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The latest project to launch was the site for Gorilla Offroad Company. Aside from their main site, a social media strategy was develop to launch the company into various industry specific automobile enthusist discussion board communities as well as popular social media fronts like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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Recording: Debugging Mobile Applications Presentation
Thank you to everyone who attended (not sure how many - 20+ I think?) my Google Hangout presentation today. I think I'm getting used to the platform but as always, if anyone has any tips for how I could do these better, I'll gladly listen to your a...
(Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:01:01 GMT)
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Relooking at Frameworks

So today my partner and I really sat down to talk about the issues we've been having with CakePHP and to start the decision making process.  We once again started researching the various framework options, including talking about the potential cons of using one of the "dead" ones, like CodeIgniter.  As part of this process, we found a lengthy video on that goes through why to use a framework (and when you might not need to), the types of frameworks, and so forth.  For most of the video, though, it takes a deeper look at four frameworks (Zend, Symfony, CodeIgniter, CakePHP) including general details, pros, cons, and a good look at how apps built with these frameworks will look, be organized, and then the actual code.  It is about 2 years old, but it is still a pretty good video to watch. 

The first covered was Zend. We both found ourselves excited and surprised.  Zend sounded exactly like the sort of framework we really want and would like, including how models are done and the "code generation" mostly being skeletons where we still write most of our own code.  It seemed very flexible and was certainly way more "legalistic" than others we saw. Honestly, we couldn't understand why so many people said it had a huge learning curve beyond it being really big.  Now, the tutorial covered v1 rather than v2, so it could be that with v2 they completely changed everything and took out what we liked so we will need to look into that.  That said though, I suspect we will be trying this one out next as it was very much like Mach-II. :-)

Symfony had some interesting features, but the bundles aspect was very confusing and it seems to require a very large amount of configuring and command-line code generation.  Like CakePHP, though, it is a full-stack framework so that isn't entirely surprising.  It is far more daunting than Zend appeared to be and much of the code felt confusing. The available dev/production environment flips and the dev bar is a nice feature though.  As it utilizes Doctrine, the video also covered that as well.  This also seems to use a lot of command-line tools and it seems like with Doctrine, it also makes your DB tables for you rather than you doing it yourself?  Checking the docs, it seems this is strongly preferred though Doctrine can "reverse engineer" an existing DB to some degree, but only with 70-80% handled and a lot of manual fixing required after.  For sure, Symfony would have a very high learning curve - we were looking stupefied by the end of the example and had to go get lunch. LOL

In the intro to CodeIgniter, the video host notes that is is relatively straightforward and very flexible, and that it requires more hand coding as it has few RAD tools, which are fine without.  It does have looser structure, which is not something we mind much as we have our own internal structural conventions that would keep our apps from being overly disparate. As mentioned in my last post, CodeIgniter is "dead", though this video was made before that was announced so it wasn't listed as a negative point.  It seemed to be the easiest of all the frameworks to get installed and running.  Though because it does have a "whatever works" mechanism, it doesn't have some basic features by default.

For CakePHP, we just watched the intro part to see what pros/cons they would mention.  He noted that a regular criticism is its automagical nature and more rigid, specific conventions that you cannot break out from easily. It isn't easy to do deep customization. You have to use a lot of specific naming structures because of all the stuff that happens behind scenes, and of course it has a lot of RAD tools, including scaffolding, and the "bake" command. Though he said it was "quick to learn" he also noticed it was easy to break the whole app if you misname anything or violate Cake's structure requirements.

I think watching this was a good use of our Friday morning and it helped us realize that the issue may not be so much with PHP frameworks is our having only looked at full stack type frameworks without realizing.   At this point, I think my partner and I would completely agree that we do NOT like "full stack" frameworks, rather for our coding natures and application design preferences, the more loosely coupled "use what you want" glue frameworks are more to our taste. 

We then discussed Zend vs CodeIgniter and compared the two.  CI is lean and certainly very easy to get going, but it's almost too lean.  Zend seems very flexible and has the sort of helpers that we do like and would use.  It also has the benefit of being "alive" and active, as we suspect our boss would very much be like "you picked a dead framework."  So next week we'll be installing Zend framework on our dev box and giving it a whirl.  So look for future posts on Zend to come, and here's hoping it goes better! :-)

(Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:00:31 GMT)
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Dojo and IE8 Compatibility
As a web developer, we all have to write cross-browser code on a day to day basis and most of the time, cross-browser really means making sure the code works in different versions of IE. IE10 and IE11 are a lot better than IE9 in terms of compatibility and the biggest challenge is usually IE8 […]
(Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:00:11 GMT)
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Another Weekly to Sign Up For...
I've blogged before about some excellent newsletters to sign up in regards to web dev. A new one has just launched - Mobile Web Weekly. This newsletter is curated by two friends of mine - Brian Rinaldi and Holly Schinsky. Check it out. To get an idea...
(Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:01:04 GMT)
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Official word from Adobe PSIRT re Heartbleed and ColdFusion
Adobe have completed their analysis of the Heartbleed issue in regards to their products, including ColdFusion, and have offered some guidance: "Heartbleed Update".

