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#Suphle Rant 3: Road to PHP8, Flow travails
Some primer: Flows is a feature that causes the framework to bypass handling the request now but read it from cache. This cache entry is meant to be populated without warming, based on the preceding request. It's sort of like prefetching but done on the back end
While building Suphle, I made some notes on some chapters about caveats and gotchas I may forget while documenting. One such note was that when users make the Flow request, the framework will attempt to determine who user is, using authentication mechanism defined on the first module (of the modular monolith)
Now, I got to this point during documentation and started wondering whether it's impossible for the originating request to have used a different authentication mechanism, which would result in an empty entry for returning user. I *think* it's possible cuz I've got something else called "route mirroring", where web based routes can be converted to API routes. They'll then return JSON, get served under defined API path, use JWT, all automatically. But I just couldn't connect the dots for the life of me, regarding how any of this could impact authentication on the Flow request
While trying to figure out how to write the test for this or whether it was even necessary (since I had no use case), it struck me that since Flow requests are not triggered by an actual user, any code attempting to read authenticated user will see nothing!
I HATE it when I realize there's ambiguity or an oversight, after the amount of attention and suffering devoted. This, along with a chain of personal troubles set off despondency for a couple of days. No appetite for food or talk. Grudgingly refactored in this update over some days. Wrote some tests, not all passed. More pain. May have to convert them to unit tests
For clarity, my expectation is, I built this. Nothing should be impossible for me
Surprisingly, I caught a somewhat lucky break –an ex colleague referred me to the 1st gig I'm getting in 1+ year. It's about writing a plugin for some obscure forum software. I'm not too excited cuz it's poorly documented and I'll have to do a lot of groping, they use arrays instead of objects etc. There's no guarantee I'll find how to implement all client's requirements
While brooding last night, surfing the PHP subreddit, stumbled on a post about using Rector to downgrade a codebase. I've always been interested in the reverse but didn't have any incentive to fret over it. Randomly googled and saw a post promising a codebase can be upgraded with 3 commands in 5 minutes to PHP 8. Piqued my interest around 12:something AM. Stayed up all night upgrading it, replacing PHPSTAN with Psalm, initializing the guy's project, merging Flow auth with master etc. I think it may have taken 5 minutes without the challenge of getting local dev environment to PHP 8
My mood is much lighter than it was, although the battle is not won yet –image tests are failing. For some weird reason, PHP8 can't read generated test images. Hope I can ride on that newfound lease on life to study the forum and get the features working
I have some other rant but this is already a lot to digest in one sitting. See you in rant #4
I am busting moves rn. I'm in the bathroom but the surge of energy is making me pump my arms like the time Leo Messi scored a clutch winner against Valencia in 2019
Remember the plugin I referred to in this rant? https://devrant.com/rants/6019851/...
Yup! I managed to subdue that fossilised codebase. Effected all changes required. To have a rough idea about how ancient the code is, its classes use constructors predating PHP 5. It throws away the ~15 years of autoloading, view templates, routing engines, DI, ORMs (NO PDO!!), lower-cased multi word variable names, etc. I'm looking at SCRIPTS with raw functions north of 4-600 lines. The client insisted I zip the folder across
BUT! The good news is, we surmounted it. In fairness to them, it's commendable for one man to have pulled this off. The codebase is massive and appears to have been predominantly written by some Gideon dude. Who knows where he is now
There is one pattern I appreciate –something I wish Transphporm does–some segments of the rendered view are composed using class methods ie instead of having the HTML file mixed with templating syntax, you have class methods that receive the raw data. Then you can extend this class as you wish, overriding just the method that composes the segment you intend to modify. That was elegant to work with. But it can become dreadful if the class expects a specific structure of data (an array with weird keys) that you have no access to sourcing
So, I finally get to enjoy one good evening in 2/3 weeks. I called 2 friends to express an emotion that's not gloomy, but they were unavailable. Will probably get some sleep4
#Suphle Rant 4: Laravel closing the gap II
I had expected rant 4 to come at least, some days later. Apparently, I'd miscalculated how fast things work in this wonderful world of software. In an earlier rant, I wrote about how dismayed I was to learn laravel had implemented one suphle feature I'm very proud about. They call it Premonition. Idk if it's officially rolled out yet but you can do a search among accepted pull requests for what it's all about
Well, today, I've just seen a draft from one of their maintainers showing one of the things suphle was designed to do: https://twitter.com/enunomaduro/.... They can't integrate it with this pattern since php doesn't have generics, so it'll either get trashed or with plastered as some band aid. In suphle docs, I explicitly indicated the data structure/typing for that feature is a polyfill for the absence of generics
