Zend Framework Application Patterns at DPC10

I’m currently in the fine city of Amsterdam enjoying what is incredibly my first PHP conference in ten years of developing with the language! Yesterday was tutorial day, with the full conference starting today, and I sat in Zend Framework Application Patterns by the informative and engaging Matthew Weier O’Phinney and Rob Allen.

The session was excellent, well worth attending, and dipped into many areas of ZF. Some of which I knew already, but there was certainly enough good tips on how to organise applications efficiently in ZF which I’ll be telling my team all about when I get back to the UK.

My notes from the tutorial day appear below, be warned they are rather long! You can also review the Zend Framework Workshop slides over at Slideshare.
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Admin sub-modules in Zend Framework

Modules in Zend Framework essentially allow us to organise a collection of controllers into sub-folders, giving URL to filesystem mapping such as:

domain.com/user/register -> app/modules/user/RegisterController.php

While useful when we need to expand our URLs (and organisation of code) beyond one set of controllers, there are a few things they don’t currently solve which I think would make them first-class citizens within ZF.
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Falling foul of special characters

These days its pretty standard to require support for multiple languages and special characters on your website. But it’s still terribly easy to trip up and make mistakes, usually indicated by weird characters popping up across your web content. Here’s a few tips on how to sort out your character encoding.
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Designers vs Developers

Last Thursday I participated in the latest CamCreative meetup, an evening of debate entitled “Designers vs Developers”. The evening was run by Nick Welsh who had prepared a number of problems that designers have with devs and vice versa. The idea was these questions would be discussed by the audience in roughly two halves of designers and devs and then Steve O’Connor (designer camp) and I (developer camp) would air our collected views to varied heckling.
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Standards marching on

With the launch of the iPad one of the striking things to me is its reliance on web standards. Apple’s own Technical Note on preparing websites for the iPad specifically states web developers should be using web standards for audio and video, specifically the HTML5 video and audio tags. If a large corporation like Apple is basically forcing web developers to use standards-based techniques to deliver content like video, chances are people will listen.

In this day and age you’d think standards was the assumed approach for all web agencies. From my experience, hardly so. Only last week I encountered two appalling coded sites via potential clients. One using tables for layout with no meaningful ALT text for images, the other a single image in a page with no text behind it (a 100% wide image too, which technically would work on an iPhone or iPad but be pretty much unreadable to everyone!). Both of which were from companies who claim to build websites as part of their professional services.

After following tweets from what sounded like an excellent An Event Apart, I heard about Eric Meyer’s talk on using media queries to deliver specific CSS depending on the device width or orientation. This means it’s possible to create flexible layouts for desktop and mobile simply with CSS (i.e. switching between a three column layout for desktop and a one column for mobile). Another great reason for using standards when developing for mobile or the iPad.

You can find out more about device orientation on Peter-Paul Koch’s site. There’s a summary of Eric’s talk over at Luke Wroblewski’s blog.