The relevant bits are as follows:

Some Adobe products and services do not bundle OpenSSL (such as ColdFusion** , Experience Manager and Experience Manager On-Demand) but are frequently deployed by customers on-premise or with third party web servers. We advise these customers to test for the Heartbleed vulnerability (CVE-2014-0160) against their deployment and configuration. If necessary, follow the recommendations provided by the OpenSSL security advisory as appropriate.
** Update: ColdFusion does ship a version of OpenSSL that is not vulnerable to the Heartbleed vulnerability.

I can't help but think that Aaron Foote and Brad Wood had a hand on getting this report updated to reflect reality regarding ColdFusion shipping with OpenSSL libraries:
Brad's blog article: "Adobe Product Security Incident Response Team (PSIRT) On ColdFusion And HeartBleed".

after the initial Twitter reports from Adobe ColdFusion Team members that it didn't:

I guess it's down to the interpretation of "uses". And to be clear, as per the PSIRT article: the OpenSSL libraries ColdFusion does use are not vulnerable.

I think Adobe took a bit longer than they should have to release this news, but all in all they got their in the end, so that's cool.

What I chiefly find disappointing in all this is the reaction from Rakshith in reaction to efforts on the part of the community to try to extract some accurate information out of him:


I also feel some of the ColdFusion Community "usual suspects" let themselves down on this issue by being completely in denial that it might perhaps be a good idea for Adobe to clarify this situation, as it perhaps warrants more communication than a coupla vague (and as it turns out not very accurate) Twitter messages from Adobe. I'm pleased Adobe has followed this up.

In other news Railo too took a wee while to comment on this, but their eventual response seems well researched and thorough: "Railo Server and the Heartbleed vulnerability". In contrast to Rakshtih's reaction, this was Gert's reaction, after I quizzed him about when their response would present itself:

The bottom line is Railo's in the clear too.

The lesson for both Adobe and Railo here are that when serious security issues like this present themselves, not everyone is expert enough to just "know" that their products aren't effected (this was also suggested by usually-reliable ColdFusion community members), and even if the answer is a simple "no, we don't use that stuff, you're fine", then that messaging is necessary. And the quicker the message gets out there: the better. It was ten days from announcement the vulnerability existed to either Adobe or Railo clarifying, which I can't help but think is "quite a long time"? I dunno... what do you think?

Anyway, it's all good that it's just been a bit of a storm in the CFML teacup.

(Fri, 18 Apr 2014 04:11:42 GMT)
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Oculus Rift
The Oculus VR company was recently bought by Facebook for $2 billion. Since, the company started 2 years ago my husband has been talking about it non-stop and will be the first in line when it goes public, even if many are unhappy about the Facebook buy out. Oculus promises to take Virtual Reality to a whole new level, and Facebook plans on keeping up development of Oculus Rift their Virtual Reality Head Set. Check out this article that explains why Oculus Rift is going to be awesome. 7 Ways the Oculus Rift Could Change Entertainment as We Know It According to the website you can pre-order your developer kit now for $350 and they expect to start sending them out July this year. Pre-Order yours here
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:01:06 GMT)
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The Cake is a Lie!

Fair warning - minor ranting may be found in this post...

At this point it would be fair to say I really really do not like CakePHP. In fact, I hate it.  Almost two weeks of trying to learn this framework has made me loath coming to work.  It isn't coding, it's figuring out how to do the most convoluted configurations to instruct cake how to write the app for you.  The "code" you have to write for all this configuration is bloated, ugly, and makes no sense.

The only thing I hate more is their ORM which is completely asinine.  Let's take a simple, easy to use query object and convert it into some sort of crazy ass multi-dimensional array.  Really?  Why? Why? Why?  Even they recognize the ridiculousness of this concept as, according to their docs, they are dropping that whole bit in Cake v3.  Reading about Cake 3 it actually sounds like a significant improvement in a lot of ways, including dumping some of the "magic" wand crap.  Problem is, v3 is coming out who knows when.

Which is another issue...we're struggling to learn Cake 2...when 3 is COMPLETELY different (something repeatedly emphasized in the v3 docs), which means we're learning it just to have to relearn again if/when v3 comes out? Or stay in v2 hell?

