still believe everything they read.

‘JIF’ is the format. ‘GIF’ is the culture — medium.com, 2014

Hard G all the way!

.podcasts (sometimes is better to listen)

The Laravel Podcast — laravelpodcast.com

The Laravel Podcast brings you Laravel and PHP development news and discussion. The podcast is hosted by Matt Stauffer (host of the Five Minute Geek Show which was featured in issue #12) and its regular guests include Taylor Otwell (the creator of Laravel) and Jeffrey Way (the creator of Laracasts, featured in issue #7).

.tools (of the trade)

Laravel Forge — forge.laravel.com

Forge is a service that allows you to automatically setup and easily configure a cloud server, and then quickly deploy your project. I've recently started using it on top of a couple of DigitalOcean* droplets, where I deployed a few Laravel and CodeIgniter projects (by the way, Forge is tuned for Laravel, but it will work with any PHP framework). It really exceeded my expectations and made my life way easier!

*In case you were thinking of signing up for a DigitalOcean server, you'll get $10 credit if you do so using the above link.

.videos (for education or entertainment)

One second every day — ted.com, 2012

"There are so many tiny, beautiful, funny, tragic moments in your life — how are you going to remember them all? Director Cesar Kuriyama shoots one second of video every day as part of an ongoing project to collect all the special bits of his life."

Earth 100 million years from now — youtube.com, 2010

"Earth's landmasses were not always what they are today. Continents formed as Earth's crustal plates shifted and collided over long periods of time. This video shows how today's continents are thought to have evolved over the last 600 million years, and where they'll end up in the next 100 million years."

.books (physical or electronic)

Time Out of Joint — wikipedia.org

The novel is written by Philip K. Dick, one of my favourite science fiction writers, and published in 1959. It has been a while since I've read a PKD's book, and I really enjoyed it.

This is how the story goes: The year is 1959. Ragle Gumm, the protagonist, lives with his sister and her family and makes his living by entering a newspaper contest every day - and winning, every day. But he gradually begins to suspect that his life - and possible the whole world - is some kind of an illusion.

Sorry for the short description; I hate spoilers, therefore when I describe a novel I try to give away as little information about the plot as possible.

.non-profits (for a good cause)

Ιlioupolis Animal Welfare Union — zeil.gr

Ιlioupolis Animal Welfare Union is a small non-for-profit, animal rescue organisation established in 1997, which operates in the city of Athens, Greece. Their main activities include rescuing and caring for stray animals. Every year, the Society cares for, feeds, vaccinates, and neuters approximately 300 stray animals, mainly cats and dogs, while also promoting the adoption of stray animals through various media. Due to its charitable character, the organisation relies heavily on donations by its members, as well as members of the public.


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