Book Review: “The Grumpy Programmer’s Guide To Building Testable Applications”

When most developers think about books on testing, they think about books that highlight things like “test driven development” or “how to build a test for X.” There are lots and lots of testing books out there that supposedly teach us how to write tests and reach milestones like “100% test coverage.” But at the risk of sounding risque, testing is very similar to sex: more people claim to do it than actually do, most people claim more experience with it than they actually have, and more people have advice on the subject than probably should.

This is not true of Chris Hartjes’ book, “The Grumpy Programmer’s Guide To Building Testable PHP Applications”. When I asked Chris if I could review his book, I expected a step-by-step guide to writing tests. What I got was a step-by-step guide to building an application that COULD be tested. There’s a big difference, and it’s important to understand the distinction.

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Wednesday, April 18th, 2012 @ 7:00 am | Comment (1) | Categories: Best Practices
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It’s About The Customer, Stupid

Another day, another article posted on Hacker News that describes PHP’s failures and complexities as though they actually mattered.

The truth is, only programmers care about languages. Only programmers care about the methods, routines, algorithms and organization of programming languages. Only programmers argue about coding styles, whether white space or brackets is the best way to separate code blocks, and about design patterns.

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Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 @ 9:18 am | Comment (5) | Categories: Software Development
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The Mechanics Of Code

Since the dawn of programming, programmers have attempted to define their industry, often by using outside industries for comparison. This can be traced back to the fact that programming itself is unique: it’s unlike any field in existence. Most programmers hate being called “coders”: it seems pedestrian, somehow beneath what we do. Many times we like to call ourselves “engineers”, but this title doesn’t really fit. Though we do engineer things on a regular basis, engineering is a field in which the time to completion is relatively set by physical laws, not the complexity of the job.

As I spent time this past week watching my mechanic work, it occurred to me that much of what I do is act as a mechanic for my software. My job is to inspect, disassemble, replace bad parts, lubricate, make faster/more efficient/less squeaky, and to maintain software that has largely already been written, engineered, and released. There’s the occasional new feature to be developed, and this is surely the engineering portion of my job, but 70% of the time my work revolves around being a software mechanic.

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Thursday, February 16th, 2012 @ 9:20 am | Comment (1) | Categories: Software Development
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New Rockville PHP Group

There are lots of active, vibrant developer groups in the DC area: DC PHP, Baltimore PHP, and the Frederick Web Tech group. The DC PHP Beverage Subgroup meets monthly in Northern Virginia. But in the middle between all these groups lies Montgomery County, Maryland. In that area live hundreds of developers who struggle to reach any of the developer groups in the area on a weeknight.

It’s time to build them something of their own.

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Monday, February 6th, 2012 @ 9:57 am | Comment (2) | Categories: Community
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Excited About PHP Again

Ten months ago when I started at Mozilla, I began transitioning away from PHP and into Python and Django. This was inevitable: the Mozilla Webdev team favors Python over PHP in almost every webapp (Socorro is the critical exception). However, over time I had become disillusioned with the direction that PHP was taking. The project seemed stalled, lost in the woods, drifting on a sea of uncertainty.

After seeing Rasmus Lerdorf speak about the future of PHP for 2012, my perspective has changed dramatically. You can see his talk here.

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Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 @ 10:23 pm | Comment (4) | Categories: General PHP, Software Development
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July Slides

July was a month of talks and travel, including speaking at OSCON and user group talks to DCPHP and PDXPHP.

For those who saw the “Micro Optimize This!” talk, you can download the slides here.

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Wednesday, July 28th, 2010 @ 11:28 am | Comment (4) | Categories: Object-Oriented Development, Technology, Conferences, System Architecture, PHP 5
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