Friday, January 16, 2015

New Year's Cleanup for VAT validator client for VIES service by European Commission

It's a new year and that's always good to clean up things and improve code. This is exactly what I did to make it easier for you to use the VIES service.
VIES is the VAT Information Exchange System provided by the European Commission to allow its members to validate VAT registration numbers of companies registered within the European Union. Since an invoice with an invalid VAT number can result in penalties, this client library is convenient to use in any B2B application.
This tool allows you to simply embed the service within your PHP application using Composer as the client is available in Packagist. We even included tests, improved quality and examples for you to play with. The source code is freely available on GitHub under MIT License.
I wish you a very happy 2015!


Friday, November 21, 2014

Running Apigility on Azure

Apigility on Azure
Since a couple of years I've been a fan of Microsoft Azure, the cloud platform by Microsoft. It offers a platform as a service (PaaS) in the form of Azure Websites which makes it a great solution to prototype and to play with new stuff.
Last year Matthew Weier O'Phinney announced Apigility at ZendCon, a manager for API design. It was immediately clear that it would revolutionise the way we would design and manage REST API's.
mwop presenting apigility

Getting started

The first thing we need is to download apigilty on your local development machine. There are several ways to do this, but I prefer to just clone the apigilty skeleton from GitHub.
git clone dragonbe-demo-api
Since composer is included with the skeleton, we just need to self-update composer.phar and let it install all required libraries.
cd dragonbe-demo-api/
php composer.phar self-update
php composer.phar install
We're all set now. Time to get started with our first API endpoint. Let's enable development mode first so we have access to the management interface.
php public/index.php development enable
And if you run PHP 5.4 or higher (if not, now is a good time to upgrade) you can fire up the build-in PHP web server (only from PHP 5.4.8 and up) to quickly getting started with managing REST API endpoints.
php -S -t public/ public/index.php
If you now surf to http://localhost:9999 you should see the Apigility welcome screen.
Apigility Welcome Screen

Your first REST endpoint

Click on the button "Get Started" to continue.
getting started
Continue with create new API.
create api
A popup will ask you to provide a name for this API, I've named it "demo" for the purpose of this blog.
api name
The API demo (v1) will be created and an overview will be presented.
api overview
In order to have something useful from this, we need to create a new REST endpoint.
Because we're just demonstrating the usage of Apigility we're selecting the "code connect" option and we name our endpoint "user".
code connect
An overview will give us more details how to reach this user endpoint.
user overview
When we click on the tab "source code" we get a list of classes used for this user endpoint. We're interested in the Resource Class demo\V1\Rest\User\UserResource.php.
class overview
Let's test our endpoint now using curl.
curl -i http://localhost:9999/v1/user
This will give us the following response.
HTTP/1.1 405 Method Not Allowed
Host: localhost:9999
Connection: close
X-Powered-By: PHP/5.4.30
Content-Type: application/problem+json

{"type":"","title":"Method Not Allowed","status":405,"detail":"The GET method has not been defined for collections"}
This means our configuration is good and we're ready to implement the "business logic".

Let's code a bit

In UserResource.php we look at two methods:
  • fetch($id)
  • fetchAll($params = array())
The first method "fetch" will give us a single entity while the second method "fetchAll" is responsible for returning a collection of entities.
The first thing we do is creating a ficture (just for the purpose of this demo) where we have a list of users.
protected $user = array (
    array ('id' => 1, 'firstName' => 'Matthew', 'lastName' => 'Weier O\'Phinney'),
    array ('id' => 2, 'firstName' => 'Zeev', 'lastName' => 'Suraski'),
    array ('id' => 3, 'firstName' => 'Enrico', 'lastName' => 'Zimuel'),
Let's modify the collection method "fetchAll" first, as this is the easy part.
We change the existing code
public function fetchAll($params = array())
    return new ApiProblem(405, 'The GET method has not been defined for collections');
Into the following
public function fetchAll($params = array())
    return $this->user;
And when we repeat our request with curl, we get the following result.
curl -i http://localhost:9999/v1/user

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Host: localhost:9999
Connection: close
X-Powered-By: PHP/5.4.30
Content-Type: application/hal+json

