Symfony Day 2011 in Cologne

Symfony Day was amazing!!!

I love the community and it was great fun to see all the guys I already met during the last years and this year’s Symfony Live in Paris.

Again, a big THANK YOU to all organisers and of course all the people that make Symfony2 happen!

I just wanted to quickly paste my (sparse) notes that I took for myself – in case they help out someone else as well.

Basically, they are just some reminders for me of stuff that I wanted to check out.


  • Silex routes can use value() and assert() to be enhanced
  • Silex needs cookbook contributions
  • Silex can easily be functional tested (and require “” can have a return value!)


A shame, I never really looked at it before!? So take a closer look at and SPL in general

Links to follow/read

Pragmatic Programmer:


Check out – adminbundle

See, if it’s really that complicated as the talk made it seem

I did not note so much else, either because I already knew it, wanted to take a look at the presentations later, or player #sfdayjeopardy (thanks to Jeremy “Rick Astley” Mikola for that)

There’s one more thing

Actually, there were two things: Fabpot is a visionary! And his vision, of looking at Symfony2 not (only) as a framework but as a collection of several, individual and powerful components is great. MAYBE not for the developer looking for “a thing that does all the magik™” but for the more experienced one that can pick the best of a wide variety of components. Like some other PHP projects do now…

AND: Me, being a big fan of Propel, was happy to see all the momentum propulsion it got recently, including development support from inside sensio.

Hope to see you all again in June(?) in Paris and in November(?) in Berlin?


Quick post: I finished a bookmarklet, based on this years April Fool’s Day fun of

Klick this, it’s a JS call that will make some random letters of this website move.

Why I did it? Because it works!

You can save it as a bookmark(let) and use it on every webpage out there

1) Press the bookmark
2) Press multiple times for additional fun
3) Click one of the flying letters to make them go back where they belong.

Like it?

PS: “Fluchstaben” is a combination of the German words for “flying” and “letters” (“Flug” & “Buchstaben”)

A TURTED based real-time thing that I’m proud of…

I recently finished a nice little example of how to use real-time data for an exciting and equally relaxing view:

Blocker Champ Real Time

What’s that?
It shows a list of players and the number of games where it is their turn.
As soon as they make a move, they are moved to the new position with a nice animation.

Interestingly enough, the hardest part was the JQuery/UI animation stuff.
Since it already is based on the components that are soon to become the TURTED project the real time events were already there to be intercepted and used.

So, if you feel stressed, just sit back, relax and watch the squares move – the ZEN of Karopapier

JS Performance: Numbered Array vs Associative Array

In JS, you sometimtes have to keep track of lists. Usernames, sessions, available Pictures ,…
And often, you have to add and delete some of them.

So, how do you handle these lists? There are basically two options:

a) Good old numbered Array
b) Associative Array, key/value store


var users=[];


Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
An array keeps the order, you have numbered keys. However, deleting or finding an element requires you to walk through the array.

So, the question to me was: How about performance? How big is the difference?

Long story short:
In case you do not care about the order and will only have unique keys, use an associative array!
To add a value:
To get a value:
var myVal=assoArray[key];
To delete a key/value:

This is easy and performs much better. At least in my quickly hacked, unoptimised test you can find here: Simple test html
If you think I did something wrong, please enlighten me.

Get your APE up-to-date

After developing an APE application for quite some time now, it was time for me to install an APE server on the future production environment.

Since it created some hassle for me, not doing THIS every day, here’s a small log that might help you (or me some time later) to do the same, Upadate your APE server to the latest git version

I’m doing this on a debian 32 bit.

Since I am lazy, I will first install the deb package so I get all the nice entries in /etc/init.d, have the lib files placed in the correct directories…
And in a second step replace the ape version with the current one from github.

1: Install the “old” 1.0 package from the website

Download your package (like APE_Server-1.0.i386.deb) from to the machine.

