PHP 7.0.0 (RC8) for OS X and CloudFoundry

PHP 7.0 is very very near, if no showstoppers show up during the current Release Candidate #8. And I finally managed to update the package on, so that you can test and start writing applications on your local OS X machine easily, as well. The installer also automatically does the right thing in the apache configuration with regards to “mod_php7” and “mod_php5”.

Furthermore, since we are using CloudFoundry in one of our bigger projects, I also extended the official PHP buildpack to include PHP 7.0 (and some other things like varnish, but that’s not relevant for this). This way we can easily see, if our apps still work with PHP 7 and do some benchmarks (the initial ones looked promising). To use the buildpack, add the following line to your manifest.yml

and adjust .bp-config/options.json to include (and maybe also change your composer.json to use PHP 7)

Be aware, that I didn’t port many of the extensions the official buildpack includes, so your milage may vary. And if you want to be sure it’s thoroughly tested, maybe better wait for official PHP 7.0 support in the CloudFoundry buildpack. I’m sure, they won’t wait long once it’s is released.

There’s now no excuse anymore to not test your apps against PHP 7.0

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Apple TV app – or how to continuously innovate

Continuous Innovation at Liip

Doing Agile at Liip does not always mean we live in a continuous flow of sprints, endlessly. Sometimes the comfortable stream of sprints breaks for a while, usually between two projects. This is often a good opportunity to hack on new technologies or try something new. We recently had one of these break and it was the perfect time to try once again our innovation process.

In fact, this process starts before we have one of those breaks. First of all, the whole team lists any innovation idea – could be anything – and anyone is invited to contribute (at the moment we have a dozen projects listed). We try to groom this list as often as possible to keep it relevant. Then, when time comes we can just go to this list and grab a project we want to work on.

Doing innovation keeps us close to new technologies.

The project: an Apple TV app

As part of the Liip “Native apps” guild (officially named “Mobile” guild internally, but we might refactor it looking at the TV screen sizes!), the choice was almost obvious: we decided to hack on the new Apple TV, now opened to developers. The exciting aspect of this device is closely related to the unusual screen size connected to it. The remote also gives us a new TV experience (still from a developer perspective, I am not trying to sell anything).

The idea was simple. I wanted to adapt the mobile application of one of our client, UEFA, for Apple TV. They have lots of photos and videos, so basically the perfect content to play with.

Xcode 7 has already everything for tvOS (Apple TV dedicated Operating System) with its own SDK and simulator. Only a few clicks are required to get started and have a “Hello world” app up and running.
Then we had to go through the basics and learn the visual guidelines. These two links are worth reading to get to know the environment, even if you have been using the previous version of Apple TV. Lots of new visuals have been added, though I really fancy the Focus and parallax.

Then, coding for the TV is basically the same as coding for other iOS platforms. It took us roughly six man days to create an app from scratch with 3 pages containing different media content (photos, videos) coming from an API. The result on a big screen is very rewarding!

Now what?

We are going to discuss with several of our clients where such a big device would bring added value to their end users – e.g. e-commerce domain and sport’ industries.
Also we plan to use this knowledge internally for some potential dashboard apps.
We will keep you posted with our next findings/experiments.


Big hopes about Holacracy

In the next days i’ll be attending a Holacracy course and i wished to take some time to think about my feelings and hopes with this new system of company organization.


Holacracy is part of the more generic “Teal”/”Self-management” movement. The goal of this post is not to detail precisely what Holacracy is, but to keep it short let’s say that it aims at defining an alternative to the hierarchical structures we are all used to, taking as basis the motto “organize the work, not the people”. The first time i heard about it was at our annual “conference” where someone from management gave a talk titled “Let’s get rid of management” (yes, someone from management!! That’s also why i love working at Liip!). I was quite sceptical at first and had concerns about the potential chaos this could lead to, but after reading the “official” book i must admit i’m quite excited about this new paradigm! Since then i realized that Holacracy is very far from chaos: it just replaces a hierarchical structure with a more organic -very structured- one. So it’s not “about getting rid of management” but rather “let’s find a new way to organize ourselves”. Liip is very interested in moving to “self-management” in general, but the exact implementation (through Holacracy for ex.) is still uncertain.

Here are a few things i’m especially looking forward to learning more about:

Role definition

That’s the base of Holacracy: define roles and circles (groups of roles), their domain of competence and their accountabilities. Have a look at your current job description: if it reflects what you actually do, you’re lucky! Mine for sure doesn’t… In Holacracy a role is defined in 3 steps:

  • its purpose: why it exist
  • its domain of authority: on what does it have authority. Meaning what domain you can take decision on without consulting other people
  • its accountabilities: what concrete actions can people expect from this role

It’s important to make the distinction between a role and a person. This goes back to the initial paradigm “organize the work, not the people”, meaning we are defining roles and then people decide to embody one or multiple of them (a person owning potentially more than 1 role).

I see a lot of potential for this at Liip: having clear -stated- expectations about what is awaited from a role should help both the person owning the role in prioritizing what to do and others in being more realistic about expectations, which should eventually and hopefully lead to less frustrations. Same for accountabilities/responsibilities which are somehow defined but not clearly stated at the moment. Finally, separating the role (and its duties) from the person “owning” the role seems like a good way to limit personal conflicts.

Structure but different

Roles and circles definition offer a new paradigm in defining a non-hierarchical structure. At the moment at Liip the structure is very flat (only 1 level: management, 6 persons from 130) and teams have a lot of autonomy. This is great and enables fast decision making, at least for limited scope decisions (ie. that don’t influence other offices for ex.). But information sharing and global decision making is getting harder each time we grow. It’s either too much (are we all interested in everything?) or too little (“let’s create a work group to do this and that” without coordination with the rest).