{"_links":{"self":{"href":"http:\/\/localhost:9999\/v1\/user"}},"_embedded":{"user":[{"id":1,"firstName":"Matthew","lastName":"Weier O\u0027Phinney","_links":{"self":{"href":"http:\/\/localhost:9999\/v1\/user\/1"}}},{"id":2,"firstName":"Zeev","lastName":"Suraski","_links":{"self":{"href":"http:\/\/localhost:9999\/v1\/user\/2"}}},{"id":3,"firstName":"Enrico","lastName":"Zimuel","_links":{"self":{"href":"http:\/\/localhost:9999\/v1\/user\/3"}}}]},"total_items":3}
So far so good! Now it's time to add entity functionality as well.
public function fetch($id)
    foreach ($this->user as $user) {
        if ($user['id'] === (int) $id) {
            return $user;
    return new ApiProblem(404, 'Specified user was not found');
So now we can call it with curl to see how it works.
curl -i http://localhost:9999/v1/user/1
This results in a nice entity result
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Host: localhost:9999
Connection: close
X-Powered-By: PHP/5.4.30
Content-Type: application/hal+json

{"id":1,"firstName":"Matthew","lastName":"Weier O\u0027Phinney","_links":{"self":{"href":"http:\/\/localhost:9999\/v1\/user\/1"}}}
So now we have a collection and entity functionality for demo purposes. Time to put things online!

First deploy to Azure

Now that we have created our first API endpoint, we can prepare everything to deploy it to Microsoft Azure. There are a few things we need to do before we can actually deploy it, but it's a one-time preparation.
If you haven't downloaded it yet, get the Microsoft Azure SDK for PHP and for your development OS and install it, it will make life so much easier.
Once downloaded and installed, you now have a CLI application to manage your azure configuration. More details can be found at the Microsoft Azure PHP Dev Center.

Web root configuration

We need to add a web.config file to our code base in the root of the project as it will serve as a configuration for IIS to know where our initial application root folder will be and how to map routing to it.
My web.config for Apigility looks like this:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
        <directoryBrowse enabled="false" />
        <httpErrors existingResponse="PassThrough" />
            <clear />
            <!-- Rewrite rules to /public by @maartenballiauw *tnx* -->
            <rule name="TransferToPublic-StaticContent" patternSyntax="Wildcard" stopProcessing="true">
              <match url="*" />
              <conditions logicalGrouping="MatchAny">
                <add input="{REQUEST_URI}" pattern="*assets*" />
                <add input="{REQUEST_URI}" pattern="robots.txt" />
              <action type="Rewrite" url="public/{R:0}" />
            <rule name="TransferToPublic" patternSyntax="Wildcard">
              <match url="*" />
              <action type="Rewrite" url="public/index.php" />
                <clear />
                <add value="index.php" />
                <add value="index.html" />
Again, a big shout-out to Maarten Balliauw for helping me creating this simplified configuration file for IIS / Microsoft Azure.

Auto-execute Composer install on Azure

Apigility is dependent on Composer, the popular package manager for PHP. It's a great tool for managing external libraries and dependencies, but it requires to be executed before the application gets deployed.
This is where we will use the Microsoft Azure SDK as we're going to need a deployment execution immediately after the code is pulled in from GitHub.
I found the article of Ahmed Sabbour very useful as a guideline to prepare post-fetch deployments. We will use the Microsoft Azure SDK to generate our deployment scripts.
azure site deploymentscript --php -t bash 
Which will create 2 files: .deployment and It's the latter which we need to modify to run composer automatically after fetching our code from GitHub.
Just add the following lines in section "# Deployment" of the script (right after # 1. KuduSync configuration).
# 2. Composer install
php $DEPLOYMENT_TARGET/composer.phar install -v --prefer-dist --no-dev --optimize-autoloader --no-interaction

Prepare for GitHub

Maybe it's time to save and commit our changes. After all, we already have a git repository active.
Let's first figure out what has changed so far.
git status
This give us the following list
On branch master
Your branch is up-to-date with 'origin/master'.