I think I can get away with it because of where I'm using it (model authorization instead of custom exceptions/throwable operations, in general, like theirs)
I don't feel as distraught as I did on finding the Premonition thingy. Am I impressed with these things dawning on them? Ffs Laravel was invented in 2011. It's incredulous to think it gave me hell for years. Waited ~2 years for me to fix all issues in a brand new framework, only to magically gain iq points and start improving their work
It's weird and brutal. If they keep figuring stuff out, it may not be long before there are no features unique to suphle. Then, my worst nightmares will come to life. I will argue there's one thing nobody will ever copy, not without rethinking the mvc architecture in its entirety.2
#Suphle Rant 5: Xavi
When I first detailed what it was I was working on to my brother and its expected impact on the industry, I must have done so with an enormous amount of enthusiasm that he impatiently began to request when the dream will be realised. He didn't give a shit about specifics of where I was on the timeline. He kept repeating the same question. Exasperated with the futility of my explanations, I replied that I'd be done by November as this was far beyond my estimated completion date
Every milestone (e.g. my birthday) I've expected it to be ready at has come and gone, including the unrealistic November. My present state of mind is far from the optimistic pioneer I was then. I'm just going with the flow and won't be surprised if it's not officially released by the end of the year
This gonna be me in 2072, convincing anyone who cares to listen that I'm fleshing out the docs and that the reason the release date keeps getting pushed back is because nobody has shown interest in either using or contributing to it
#Suphle Rant 2: Michael's obduration
For the uninitiated, Suphle is a PHP framework I built. This is the 2nd installment in my rants on here about it.
Some backstory: A friend and I go back ~5 years. Let's call him Michael. He was CTO of the company we worked at. After his emigration, they seem to have taught him some new stack and he needed somewhere to practise it on. That stack was Spring Boot and Angular. He and his pals convinced product owner at our workplace to rebuild the project (after 2+ years of active development) from scratch using these new techs. One thing led to the other, and I left the place after some months.
Fast forward a year later, dude hits me up to broach an incoming gig he wants us to collab on. Asks where I'm at now, and I reply I took the time off to build Suphle. Told him it's done already and it contains features from Spring, Rust, Nest and Rails; basically, I fixed everything they claimed makes PHP nonviable for enterprise software, added features from those frameworks that would attract a neutral party. Dude didn't even give me audience. I only asked him to look at the repo's readme to see what it does. That's faster than reading the tests (since the docs are still in progress). He stopped responding.
He's only the second person who has contacted me for a gig since I left. Both former colleagues. Both think lowly of PHP, ended up losing my best shot at earning a nickel while away from employed labour. It definitely feels like shooting myself in the foot.
I should take up his offer, get some extra money to stay afloat until Suphle's release. But he's adamant I use Spring. Even though Laravel is the ghetto, I would grudgingly return to it than spend another part of my life fighting to get the most basic functionality up and running without a migraine in Spring. This is a framework without an official documentation. You either have to rely on baeldung or mushroom blogs. Then I have to put up with mongodb (or nosql, in short).
I want to build a project I'm confident and proud about delivering, one certified by automated tests for it, something with an architecture I've studied extensively before arriving at. Somewhere to apply all the research that was brainstormed before this iteration of Suphle was built.
I want autonomy, not to argue over things I'm sure about. He denied me this when we worked together. I may not mind swallowing them for the money, but a return to amateur mode in Spring is something I hope I never get to experience soon
So, I'm wondering: if his reaction reflects the general impression PHP has among developers globally, it means I've built a castle on a sinking ship. If someone who can vouch for me as a professional would prefer not to have anything to do with PHP despite my reassurance it'll be difficult to convince others within and beyond that there could be a more equipped alternative to their staple tool. Reminds me of the time the orchestra played to their deaths while the titanic sank16
#Suphle Rant 6: Deptrac, phparkitect
This entry isn't necessarily a rant but a tale of victory. I'm no more as sad as I used to be. I don't work as hard as I used to, so lesser challenges to frustrate my life. On top of that, I'm not bitter about the pace of progress. I'm at a state of contentment regarding Suphle's release
An opportunity to gain publicity presented itself last month when cfp for a php event was announced last month. I submitted and reviewed a post introducing suphle to the community. In the post, I assured readers that I won't be changing anything soon ie the apis are cast in stone. Then php 7.4 officially "went out of circulation". It hit me that even though the code supports php 8 on paper, it's kind of a red herring that decorators don't use php 8 attributes. So I doubled down, suspending documentation.
