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Tuesday 05th November 2013 Easily Reuse Your Own PHP Code Snippets

At this point in your PHP coding careers, you've probably all heard about the value of a framework - how popular they are, how robust they are, and how they can save you hours of time and effort. Of course, they can also add some hours of time and effort at the beginning, as you have their often steep learning curves to adjust to. But most of you likely started coding before you began to use frameworks, as they're generally better suited to large projects, and most devs don't start with large projects. Along the way, you probably found yourself coding similar functions and classes enough times that it finally clicked - you should be re-using bits of your old code! But that can be a huge pain, sorting through old files in an effort to lift out the useful bits, so we've put together a quick list of some useful tools that are designed to help you save and tag your code snippets to start building up a personal framework.
 
Most of the currently popular snippet storage tools are all web-based, meaning you can access them anywhere. The intended goal is to share them with the PHP developer community, but naturally you don't have to share if you don't want to.
 
Probably the most feature-packed is Gist, the snippet saver offered by the ever-popular Github. All the snippets posted are automatically treated as repositories, meaning they offer all the same benefits as a full Git codebase. They can easily be saved as private or public, although if you create too many it may become difficult to sort through them all.
 
Next is our personal favourite, Snipplr. It offers much of the same functionality as Gist, but with a handy tagging system that lets you sort quickly through your snippets. It also lets you easily filter based on language, which can be a great help if you're coding in PHP, CSS, HTML5 and JavaScript all at once.
 
Finally, for a slightly more well-designed version of Snipplr, you can try Snipt, which lets you go from reading this sending to storing your snippets in about 3 seconds. Tagging, descriptions, and private entries available, and if you get mad at the ads, you can opt to go for a Pro account to save your eyes the hassle.

One last entry that deserves a special mention is FastFox, which you can think of as a time-saver for inserting regularly used expressions. It lets you define text-based shortcuts which are automatically converted into larger pieces of text. If you find yourself using a piece of code repeatedly, you can quickly set up a shortcut for it and save yourself a huge amount of time. While it's available for PC and Mac, it's unfortunately not open source, so you'll be shelling out $20 for it - but a free trial is available from their website to help you make up your mind.

Posted on November 05th 2013 at 07:46pm
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Saturday 19th October 2013 PHP Productivity Tools

When it comes to working on large PHP projects, it's easy to suddenly find yourself bogged down by a few tasks that seem to appear repeatedly no matter how well-crafted your code is, namely testing, debugging, and deployment. Fortunately, there are many tools and utilities that have been released to help PHP developers overcome these frustrations and make the coding process as efficient as possible from start to finish. Here are a few of our favourites!
 
Test and Debug
No matter how well your code is written, it needs to be tested properly and thoroughly before it can be deployed safely. One of the best testing frameworks is PHPUnit, an extension of xUnit that lets you write testing code in PHP syntax and then automate the entire process. If command-line isn't really your style or you're looking for a front-end problem, we have also had great luck with an updated version of Firebug called FirePHP, a Firefox extension that allows developers to sort through PHP errors in the browser. If you need something even more robust, consider XDebug, which is an open-source tool that lets you dig deep into your PHP code and optimise.
 
Build and Deploy
If you're working on a small project, it can be easy to manage the various code iterations and keep them all straight yourself. But for a larger PHP project that has multiple developers, it can become a necessity to implement some kind of version control software to help sort through the chaos and make sure everything plays nice. Git is easily the most popular version control solution, thanks in large part to the popular third-party website Github, that offers hosting for various code repositories and helps track code branchings, team member contributions, and lets you roll back unwanted forkings.
 
Code Control
For both large and small projects, there are a couple of hassles that never go away: formatting and documentation. The bane of all developers working in the zone, documentation is left out all too frequently, giving other devs (or your future self) some serious frustrations. Fortunately a simple tool called phpDocumentor can use simple syntax to generate your user-friendly documentation for you! When you combine this with another handy tool called PHP_Beautifier which neatly indents and formats your code, you can whip even the largest projects into visual shape with ease.

Posted on October 19th 2013 at 07:06pm
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