usable in any place a human can be used


2 months

[caption id="attachment_864" align="aligncenter" width="590" caption="that\'s a pretty sweet logo"]Faveroo Logo[/caption]

On June 3rd I typed the following into my Terminal.

mkdir faveroo
cd faveroo
git init

On August 15th I typed the following into my Terminal.

cd ~/src/faveroo
php deploy.php production

Then I watched and held my breath as my carefully crafted deployment script worked its way through 2 months of code and pushed them across the line. Then I fired up my browser and went to and waited for the now familiar homepage to show up... I'm sure it took less than a second to load, but it seemed like an eternity, finally it was up. I worked for the next few hours exercising the application through all its various operations, squishing little bugs here and there that popped up from being in a different environment. Two months of development, and finally it was live, and it actually worked. A few hours later we started hooking up people with sweet deals and putting money in the bank, mission accomplished. is my first project at my new job at 614 Media Group. It was a skunkworks project up through the end of July, so I couldn't come to this blog and talk about it. I did all of the coding for Faveroo and my colleague Jeff Guciardo did all the design work to make it look so pretty (it's probably the prettiest thing I've ever had the opportunity to create). The basic premise of the website is that our team of dedicated sales people go and find great local deals, then we throw them up on, and then we help people save some cash. When you buy a Faveroo you save some money, the business makes money, we make money, and 3% of the sale automatically goes to charity, it's win-win-win-win. But I'm neither marketing nor sales, so I will stick with what I know and what I knows is tech, so let's talk about that for a minute.

Faveroo is a PHP website that includes the public frontend, a private backend, and a series of maintenance scripts that make sure everything works like clockwork. When I was starting up the Faveroo project I was given carte blanche as to how to build it. All of our other web properties use the classic LAMP stack, so to keep operations fairly sane and because I deeply love PHP, I decided to build out Faveroo on a classic LAMP stack as well. The code is Object Oriented, nearly MVC, PHP 5.2 code. I looked around, had been for a long time, at various PHP Web Frameworks. I had just come off of working with rails on a side project and so I knew the joy and frustration of work with a framework.

As you may be aware, I'm crazy in love with Flourish and decided that I would use it as a major component. I have been a fan of Flourish for a while now, probably over a year, but this was the first big application I was going to use it on, and really the first large scale from scratch application I have ever written. Now don't get me wrong, I'm no rookie to this slinging code stuff, I've maintained huge legacy applications, built middle-ware up from nothing, and even rewritten large applications to the point that almost all of the original code has been replaced. But this would be the first time that if I didn't like something in my code, it was because I was the stupid jack-ass that made such a boneheaded decision. Well, not the first time, but the first time I couldn't easily blame someone else ;)

I want to say that the decision to go with Flourish is probably what made the rapid turn around time possible. It's a wonderful library that helps you do things right but doesn't force you to do anything you don't need. The thing that amazed me as I used it is I started off only wanting to pull bits and pieces, maybe some fCryptography here and a little fMessaging there, but as I got familiar (and boy howdy did I get familiar) with the docs, I just found more and more amazing functionality and a beautifully coherent system. Flourish was clearly written to be used, and by the end of the project I found I was using almost every class. It's clearly a tool written for real world use from real world experience.

Flourish and jQuery are really the 2 big external dependencies for Faveroo, the rest of the code was written by me. I found this minimal system worked very well for me. I wrote a router in about 100 lines of PHP code, it's nothing earth shattering but I think it has a few novel ideas. I've since built a new version of this router that is shorter and has less complex code paths. At some point in the future I may try to make a more generic version of this router and release it open source. All of the model classes are fairly straightforward using the excellent fActiveRecord as a base.

I spent about a week spinning up my minimalist framework, but it paid off big. I knew how the system worked every step of the way, and more importantly, I could alter it in minor ways to achieve dramatic results. All of this is possible with established frameworks, but here I got away without having to climb up a learning curve. This gave me more time to understand the problem domain and to learn how to best use Flourish.

With this experience under my belt I'm looking forward to continuing to learn, and hopefully to contribute back to, Flourish and PHP development in general. This project has shown me that in 2 months I can go from nothing to cash hitting the bank account. I feel reinvigorated to make cool things that add value to people's lives and reassured of my abilities as a programmer. After a long period feeling burned out and wasted, I remember why I love programming, and why I love creating, and why this is the only thing I can ever see myself doing.



