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PHP Beyond the web
November 30, 2013
Week: 44 All time: 347
Luis Martinez UlloaNot every developer is aware that PHP is not only for the Web. You can develop other things than Web apps. From automation of tasks, to system daemons and desktop GUI based applications, this really is a multi-purpose language.
So if you have considered to test PHP with another developer (like me) for this kind of work, I am sure that you are more comfortable and proficient with the skills you gained with. It is not a excuse to avoid using PHP for non-Web purposes. Instead it is a chance to allow you to evolve your PHP skills.
This book is a light to guide anyone to take the challenge of making a different use of PHP language besides the Web browser applications. It comes with many good examples to explain the concepts in depth.
The writer of the book, the british Rob Aley, had great patience and care to tell us how to approach some other tools in the process of better development of many kinds of applications.
With eleven chapters and around of two hundred pages, the reading isn't difficult to the point you can feel encouraged enough to test your skills trying some of the examples and ideas explained there.
The first chapter suggests how to read the book itself and what you need to read it. The second chapter starts with how to approach the tasks of development when your not using the browser. Later it tells about what you should not do in PHP and the security aspects in a Web-less application environment.
The CLI SAPI is the start point of all the PHP applications not based on the Web. This is the heart of the third chapter. It teaches how to understand it: how it works, how to operate and deal with, how to run it.
The fourth chapter explains which development tools we have, with emphasis on profiler tools that can help to producing more optimized code, which may be necessary for tasks that take a long time to finish, unlike short life and fast response tasks that we run on the Web.
The fifth chapter covers the many kinds of user interaction we can have with PHP that other languages programmers may be more familiarized with, like the command line, the standard I/O streams, user interfaces of some operating systems, etc..
The sixth chapter focus in system software that does not need direct user interaction, like daemons. We can also learn how to spawn new processes and create worker tasks and dispatch them, how using Gearman to spread workers and work loads across multiple machines.
The seventh chapter shows how to start processes, how to interact with other programs and talking with them using semaphores, shared memory, message queues, APC, virtual files. The eighth chapter is about how to interact with the operating system, the file system, the windows registry, Linux signals, and printing.
The ninth chapter tells about how to profile our application to improve its performance and stability, how to speed up the application: upgrading the hardware, opcode caching, how to use SPL library to optimize memory, and how to deal with garbage collection issues.
The tenth chapter teach us how to deal with distribution and deployment, handling errors and logging, appending data to the end of PHP files, dealing with PHAR files, plug-ins, documentation, licensing. The eleventh and last chapter is a acknowledgement from the author for reading his book.
After this, we have some useful appendices, like compiling and installing PHP and its extensions, file and data format libraries to deal with, sources to get help, interesting libraries, IDEs for PHP, and the changelog for the book.
One of the most interesting things about the book is the huge amount of links and external resources to follow, so this can be the starting point of research for us.
I recommend it to be read for all PHP programmers. Sometimes in our work we need to deal with some PHP program in the command line, like Composer, PEAR, PECL, among others, maybe yours (be the next). Some of the concepts apply to the Web too, so we should consider this book very seriously.
This book is a real guide to developers who want to take advantage of the general purpose capabilities of PHP to make things different besides Web apps.
I recommend this book because I believe it is complete, as its chapters follow solid guidelines to successfully develop non-Web based PHP projects.
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