Monday, November 29, 2010

Introduction to 5 Productivity Boosters for PHP Development

by James John

New technology is hitting the block like almost every day. These technologies are also outdated in a matter of time, only a few survive the stiff race. In the last decade or so PHP has been one of the most popular niche languages or platforms. PHP has developed from a niche language for adding dynamic functionality to small websites to a powerful tool making strong inroads into large-scale Web systems. Sometimes as developers we can get frustrated when we deal with certain repetitive tasks such as manual code testing and deployment. So there rises a need to streamlining and automating such tasks, that is where these productivity boosters come to play. Let me introduce to these 5 tools that will help you to streamline your development process. 

1. PHPUnit:- Testing is a very important and critical part of an application development process. But sometimes developers do not give it its due importance because it is time consuming and error prone. Important business logic needs to work correctly. So how we make sure that it does?

To make code testing viable, good tool support is needed. This is where PHPUnit comes into play. It is the member of the xUnit family of testing frameworks and provides both a framework that makes the writing of tests easy as well as the functionality to easily run the tests and analyze their results. These tools also often provide a reporting feature, which details the outcome of each test run.

2. Phing:- When you are a web developer you will always see the complexity of the projects growing. So when the complexity grows developers face a number of deployment tasks that go beyond merely transferring files from the development to production server. If you find yourself writing custom scripts to handle the packaging, deploying, or testing of your applications, then it better that you start using Phing. Phing comes packaged with numerous out-of-the-box operation modules and an easy-to-use OO model for adding your own custom tasks. Phing tasks can be easily configured using a simple XML syntax, and can manipulate the server file system, integrate with CVS and Subversion, and even create PEAR packages from your custom libraries.

3. Git:- Version Control is very useful in managing the source codes. It can bring a lot of advantages to a project. Version control brings a number of advantages to any project, including the ability to experiment with code branches, roll back unwanted changes etc. Though there are many open source version control tools that are being used, still Git is one of the most popular and a personal tool of choice for many developers. Git is an extremely fast, efficient, distributed version control system ideal for the collaborative development of software. It has a 3rd party service called the GitHub. GitHub relieves development teams of the need to manage a server repository locally and even offers free hosting services for open source projects, with a negligible fee structure in place for commercial hosting.

4. FirePHP:- You might have used a Firefox add-on called the Firebug which allows you to easily inspect and experiment with a website's HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Using FirePHP, you can also use the familiar Firebug interface to review the PHP errors and other analytical data of your choosing.

5. XDebug:- The Xdebug extension helps you debugging your script by providing a lot of valuable debug information. Many automated testing tools will help you in catching the errors but sometimes you will need a little something extra to determine the cause of the error. XDebug is the right tool that will assist you in examining the status of your code by providing utilities for tracing execution, profiling code performance, reviewing object contents, and much more.

So these above mentioned PHP based tools will help you to enhance your productivity and will help boost your PHP projects.

About the Author

James is a professional web developer having 5 years of experience in custom php development. Various papers have been published under his name and he is leading open source development technology writer at various blogs. He has also written various articles related to Web Designer India.