Anders Tornblad, web developer

I'm all about the web

Monthly archive for April 2015

Trying out Visual Studio Code

Yesterday Microsoft held Build 2015 and presented lots of nice things to the developer community. I have always loved Microsoft's developer tools, and started using Visual Studio back in 1997, hacking away with Visual Basic and Visual C++.

Now I still use Visual Studio at work, but for my personal projects, I mostly do web development in PHP and sometimes ASP.NET MVC. For the PHP projects, I have been using Komodo Edit for a while now, and am happy with it.

Visual Studio Code

After a quick download and a smooth installation, Visual Studio Code booted. I opened a folder full of PHP and JavaScript files. Syntax highlighting, bracket matching, syntax errors and warnings work really well for PHP, JavaScript, HTML and CSS, but PHP IntelliSense isn't included in this Preview version, which unfortunately means I won't be switching. Yet. However, JavaScript IntelliSense is amazing! It found a rookie mistake for me...
Don't do bitwise operations on bool

IntelliSense in Visual Studio Code is really good in every language it supports. Code completion and suggestions for JavaScript, HTML, CSS, SASS and C# are instant, but some features are missing from HTML IntelliSense.

A couple of HTML IntelliSense suggestions

  • Allowed attribute values should be suggested, like when typing <link rel=", I would like a popdown list to suggest things like stylesheet and so on.
  • Element suggestion should only include elements that make sense in the context. Directly inside an <ul> element, there is no point in suggesting a <blockquote>. Only <li>, <script> and <template> elements make any sense.

Bad elements in UL

What will make me switch

The editor is really nice to work with, it feels snappy and does things well. Changing personal settings is done in JSON, which is cool, because JSON... Until PHP IntelliSense is added, and some improvements are made in HTML editing, I will stick to Komodo Edit, but I will probably switch to Visual Studio Code eventually.

Reinventing a PHP MVC framework, part 2

Let's make the wheel more round

This is the second part of a series of articles about the mt-mvc PHP MVC framework. If you haven't read the first part, here it is: Reinventing a PHP MVC framework, part 1

Return to sender

In the old days, before fire was invented, responding to a request was done by calling Response.Write and writing directly to the response stream. In an MVC world (in whatever language, but especially in an object-oriented one), doing this from within a controller is a big no-no. Writing to the stream, using Response.Write or echo will only happen in the View!

In ASP.NET MVC, responding to an HTTP request is done by returning an instance of a class derived from the abstract ActionResult class. For a normal page view, you return a ViewResult object. For an AJAX request expecting JSON data, you return a JsonResult object. Some other examples are the RedirectResult, HttpStatusCodeResult, AtomFeedActionResult, and FileContentResult classes.

Most of those classes reference some model object, and will eventually render something view-like using the properties of the model object. The rendering itself, including sending HTTP headers, takes place in an implementation of the abstract ExecuteResult method. For now, I will focus only on serving ordinary views, like ASP.NET MVC does through the ViewResult class.

Some assembly needed

Using the Routing class from the previous part, we can find the names of a controller class and the method to call. We will now expect that method to return an object that has an executeResult method (first letter is lower-case, because PHP). I actually want to make my MVC framework act more in line with the MVC pattern than ASP.NET.

First of all, I don't want the controller to be able to access response artefacts like HTTP response headers, and the response content stream, because those are definitely presentation details. To have a clear separation of duties, those things should only be available to the View. Because of this, the executeResult method needs to be provided with some mechanism for setting HTTP headers and writing content. This "response wrapper" is easily mocked, for now. For testability, we also need to mock the filesystem.

This first iteration of ViewResult should set the Content-Type to text/html and then perform a standard PHP include on a view php file, using a (mocked) filesystem wrapper.

class ViewResultTests { public function ExecuteResultSetsCorrectContentType() { $controllerName = 'Home'; $viewName = 'Index'; $model = null; $viewResult = new ViewResult($controllerName, $viewName, $model); Expect($response)->toCall('setHeader')->withArguments(['Content-Type', 'text/html; charset=utf-8']); Expect($viewRootDir)->toCall('phpInclude')->withArguments(['home/index.php']); $viewResult->executeResult($response, $viewRootDir); $response->checkAll(); $viewRootDir->checkAll(); } } class ViewResult { private $controllerName; private $viewName; public function __construct($controllerName, $viewName, $model) { $this->controllerName = $controllerName; $this->viewName = $viewName; } public function executeResult($response, $viewRootDir) { $response->setHeader('Content-Type', 'text/html; charset=utf-8'); $viewRootDir->phpInclude(mb_strtolower($this->controllerName) . '/' . mb_strtolower($this->viewName) . '.php'); } }

The constructor for the ViewResult class needs the name of the controller, not the controller class. For this, we need to add a few more lines to the RoutingTests and Routing classes. That code is trivial and out of scope for this article, but you can look at it in the GitHub release.