Run dpkg -i APE_Server-1.0.i386.deb

In case this already fails, you might need to check if there are any libraries missing (see below)

2: Get the latest version

To get the latest version from github, I usually do

svn co
git clone

This will create a APE_Server.git directory in your current location. Now compile it:

3: Compile the new version

cd APE_Server.git

You can have different types of errors here, most of them related to the fact that you might not have all compilers or libraries installed. If this happens, try:

aptitude install make
aptitude install gcc
aptitude install g++
aptitude install python
aptitude install zip
aptitude install mysql

To be honest, I am not sure which libraries are required exactly – but this did the job for me. And if I could have installed the specific required libraries only I don’t care… as long as I get what I need.

After a finished compile (it can take a couple of seconds/minutes, warnings flying by…) you are ready to replace the existing ones.

4: Replace old files

Basically have to replace two files:

aped and

If running, stop your ape

/etc/init.d/ape-server stop

Copy the new files from your compile dir to their designated locations:

cp bin/aped /usr/bin/aped
cp modules/lib/ /usr/lib/ape/

(Paths may vary depending on system and linux distribution)

Restart your ape

/etc/init.d/ape-server start

If you connect to your ape server (e. g. with your browser, it should show you the version info with current build time

Corrections, additions, suggestions and comments welcome

APE User Handling – reduce the WTF (and why there is no getUserByName)

Having been struggeling with APE’s user management, sessions and related errors like Error 007 “NICK_USED”, I finally had to take the time to understand more in details, what is going on internally inside the ape-server regarding user management.

Because it is literally: Nothing.

WHAT? Yes, well, kind of…

Documentation again is not very good regarding this topic, so I tried to put up some stuff on my own – hope it helps

First of all, we need to understand what “Users” are.

What are APE users?

Questions like “Why is there no Ape.getUserByName?” are a natural question that I asked myself as well – but it only showed to me in the end that I did not fully understand the concept.

So the simple reason in a nutshell:

Web User != Ape User

In a setup with a client, a web server and an ape server, there is one most important thing:

The user (in terms of person using the web application) is not the user an ape server knows.

Web User: If your web appliction is referring to a “user”, it mostly is ONE person, having a nickname, a password, a name, an email… (called “web user” from now on)

Ape User: On an APE server, a user is “an instance of an object with a pubid and pipe that established a connection to the ape server and keeps polling”. (called “ape user [object]” now)

And with this said, the problem becomes obvious: APE does NOT AT ALL know or care about your web app’s user database and cannot relate to it.

Sure, in a default installation and configuration the APE server has some handling of the username (you will have experienced that when you tried to get your first ape project running). And you will have wondered, what those errors “006 BAD_NICK” or “007 NICK_USED” mean and where they come from.
But actually, it is not “APE” that is doing that, because the server does not care about nicknames or usernames. In fact, this comes from a file/module on the server called “nickname.js” – and it is in the “example” directory. And actually, this is what it’s meant to be: an example only!!!

Because in some cases, this can become a nightmare (especially, if the guy in front of your browser hits F5/Rrefresh) and might/does not fit your needs.

So, what then?

Good news: You have the total control of what you want to have
Bad news: You have to implement it.

Defining what you want, need and can do, requires some understanding of the interaction between the APE_JSF client framework and the APE server.

First of all and most important: consider the APE server to be DUMB! It’s just a stupid machine that waits for incoming connections and if told so, passes it on. It does not know about usernames of the web application and has NO CLUE AT ALL how two web users can exchange messages.

However, if there is a message incoming from an ape user’s pipe and it includes the info “pass this on to the pipe with pubid ‘0123456789abcdef'” it will happily do so – maybe resulting in a message to another web user, if your app works like this (basic chat).

So, what this means is:

  1. ape user objects have a pubid
  2. Your CLIENT (APE_JSF, JS on web browsers side) knows it’s own pubid. And in a public channel where there is an event when another ape user objects joins a channel, your client can TRACK other ape user objects (with pubid).
  3. Your client cannot send a message to a nickname, but to an ape user object (if it knows the pubid).
  4. How can your client know, which ape user object relates to which web user?

