benchmark: boolean variables value check

$a = NULL;

$t = microtime(true);
$i = 0; $i<10000000; $i++) {
if (
$a) {} }
microtime(true)-$t.“n”; //2.84 sec

$t = microtime(true);
$i = 0; $i<10000000; $i++) {
if (
$a==true) {} }
microtime(true)-$t.“n”; //3.52sec

$t = microtime(true);
$i = 0; $i<10000000; $i++) {
if (
$a===true) {} }
microtime(true)-$t.“n”; //3.0 sec

$t = microtime(true);
$i = 0; $i<10000000; $i++) {
if (isset(
$a)) {} }
microtime(true)-$t; //3.08 sec

benchmark: array_key_exists vs isset

When the aim is to check if the element exists in an array and has a value not null, better to use isset(array[index]), that is much faster than array_key_exists(index, array).

#PHP 5.3.0 command line – Amd turion 64 1.6 Ghz

#create array
$a = array();
$i = 0; $i<100000; $i++) {
$a[] = $i asd a”.($i*2).” sd”;

$t = microtime(true);
$i = 0; $i<10000000; $i++) {
microtime(true)-$t; //4.16 sec

$t = microtime(true);
$i = 0; $i<10000000; $i++) {
array_key_exists($i, $a);
microtime(true)-$t; //11.7 sec

note: array_key_exists(index, array)and isset(array[index]) are a little different:

$a = array(0=>0, 1=>NULL);
print isset(
$a[1])?1:0; //0
print array_key_exists(1, $a)?1:0; //1

note: eAccelerator ( and probably also other PHP accelerators) don’t improve the array access time

note: xDebug (and probably zend optimizer) activated can slow down a lot the performance (by 6/7 times) with huge arrays like these !

Functional testing for web applications: Selenium IDE for firefox

In a previous post I wrote about PHP Unit testing.

In software science, the levels above Unit testing are Integration, System and System integration testing.

For a standard web application I suggest to use only Selenium [official site], a powerful complete framework , distributed with apache licence 2.0 (a free-software, GPL compatible).
Selenium includes many components. In my opinion the most useful is Selenium IDE [page], a firefox plugin to create action tests, play and check results.

It’s very easy to use the IDE [official manual], but to write good tests it needs some practice.
Basically, a test case is a sequence of commands, and a test suite is a cluster of test cases.
To create actions the tool allows to record user actions (clicks, page opening…) or manually insert/edit (mainly to insert verify-actions) and play the test case (or test suite), then check results.
It’s possible to export the test cases in many formats (html table, o export (html table format, PHPunit selenium extension, etc…) and to import (only html table).

Every command has only one or two arguments. The command reference is present in selenium IDE. Here are the commands I mainly use and I suggest:
  • open dir/page.html
    open the url specified
  • type id=phone 123456
    fill in field with id=phone with the text “123456”
  • clickAndWait id=elementID
    click on the link with ID equal to “elementID” .
  • clickAndWait link=text
    click on the link with “text” as internal text (a “text-dependent” approach is plainly not recommended)
  • verifyTextPresent done
    Verify the page contains the text “done”. If not, the test will fail at runtime. (be careful: “text-dependent”).
  • verifyElementPresent id=elementID
    Verify the page contains the element with ID equal to “elementID”. If not, the test will fail at runtime.
  • assertConfirmation
    assert a javascript confirmation appear
Instead of use the ID to locate an element (example: “id=linkA”) it’s possibile to use XPath expressions [syntax by w3c school] as locators. Example: “//div//a[2]” is the second link inside the “div” tag. I don’t suggest to use XPath: if you (or the designer) change the template (position, or text inside links, or change teh text) the test will not work !
To write solid reliable tests, remember to use a univocal ID for elements to test (message confirmation, links, form fields..), and write the test as soon as the application is working (you will easily and quickly test the correct application behaviour after adding new features).

