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TIPS, INSIGHTS AND THE LATEST FROM THE EXPERTS BEHIND CAKEPHP

CakeDC Git Workflow - Tips and Tricks

Over the past months we've had many people ask us about how to integrate and work with the CakeDC Git Workflow as we do. So, here are few tips and tricks on how to use our workflow for the git version control system, to help you keep a clean commit history on every CakePHP project.

Using ticket numbers in commit messages

One thing which becomes pretty obvious early on is how handy it can be to have commits tied to your issue tracker. The easiest way to do this is to use the issue or ticket ID in your commit messages.

$ git commit -m "#1234 changed this and that"

Following this pattern (starting the commit message with #ID), with a bit of git rebase sauce, makes the lines of your updates read like a story of your code.

Automation with use of commit-msg hook

It's possible that you may not using a git bash prompt, so you don't see the name of the current branch in console all the time. Alternatively, the dialog window of your preferred UI for git may not clearly disclose the name of the branch you're working on. Or, maybe you're just too lazy to write ticket number every time you commit something to the repository.

Using our workflow, where non-permanent branches are named after the related ticket number, you can create an executable file .git/hooks/commit-msg in the project's root directory with following content:

#!/bin/sh

TICKET=$(git rev-parse --abbrev-ref HEAD | awk -F '/' '{print $2}')

if [ -n "$TICKET" ]; then
    echo "#$TICKET `cat $1`" > $1
fi

From now on, the message of every commit to any branch with a forward slash in the name (in our case, its always the ID of the related feature/issue/hot-fix ticket), will start with a hash and the ticket number.

Also, lets assume that you're using our workflow for all of your projects. In that case, it could be better to install the git hook globally:

$ mkdir -p ~/.git_template/hooks
  ... add global hook(s) to this directory ...
$ git config --global init.templatedir '~/.git_template'

After setting this up, every created or cloned repository will use this template directory (will make copy of its content). Existing repositories could be reinitialized with the new template by running git init in their root folders.

Temporary local branches

With the previous commit-msg hook in place, we can now go crazy with temporary local branches, while still maintaining a readable project timeline with references to tickets. Changes don't have to be committed directly to published branches, and here are some examples how to do that.

Local branch for debugging

Debugging sometimes takes a lot of code to be written, and sometimes a few of the changes made during debugging need to be merged and propagated.

$ git checkout -t origin/feature/1234
$ git checkout -b debug/1234

Now we have local branch debug/1234 based on feature/1234. Lets do some work in loop, like adding tests, debugging code, applying fixes... everything in commits as small as possible, with meaningful commit messages:

$ git commit -m "Added debug code for debugging this and that"
$ git commit -m "Added test case proving this and that"
$ git commit -m "Tried to fix this and that"

The history of the debug/1234 branch will look like the following:

#1234 Added debug code for debugging this and that
#1234 Added test case proving this and that
#1234 Tried to fix this and that

We'll still have the feature branch free of debugging related code. You can then merge to this branch to keep it updated with progress from feature branch, but you can also commit fixes to it that you'll want to publish, and then use cherry-pick for including them elsewhere.

And if you changed something in your debug/1234 branch, that you'll want to still see in the feature/1234 branch, then simply perform the following:

$ git checkout feature/1234
  ... merge, cherry-pick, rebase ...
$ git push

Then, finally some clean up, like so:

$ git branch -D debug/1234

We hope you found something useful here, to make working with the workflow more engaging, and help you keep building awesome applications with CakePHP.

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Simplicity is important - here’s why

When it comes to web design, simplicity is not valued enough. Simplicity is important - but why? Simplicity reduces navigation confusion, makes the website look more sophisticated and can help in increasing site conversions (sign ups, contacts). All too often, web designers tend to miss the point of simplicity and over do the amount of information given on a single page - the need to get everything across at once can seriously hinder how much a website visitor is able take in. Over complicated pages can lead to higher than average bounce rates or lower on-page conversions. We thought we’d share with you some top tips to simplify your website.

  • Keep things along the 80-20 rule
    • Use the Pareto principle which is that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This means taking away as much as you can from your design that will not lead to any type of conversion. Take things back to the bare essentials and make those work properly
  • Embrace few colors in your theme
    • Does a monochrome color scheme work for you? If not, try out as few colors as possible. Work towards a design that requires less effort for your website visitor to process. Fewer colors will also give your site a sleek, classic look
  • Keep copy short and sweet
    • Embrace compelling copy but keep things shorter and to the point. Make your point quickly and keep things easy-to-read by sticking to a few key points. Use shorter sentences, and keep paragraphs to a maximum of 3-4 sentences for easy reading.
  • Fix your navigation
    • Often many sites have over complicated and lengthy navigation options. Remember to include navigation to your list of things to simplify today. Keep important and key pages in your navigation bar. Remove excess clutter and keep all navigation menus visible. Other key things to keep in mind is the use of universal icons as well as ensuring a sitemap in your footer - these are all standard items that visitors look for.

How Much Does it Cost to Design a Site?

If you are in the market for a website or application, it can sometimes be daunting. Being unsure of where to start, which development firm to use or how much the whole process is going to cost you can be truly overwhelming. And then there are those horror stories of others, who selected a developer based solely on cost (the cheapest quote perhaps) and ended up majorly down the hole with their budgets, while owning a unfinished website. Whether you are in the market for a website application with a specific outline and goal, or have a rough idea of what you need your application to do, how do you go about finding the best selection for you? And then how do you know that whoever you select is going to deliver what you want and in the time frame that you need it? And then, not knowing how to code yourself, you can land up frustrated at not understanding the process - especially if your development team gives you the runaround. At CakeDC, we are committed to a transparent workflow - we've created our own git workflow (MIT license) and we've used it successfully with our clients for 3+ years and dozens of projects. We use it to accelerate growth and innovation providing the highest quality application development. What sets CakeDC apart from others is that our experts listen closely to your needs. Second, we formulate a roadmap of milestones based on your specifications. Third, we offer guidance while delivering the highest quality results in a fraction of other developer’s time, by doing things The Right Way™ So how much is it going to cost you? Well this is of course dependent on what you project scope includes, however, we will work with you in determining the best package to suit your requirements. You can check out all of our rates and packages here. Ready to get your project started? Reach out to our experts today to see how easy it can be to get your application up and running.

What your website users are trying to tell you

Every visitor to your website has a goal in mind - this may not be a conscious goal, but they are visiting your site for a reason. So listening to your users feedback is key to meeting their expectations! As a business owner, be sure to keep these in consideration and as a developer, be sure to pass these recommendations through to your clients. What are some things that users are trying to tell you and how do you find out? What and why is it Often people forget about the basics and fail to include what their product, service or business is. By excluding this vital information there will be users who will not know what the purpose of the page that they have stumbled upon is, but what to do next - and therefor bounce quickly off of your site. Where is your pricing information? If you are trying to sell something - a product or a service - be sure to include the price information as this is used by your visitor to determine their next action. Even if you are providing resources in return for their details, it is important to be clear. Where are those testimonials or reviews? Have others tried it People like to know that whatever they are investing money into is worth it - reviews or customer testimonials help to show your visitors what you can do. Be sure to add this information in a way that is easy for you visitors to find. Where can I sign up or contact you Another vital piece of information that many often forget is to let your visitors know how to signup and contact you. Perhaps you have chosen to hide your contact information due to spam bots or other issues faced, however, if you are in the business of recruiting clients, then be sure to have some form of contact information easily available to your visitors.
Not sure if you are missing anything? CakeDC, the experts behind CakePHP, offer a range of services including consulting, guiding you through the best practices with your CakePHP application.

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