[caption id="attachment_859" align="alignleft" width="204" caption="Flourish\'s sweet logo"]flourish logo[/caption]

Looks like my claim of writing fast and furious didn't come to pass, oh well. For the last few weeks I've been working on a hush hush project for work. It's not done yet but we are nearing the end of the road for the MVP to be released soon. I wanted to write a quick update to discuss what it's been like getting back on my developer feet after burning out.

First off I'm engaged in my work again. For months I had felt disconnected, on autopilot, just trying to get through the day and hit some milestones. Secondly, I enjoyed playing cowboy for a while but have cone to realize that not all the habits I picked up in Corporate America were bad. Thirdly, I'm back to getting serious amounts of work done and am solving interesting problems.

Enough touchy feely hippie bullshit, let's get down to some business. I've been building a largish scale php application for the last couple of weeks and I wanted to reflect on the process.

I started off looking at various php frameworks a few weeks before starting this new project. I had kept an ear to the ground in the php framework area since forever so I knew the big players. I had also dabbled in some ruby on rails so I knew the bliss of when a framework gets it right, and the frustration of running up against something you would have done differently.

I looked into several frameworks CakePHP, Symfony, Zend Framework, Fat Free PHP, Yii, Noloh, and Recess! to name a few. They were all quite interesting but they all felt oddly foreign. Imagine if ruby on rails came out and it was a port of .Net web forms for ruby, blech. All the frameworks I looked at felt like they were trying to pave over PHP and make it into ruby lite or .Net lite. Each one was well put together on the whole and with some effort I'm sure I could have become proficient in any of them. Then I remembered an old friend I had played with before, Will Bond's unframework Flourish.

If you haven't taken a look before I urge you to do so now. Flourish is exactly what PHP needs, a strong core of classes geared toward common web tasks, with an eye towards simplicity, security, and consistency. After having used Flourish for a few weeks I can do nothing but sing its praises. Let me say that working with the combination of Flourish + PHP is a completely different experience than just writing PHP. Flourish gives you a sane construct around which you can build high quality applications. Here's a list of things Flourish provides:

  • Cross Database support for DB2, MSSQL, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and SQLite

  • An extremely good ActiveRecord implementation

  • Filesystem with psuedo-transactions

  • Safe consistent handling of Requests

  • Session handling with special resources for Authentication

  • Classes for creating HTML including a quality Templating mechanism

  • Great Utility classes (think ActiveRecord rails people)

  • Amazing Email support

  • Classes for handling Dates, Numbers, and Money

  • High quality Exceptions and Handling Facilities

The thing that you will notice with Flourish is that it's a library that's seen real world use. It provides a high quality core but understands that it shouldn't try to be everything to everyone. The components interoperate nicely but you also function in isolation quite capably. It truly hits all the high points you would want from a library, but there is even more.

DOCUMENTATION: The Flourish documentation is some of the best I've ever seen. There is full PHPDoc for every class, which is nice, but more importantly there is "Class Documentation" that explains how the class is intended to be used, with code examples to get you started. The documentation is written very well and is incredibly in-depth. You could sit down and read it like a book, it's that good.

COMMUNITY: The Flourish discussion boards are active and I have never seen a posting go unanswered. Will Bond himself usually answers within a few hours of your posting, I know he has more than once helped me fix some tricky bug or better explained how something worked to me. The ability to reach out and communicate with the author is amazing, it also makes you want to provide support for the project.

CONSISTENCY: The Flourish API is amazingly consistent. I keep finding myself saying, "That's how I would have written it" while using it. If you learn how fCookie works, you know how fSession works, and you even know how fRequest works. Flourish simplifies things to the point that it's worth it to go the extra mile to add a bit of security to your code, because it makes it dead simple. Then you look back and realize that it also has helped you write self-documenting code, and jesus, did it just fucking cut my lawn too, what the hell?

SECURITY: As I alluded to earlier, Flourish encourages writing secure code. Flourish takes security seriously enough to have an entire compendium on just that topic and how it relates to PHP. My code is definitely more secure now that I use Flourish, from better security in parsing Request variables, to easily preventing Cross Site Request Forgeries, Flourish has you covered.

Ok, so I didn't really expect this to turn into a huge love fest about how much I love Flourish but that's where we are at. I want to over the course of a few blog posts really explore Flourish. I haven't fully figured out what format these are going to take, but if you are a PHP developer who wants to take their code to the next level, stay tuned.