To test CRUD forms, I suggest to write the html code (template) using a different ID for confirmation messages and error messages
[?php if ($result ): ?]
[div id=”postok”]submit ok[/div]
[?php else: ?]
[div id=”posterr”][?php echo $messageError ?][/div]
[?php endif; ?]
To test the result of this form:
verifyElementPresent postok
verifyTextNotPresent posterr

Selenium IDE screenshot

How to solve SVN conflicts. Netbeans SVN plugin tools

SVN [official site] is the most powerful open source version control software at the moment.
Introduction (for who doesn’t know it at all)
Basically, SVN is a server/client system. The server that contains the repository (source code of our application).The clients get the source code (CHECK OUT) or only the new files (UPDATE) from the server. The opposite operation is called COMMIT, and consists in sending new files to the server. Every commit generates a new repository revision; SVN mantains the content of the files in every revision with the aim not to lose code and the possibility to undo code changes.
svn conflicts

How to solve conflicts
SVN works allowing clients to get files without any locks ! It means that sometimes you may commit a file, but another client has committed the same files before. This is a conflict ! SVN requests to you to manually resolve the conflict, in order not to lose the code written by the other client (correct behaviour !).
How can you solve the conflict ? There are many solutions:
  1. Delete your local changes (REVERT). your code will be overwritten by the newest file in the repository (written not by you). Do it if you are sure you want to delete your changes.
  2. Keep ur changes and commit. Do UPDATE and SVN client will be overwrite the file (with your code between “[[[[[[[[[[[ .mine” and “=======”, and the code in the repository between the second marker and “]]]]]]]]]]]]] .rN”). SVN client will also create a copy of your changed file (file.ext.mine), the original you worked with (file.ext.rM) and the newest file in the repository(file.ext.rN).now:
    2.1Analyze differences and create a new file (recommended)
    analyze the differences (DIFF) between files, then modify the file.txt, set the conflict resolved (RESOLVE, after that SVN client allows to commit) and COMMIT.
    – 2.1.1 – For small files, you can edit directly file.txt (mind deleting the markers) and obtain a new file (operation called merging). Then set resolved and commit.
    – 2.1.2 – For bigger files, it’s a good solution to use a tool for file comparison (DIFF), for example between file.ext.mine (your modified file) and file.ext.rN (the newest in the repository). Then save the new file as file.ext, set resolved (RESOLVE) and COMMIT.


    2.2Overwrite the current file in the repository with your changes (be careful !). To do it, copy file.ext.mine to file.ext, set resolved(RESOLVE) and COMMIT

Netbeans SVN plugin

Netbeans [official site] (free java-based IDE for JAVA, J2SE, C/C++, Ruby and PHP) works with the SVN command line client and provides a useful tools to manage the SVN operation on the source code.
How to do the operations above with Netbeans 6.7 (a message error dialog appears in case of conflict). Filename: file.ext. All the commands are available with right click on the file.ext, then “Subversion”.
  1. “Revert modification…” and “Revert Local Changes”
  2. Update” (the file will be coloured “red”, it’ necessary before 2.1.1 or 2.1.2), then:2.1.1 (imho the best solution). Manually merge the changes and create a new content for the “red” file (mind removing markers). “Resolve Conflicts” (now the colour will be blue, and the temporary files will be deleted), then “Commit“.

    2.1.2 (Netbeans solution, not the best solution imho) .”Show changes”, double click on the bottom panel “Subversion” on the line with the “red” file (status=local conflict). In the main window, you will see the local file (left) and the remote (right). Netbeans will show line by line the conflicts (different code in the same line), and you can choose the line to have in the new file by clicking in “Accept” on the left or on the right. then “Commit”.

    Netbeans/manual alternative to 2.1.2: Select file.ext.mine and file.ext.rN (where N is the highest), then tight click, “Tools” and “Diff”. Now create a copy with the rigth code, then copy all the content in file.ext, “Resolve Conflicts” and “Commit”. It Looks complicated but maybe it’s the best in case of lots of conflicts.

    2.2. copy the content of the hidden file file.ext.mine to file.ext (the red one), then “Resolve Conflicts” and “Commit” (strongly not recommended !!).

