Extend Zend_View_Stream to easily escape view variables

Zend_View_Stream is used pretty much when ever you use Zend_View, and I’ve blogged about how handy it is before.  But as it’s a class like any other, you can extend it to give added functionality.  One such use is to add automatic escaping to your view variables when you want.  So instead of doing:

<?php echo $this->escape($this->var); ?>
<?= $this->escape($this->var); ?>

You could simply do:

<?=~ $this->var; ?>

That’s a lot simpler, isn’t it?
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Keeping Zend Studio’s version of Zend Framework in sync with Zend Server CE (on Windows)

Today I updated my install Zend Server CE.  I have to say that the ease of installing PHP, Apache and MySQL with Zend Server CE is amazing, and then configuring PHP’s extensions and directives with the provided interface is simply a dream!  (Really wish I could afford the full Zend Server, but that’s another matter…)

One thing that irked me, though, was that now my Zend Studio’s version of Zend Framework was different.  That doesn’t seem like a big problem, but I use the include path for my projects and always have ZF on there, which allows me to take advantage of the auto complete and so on.

My first thought was to use a symbolic link to point form the Studio’s folder to the Server CE folder…  But wait, I’m using Windows 7 – surely something as handy as a symbolic link can only be used on Linux machines?  I can understand why you’d think that, but did you know that you can create symlinks on Windows as of Vista?  Oh yes, you read correctly, my friend!  The command to do that is:

mklink /D \Path\To\SymLink \Path\To\Original

So for me, it was a case of doing:

mklink /D "ZendFramework-1" "C:\Program Files (x86)\Zend\ZendServer\share\ZendFramework"

from within my Zend Studio folder, which happened to be:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Zend\Zend Studio - 7.1.1\plugins\org.zend.php.framework.resource_7.2.0.v20100324-1300\resources

I rebuilt my projects and lo-and-behold, a new version of ZF for my projects, and one that’ll always match with what Zend Server CE thinks I’m using. 🙂

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Shorten urls automatically with a Zend Framework filter

I think we can all agree that URL shortening services are great and are very handy to tidy up those long and obnoxious links. However, a lot of the time people simply forget to use them, or often don’t know about them in the first place. I’ve noticed this in a blog system I wrote using Zend Framework. On one hand I love that people post messages, but on the other it annoys me that they may supply a link that is so long it breaks the formatting of the page, or looks just plain ugly.

So what are my options? I could train everyone who posts blogs on the system to use a url shortening service or I could manually tweak all the links myself. As solutions they are not very practical at all; I don’t have the time to change any/all links myself, and I certainly don’t have enough patience to train everyone! So an automatic way of doing things is needed, and the filtering in Zend Framework comes to the rescue!

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Quick and easy email encoding view helper

Here’s a quick and easy view helper for Zend Framework that will encode an email address. It will encode just an email address or return a whole mailto link. The encoding is basically the same as in the Smarty template engine.

Obviously there’s a lot of room for improvement; javascript encoding, representation as an image, and so on… but then it wouldn’t be quick an easy – it’d be slightly longer and just a little more complex. 😉

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Zend Framework 1.6RC1

If you haven’t heard already, Zend Framework 1.6RC1 is out and has lots of interesting new features. Finally there’s a SOAP component (seemed odd to me to have an enterprise-level framework without it!) There’s also a paginator, XML configs can have attributes, Dojo integration and lots more.

It’s been out for about 10 days as of the time I write this, but the only new thing I’ve tried as of yet is the Zend_Paginator component. And I must say that I am very happy with how easy it was to set up and integrate in to a site… Essentially, I just had to pass my select object to the paginator and write a view partial to handle how it looked – it was that easy! With the output of the pagination put in to a partial it makes the whole thing very easy to rebrand and configure to exactly how you want it to look. This is definitely a component I’m going to be using a lot.

Looking forward to using the other new features, too. There is a Zend Webinar to show the new features of ZF1.6 coming up on the 13th August, 2008. Also one in September to go over integrating the new Dojo features.

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Application running really slow

While working on an application built on Zend Framework, I experienced a really odd slow-down of the system while running on the web cluster at work as opposed to my machine at home. I couldn’t see what the issue was myself, and it seemed to baffle people on #zftalk a bit as well as work colleagues. The speed difference was quite dramatic – going from near instant on my home computer to around 30 seconds for a page display while running on the cluster.

Naturally, this required a fair amount of investigation…

It was quickly ruled out to be any fault of ZF. After all, it is being used by companies such as IBM, Zend, Sourceforge, Fox, and more. If the framework were not suitable and produced slow results then they would obviously not use it, nor would any of you!

Next to be ruled out was custom code built on top of ZF. With the exact same code-base producing faster results on one machine and not on another it was highly unlikely to be the code.

Profiling the code proved a little helpful. I profiled the database connection for each query and ruled out any slowness with that as they were taking fractions of seconds. Code profiling was a little bit more tricky, as everything seemed proportionally slower, not any one thing in particular. However, the Zend_Loader component seemed to be taking quite some time to perform its tasks.

With a little command-line magic (using ktrace, kdump, grep, awk, etc. – not by me, but by talented colleague) it was determined that the OS itself, Mac OSX ‘Tiger’, was mainly to blame. The cause of the problem was trying to determine relative paths and the slow speed at which Tiger was doing this… As I understand it, to determine the current directory, ‘.’, the OS needs to back track all the way to the root, get the whole list of directories and work out which inode matches the one your current path is, and then work its way back down the directories until it finds a match. Once it’s done that you have your current path. If it sounds intensive, that’s because it is.

When comparing Tiger to Leopard we were seeing a 1000x improvement (4 microseconds as opposed to 4 milliseconds) to do various getdirentries() calls.

If you used the include path for a handful of files you’d never notice a significant drop in speed, but the application I’m working on, together with ZF will typically include 140+ files.

So how was the issue resolved?

For the short term there was a very simple fix; simply alter the include path so that the current path is last to be checked and the more significant paths (such as where the application or Zend library is located) are first. This simple tweak took a 30+ second load time to around two seconds – a vast improvement! Still, two seconds is not ideal so we will be having Leopard-based machine installed on the web cluster to see if that also helps to increase performance.

I’m curious; has anyone else had a similar problem?

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Auto generating basic models for a Zend Framework app

Do you have a database with foreign keys and just wish you could have something automatically create your ZF models from it? Well, today that was me. So as a little proof of concept, this is the code I came up with to do it for me…

But before we get to that, a few caveats:

  • It’s just a proof of concept
  • The output needs updating for proper reference names, etc.
  • Outputs everything to screen in one go and doesn’t save the files.

However, it might be handy to someone, so I post it up for your comments.
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Zend Framework 1.5 preview release

For those that don’t know by now, version 1.5 of the Zend Framework is now out in preview release. Congratulations to everyone who has had apart in getting out this release – from programmers to documentation writers to project managers!

There are a lot of very interesting updates and new features. Some notable ones are the inclusion of Zend_Form, Zend_Layout, OpenID and LDAP adapters for authentication, Technorati web service, as well has handy tweaks Zend_Db_Table such as being able to directly access the select object.

As it’s a preview release the code isn’t intended for production systems just yet, though I hope the time frame for getting it to stable release is short enough so that I can use it soon, but long enough to work out any major kinks. 😉

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