Today we're releasing our What's New in PHP 5.5 and 5.6 Refcard, authored by DZone MVB Luis Atencio. Luis has been a Staff Software Engineer focusing on Java and PHP at Citrix Systems and we spoke with him to talk a little bit about his background and the PHP Refcard.
DZone: Could you tell us a little bit about your professional background and how it contributed to your writing of the PHP 5.5 and 5.6 Refcard?
Luis Atencio: I have been working at Citrix as a software engineer in both Java/PHP for about 8 years now. Also, I have a Masters Degree in Computer Science, an author of PHPArch magazine as well as my one blog site: http://luisatencio.net, with many topics on PHP.
DZone: Briefly explain why this Refcard is a must-have resource for developers working with PHP.
Luis: As developers we see ourselves flooded with information. The community, especially PHP, is such a fast-pace community that keeping track of all of the platform changes and new bells and whistles can be challenging. This Refcard can be used as quick go-to reference for everything PHP 5.5 and 5.6.
DZone: What do you think are the most common problems developers face when dealing with PHP?
Luis: This is difficult to answer. I've met a lot of PHP developers, and the typical scenario is that they would not use any other language to work with. Which I think is a bad approach. I think there are many great languages out there, each with their own strengths. So, the only way I can answer with some common problems where I think there is room for improvement.
- There are a lot of PHP calls that are redundant or kind of do the same things. There are other native functions that are very specialized. I think the language should be a bit tighter and instead of solving every task, provide the mechanism to write extensible code.
- I would also like a consistent way to acquire external third-party code. Some are packaged via extensions, others via userland code in the form of libraries. Making this consistent will remove a lot of the confusion.
- Better editor tools. One thing I wrestle with is that to perform unit tests I need to manually install a tool like phpunit and configure my editor to use it. Even the better payed IDEs work this way. It would be nice to have this out of the box.
DZone: Tell us about an interesting project you are working on now.
Luis: We are building a learning system for Citrix. Our first project was based on Moodle. And while that had some good things, we faced many challenges. So we decided to modernize it into a completely new architecture based on the Laravel MVC framework.
DZone: Please recommend some more resources for readers looking to learn about PHP.
Luis: Aside from PHP.net (the leader when it comes to PHP), I recommend subscribing to phparch magazine. There is a lot of great content in there.
DZone: Anything else you’d like to add?
Luis: I think the future of PHP is bright and, with the competition from HHVM, it will be even better. The newly introduced language platforms are really compelling and I am looking forward to using it even more.