How to reduce conflicts
  1. Do “Update” before start changing a file !! You will reduce the possibility of conflicts
  2. Do more “commit”, for example every 30min instead of 2h (choose it in according on the number of the clients working on the same file).
  3. In case of merging you will probably have to contact other developers to be sure about merging in case your code to commit is much different. Arrange on files with other developers (you’ll avoid to have lots of conflicts when committing)
  4. Other suggestions ?

SVN to FTP/web on Windows with svn client+winscp

How to deploy a web application and to quickly deploy future updates/patches from a SVN repository into a remote web server (only with ftp access and without possibility to setup svn client) ?
Here are my suggested steps:

  1. export SVN (that is obtain the last repository without “.svn” directories)
  2. process the exported SVN (e.g. adding or deleting files before uploading)
  3. upload (1st time) or synchronize (update new files to the remote webserver)
  4. chmod folders (only 1st time or new folders)
All the 4 steps are executable from a handy shell script using:
  • Linux: svn client (1) + rsync (3)
  • Windows: svn client subversion (1) + winscp script (2)
Example of a svn to ftp batch in Windows (with subversion client and winscp, both are free):
  1. Create a profile with winscp, and set local folder “c:tempsite1” and remote folder (e.g. “/httpdocs” ).
  2. Write a batch file svn2ftpsite1.bat
    set PATHFOLDER=c:tempsite1
    svn export svn:// %PATHFOLDER% –force
    del %PATHFOLDER%file-not-to-upload* /q
    copy c:other-folderfile-to-add-to-site1 %PATHFOLDER%
    c:path-towinscp.exe /console “open winscp-profile” “synchronize remote” “chmod 777 uploads” “close”
  3. Save. And launch when you want to update the remote site (don’t forget to commit the svn before)
Read the winscp online scripting manual for further information.
Note: if the web server (Linux I think!) can access the SVN repository, has SSH server and subversion client, you can export directly the repository in the web server.
Note: if the web application works correctly, take note of the current repository version. in case of future problems you will be able to export that revision (svn client command line option) and restore the online web site.
Note: If you can install svn client in the web server and the repository is visible from the web server, you can use “check out” and “update” directly in the webserver, then use an apache rule to hide .svn directories
RewriteRule /.svn /errorpage

Unit testing: a brief introduction to PHPUnit

Every software needs testing [wiki], starting with testing software units [wiki] (the smallest parts of a software, that are functions and classes).

Briefly, a test is a code which runs and ensure that our code behaves as expected.
Here is an example of a test to check a mail validator function:

print ( validateEmail(“”) && !validateEmail(“test@site”) && !validateEmail(“@site”) && ! validateEmail(“with”) && !validateEmail(“test@site.commm”) && validateEmail(“”)) ? “function looks OK”:”test fail”;

Obliviously, we need more testing features (first of all to understand which test fails). So, let’s use an existent tool to make and to run tests effectively and easily.

PHPUnit is a free powerful easy-to-use framework to manage PHP Unit tests.
  • Installation: setup with pear (recommended) or download the source archive
  • Test writing: include the main class, extend the PHPUnit_Framework_TestCase class and write inside one method for each unit test. Each method should call an existent superclass method, such as assertEquals($a, $b), assertTrue($a), etc… [online manual]
  • Run: use a command line tool and type
    phpunit fileWithTests.php
    PHPunit will automatically run all the tests (=methods written in the class) and will show the detailed results of each one.
This is only a summary, consult the PHPunit official online manual to explore all the features.
One personal suggestion: write the tests BEFORE writing the code ! You will save time and write a better code.

PHP 5.3.0 released

I don’t like writing posts for every new PHP release as other PHP blogs, but this time it’s worth doing it !

PHP 5.3 implements important new OOP features:
  • namespaces
  • late static binding and __callStatic() !
  • anonymous functions
  • Phar extension (pratically, it’s the same as JAR for java files)
Forother improvments and bug fixing, see change log