CakeDC Blog

TIPS, INSIGHTS AND THE LATEST FROM THE EXPERTS BEHIND CAKEPHP

Working From Home - A Developer's View

Long before COVID-19, I (and my team) started working from home. Even before working at CakeDC, between 2007 and 2010, I worked for a company where you were able to split your time between home and office. 

 

Maybe that's why I actually feel comfortable working remotely and I would never change it for an in office position anymore.

 

 

Anyway, I am not going to talk about remote work because these days there are thousands of articles about it (even in  one of our previous posts). I want to focus today on writing about our experience with different communication tools and the pros and cons for each of them.

 

Back in 2011 when I started working at CakeDC, we had an IRC server in place with a couple of plugins to retain messages for our day-to-day communication. Everyone used different clients like Colloquy on mac or Pidgin on Linux. Additionally, we used Skype for peer/team calls and also for client communication. In my opinion, the linux experience was awful until they improved the client a few years later. This setup was implemented in 2007 when the company was started, and in 2012, we decided to shut it down because it was easier just using Skype for everything, messages and calls.

 

 

After several years using - suffering - Skype, with new options in the market, we decided to move away to a more reliable and modern approach. The main reason was the lack of updates for Skype linux client, and the message retention limits. In 2016 we started utilizing the more than popular Slack and its open source alternative, Rocket Chat; always keeping Skype for client communication. 

 

Some months later the team concluded that Rocket Chat was the right choice, mainly because we wanted to have control over the messages and the information transmitted. Since the features we were using were available in both solutions, we installed our own Rocket Chat server. At this point I have to say that we did try the calls solution (Jitsy) inside Rocket Chat, but the experience was not good at all, issues with missing calls, poor call quality, etc, made us keep Skype for calls.

 

On the other hand CakePHP training was provided using Join.me and even when it worked very well in most situations; our trainer Jorge, always had to use a Windows machine instead of his usual Linux one. And then, Zoom emerged.

 

 

The year was 2018, when Zoom became so popular even though it started back in 2011 (yes, Zoom existed before COVID-19 crisis). We started using it and it quickly replaced Skype for our team calls. It allowed multiple people calls, screen share, etc. I must say, however, the Zoom chat is one of the worst things I have ever seen.

 

Going back to Jorge, as you can imagine he was very happy when he saw Zoom had a good Linux client. Unfortunately, he was quickly disappointed because the client screen crashed randomly, went black, and the computer ran out of memory when he tried to share his screen to more than 10 attendees. Happily he didn't throw his windows machine out of the window yet so he could continue giving the training with that machine.

 

It's 2020, COVID-19 is around us, and Zoom is probably the most popular telecommuting tool. For both adults and children, it is an essential tool to keep working and studying. However, fame never comes alone and threats, rumors and comments are making us move away (again) from Zoom to Google Meet. Also, it didn't make sense to pay for Zoom if we were already paying for GSuite. 

 

I didn't mention it before, but we have been using GSuite (former Google Apps) since the beginning. Google - late as usual - detected a market niche and decided to pump out its meeting tool. In my opinion, I am a standalone app person. This means that I will always prefer having 20 apps instead of 20 browser tabs. So, I don't like Google Meet a lot because of this, but I must say the call quality is superb. 

 

I am not sure how or when we will move to other tools, but right now we are very happy with our Rocket Chat installation and we are still getting used to Google Meet, but it fits our needs. 

 

As a side note we are still using skype to communicate with clients because it is the app everyone has, and sometimes people simply don't want to install something else or use something they are not used to.

 

 

To conclude I must say that each team and person should try all of these different tools before choosing one, because one tool that may fits my needs may not fit yours. 

 

 

Links

Rocket Chat - https://rocket.chat/

Google Meet - https://meet.google.com

Zoom - https://www.zoom.us

Skype - https://www.skype.com

Colloquy - https://colloquy.app/

Pidgin - https://pidgin.im/

Latest articles

Upgrading to CakePHP 4

As you know, CakePHP announced the version 4.x last December.I recommend that you consider upgrading your applications to the next version, to keep up to date and get all the benefits. Now, let's see how to bake!  

Step 1: Upgrade PHP

First things first, if you are not running on PHP 7.2 or higher, you will need to upgrade PHP before updating CakePHP. CakePHP 4.0 requires a minimum of PHP 7.2.  

