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TIPS, INSIGHTS AND THE LATEST FROM THE EXPERTS BEHIND CAKEPHP

Ed Finkler - Founder, Open Sourcing Mental Illness

Do you know who Ed Finkler is or what OSMI does? If you are in the developer community, then it definitely is a name you should get to know.

Open Sourcing Mental Illness is a non-profit organization  dedicated to raising awareness, educating, and providing resources to support mental wellness in the tech and open source communities.

CakeDC and CakePHP has long supported and stood behind OSMI - Ed Finkler has been instrumental in making mental health a topic of discussion, and opening up lines of support for mental wellness in tech. Mental health and wellness are close to our hearts and we want to share with you OSMI and why you should support it.

Ed has been active in bringing forward a previously rarely discussed topic - mental health. Being an advocate of mental health awareness and using his own experiences as a developer, he has recently announced that he is now able to go full time into OSMI. This is really fantastic news and CakeDC stands 100% behind him. We caught us with him to find out more.

We love that you are now putting all your time into OSMI - but what was the Catalyst for your decision to focus full time into OSMI?
What we found is that we simply had to much to do, and not enough time to do it. Everyone at OSMI are volunteers, and it was becoming increasingly challenging to find the bandwidth for anyone to complete major tasks. We are ambitious, and our ambition far exceeded the time available. I couldn’t ask it of anyone else, but I could make a decision myself -- that I would step away from my CTO role at a tech startup and dedicate myself to OSMI full-time.
What is your favorite thing to do out of ‘office’ hours (Hobbies/activities etc)?
Generally I find myself watching movies or good TV shows, or playing video games (I’m deep in Mass Effect: Andromeda right now). I also write electronic music, which you can hear at deadagent.net.
Do you think that companies are becoming more receptive to your message and becoming more open about speaking about mental health?
Yes, I think so. Companies in general are gradually becoming more aware of the need to discuss mental health openly, the same way we discuss other serious public health issues, like cancer and heart disease. But there’s a long, long way to go, and we are just taking our first steps as an industry to deal with this in a healthy way.
Have you seen a marked difference in people opening up about their personal experiences?
I definitely have observed, over and over, that when someone takes that first step forward, others follow. Fear is the thing that keeps mental illness hidden, and fear is why so many suffer in silence. Seeing someone speak without fear about their own issues empowers the listener. They may not need to stand up on stage like I do, but I’ve had numerous people tell me that hearing someone speak openly was what allowed them to seek help and/or start speaking openly about the subject.
What would you say is the biggest misconception that you have encountered when speaking about and sharing your personal experiences?
I think the biggest misconception I encounter is companies believing that by simply offering some level of mental health care in medical coverage, they’ve done all they can. That would be fine if we treated mental disorders like we do cancer or heart disease or diabetes, but we don’t -- we are afraid to discuss it, and as a consequence, we don’t know what to look for, why it matters, and how to seek help. In the absence of consistent, positive affirmation that it’s a safe topic, our default is to be afraid to discuss it. That keeps people from seeking the help they need.
Biggest piece of advice that you would give someone battling with mental health issues
You are not alone. Lots of people are like you. There is no shame in what you deal with. You are stronger than you know.
You recently spoke about mental health breaks on the OSMI blog, how would someone know they are in need of one and how would you suggest for employees to bring this topic up with their employers?
I am leery of giving specific health advice, but in general I’d say this: listen to your mind and your body, and remember that your own health is far, far more important than any job. Plus, if you’re healthy, you’ll be able to do your job much better.
In the last 5 years, you have achieved incredible breakthroughs and achievements in bringing this to the fore - where do you see OSMI and mental illness awareness in the next 5 years?
Ultimately, those two things are intertwined. OSMI will continue to grow because so many of us suffer from this, and more and more of us are realizing that we aren’t alone. That we aren’t broken. That we aren’t without hope. OSMI is about giving hope to those that felt they had none. Giving compassion to those who are hardest on themselves.
It’s my sincere hope that OSMI will drive the awareness of mental health in the tech workplace and change what we choose to value in employers and employees. However we get there, I believe we will succeed.

As someone suffering and wanting to find out more or be involved, how do we reach out, what should we expect and where should we go?
There are lots of ways to help OSMI, and all you really need is a willingness to spend some of your time working with us. You should visit https://osmihelp.org and learn more about our work, and then email info@osmihelp.org to talk to us about volunteering.
As a business with employees in the tech industry, what should we do to make mental health more accessible
For each employer there’s a different answer, but there are some general things to keep in mind. The biggest one is that the well-being of your employees must be a top priority. It’s an easy thing to say, but if you truly value it, you’ll avoid doing what so many organizations do: rewarding overwork and unhealthy “loyalty.” Ping pong tables and bean bag chairs don’t make people healthier, and neither do free snacks and beer at the office. They’re short-term tricks to get people to come to you and maybe stay in the office longer, but they don’t encourage a healthy work/life balance. Too many developers think their work IS their life. That’s a mistake.
Long term, what works are reasonable work hours, easy access to mental and physical health care, and promoting healthy preventative habits. Employees who feel that their well-being is demonstrably valued will be more productive and stay with your organization longer.
I also strongly encourage everyone in a leadership position to take Mental Health First Aid <https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org>, a program that teaches the skills to respond to the signs of mental illness and substance use.
Quote to live by or key advice to follow every day
One time I was encouraged to do a six-word memoir, and this is what I came up with:
“By helping others, I save myself.”

