Archives for : August2013

A mindnote regarding Zend 2.0 and interfaces

In Zend FW 2.0 the standard src folder (and namespace) structure is the following:

src\MyNamespace\Model - models
src\MyNamespace\Controller - controllers
src\MyNamespace\Helper - helpers, utilities

However I wanted to follow the same logic for interfaces I failed. The following does not work:
src\MyNamespace\Interface - interfaces

That’s because “Interface” (and interface) is a reserved keyword in PHP.

Mindnote here for next time –  I have to make exception for interfaces and name my namespace (folder) for interfaces in plural:

Digital carbage and how to reduce it

Digital carbage

I’m afraid we will drown into digital carbage one day. That day is not necessarily in the far future but it can be this week or next.
One of the biggest soure of digital carbage is corporate e-mails with attachments. In every corporation, in every project there are working groups that still (in the year 2013) share a lot of information via e-mail. These people often add information to e-mails in form of attachments that makes it worse.

Attachments and versions

The problem with sending e-mail attachments is that when you send it to n persons you would instantly create at least n+2 different versions of the file. The situation is even worse if you added multiple attachments to your e-mail that you’re going to send – let’s say to 5 colleagues (3 from your office + 2 contractors or whoever).

By doing that you will create following versions of your file(s):
– one in each recipient’s mailbox (ouch – which one is original now?) – that is n
– one on your harddisk (so-called original) – that is n+1
– one in your sent-mail folder (is that original?) – that is n+2

When each recipient saves the attachment(s) from e-mail to harddisk more versions will be added.

My question is – which version is correct?

The solution

The solution is elegantly simple – use cloud services and shared documents. There are a number of such services while most popular are Google Drive and Microsoft Skydrive. Even Dropbox would work however it could impose some file locking issues. I know about corporate policies and rules (I worked at Ericsson for many years) but this is no excuse for polluting the digispace.
One document in one place shared to those who have to work with that. Easy. Simple. Done.
Any thoughts on that?

Logging PHP errors in the same folder with Magento error logs

Here’s another post regarding logging…

How to log PHP errors to the same folder than Magento error logs?

It’s quite simple with Nginx and PHP5-FPM. In Nginx virtual host configuration file there is quite likely block like that:

location ~ .php$ {
if (!-e $request_filename) { rewrite / /index.php last; }
fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php5-fpm.sock;
fastcgi_param HTTPS $fastcgi_https;
fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
fastcgi_param MAGE_RUN_CODE ee;
fastcgi_param MAGE_RUN_TYPE website;
fastcgi_read_timeout 600;
include /etc/nginx/fastcgi_params;

In order to make PHP error logs go to the same folder than Magento’s (/var/log/… add following lines to your virtual host configuration block:

    fastcgi_param   PHP_VALUE "log_errors=on";
fastcgi_param PHP_VALUE "display_errors=off";
fastcgi_param PHP_VALUE "error_log=$document_root/var/log/php_errors.log";

These are standard PHP directives.
log_errors – this one states that erros must be logged
display_errors – it’s always good to keep it off anywhere else than in your local development machine
error_log – this does the trick. It forces PHP logs for current virtual host to var/log folder under your Magento instance folder.

So the final block should look like this:

location ~ .php$ {
if (!-e $request_filename) { rewrite / /index.php last; }
fastcgi_pass unix:/var/run/php5-fpm.sock;
fastcgi_param HTTPS $fastcgi_https;
fastcgi_param SCRIPT_FILENAME $document_root$fastcgi_script_name;
fastcgi_param MAGE_RUN_CODE ee;
fastcgi_param MAGE_RUN_TYPE website;
fastcgi_read_timeout 600;
fastcgi_param PHP_VALUE "log_errors=on";
fastcgi_param PHP_VALUE "display_errors=off";
fastcgi_param PHP_VALUE "error_log=$document_root/var/log/php_errors.log";
include /etc/nginx/fastcgi_params;

Restart nginx and there you go. You can now tail or less the logs from /var/log/php_errors.log

Magento solution development in distributed environment


Magento solutions get bigger and more complex, at least here at Eepohs. Magento development requires multiple displines like Frontend Development (JS, CSS, HTML, XML etc), Backend Development (PHP, JS, XML etc), System Integration (JSON, XML, REST, SOAP, (s)FTP etc…). So it’s quite obvious that Magento development is rather teamwork than a play of single freelancers. Freelancers can take your solution to some limit but sooner or later you need to hire a team that can support solution and take it further on.


There are a couple of tools that are crucial for teamwork and especially important when your team is not sitting together but is distributed in the room and possibly in time also. The tools for successful teamwork are:
– issue management tool – JIRA
– version control tool – GIT
– communication tool – Skype
– an IDE – Netbeans


When you have more than 1 developer you need a process. In fact you’d need a process when you’re working alone, too but it’s not that stringent in this case.
You have several processes while doing development:
– version control process and strategy
– issue management process
– general workflow
– development itself – writing code, chasing bugs, debugging etc.
– quality assurance (QA)
– deployment process

The latter seems to be quite tough because there’s a lot to be deployed between different stages and instances.
There are 4 stages (and n different Magento instances in each) in Magento development cycle
– development (local developer machine, local server)
– testing (internal testing by the QA team)
– staging or pre-live (pre-live testing by the QA team and the customer)
– live

Deployment of changes


A note about popular alternative – Subversion

Subversion is not good for Magento development for 2 reasons:
  1. it must be connected to central server. So you cannot version your files while working offline
  2. svn creates its own special control folder .svn with a lot of extra files inside every folder in Magento. Magento codebase is huge and svn creates a very big extra overhead for your filesystem. It makes it painfully slow and tedious.
  3. … I won’t start rant about merging in svn and git here…:)
  4. And yes – I have used svn, A LOT. So I know what I’m talking about:)

Magento specific issues a.k.a the Bad News

Attribute sets and attributes

How to manage attribute set and attribute migration between 4 stages described above?

The 2 above are actually quite simple to resolve. Magento offers excellent tools for that – install/update scripts. Just add your attributes and sets via install/update scripts and they will get to all environments automatically when code is deployed there.

Stores and Content

Store is the most crucial entity. Everything is depending on that, even configuration and content.


That’s a tough one. How to version configuration? How to move conf changes from one Magento to the other?

Magento Deployment tools a.k.a the Good News

There’s a cure for all these issues above, though… I’ll shed some light to available tools in the upcoming posts.

A few thoughts about code quality

While working with Magento I see a lot of 3rd party software (Magento extensions). I must say that the code quality in general is very poor. It’s not that poor as in WordPress in the old days but it’s bad. I’m not even talking about following Magento Coding Standard. I’m talking about simple and basic things:

  1. PHP code that produces ERR in Magento log is to be considered broken. 
  2. PHP code that produces WARN in Magento log is to be considered nearly broken and dangerous.
  3. HTML code that does not validate is to be considered broken.
  4. JS is simple – if some JS is broken on they thru parsing then very likely the rest of it (all other libs, scripts) won’t be parsed correctly. It’s very visible in the frontend.
I cannot accept it. 
What to do? Educate yourself, check your code, use CodeSniffer, write Unit Tests and check the logs.