Changes not staged for commit:
  (use "git add ..." to update what will be committed)
  (use "git checkout -- ..." to discard changes in working directory)

    modified:   composer.phar
    modified:   config/application.config.php

Untracked files:
  (use "git add ..." to include in what will be committed)


no changes added to commit (use "git add" and/or "git commit -a")
We need to add 5 new files to GIT and update 2 files.
git add .deployment config/application.config.old module/demo/ web.config
git commit -am 'First commit of our Demo API'
We still have a small challenge in regards to the Apigility project itself. All our code is still tight directly to the project's repository. We rename the remote location of ZF-Apigility-Skeleton from origin to upstream.
git remote rename origin apigility
Time to create a new project on GitHub for our demo. Log into your account on GitHub or register for a new account. Once in your account, register a new repository.
new repo on GitHub
You will get instructions to add your online repository to your local GIT repository, but in basis it comes down to the following commands.
git remote add origin
git push -u origin master
Check back online to see your code is there.
verify on GitHub
All is looking good so far. Let's leave our code for a minute because we now want to deploy on Microsoft Azure.

Azure time

Microsoft Azure is a cloud platform operated by Microsoft which provides a rich set of services and option to fulfill your scalability needs. One of the benefits of this platform over others is that it provides a platform as a service (PaaS) in the form of Azure Websites allowing you to "just deploy" your existing application to the cloud without a bunch of headaches and reconfigurations.
Especially in the world of PHP web application development, this is a huge benefit to launch prototypes, try scalability improvements and so on. The fact it runs IIS on a Windows OS in the background should not hold you down. PHP runs as good on Windows as on Linux.
If you don't have a Microsoft Azure account yet, you can sign up for the free trial and try out these steps yourself.
azure free
Once signed up you will be taken to the management dashboard. This is where the magic happens. We need to create a new website, so we click on the "+" (plus sign) in the lower left corner and select "compute", "new webiste" and select "custom create".
new website
You will be presented with a popup where you can set a name for your app, create or use an existing hosting plan, your preferred region and a database (optional). The last item is what we were looking for: publish from source control.
website settings
The next screen will provide a collection of publishing options you can choose from. Of course in this example we select GitHub as publisher.
github publisher
It will use OAuth authentication to gain access to your personal repositories, so you can select the correct repository from a drop-down list and define the branch you want to monitor for changes. We just take the default branch "master".
github repo selection
Once all detailes are filled out, the magic starts happening: a new website instance will be created, your code will be deployed on this instance and your composer installation will be executed. All in one go.
auto deployment
When the publishing is finished, a simple process log showing you exactly what was executed. A more detailed log is available for the deployment after publishing (the composer installation of packages).
deployment succesful

We're live

So if you followed these instructions completed, we are now live with our API. Let's check it!
curl -i
This will give us the following response
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Length: 549
Content-Type: application/hal+json
Server: Microsoft-IIS/8.0
X-Powered-By: PHP/5.4.34
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
Set-Cookie: ARRAffinity=2ffde9a06ea00acd603e02c27a9e6799c74c65620925e3f7a78146f02026b7a9;Path=/;
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:48:35 GMT

{"_links":{"self":{"href":"http:\/\/\/v1\/user"}},"_embedded":{"user":[{"id":1,"firstName":"Matthew","lastName":"Weier O\u0027Phinney","_links":{"self":{"href":"http:\/\/\/v1\/user\/1"}}},{"id":2,"firstName":"Zeev","lastName":"Suraski","_links":{"self":{"href":"http:\/\/\/v1\/user\/2"}}},{"id":3,"firstName":"Enrico","lastName":"Zimuel","_links":{"self":{"href":"http:\/\/\/v1\/user\/3"}}}]},"total_items":3}
All good, what about our entity?
curl -i
Gives us back the entity of Zeev Suraski.
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Length: 135
Content-Type: application/hal+json
Server: Microsoft-IIS/8.0
X-Powered-By: PHP/5.4.34
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
Set-Cookie: ARRAffinity=2ffde9a06ea00acd603e02c27a9e6799c74c65620925e3f7a78146f02026b7a9;Path=/;
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2014 08:50:48 GMT



Apigility allows you to build and manage API's very easily. Combining this flexibility with the cloud power of Microsoft Azure you will have a very powerful tool to build scalable, high performance and easy to manage API's.