Enter: “nickname.js”!

The nickname.js default example requires the CLIENT to pass a “name” when establishing the connection to the ape server. And this “name” is stored on the server side in a hash (key-value-pair). Additionally, it is added to the ape user object as a property.
By this, it is possible on the client side to track the web-user <-> ape-user relation. If you listen to the userJoin event, you get the ape user object AND a property, telling you the web user name.

Now, on the server side, all the ape server does in this nice (and at the same time dreadful) “nickname.js”, is creating a hash with the web user nicknames.
So, whenever a new user (ape user) tries to register with a nickname (web user nickname), it checks the name against this hash. And if the nickname already is present, throws a well known error.

The main issue with this is, that whenever your client hits refresh, he will reconnect to the ape server and try to initialize a new ape user object and forget about the old object. This means, that the previous ape user object will remain on the server for the next 45 seconds (default time out) and you cannot connect a new users with the same nickname for this timeframe.

And all of this is handeled by nickname.js, allowing only “one web user at a time”.

Enter: “apeCoreSession.js”

or apeCore.js vs apeCoreSession.js – which one to use?

In your configuration you have to define which of the two files your client should use. This also implies some effects on you user handling.

Because with apeCoreSession, APE_JSF tries to re-attach to the previous session on every reload. This means, that when you hit refresh and the APE JS Framework initializes, it will try to “recover” your previous session in terms of the ape users pubid as well as joined channels.

Even when you are having multiple browser windows open, all sessions will be reachable under one common ape user object = pubib and if you have a name property set, you will have a chance to find a pubid for a give username.

But what if the user opens another BROWSER (not tab) or logs in from another machine/location? Baam, problem again…

Now, depending on the purpose of your apllication, you can decide what you need to do – like not allowing additional users with the same name or handle it.

For test purpose, I rewrote the nickname.js to test, understand and show, what is going on internally.

The first idea was to create a “flat” hash with username (key) and pubid (value). However, this means that whenever a web user connects again, the old pubid is forgotten and only the new one saved  – it could do the job in combination with apeCoreSession.

//global userlist - a hash of key (=username) and values (= hash of pubids)
var userlist = new $H;

Ape.registerHookCmd("connect", function(params, cmd) {
 if (!$defined( return 0;
 return 1;

function listUserNames()
 Ape.log("--------Current Userlist-------------------------");
 Ape.log(k + ": ");
 Ape.log("    "+ pubid);
 Ape.log("--------Current Userlist End---------------------");

Ape.addEvent('adduser', function(user) {

 var name=user.getProperty('name');
 var pubid=user.getProperty('pubid');

 //Ape.log("NEW: " + name + " as " + pubid);

 var uis=userlist.get(name);

 //if no user instance hash, create one
 if (!$defined(uis))
 uis= new $H;
 userlist.set(name, uis);


Ape.addEvent('deluser', function(user) {
 var name=user.getProperty('name');
 var pubid=user.getProperty('pubid');
 Ape.log("Timout: " + name + " " + pubid);
 var uis=userlist.get(name);
 //if last instance left, erase hash
 if (uis.getLength()==0) userlist.erase(name);

This example however creates a hash PER USER, tracking ALL the current pubids. So, in theory, you could send a message from the server to all pubids (= user instances) of a given username.

So, just give it a try in a test setup, replacing the original nickname.js and while watching the ape log file and hitting F5 in several different browsers, you will get a better understanding of web users, ape users and pubids.

Feedback or Flattr clicks much appreciated 😉

My biased view on Doctrine vs Propel

I’m getting old and I’m old fashioned.

I’m still using mysql, not mongoDB.

I’m using php and apache, not node.js, ruby, python or lighttpd, nginx or ….

And I’m using propel again (1.5), not doctrine. AND I’M LOVING IT!!

