20 Years of PHP

June 8th, 2015

Today is PHP’s 20th birthday. Ben Ramsey has called on us to blog about our history with PHP, so here’s mine.

Way back in 1999, still in college, I got my first real software development job at a small company in DC, the predecessor to my current employer. My job was to write an Apache log analyzer, because the software package we were using at the time was very slow and produced inconsistent results between runs.

So I wrote it in C++, because that’s what I knew, and what I was using for my personal projects. But, we were a web services company, so why shouldn’t our log analyzer be accessible via the web?

We were using a couple of different web languages at the time. Some of our early stuff was in PERL, which I had tried before and didn’t like. We also had a site using this awful language called SQLWEB. But, it was suggested to me that I write the web interface using this scripting language called PHP. I had never heard of it before, but I quickly learned it (because, frankly with PHP 3, there wasn’t much to learn), and quickly became enamored with this language.

Sure, it didn’t have many of the features we’ve come to take for granted in modern PHP, such as OOP or closures, or even the foreach keyword (hooray for PHP 4!). But its key feature was that it didn’t need to be compiled. Up until then, every program I’d ever written had a slow write-compile-debug cycle, because compiling a new build and relaunching the app to test was always slow. But here, with PHP, all I needed to do was change my code and refresh the browser window, and the changes were immediately visible. PHP may have been slower than C, but I was way more productive.

We no longer use that log analyzer, but PHP is the foundation for every website we currently manage, and is the vast majority of the code I’ve written over my professional career. And since then, the PHP community has become so much bigger, with several different application frameworks, thousands of open source libraries made easily available through Composer and Packagist, more conferences every year than one person could possibly attend, and a great community that I’m happy to be a part of.

Happy birthday, PHP! Here’s to another 20 years of powering the web.

BowerBundle Released

November 24th, 2014

Last night, I released BowerBundle, a super-simple bundle for Symfony that enables running Bower update/install automatically after running Composer update/install. I’ve used this for several different Symfony apps, and now it’s available for your use as well.

You can download it via GitHub, or via jbafford/bower-bundle in Composer.

Slides for “Writing OOP Modules for Drupal 7″ Posted

November 19th, 2014

The slides for “Writing OOP Modules for Drupal 7″, my first talk at last week’s php[world], have been posted to Speaker Deck.

Slides for “Stupid PHP Tricks” Posted

November 18th, 2014

The slides for “Stupid PHP Tricks”, my second talk at last week’s php[world], have been posted to Speaker Deck.

Automatic Build Versioning in Xcode with Subversion

November 17th, 2010

For awhile, I had wanted to include the svn revision number in my iOS app, and when I came across a blog post by Daniel Jalkut from a few years ago, I thought I had found an answer. No sooner than I implemented his script, though, did I discover that Apple doesn’t allow build numbers in iOS app packages.

I still really wanted this information in my dev builds so it would be easier to keep track of what version I was working with, so wound up I made a number of modifications to the script to make it suit my needs:
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GPSTrack 2.0 released

November 17th, 2010

Today, the first major update to GPSTrack, my iOS GPS tracking application, made its way to the App Store, now with support for the iPad (WiFi + 3G).

I didn’t make too big a fuss about the 1.0 version, knowing it would have the sort of annoying bugs that every 1.0 release has, and while 2.0 still doesn’t have all the features I wanted — I severely underestimated how much time adding iPad support was going to take, and some of which I hope to blog about soon — I’m pretty happy with the improvements I’ve made so far, but now that 2.0’s released, I can actually get back to adding new functionality.

Slides for CodeWorks talk posted

October 3rd, 2009

This morning, in the lovely “Sauna” room at CodeWorks DC, I presented my talk on “What Happens When a Website Crashes: A Case Study” on how The Bivings Group scaled the Pickens Plan website after it stopped working following a national advertising campaign after the first 2008 presidential debate drew thousands of people to the website.

The slides are now available from my talks page.

If you were in the audience, please feel feel free to rate the talk at joind.in. I welcome your comments.

Twitterslurp open source release

June 30th, 2009

Last month, I wrote about Twitterslurp, the twitter searching tool I developed at The Bivings Group, which displays a constantly-updating stream of tweets, as well as a leaderboard and stats graphs.

Today, we are very happy to release it as open source. You can download Twitterslurp from its Google Code project page at http://twitterslurp.googlecode.com/.

Since last month, I’ve made a lot of changes to improve the quality (and ease of configuration) of the Twitterslurp code. Twitterslurp’s error handling has been improved, and I added the ability to start and stop the tweet stream and show more than the most recent 20 tweets. Our graphics team also created a spiffy logo.

Yesterday and today, Twitterslurp has been driving a video wall of tweets at the Personal Democracy Forum conference in NYC. The conference, which just ended, had over 17,000 tweets in the last two days.

Previously, we ran test versions of Twitterslurp during mysqlconf and php|tek, and officially on behalf of the Dutch PHP Conference. Twitterslurp started as a project for a client to allow them to track tweets, and give members of their website rewards for tweeting with a particular hashtag.

We’ve also set up a copy of Twitterslurp tracking itself.

We’d love for you to check out Twitterslurp, and we’re open to any and all feedback.

Tracking php|tek Tweets With Twitterslurp

May 20th, 2009

For a client at work a few months ago, I created a Twitter search tool, Twitterslurp, that put all the tweets related to the client’s project on their webpage, updated in (close to) real-time via AJAX.

I’ve since added a lot of features, including a set of graphs, and we’ve set up a version of Twitterslurp for php|tek 2009.
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Pickens Plan Scaling Talk Slides Are Available

May 15th, 2009

On Wednesday night, I gave a talk at the DC PHP developer’s group regarding how The Bivings Group scaled the Pickens Plan website after it stopped working following a national advertising campaign after the first 2008 presidential debate drew thousands of people to the website.

The slides are now available for download.

Also, I want to thank everyone who showed up. It was great talking to all of you!