Holacracy offers through the circles and roles a different way to structure companies, keeping freedom and ease of decision on your cicle’s domain but making possible to take global decisions as well.
As transparency is a first class citizen in the methodology you are still able to follow what other circles do and decide without having to be part of every discussion.

Continuous improvements

As at Liip we use Scrum not only for project management, but also for most of the things we do in general, we already have established improvements circles. At the “squad” (ie. sub-team dedicated to a project) level we do a “retrospective” after each development iteration (sprint retro) and we do the same at team level 4 times a year. The goal of those meetings is to make sure we dedicate a moment to think about the “how” (ie. the process) rather than the “what/when” that you typically find in project management.

Holacracy introduces this at all “circle” levels with so called “Governance” meetings. The meeting format is quite formal and focuses on felt “tensions” (a gap between the current situation and a potential status). Restricting attendance of Governance meetings to circle member ensures only interested people take part, and probably scales better than what we do now, while keeping the possibility for everybody to raise tensions (and thus get “heard”).

Words are important

As you probably have understood already, Holacracy uses a defined vocabulary and insists on using those exacts terms. “Tension” rather than “problem”, as it gives a more neutral way of expressing a need (which can be either negative or positive), and “processing (a tension)” rather than “solution” or “fix”, as it implies continuous improvement and adaption rather than a “one shot fix”. In the same way, it suggests to always state “problems” (yes, “tensions”) in terms of “proposal”, to always search for possible solutions rather than problems, even if those proposals are only a first shot and nothing like a final solution. The vocabulary also supports the iterative approach by defining how to formulate “objections” as “does anyone see any reason why this isn’t safe enough to try, knowing we can revisit the decision if it doesn’t work?”


As stated in the book, evolving to Teal/Holacracy is not about redefining your day-to-day job (web/application development and consulting for us) but rather the underlying “Operating System”: the structure, the links and bounds. In a company like Liip where authority is already quite distributed, it’s also a lot about making clear and visible what already exists.

I’m really excited about attending this course and i hope to develop further my thoughts very soon!

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Magento 2.0 Release

Finally Magento 2 has been released! I am especially glad as an ex-Magento employee. The Magento team has created a powerful and modern framework for eCommerce and I congratulate all of my ex-coworkers for this great milestone. But my post is not about that. Just after the release, there appeared a lot of blog posts that Magento 2 platform has changed the eCommerce world. But did it? In this post I am not going to describe all of the M2 bright sides (it has too many of them). My intend is to perform honest and objective M2 unboxing and to look inside of it from the point of view of the Magento community even if it’s going to be painful.

Magento Flag

Note: Magento 2 positions itself as an eCommerce solution and a ready-to-use product, not just a framework. Therefore my opinion about Magento 2 is based on this statement.

Continue reading about Magento 2.0 Release

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Let’s build the Life Sciences Hub of Europe


Lift Basel, taking place from 29-30 October 2015, the not-to-be-missed conference connecting Life Sciences and Technology, had one clear message: It is time to innovate and think differently for all stakeholders in order to address the future of health.

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Why Piwik matters now

Piwik is an open-source web analytics solution that has been around for quite some years now and has seen a recent revival with the advent of Piwik 2.

It proposes all the necessary tools to capture, collect, process and analyse traffic data. Yes it has an API, yes fancy reports, segments, dashboards and goals, yes also to custom variables, …

Although I have immense respect for the product team behind Google Analytics, I must admit that Piwik brings three features that are unmet in Google Analytics.

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Machine learning on Google Analytics (part 2)

In my previous blogpost, we saw that using machine learning (ML) on Google Analytics (GA), we can go one step beyond traffic analysis. ML will bring light on correlations in your traffic data, let hidden rules emerge and help making predictions. A typical use case could be discovering customers segments for an eCommerce website.

After running a short experiment, we already discussed the requirements for ML and the limitations of on doing that on GA.

In this article, I will describe the quickest way to test ML on your traffic data. For that, we will first need to transform GA statistic data into raw data compatible with ML. Then using a free ML software, we will import, visualize and transform data to optimize predictions. Finally we’ll compute a first decision tree for predicting the class of a visitor based on its characteristics.

Continue reading about Machine learning on Google Analytics (part 2)


Bower – kthxbye

The landscape

Bower is one of most popular packages management tool, especially for frontend assets like Javascript and CSS. Other strong contender are composer, npm and webpack. But Bower shines in simplicity to get going. Bower itself is installed via npm, there is also a reimplementation in PHP called BowerPHP. We use bower on some products however in my team, Kleine Eule, we found one particular important issue with bower ..

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Symfony: A look back and what it all means

As we were preparing the news about becoming a Sensiolabs Silver Partner, I brought back a bit to the history of Symfony here at Liip. We did do a few symfony v1 projects at Liip but things only really took off with Symfony2. Back in 2009 Fabien came to Zurich to discuss some of the Symfony2 components (still PHP 5.2 compatible at the time) he had just released as well as a few he hadn’t yet released. Jordi, who was working at Liip at the time, and I integrated all of them into our company internal framework over the following months which we later presented at the Symfony Live. This means Liip in fact build the first Symfony2 framework, even before there was the official Symfony framework.

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DrupalCon Barcelona 2015

Over 2000 people attended DrupalCon Europe 2015 last September at the Barcelona International Convention Center. Five days sharing about Drupal and its new version coming soon with developers, contributors, site builders, themers, project managers, well all the Drupal community ! Let’s talk about this big event !

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