After #sfdaycng 2009, the presentations and talks there, I forced myself to giving Doctrine a try and really liked it then. A lot of reading through documentation in the beginning if you are new to it, but hey, that’s normal. However, today, even when writing a simple query, I still have to consult the docs. Why? The syntax seems not to be “my style” somehow, it won’t fit into my type of writing code.

But there is such a HUGE difference between Doctrine and Propel and Doctrine is SO MUCH BETTER

Is it? Do I care what’s inside if I’m only querying a database without using all possibilities? Remember sfLive 2010?

“Is Doctrine re-inventing propel” Hahaha LOL ROFL LMAO

At this years big symfony conference #sflive2010, in a Q&A session about Doctrine2, a poor guy obviously asked the question, that made it into a big running gag: “Are you trying to re-invent propel?”

I have to admit and regret that I was not there, but if you followed the #sflive2010 hashtag on twitter, it was not very long until this got tweeted over and over again. And everybody was making fun of it…

Sure, it is kind of funny to ask @jwage, (lead) developer of Doctrine that question… But hey? What’s really so funny about it?

While everybody in the audience laughed, it really would have been interesting to

a) see how many were trying to smirk, wondering whats so funny about that

b) know how many would have been able to give a good reply on that?

And with “good reply” I mean, explain the difference.

And with “difference” I mean, explain it beyond

  • “doctrine has the schema.yml and the model classes in a subfolder”
  • “propel uses two classes User and UserPeer, doctrine has User and UserTable”
  • “propel has a criteria object, doctrine a query object”

If you started with symfony 1.0 as a developer that did not work with frameworks like symfony before (like I did), everthing is “symfony” – may it be propel, phing, creole, PDO, … and getting into these differences was not really worth it in the first place if you wanted to get started with writing your first applications.

What I’m trying to say: I guess that a lot of symfony developers out there don’t know or care about “Doctrine” vs “Propel” – they use the default. And they call it “symfony”, thinking that it belongs to it. If they started with symfony <1.2, they’ll use propel, now they use doctrine – because it’s the default. You learn it, you use it, you stick to it.

And I sticked to propel throughout 1.2. And it was quite save for me getting along ignoring Doctrine. Just then, when I started using Doctrine after #sfdaycgn I found new things, new approaches, things I liked, things I had to learn and a lot of stuff I could not get the hang of.

So now, with propel 1.5 and the new Query objects, I gave it a try and was so excited, I decided to come back to Propel. Just because it “feels like home” and fits my personal style of thinking/coding.

And of course both ORMs have their features and behaviours and at #sfdaycng Doctrine had more of them and so on… But I also assume that a lot of those features are beyond most everyday developer’s needs

But Propel is dead

Oh no, it’s not!!!

With the new 1.5 it REALLY got amazingly easy to write your code, extend your Query Model and easy query creation. 1.6 is on it’s way and 2.0 was just recently announced to be based on Doctrine2, as a layer on top, providing the usability features… that’s something we will have to wait for, but I does sound very good.

But Benchmarks show that…

So what? I couldn’t care less. Why should I? I am not running sites that have gazillions of users with quadrubillions of tables and hexafoobarillions of rows – I don’t care if grabbing all posts with a certain topic and tag for a given user takes 111 ms or 132 ms. But I do care if I have to consult the docs for writing that query because I couldn’t remember the syntax or – on the other hand – my IDE (yeah, right, eclipse, I’m REALLY old fashioned) nearly automagically creates the query for me.

But what are you actually trying to say?

  • Most developers don’t need benchmarks to find their ORM – it’s about own style and preference (or customer specs, but thats another story)
  • Some symfony developers might not even have thought about giving “the other one” a try.
  • Personally, I get along with propel 1.5 better
  • I’m getting old

So, if you know Doctrine, give Propel 1.5 a try.

If you only use Propel, give Doctrine a try.

And if you still use Propel 1.4 – MAN!!! Get the 1.5!!!