Step 2: Upgrade Templates and Resources

There is an upgrade CLI tool for rename and moving the templates and resources:   Templates and Resources must have been moved and renamed, check the result below: * This project doesn't have Resources files   Now, let's create a new constant for Resources on /config/paths.php: Finally, update the paths on config/app.php:  

Step 3: Upgrade CakePHP

The next step is optional (and the Migration Guide included this) - run the rector command to automatically fix many deprecated method calls: The rector applied on codebase some return type declarations: https://github.com/rafaelqueiroz/cakephp-upgrade-sample/commit/d7e5c2ecc5dc28045700a270721f07098a8e189c?branch=d7e5c2ecc5dc28045700a270721f07098a8e189c&diff=split Pay attention: It is important to apply rector before you upgrade your dependencies.   Upgrade CakePHP and PHPUnit: PHPUnit can be upgraded easily. Most of the time, the --update-with-dependencies doesn’t work with me for CakePHP: The root of the issue is the packages using Caret Version Range, so let’s update debug_kit, migrations and bake using editor:   Here we go:   Now, let see how the project looks: Here, we have few deprecations and warnings. Do you remember I mentioned the rector is optional? So, the question is the rector and it's not always able to handle these issues.   I will use the PHPStan to fix this - we will install with composer: Now, we can run the phpstan analyse and fix the issues:   It's up to you how much effort you will put in with PHPStan issues. I recommend fixing everything. For this post, I did fix only what was needed to run the project after the update, you can check the fixes on this commit.   After the last fixes, the project is running well:  That’s all? No. But we upgraded CakePHP? Yes. Real applications probably use many plugins, and if these plugins don't have a version for CakePHP 4, you will need to update. Depending on the size and level of complexity of the project, the upgrade could be hard, but never impossible.    If you do not feel confident or your company would like to outsource support for this, don't hesitate to contact us at Cake Development Corporation. Our team is offering a full upgrade from CakePHP 2/3 to CakePHP 4. This will be a migration of your current application code to make it compatible with CakePHP 4 features, plugins, security settings, etc. We will be doing these migration services for a special rate - something we have never done before! Learn more about our Upgrade Services You can check the codebase of the examples on this repository. The branch upgrade has all steps by commit.  With every release CakePHP gets better, and version 4.x is no exception. There are many benefits that come with upgrading, and it makes baking a lot easier.

Using Postgres as default database- hints, tricks and tips

SQL language for different databases has some differences, which could cause problems after migrations between these databases. Here, we collected some hints, problems could appear during migration from MySQL to PostgreSQL. We focus on the CakePHP model layer and query generation layer.  

Tables join in where expression

Often we want to join two tables using a condition like $query->where([‘Author.id = Article.author_id’]) which works fine till we dont need field alias quotes. In the case of migration to postgres, we might want to enable autoQuotes. In this case, we can use $query->newExpr()->equalFields(‘Author.idArticle.author_id’).   

Case sensitivity in like expressions

By default mysql does case insensitive search. Switching to postgres, you can note that some functionality works differently. Hopefully you have tests, which covers your code, and this will be detected during migration. Postgres uses custom syntax for such queries named ILIKE.The case of old style conditions where method arrays straight forward,  you’d just go with ILIKE instead of LIKE. But what if we want to use ILIKE in builder methods... Here is that example:     return $query->where(         function (QueryExpression $exp) use ($field, $value): QueryExpression {             return $exp->add(new \Cake\Database\Expression\Comparison($field, $value, 'string', 'ILIKE'));         });   

Type casing

As postgres is much more strict with types, type casing is not a rare operation and may be needed. Here is an example of how to perform it using FunctionExpression$expr = (new FunctionExpression('CAST'))->setConjunction(' AS ')->add([$id, 'varchar' => 'literal']); which generates expression like :id AS varchar there :id is the placeholder for variable $id. This trick, used with literal, allows you to cast to any postgres type.  

