CakeDC Blog

TIPS, INSIGHTS AND THE LATEST FROM THE EXPERTS BEHIND CAKEPHP

Remote Work, Actually Works!

As a fully remote company, the Cake Development Corporation team is used to working from home. We communicate with our team daily, keep on top of tasks, hold each other accountable and support one another. Heck, a lot of us even do it with kids in the household, too! I consider us extremely lucky to be able to work while juggling an at home life at the same time.  It has worked for CakeDC over the past decade, and in my opinion, can work for most companies. 

 As of last month, an estimated 4.7 million people were working remotely, which grew 44% over the last 5 years. This is just in the United States. Remote work is becoming the norm.  Obviously for the next few weeks, this number will be drastically increased, but perhaps this will educate companies on the advantages of a WFH culture. Advantages to employers, besides the operations cost (other than payroll, of course), which can decrease by close to 90%, includes increased productivity. Decreased overhead results in higher salaries, which results in more quality candidates and employees.  I understand the concern of the ability to micro-manage (UGH) being unavailable, but according to statistics, 85% of businesses that work remotely confirmed that productivity increased in their companies. When there is more flexibility, there will be higher employee morale. 

With the current situation arising from COVID-19, a lot of businesses are forced to transition employees to WFH in order to stay afloat. This not only keeps employees and clients safe, but family members too.  I have put together some stats and resources that may help CEO’s and employees transition a little bit easier.

 

Communication:

It is absolutely essential to keep open communication among a team when everyone is working remotely. Our team uses RocketChat* ( I will include some links in the resource section at the end of this blog), and it has proved to be effective. A chat allows for quicker response time, as well as allowing individuals to set their status (like busy, away, at lunch, sick, etc.). This is a good way to get quick answers, as users can be alerted when they have been messaged or tagged in a company chat. Most of our team work in different timezones, so this is a good way to “stay in the know” about everything happening day to day. We separate chats according to their department. For example: marketing, development, general, etc. We also have the option to private message with co-workers when needed. 

Other ideas, if not daily chat interaction, include scheduled meetings. For most of our team meetings, we use Zoom. This tool allows for audio only, as well as video chats.

 

Accountability & Time Management:

It is important that tasks are managed and followed through. We use programs like Redmine* to track hours and work, in addition to weekly, or monthly conference calls for each department. 

If you or your team are new to remote work, it may be in your best interest to assign a project manager, someone who will assign work, track hours, and ensure that work needed is being completed in a timely manner. Without each person being held accountable, the ship will sink, fast. For personal accountability, there are many free apps and tools available. One example is Trello*. This is a scheduling board so that tasks are not forgotten and you can plan your work week and stay organized. Once tasks placed on your “schedule board” are completed, you can make note of it and stay focused on each one according to their priority. You can also keep track of documents and reports. The boards look like this:

 

 

Resources:

Documents & Recording -

We <3 Google Docs - we are able to share and edit internally, we couldn’t function without it. 

Docusign is a good tool for contracts / documents needing signatures

Invision Freehand - this is a tool where you can create presentations, and allows comments and feedback between designers. Good for freelance designers! 

 

Organization/Tasks - 

Trello - for individual time management scheduling. 

Redmine - for project assigning, time recording, HR management, 

 

Communication - 

RocketChat - allows for multiple internal chats all rolled into one link (allows for individual logins)

Zoom - good for meetings. Allows audio and video chats for teams or reps and clients. 

Slack - also a great option for expanded chats. Each person has a “screen name” and can be personally messaged, or public groups can be created (we use this as well). Slack also allows video calls with their paid subscription. 

Google Hangouts

WhatsApp - if your team is diverse, like ours, WhatsApp is a must. We are able to text each other, regardless of location - no fees, no service problems (if you have wifi of course). 

World Time Buddy - this is a tool that I am not familiar with, but being the designated “scheduler of meetings”, I think I would find it useful. If your team works within different timezones, this allows you to add the location of your teammates, compare times, and find ideal times for meetings. 

 

Community -

In the development world, community support sites are absolutely one of the most important tools. This allows for individuals - inside or outside of your company - to communicate and help each other out. Most developers are aware and utilize these, but if not, may I suggest:

Discourse - chat support 

GitHub - our favorite team collaboration tool. GitHub allows for hosting, editing and managing products. We use it for building software and allow for community interaction. It also integrates with a lot of other tools, which is a plus!

 

Take Away:

These resources are just a drop in the bucket compared to what is available to remote workers. I think this is a reflection of how WFH is becoming more accepted and more normal in the corporate world. I’d love to hear some of your favorites: amanda.goff@cakedc.com. 

Let’s take away some positivity to the current quarantined times, and encourage more companies to follow suit. In today’s world, flexibility goes a long way and this type of transition can be mutually beneficial for employers and employees. I mean look at us, we are PRETTY normal… right? 

Speaking of being in quarantine - stay healthy, stay inside, and wash your hands!

 

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