Any comments appreciated, I really like to see what I’m missing

PS: I’m even more old fashioned: I’m using vi – not vim, but eclipse with the vi plugin. Why? REAL code completion! A wonderful thing with propel 1.5!

Automated tweets now there is OAuth? Sending Tweets from PHP Command line

For quite some time I’ve been using a scheduled php script to automatically send twitter updates (tweets) to my own account.

Since it was very easy and convenient to do this with the so called basic authentication, I used/modified the simple script provided by Fabien Potencier.

NOW, BASIC AUTH IS GONE!! (Correction: See Update below)

It was long announced, but since September 1st, they really switched it off and this method does not work anymore because now there is only OAuth.

The “strange” (and more secure) thing about OAuth is, that you allow an application to do something with your twitter account, but you do not give out your credentials to the application, you just grant permissions. In most cases, when you are browsing the web, this makes sense if a third party application wants to do something with your account. But in my case, there is just ME, MY TWITTER ACCOUNT and MY PHP SCRIPT that want to communicate, not a bunch of different users.

So: What do I have to do to make it work again?

Step 1: Officially set up your application in Twitter Apps

On you can and have to define your application with a name, some details and a callback URL. Details on this one later.

Step 2: Get and configure the TwitterOAuth PHP Package

On Github, one of the Twitter developers maintains a package for PHP. Download/git-clone it to your web server. You need to adjust the config.php file in this package with the Consumer Key and Consumer Secret of your newly created twitter application (found int the app details section)

Step 3: Allow authentication from your twitter application to your twitter account

Now that you have the twitteroauth pack on your webserver, you should be able to access it and see the default page with a “Sign in with Twitter” button. If you do this, you will be redirected to a screen you might have seen with other third party applicatios before. Only, this time, it’s yours:

In this case, I want to connect with my @managerator to the application “managerator”, might be a bit confusing. (And please excuse me for using a German UI 😉 )

If you grant access successfully, you can check this in you Twitter account’s Connection details on

Step 4: Use the connection

Now that we have connected application and account, how can we send a tweet from the application to the account?

Check the “index.php” file in the twitteroauth package and you will see, that it loads/requires the necessary php files and afterwards does some API calls on the $connection. And, using a browser, this works. Of course, only if your browser is athenticated on twitter already (and of course with the account that granted access to the application).

Now, in my case I want to use the command line php (like a cron-job) to send messages. And of course, PHP is not authenticated on twitter. Thus, a simple call to “php index.php” on the command line will fail.

So, how do we get around this??

Step 5: Store the access_token

When you look again at the index.php, you will see

/* Get user access tokens out of the session. */
$access_token = $_SESSION[‘access_token’];

This access token is an associative array that contains all the things you need for further authentication – coming from your current browser session

So, simply var_dumping the access_token from your browser session and pasting the details into your code like this

/* Get user access tokens out of the session. */
//$access_token = $_SESSION[‘access_token’];
“oauth_token_secret”=> “***************************************”,
“user_id”=> “************”,
“screen_name”=> “managerator”,

Will make your code callable from the command line.

Note: user_id and screen_name is not used, it’s just part of the token


This was a quick hack of my way to get the auto-updated management bullshit tweets working again for @managerator. It’s not very nice, but it works for the time being.

And I hope it helps you, too!

Comments appreciated!!

Update Sept 14th:

Basic Auth is only gone for everbody else but own twitter apps.

As I read on this article you can circumvent OAuth and still use basic auth by adding “?source=twitterandroid” to your API URLs… That’s lame, Twitter!!!

Just tested and verified it, as of today, Sept 14th.

My new desire

HTC Desire

Since two weeks now, I am the proud owner of a brand new HTC desire.

After a couple of interesting days getting to know the device, playing with android and installing apps from the market, I think I could share same of the experiences I made.

Things I love

The display! The UI! The response time! The browser! HTC Sense! The display! The slim device! The display!