So we may be dropping it...I'm more than ready to look at something else.  Thus far though all of the PHP frameworks seem to be very similar, bloated, excessively complicated, and designed to do almost everything for you.  I don't want to "build" an app by just running a bunch of generate commands, throwing in some layout, and then just hope it all runs.


Of the frameworks that seemed to consistently be coming out as the most heavily used (i.e. that jobs/developers criteria), here is what I found:

Currently on v2, v3 in development and will be massively different; no release date on v3

This framework is all done by a single man so if he gets bored or hit by that proverbial beer truck that is gunning for all developers, there goes that; yes it has some decent sized sponsors sort of behind it and it has its own conference, but really, if he's done it's done.   It's also fairly new, yet in 3 years has already done 4 major releases - seems like a bit much for something like a framework

Current owning company does not want to do it anymore because it makes them no money (certainly a fair reason); they posted about looking for a new owner last year and no one has taken them up on it so pretty much in the same state as Mach-II

After acting looking at code from each one, this one seemed more like what we'd like in terms of how it works, other than it being a C-based module (which would mean having to debug C if something really deep broke.  Still I was actually getting a little excited, but before I could share with my partner I saw the fun bit: they are working on a v2 that is *gasp* a complete redo!  Instead of it's current uniqueness of being a C module, they are moving to their own freaking language, Zephir. When done it is, at least, supposed to be totally backwards compatible with apps built in their current version.  I've also seen a lot of complaints about a lack of good docs, though my initial glances seemed to show they had decent ones.

A fork of the dead/dying CodeIgniter, at least initially. But then they completely rewrote it, killing that appeal. The documentation though is hideous, whole areas that are just blank pages. Not even a taunting "coming soon" message. Oh, and it was also abandoned two years ago by its creator, and while one guy apparently kept going on it to do a final release, it is officially dead.

Currently on v1.1.14 and...yep, a v2 is in beta. And, yet again, v2 is a complete rewrite and switching from one to the other is, in their words, "will not be trivial" though they do say the learning curve itself should be smaller as long as you are already familiar with one or the other. This one takes hand holding to a whole new level though - web-based model creation. Just fill in the form and poof...No.

Zend Framework 2
Huge, complicated as all get out, and repeatedly noted to be very hard to learn and slow performing due to its heavy load. Looking at the docs, I'd have to agree on the learning curve, they are so bad.

Company supported, like Zend, but like Zend it is also larger, far more complicated, higher learning curve, and often referred to as "bloated" in discussions on frameworks. That said, of the two it did generally have more positive remarks in terms of flexibility and being more modular. From the docs, it seems like you can turn off the stuff you don't need - like that damn ORM crap!

Did you notice how many are in the middle of a major redo?  WTF? Did we just happen to come over to the "dark side" at just the right/wrong time or something?  Another thing that seems common with the PHP frameworks is being heavily connected to all aspects of the apps.  With most ColdFusion frameworks you could relatively easily "lift" off the framework and replace it with something else.  Yeah, you'd have to rewrite views a bit, but if properly done, your framework mostly interacted with service layers, so the "real" app was framework independent. 

Not so with any of these PHP ones, they all have to put their hands heavily into everything - the models, the controllers, the views, etc.  Replacing one with another requires significantly more code rewriting.  And the need to replace seems to be pretty high as most of these frameworks are seeming to have very short life spans, 2-3 years, before being abandoned as they are mostly personal/small group projects.  The few that are older/more established, like Cake and the like, are either in the midst of mass transition or have become too big/bloated for their own good.

I've also looked at some of the "micro" frameworks like Flight and Slim, but they mostly had poor documentation and didn't seem to offer any real benefit over just coding stuff ourself following a normal MVC model.  And maybe that will be the direction we go - just straight PHP and figure out our own way to do the models and what not in a way that makes sense for us.

Waits for the inevitable defense of one or all of the aforementioned frameworks to begin...popcorn?

(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:00:31 GMT)
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SVN Tree Conflict on "tags" directory
I am currently working on a branch, which is created from trunk using SVN. I am using TortoiseSVN 1.8.6 as the client. The directory structure looks like this: web root |- (many dirs) |- tags ||- script.cfm I noticed that after my last merge from trunk, that the script.cfm file was reverted to old code. […]
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:00:27 GMT)
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Photoshop Live - Charlie And The 3D Egg
I love this Adobe Photoshop CC #CreativityForAll video!
And here are some details on how you can get your hands on one of Charlie's exclusive 3D eggs.
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:00:13 GMT)
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Article: HTML out of the Browser
Very happy to announce the first publication of an article of mine on the Mozilla Hacks blog. This article is a bit of a departure for me. Less techy and more touchy feelie. Broadly, the article is a look at how HTML (well, web standards in general...
(Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:01:18 GMT)
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