Thanks to Ed! We absolutely loved catching up with him about OSMI, we hope that you take a moment to check out the links and find out more to get involved and continue this important conversation!

For more information, be sure to check out https://osmihelp.org/about/about-osmi

 

Latest articles

Why Use CakePHP

CakePHP  is a web development framework running on PHP. CakePHP provides tools to help build websites and web apps faster, stable and very easy to maintain. We will outline some of the interesting features of the CakePHP framework below:

Authorization

The authorization layer is in charge of determining if a user is able to access a feature or not. Authorization in CakePHP may be as complex as you want. It is powerful because you can define permissions per role, ownership, or anything else by just writing a policy.  In CakePHP 4, the Authorization layer is part of another package, which means that it can be used in a non-CakePHP app.

MVC Support

The layers in CakePHP are very explicit. Firstly, you will see that the application has specific folders for each layer (Model, Controller, Template). Secondly, you are encouraged to not access layers incorrectly, because the right way is simple enough. After using multiple frameworks out of there, I can say that CakePHP implements MVC and it implements it well.

Bake

Bake is not something new in CakePHP 4. It has been included with Cake since version 0.1.0 and even now when it is released as a plugin, it is a required tool for any developer. Bake makes generating an application, controllers, models and everything else easier... just running a command and within minutes. Other frameworks may have some tools, but in my opinion, there is nothing like bake.

Database Migration

Database migrations with CakePHP are simple, quick and safe. Those are probably the only three things you look for when versioning your database. MigrateShell can be used to generate migrations and you are able to alter database structure in any way, as well as running queries/commands. The CakePHP team is also responsible for Phinx plugin development.

Multi Language Support

This is another old feature that has been in CakePHP for years and has been recently improved in CakePHP 4. I must say that we have not found any other framework with the same set of features for internationalization and localization. You only need to use the translation function for any strings [__()] and define a way to set the language in your app. After doing that, just extract PO files using the shell and start translating your strings.

Powerful ORM

ORM in CakePHP 4 is able to do anything you can imagine. Simple and complex queries have an easy way to be executed using ORM functions. Joins, grouping, subqueries can be done in just minutes. Even after working in complex reporting for several clients, we have not found something that cannot be done through CakePHP ORM.

PHP Standards 

Going back to previous CakePHP versions (1.x and <2.x) we found that they implemented their own standard, which was good if you only worked with CakePHP... but it made integrating external libraries more difficult. In CakePHP 4, as well as 3.x, it is not a problem anymore because the wonderful CakePHP team is aware of the latest standards for the language and they are implemented inside the core... as well as the libraries released around it. It allows you to use any PHP library or package inside your Cake application.  I could go on all day about features that I like about the CakePHP framework, but there's more blogs to write in the future. I hope this gives you some incentive to use it.  

Managing A Company During A Global Pandemic

A worldwide pandemic is not something a company, a manager, or a team ever plans for. This time 6 months ago we were bringing in more clients than anticipated, and planning for an international conference. Fast forward to now, just like most companies we have been hit, our conference has gone virtual, and many employees are still worried about what is to come.  Here are 5 things I have learned during these uncertain times:  

1. Don’t panic. 

Easier said than done, right? Being responsible for a team of great people and their financial, as well as professional, well being can be trying at times. I have learned it is best to stay calm, push forward and still do the best we can, even when our best isn’t always enough. Luckily, I am not a worrier by nature, and I hope that I can be a solid backbone for my team and clients, while letting them know that they (and our company) are my top priority … now more than ever.   

2. Be transparent

It is best to have sure answers and knowledge of what is expected, and to be open and honest about this with the team. If we are going to be working longer hours one week, maybe shorter the next, I want to be upfront so that no one is caught off guard. If policies or procedures are changing, they are notified immediately   Same thing goes for our clients, we have always prided ourselves on being honest and transparent about the behind the scene scenarios. It may not always be good news that’s delivered, but it will be honest. I have set goals to make my expectations clear, and reasonable.   

3. Be available:

Someone like myself, I am always going in a million directions. I have made it a point to make myself available for help, support, or whatever it is that someone may need. This goes for  clients, team members, even friends.  A pandemic like this really makes you step back and think about what is important, and things that you may not have made priorities in the past that needed to change. Our team is used to working remotely, but we communicate daily, and we always have open lines of communication (sometimes in the middle of the night as we all work in different time zones.  

4. Be Understanding

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. It is vital that each individual understands that not everyone is the same. We do not handle stress the same, we go through trials and tribulations differently, so it is important to be empathetic. We need to provide tools for success... and sometimes that means paid time off, new communication platforms, team building exercises, or just listening and being compassionate. I think a mistake a lot of people made early on was expecting everyone to adjust to the new way of life, with no clear direction. This resulted in a lot of confusion, and negativity, instead of learning together and changing the course of action. 
 