All parts

Reinventing a PHP MVC framework, part 1
Reinventing a PHP MVC framework, part 2 (this part)
Reinventing a PHP MVC framework, part 3
Reinventing a PHP MVC framework, part 4

You'll find the code from this article in the related release on GitHub. The latest version is always available in the GitHub repository.

Reinventing a PHP MVC framework, part 1

Let's reinvent the wheel

This is the first part of a series of articles about the mt-mvc PHP MVC framework.

I wanted to know how ASP.NET MVC does what it does, so I decided to find out... by trying to reinvent it... in PHP. My line of thought was this:

  • I know how to USE the ASP.NET MVC framework
  • I know the effects of using the various features of the ASP.NET MVC framework
  • I know the principles of TDD
  • I should be able to reinvent (or reverse-engineer) a working MVC framework by adding unit tests for increasingly complex use of MVC, and making one or a few tests pass at a time
  • I also want to become a better PHP developer

I am perfectly aware of the fact that there are lots of MVC frameworks for PHP that are really capable of taking care of business, but this is not a website development effort. This is a learning effort. Reinventing the wheel works fine for learning - not for production code.

MVC the ASP.NET way

Let's start with something simple. The most basic use of ASP.NET MVC, in the default setting, appears to work by separating the request path of an incoming request into a Controller class name, a View method name, and an optional parameter value that gets passed into the method. Also, there are default values for all parts of the path.

First set of tests

I imagine a class that's solely responsible for parsing a path, and suggesting the name of a controller class, and a method to call, so I write some tests for that class first. Hooking things up to the PHP HTTP infrastructure gets added later.

class RoutingTests { public function CheckAllDefaults() { $routing = new Routing(); $route = $routing->handle(''); The($route->controllerClassName)->shouldEqual('HomeController'); The($route->methodName)->shouldEqual('Index'); The($route->parameter)->shouldNotBeSet(); } public function CheckDefaultMethodNameAndParameter() { $routing = new Routing(); $route = $routing->handle('Articles'); The($route->controllerClassName)->shouldEqual('ArticlesController'); The($route->methodName)->shouldEqual('Index'); The($route->parameter)->shouldNotBeSet(); } public function CheckDefaultParameter() { $routing = new Routing(); $route = $routing->handle('Categories/List'); The($route->controllerClassName)->shouldEqual('CategoriesController'); The($route->methodName)->shouldEqual('List'); The($route->parameter)->shouldNotBeSet(); } public function CheckNoDefaults() { $routing = new Routing(); $route = $routing->handle('Products/Item/123x'); The($route->controllerClassName)->shouldEqual('ProductsController'); The($route->methodName)->shouldEqual('Item'); The($route->parameter)->shouldEqual('123x'); } }

These tests are about the default out-of-the-box behavior of the routing subsystem. More advanced features, like registering custom url patterns, get added later.

class Routing { public function handle($url) { $parts = explode('/', $url); $controllerName = @$parts[0]; $methodName = @$parts[1]; $parameter = @$parts[2]; if (!$controllerName) $controllerName = 'Home'; if (!$methodName) $methodName = 'Index'; return (object) [ 'controllerClassName' => $controllerName . 'Controller', 'methodName' => $methodName, 'parameter' => $parameter ]; } }

Usefulness right now

This class does the bare minimum, and making some real use of it requires a lot of nuts and bolts in place – some URL redirection, a request/response pipeline system, some use of reflection to dynamically create controller instances and calling methods, a lot of thought about how to connecting views to the controller methods, and so on. Don't worry; all of that will be covered in the following posts.

All parts

Reinventing a PHP MVC framework, part 1 (this part)
Reinventing a PHP MVC framework, part 2
Reinventing a PHP MVC framework, part 3
Reinventing a PHP MVC framework, part 4

You'll find the code from this article in the related release on GitHub. The latest version is always available in the GitHub repository.