Recently we decided to explore the edX platform. It’s an open source Learning Management System (LMS) and authoring tool. EdX is one of the most popular MOOC platforms alongside Coursera and Udacity, but unlike the two others their code is open source and you can host your own MOOC platform. EdX has been created by MIT and Harvard and is listing other well known universities as contributors. Also, in September 2013, Google, who was previously experimenting its own LMS (Google Course Builder), decided to join the open edX platform as a contributor too. The platform is implemented mostly in Python and they created their own component architecture called XBlock (https://xblock.readthedocs.org/en/latest/). On paper edX sounds great, but how does it compare to Moodle or Totara? Does it fulfill the criteria our clients are targeting?
Just before Easter I tweeted out an idea that I already threw out there a few weeks ago: Creating a PHP Content Repository (PHPCR) implementation on top of the prismic.io content repository as a service. Well I had a lot of time on the train over Easter, so I decided to make it happen. Obviously coding against a remote service on the train isn't that much fun, so in fact I did a lot of coding, waited for the next train station, hit refresh a few times and so on and on. I briefly tried to setup php-vcr to log all web requests and replay them, but unfortunately the library isn't quite ready to do this yet .. but mit might be soon. Also as prismic.io's content pages are actually all versioned we will soon hopefully get caching provided inside their PHP SDK. But I digress. So without further ado, I present to you an initial working version of PHPCR integration with prismic.io. There are obviously still a ton of todo's left .. but fundamentally it works: I can read prismic documents as PHPCR nodes with properties!
Anthony posted a very interesting opinion piece about the future of PHP. I want to specifically comment on the part about HHVM and Hack. I have of course published my own opinion on the topic fairly recently on my private blog. Fellow Liiper Chregu has also done a very popular post on this very blog showing some very significant performance improvements that can be achieved with HHVM. Infact the project Chregu is working on is looking to be one of the first large production users of HHVM outside of Facebook and he is making good progress on integrating HHVM with New Relic which we use quite a bit for performance analysis in larger projects. Facebook is also presenting their point of view on PHP and Hack and probably the most promiment was this presentation called "Taking PHP Seriously". So with having set the stage let me address some of the points raised by Anthony.
Today we finally released a stable version of our small tool RMT. RMT (Release Management Tool) is a handy tool that helps releasing software. It allows to create a clean release by running a simple command.
This weekend I had the opportunity to attend and speak at Symfony Camp UA in Kiev. This event was organized already for the 5th time and draws many developers from the region. While I did spend the entire week before doing an intensive Russian course in Odessa (just for fun, no Liip has no plans to open an office in Russia), I did my talk on REST in English. Next to mine the only other talk in English was delivered by Pawel, who spoke about Sylius. It was great to finally meet Pawel in person! At any rate all other talks were in Russian. It was semi possible to follow the Russian talks if the slides contained enough code but in the end I spend most of the time talking to people sitting on the comfy chairs in front of the conference room. There were two questions that came up multiple times, so I figure I also answer them quickly here.
Jackalope and PHPCR have been a reoccuring topic on this blog. Back in 2009 we here at Liip began exploring the possibility of integrating Jackarabbit, the reference implementation of the Java Content Repository specification, with PHP. The vision was two fold: First up we wanted to make it possible to directly interact with content stored in AdobeCQ (called Day Communiqué at the time) or Magnolia. Additionally we also felt it would be a great asset to the PHP CMS world to be able to leverage all the power of JCR from PHP, hence PHPCR. The initial attempts made use of the Zend Java Bridge to communicate directly from PHP to Java. However eventually we realized that it would be more feasible to use the native HTTP API provided by Jackrabbit. But things only really took off when the Symfony CMF initiative decided to adopt our work. Now four years later we finally have the first stable releases of PHPCR, Jackalope and the hibernate inspired object mapper PHPCR ODM.
A few weeks ago the first european conference dedicated to the Laravel PHP framework (Laracon 2013) took place in Amsterdam at the beautiful Bimhuis venue.
We continued our exploration of e-commerce applications in the Symfony2 ecosystem at this months hackday with some playtime with OroCRM. OroCrm is currently in alpha phase and is unique in that its primary focus is to provide CRM tools for B2C rather than B2B of traditional CRM solutions. They plan to integrate with different webshop solutions to for example automatically open a lead if a customer leaves the site without checking out but had filled the shopping cart with a certain number of products. Since the venture is started by Yoav, one of the founders of Magento, their first target is of course Magento which we also leverage at Liip as our primary e-commerce platform. What is also interesting is that the OroCRM created a business application platform on top of Symfony2. The goal is to facilitate the creation of other business applications which can then be easily integrated together. One concrete example of this is AkeneoPim. Note that the platform uses the liberal MIT license while the CRM uses the OSL 3.0 license, same as Magento. Its quite similar to the LGPL with additional provisions that terminate the license for anyone initiating patent litigation against other users of the application.
FrOSCon is one of those conference close by that I have missed attending for many years, mostly because its on the weekend and especially during the summer my weekends are reserved for ultimate frisbee. Well this year I set my priorities straight to finally be able to attend this conference. As it turns out this is one well organized conference even with free cake for speakers :)
I'm happy to announce a new feature that will be available in Symfony 2.4: You can automatically show your log messages in the console output of commands.
This eases giving feedback in your console commands dramatically. Before I show you how to use this feature, let's take a look at what problem it solves.