The container won't support union and intersection types cuz I dislike the ambiguity. Enums can't be hydrated. So I refactored implementation and usages of decorators from interfaces to native attributes. Tried automating typing for all class properties but psalm is using docblocks instead of native typing. So I disabled it and am doing it by hand whenever something takes me to an unfixed class (difficulty: 1). But the good news is, we are php 8 compliant as anybody can ask for!
I decided to ride that wave and implement other things that have been bothering me:
1) 2 commands for automating project setup for collaborators and user facing developers (CHECK)
2) transferring some operations from runtime to compile/build TIME (CHECK)
3) re-attempt implementing container scopes
I tried automating Deptrac usage ie adding the newly created module to the list of regulated architectural layers but their config is in yaml, so I moved to phparkitect which uses php to set the rules. I still can't find a library for programmatically updating php filed/classes but this is more dynamic for me than yaml. I set out to implement their library, turns out the entire logic is dumped into the command class, so I can neither control it without the cli or automate tests to it. I take the command apart, connect it to suphle and run. Guess what, it detects class parents as violations to the rule. Wtflyingfuck?!
As if that's not bad enough, roadrunner (that old biatch!) server setup doesn't fail if an initialization script fails. If initialization script is moved to the application code itself, server setup crumbles and takes the your initialization stuff down with it. I ping the maintainer, rustacian (god bless his soul), who informs me point blank that what I'm trying to do is not possible. Fuck it. I have to write a wrapper command for sequentially starting the server (or not starting if initialization operations don't all succeed).
Legitimate case to reinvent the wheel. I restored my deleted decorators that did dependency sanitation for me at runtime. The remaining piece of the puzzle was a recursive film iterator to feed the decorators. I checked my file system reader for clues on how to implement one and boom! The one I'd written for two other features was compatible. All I had to do was refactor decorators into dependency rules, give them fancy interfaces for customising and filtering what classes each rule should actually evaluate. In a night's work (if you're discrediting how long writing the original sanitization decorators and directory iterator), I coupled the Deptrac/phparkitect library of my dreams. This is one of the those few times I feel like a supreme deity
Hope I can eat better and get some sleep. This meme is me after getting bounced by those three library rejections
#Suphle Rant 1: Laravel closing the gap
This is the first of a series of long overdue rants regarding Suphle, because I have had so so much to grumble about over the last ~2 years building it. A bit of introduction: I compiled a list of all the challenges I faced in my time as a salaried PHP developer. I also gathered issues complained about by other developers in a laravel group I'm part of, and decided to solve them at the framework level since they're avoidable. I also borrowed impressive features encountered in my time working with other languages and invented a new one, as well. I quit my job last July, still haven't get a new one yet cuz office workload kept conflicting with Suphle development. I concluded all work and testing on it back in August/September but it's yet to be officially released since the docs is still in progress.
Anyway, yesterday, I stumbled upon what is IMO the most progressive /tangible update I've seen in all my time following Laravel updates. It's called [precognition](don't have enough rep to post the PR link but you can search on their repo), and contains features that are actually beneficial to both developer and end user. It also turns out to be functionality that was part of Suphle's bragging rights. Their DX is still tacky but I'm devastated cuz it's a matter of time before they work it out. Makes me wonder what the quality of all I've built would be in a year if it doesn't become big enough to attract frequent contribution. I guess there's only so much one can do against a community.
Later that evening, I found a developer from my country on twitter who claims to be making a decent living. A little snooping around his profile informed me he's building his own back end framework but in NodeJS. I know with every degree of certainty that what he'll eventually do can't hold a candle against Suphle in overall functionality or thoroughness. Not a dick measuring contest but when your motive isn't significant innovation, you'll neither plan properly nor even know what exactly to build. You'll just reinvent the wheel as an academic exercise
Yet, I can't help but have that sinking feeling he's winging it, while making a windfall with his dozens of freelance projects. It kind of feels like I shortchanged myself, and Suphle's shelf life will suffer the same fate as a hobby project for 10 stars (which I don't even have yet!!). I reached out to him to rub minds together but he ignored. More pain.
I'll get over this and return to work on the docs, but from the look of things, the end isn't an appealing or expected /deserved one