5. Surround yourself with a great team. 

Luckily for me, our team is fully functional without me, maybe that should scare me a little, huh? We have structure, we built up trust with each other, and everyone works towards the same goal - being successful, delivering to our clients, and growing together. While it may be my job to keep everyone moving forward and be motivating, it’s no secret that they motivate me, too. Despite working in different countries, our team has built great relationships with each other, and everyone is ready to step in and help their colleagues whenever necessary. 
 

Final thoughts

Has 2020 been different than I imagined? Absolutely. We do not know the answers to every question. We also do not know where this year may take our team, the company, or the world! One thing I do know is we will adapt, adjust and keep pushing forward. We will keep providing the best service to our clients as we always have, and we will not panic…. Not yet at least. 
 

A Quick CakePHP Local Environment With Docker

CakePHP and Docker

We all know that while developing a CakePHP software, we need to have a local environment with PHP, HTTP Server (nginx, apache) and a database (MySql, Postgres, Mongodb, etc). Installing those tools directly to your system is the basic way, but it can become a bit tricky when we have multiple projects using different versions of those tools... that’s where Docker will help us. In this article, we will show a quick docker setup to improve our CakePHP local environment. If you don’t have docker installed go to: https://docs.docker.com/get-docker/. It is available for Linux, MacOS and Windows. For our setup we are going to use PHP, Nginx, and Mysql. All of the information required will be added to a new file named docker-compose.yml. In our environment we will need two docker images [https://docs.docker.com/engine/reference/commandline/images/], one image for php + nginx and one for mysql.   

Setup Nginx + PHP service

Create the file  docker-compose.yml inside your application with this:    version: "3.1" services:   php-fpm:     image: webdevops/php-nginx:7.4     container_name: myapp-webserver     working_dir: /app     volumes:       - ./:/app     environment:       - WEB_DOCUMENT_ROOT=/app/webroot     ports:       - "80:80"   Now,we have a service named php-fpm, which is able to run php 7.4 and nginx at port 80 pointing to our webroot dir. Important note: the container_name must be unique in your system.   

Setup MySql service

Our MySql service requires a username, password and database name. For this, we are going to create the file mysql.env (don’t use a weak password in production, you could share a mysql.env.default file with your team) with this content:   MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=password MYSQL_DATABASE=my_app MYSQL_USER=my_user MYSQL_PASSWORD=password   Now, at the end of docker-compose.yml , add this:      mysql:     image: mysql:5.6     container_name: myapp-mysql     working_dir: /app     volumes:       - .:/app       - ./tmp/data/mysql_db:/var/lib/mysql     env_file:       - mysql.env     command: mysqld --character-set-server=utf8 --init-connect='SET NAMES UTF8;'     ports:       - "3306:3306"   Before we start this service, lets add the service for our database, include this at the end of the file:  docker-compose.yml . You’ll see that we have - ./tmp/data/mysql_db:/var/lib/mysql, this allows us to persist mysql data. Now we also have a service named mysql with one empty database named my_app and a user name my_user.
 

Starting the services and app configuration

Before we continue, make sure that you don’t have any other http server or mysql server running. Now that we have finished our docker-compose.yml  we can execute docker-compose up to start the services and access the app at http://localhost. The next thing you need to do is update your database configuration with the correct credentials - the host is the service name, in our case it is “mysql”:   'host' => ‘mysql’,             'username' => 'my_user',             'password' => ‘password’,             'database' => 'my_app',   That’s it! Now we have a working local environment for our CakePHP app. We can now access the services using docker-compose exec php-fpm bash  and docker-compose exec mysql bash.  The files mentioned here (docker-compose.yml and mysql.env) can be found at  https://gist.github.com/CakeDCTeam/263a65336a85baab2667e08c907bfff6.  

The icing on the cake

Going one step further, we could add some alias (with linux) to make it even easier. Let’s add these lines at the end of your ~/.bashrc file:   alias cake="docker-compose exec -u $(id -u ${USER}):$(id -g ${USER}) php-fpm bin/cake" alias fpm="docker-compose exec -u $(id -u ${USER}):$(id -g ${USER}) php-fpm" alias composer="docker-compose exec -u $(id -u ${USER}):$(id -g ${USER}) php-fpm composer"   With those entries, instead of typing docker-compose exec php-fpm bin/cake, we can just type cake. The other two aliases are for composer and bash. Notice that we have ${USER}? This will ensure that we are using the same user inside the services.  

Additional information

Normally docker images allow us to customize the service, for webdevops/php-nginx:7.4 - you can check more information at: https://dockerfile.readthedocs.io/en/latest/content/DockerImages/dockerfiles/php-nginx.html and for mysql check: https://hub.docker.com/_/mysql . You can find more images at: https://hub.docker.com/. If you are not familiar with docker, take a look at: https://docs.docker.com/get-started/overview/, as this documentation provides good information.   Hope you have enjoyed this article and will take advantage of docker while working in your CakePHP application.  

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