Monday, October 20, 2014

From idea to production instantly

I know you had it often: you had this crazy idea and worked out a quick prototype and want to share it with the world. So you start up your personal VMS or a VM in the cloud, push your code there and you're happy, all is working.

But this prototype, just like all the other prototypes, grows into a heavily used and very important tool and before you know it you're pushing updates a couple of times a day to production. This still sounds familiar?

And when you're really facing an important update of your code base, all of a sudden you need to spend additional attention to things like heartbleed, shellshock or any other important security exploit that requires immediate updates of all your servers and systems.

Coming from a systems engineering role in the early days of the millennium this shouldn't be a problem for me, but I've got such a passion for development I don't care anymore about everything underneath my code. As long as things are running my way, I rather opt for a full platform as a service (PaaS) than for an infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

What do I use? Microsoft Azure. Yes, I run most of my PHP on Windows, who would have thought that! The reason is simple. If I have my code on GitHub it takes me 5 minutes to create a new instance, hook up my GitHub account and have my application up-and-running in a cloud environment where I don't need to worry about the security of everything below my application. As long I've ensured my application is secured, I know I'm safe. Microsoft Azure will take care of all security below my application.

And I love continuous delivery, so I hook up my Jenkins-CI to my GitHub repo, run my tests and other build steps before the code is merged into a release branch, the branch I hooked up to my Microsoft Azure account so the moment all build steps pass successfully, the code is pushed to production in one, swift transaction.

I love being a developer and I hate spending time patching and updating the platforms that I need to support my applications. Microsoft Azure offers me an easy, affordable and stress-free environment to deploy and maintain my applications in a continuous way. Sign up for the free trial and try it yourself if you don't believe me.
Come and see me at ZendCon where I will be talking about "the continuous PHP pipeline" where I go deeper into the whole flow from idea to production and beyond. And if needed, I will be able to do a live demo getting a scalable solution instantly without the hassle of maintenance. Yes, I love releasing code 5 minutes before I leave on a holiday. And I love you to experience it too.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Leaving PHPTek

As I'm waiting for my flight at Chicago O'Hare airport, I decided it was a good time to write up my experiences I had at PHPTek in Chicago. I can describe the event as AWESOME as I met a ton of new people and learned quite a bit during the sessions and in hallway tracks.

If you're not familiar with PHPTek, let me enlighten you a bit. PHPTek is an annual PHP conference organised by php[architect], the company that publishes books and a monthly magazine. Each year PHPTek is being held in Chicago (USA). Even though this conference is a commercial conference by nature, once you attend it you don't feel that commercial pressure at all. The talks are all technical or soft-skill related without service or product sales pitches which makes PHPTek a great conference to attend if you're a developer. For business owners, managers and other non-technical folks it's also a great conference as you get in touch with an international community of PHP developers and businesses that allow you to establish long-lasting relationships and first class support on products or services you might use from the sponsors of the event.

This edition of PHPTek the crew behind the conference really raised the bar compared to last year. The food was incredibly good, the sessions were divided better with enough time between sessions to talk to speakers, get a drink or have a smoke. The crew created a schedule where more than once I had to decide between sessions and not once I regretted making a tough choice.

In2it sponsoring the PHPTek Open Spaces
It was also the first year that the conference offered "open spaces" besides the presentations which my company in2it sponsored. The concept of open spaces is simple: you have a round table discussion about a subject for the length of a regular talk, and the topic can be anything: keysigning, community discussions or business/customer discussions to improve the products or services. Each slot the open spaces was taken and it was great to see lots of people had great discussions there. So on behalf of in2it: thank you all for participating and we hope to be able to sponsor this opportunity again next year.

Ben Marks discussing Magento with users
The evening socials were inspiring, educative and above all: a lot of fun. From boardgames to hackathon, all was possible.

So all in all, I had a blast learning a ton of new things I need to try out at home and I'm really happy to have seen so many new faces. I hope to keep seeing them in the future at any other conference on this planet. And I would like to express my gratitude to the organisers of PHPTek, because they pulled of a great event and I'm already looking forward to next year's edition of PHPTek!
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