David Lundgren

Web Developer & Systems Administrator

The allure of static proxies

Several weeks ago I started playing with Laravel. Primarily because several colleagues are using it, and have suggested that I take a look at it. During my time reviewing how to build a view template I came across references to Html, Form, View and other static calls. Initially I was not impressed due to the use of so many static calls. I have come to an understanding about how static calls in certain circumstances can actually enhance code readability.

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SPL FileObject & LimitIterator

Over that last couple of weeks I’ve come to use the SPL far more than I have in the past. The SplFileObject for reading CSV files is far more convenient than the fgetcsv() function, and associated code needed for a CSV file. Using the LimitIterator allowed me to easily bypass the first row of the CSV, as they were headers and I knew the format of those headers.

$csv = new \SplFileObject("some-file.csv");
$csv->setFlags(\SplFileObject::READ_CSV | \SplFileObject::READ_AHEAD |
               \SplFileObject::SKIP_EMPTY | \SplFileObject::DROP_NEW_LINE);
foreach (new \LimitIterator($csv, 1) as $row) {
    /** process the rows **/

That was fast for iterating the CSV, the previous code I had for doing this was more verbose about processing for the header row, making it a little more error prone. Take a look at the setCsvControl() method on SplFileObject for more fine grained control over the delimiter, enclosure and escape parsing.

The SPL LimitIterator has also come in handy in another project. This time though I was using a SQL union in a query to merge two separate datasets and I only wanted to list the first 12 out of a potentially larger number of objects.

$sql = '(SELECT id, somestuff FROM somedb.sometable)
        (SELECT id, otherstuff FROM otherdb.othertable) ORDER BY `date` DESC';
$data = [];

// $db is a ZF1 adapter object
foreach ($db->query($sql) as $row) {
    $data[$row['id'][] = $row;

foreach ($data as $id => $d1) {
    foreach (new \LimitIterator(new \ArrayIterator($data), 0, 12) as $id => $row) {
        /** process the rows **/

I didn’t use the following code in the end, but it did work. I suspected, but didn’t confirm, that MySQL’s GROUP BY MAY introduce unknown bugs to the data imported, so I used the above method instead. Here is an example of how the SPL MultipleIterator could be used:

$sql = 'SELECT id, GROUP_CONCAT(`type`) `type`,
               GROUP_CONCAT(`date`) `date`,
               GROUP_CONCAT(`path`) `path`,
               GROUP_CONCAT(`synced`) `synced`
        FROM somedb.sometable
        GROUP BY id, `date` DESC';
foreach ($db->query($sql) as $row) {
    $id = $row['id'];
    // build our array iterators
    $typeArray = new \ArrayIterator(explode(',', $row['type']));
    $dateArray = new \ArrayIterator(explode(',', $row['date']));
    $pathArray = new \ArrayIterator(explode(',', $row['path']));
    $syncArray = new \ArrayIterator(explode(',', $row['synced']));

    // build the main iterator
    $iterator = new \MultipleIterator(\MultipleIterator::MIT_KEYS_ASSOC);

    // make the array iterators combinable into a single array entry
    $iterator->attachIterator($typeArray, 'type');
    $iterator->attachIterator($dateArray, 'date');
    $iterator->attachIterator($pathArray, 'path');
    $iterator->attachIterator($syncArray, 'synced');

    // The array keys of $data will be as set in the attachIterator()
    // method of the MultipleIterator
    foreach(new \LimitIterator($iterator, 0, 12) as $data) {
        /** process the data **/
        if ($data['synced'] == (int)1) {

Take a look at the Standard PHP Library for ideas on using the other iterators, data structures, and objects that bring potential for more readable code into your life. They’ve simplified my life a bit because now I don’t have to keep track of variables just to handle counts and other things for state.

When does Dependency Injection become an anti-pattern?

During my tenure as a seasoned, and tenderized, PHP developer I have used many design patterns: adapters, factories, data mappers, facades, etc. The most recent one that I have been working with is Dependency Injection. Inversion of Control is not a new idea, at least not in the programming world, but in the PHP world it seems to have taken us by storm in recent years. Every framework will often have a Dependency Injector built in, or offer it as a component for use. It is the hip thing to do in PHP, but I believe we need to take a step back and evaluate it for what we are really trying to achieve. That is reducing the tight coupling that our objects may have. I view it as removing the new-able’s from our objects code, and handing the object creation over to something else to deal with. Read further on how I believe DI can become an anti-pattern.

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