 Quotes of tables and fields

Sometimes it is critical to inform CakePHP that the field should be quoted. One recommendation is to avoid using plain strings in case of table joins, or using IS NULL as string. So if array syntax is used, all CakePHP conventions must be followed. However,  sometimes we should help the ORM and obviously wrap a field name with IdentifiedExpression. Let's take a look back to the previous example, but now we want to type cast not value, but a field. The only solution to quote field name correctly is using this code:     $id = new IdentifierExpression($this->aliasField($field));     $expr = (new FunctionExpression('CAST'))->setConjunction(' AS ')->add([$id, 'varchar' => 'literal']);   

Building complex arithmetic expressions

In case we want to generate expressions in query fields, and we don’t want to overcomplicate logic, we could use these next tricks. Here, I have created ListExpression, which could be used as a collection of expressions. Each of these are corrected, and generates a query with correct handling of each element. See: https://gist.github.com/skie/f6e4f1a1b61e0f902a507f7907c3bbf2 So, say we want to generate expressions like this: “Events”.”time_to” - “Events”.”time_from”... With ListExpression, it can be done quite easy:  $diff = new ListExpression([new IdentifierExpression('Events.time_to'), '-', new IdentifierExpression('Events.time_from')]);   Hopefully these tricks will be as useful for your baking as they have been for mine! 

CakePHP Common Errors: Saving HasMany relations

The Cake Development Corporation team performs many code reviews. In fact, that is our starting point with every new client, as we offer free quick reviews. This is a good way to see where code stands, and how much work will need to be done to get it functioning properly.  One of the common errors we have found while doing Code Reviews of existing applications or just working with inherited code, it’s the way HasMany relations data is saved.  We have noticed that to save HasMany relations, some developers save the target relation, and then when the ID is retrieved after saving, they save one per one each item of the ‘many’ relation. There is no need to do this, as CakePHP can do all this in one single ‘save’! You won’t have any issue related to inconsistent data, because everything will be stored in one single transaction and your code will look much more clean. Let’s see a quick and easy to follow example - We will have the following relations: ‘Users’ and one User could have many ‘Addresses’.  We wish to save one user and this user will have two addresses.  First, you need to build the form in the proper way, the request data should follow the structure of your entities. The key in the form is the fieldName for the hasMany inputs. They must follow this format: {entityname}.{position}.{property}, for example: adddress.0.street_1, adddress.0.street_2, etc for the first item so store, for the second one: : adddress.1.street_1, adddress.1.street_2, and so on. More examples can be found here:  https://book.cakephp.org/4/en/views/helpers/form.html#creating-inputs-for-associated-data.
<?= $this->Form->create($user) ?> <fieldset>    <legend><?= __('Add User') ?></legend>    <?php        echo $this->Form->control('first_name');        echo $this->Form->control('last_name');        echo $this->Form->control('phone');    ?>    <legend><?= __('Address 1') ?></legend>    <?php    echo $this->Form->control('addresses.0.street_1');    echo $this->Form->control('addresses.0.street_2');    echo $this->Form->control('addresses.0.zip');    echo $this->Form->control('addresses.0.city');    echo $this->Form->control('addresses.0.state');    ?>    <legend><?= __('Address 2') ?></legend>    <?php    echo $this->Form->control('addresses.1.street_1');    echo $this->Form->control('addresses.1.street_2');    echo $this->Form->control('addresses.1.zip');    echo $this->Form->control('addresses.1.city');    echo $this->Form->control('addresses.1.state');    ?> </fieldset> <?= $this->Form->button(__('Submit')) ?> <?= $this->Form->end() ?>
Now that we have the form, we need to convert the request data. The Table class provides an easy and efficient way to convert one or many entities from request data. It’s needed to define which associations should be marshalled, using associated
public function add() {    $user = $this->Users->newEmptyEntity();    if ($this->request->is('post')) {        $user = $this->Users->patchEntity($user, $this->request->getData(), ['associated' => ['Addresses']]);        if ($this->Users->save($user)) {            $this->Flash->success(__('The user has been saved.'));              return $this->redirect(['action' => 'index']);        }        $this->Flash->error(__('The user could not be saved. Please, try again.'));    }    $this->set(compact('user')); } In this example we are saving one user and two addresses for the given user.  Associated data is validated by default, If you wish to bypass data validation, pass the validate => false option, for example: $this->Users->patchEntity($user, $this->request->getData(), ['associated' => ['Addresses' => [‘validate’ => false]]]).    We are all about working smarter and in less time, so I hope this information will be useful! Take a look here for more information: https://book.cakephp.org/4/en/orm/saving-data.html#converting-request-data-into-entities  We will be posting more Common Errors while using CakePHP.  Keep checking back!

We Bake with CakePHP