Things that could be better

Well, as always with mobile devices, battery lasts only one day (if at all) if you keep it connected all day. Turning on Wifi, GPS and play with it, and your battery runs dry earlier, of course

Syncing Data

I’m coming from a long MS Win Mobile background and have been using HP Jornadas, Compaq iPaqs and recently some HTC devices all based on WM. But now I decided to switch to android (and an iPhone never was a question). This switch of course implies some changes to the way I handle my data, keep track of my calendar, contacts and tasks as well as what is synchronized, kept and copied from where to where, overwriting which data when.

HTC Sync

My previous tactic was always to keep everything in Outlook and sync my mobile device with Active Sync. Now, there is no Active Sync anymore. HTC provides you with ‘HTC Sync’ which should do the job. The problem I have with it: my grous//categories are messed up. I think it’s because I use a German locale and groups are separated with ; which HTC Sync translates to \; and concatenates all groups.

And, if you link on your device a contact with a facebook account, you’ll have some XMLish HTC-Data in the notes section of a contact

So, for the time being I keep everything in google’s systems now. I like the possibility to edit stuff on my device or via web – and adding a pic in Google Contacts is of course easier than with Outlook. Which means, my Outlook contacts start getting out of date, because I could not find a decent (free) tool to sync it. GO COntacts did not work correctly for me.

Privacy concerns aside, this solution proves to be very stable and reliable.

Some things I found out that might be worth notable:

There is a difference between a “Phone Contact” and “Google Contact” – Phone Contacts are not, Google contacts ARE synced with google contacts online. HTC Sync creates “Phone Contacts” and it is not initially intended to convert one into the other (there are some tools, though…)

Things I miss:

No (offline) Tasks

Google did create the Task functionality, but there is no app on the phone to access or even sync it. tries to fill the gap by providing a UI for phones, but it’s an online solution.

No (offline) Notes

Nothing – not even an online solution. For notes, you need to check out third party apps.

Video Player out of the box

Really true. There is no video player besides a youtube app. So you can’t just copy an avi or mpg to the SD card and play it… There are apps for that, of course, but well… that’s a little bit awkward, coming from WinMobile where at least you have a Media Player (not good, but at least something). Depending on your player, you might want to convert the files to something smaller or compliant before copying them to the SD – ever heard of XMedia Recode? iPhone Presets work fine.

Tipps & Tricks

Google offers a birthday calendar that shows your contacts’ birthdays: Go to, “Other calendars” -> “Add” -> “Browse Interesting Calendars” -> “More” -> Subscribe to “Contacts’ birthdays and events”  (and while you’re there, maybe also check Week Numbers)

It took me quite some time to find out that for some HTC widgets, there are different versions/designs – use the small arrow on the bottom when selecting a widget

Free Apps you need

Video Player – well, as said above… guess…

Air Control – addicting Game

My Tracks – GPS tracker

GPS Status – Compass/GPS Info

Google Sky Map – watch the night sky and find stars

Google Googles – search by taking pictures or look around you and find places

Barcode Scanner – Read QR codes from screen or bar codes from products

ASTRO File Manager – Check whats on your SD (also useful to install apk files from SD)

Connect Bot – Versatile SSH client (also local console)

NetCounter – Tracks Mobile traffic (as of May 2010, Wifi does not work on Desire)

(If you are a German O2 cusotmer:  Mein O2 Beta – WebSMS versenden und Rechnungsinformationen abrufen)

Flashlight/Torch (manual install) – uses LED to guide you throug the night. Not nice but working

Good To Know

Connecting the device with Windows, using it as a “hard drive”, I sometimes could not get the SD card recognized again when I properly disconnected it in Windows and then unplugged it. However, on the desire switching from “Disk” to “Charge” first, it works fine.

When switching Wifi off, my mobile 3G connection sometimes is not re-established (if O2, android or my device is to blame, I do not know). However, switching “Airplane mode” off and on again solves the issue (of course you need to retype your SIM PIN)

When you keep a Google Account always synced:

  • Mails to Google Mail arrive immediatly
  • You are always connected to Google Talk
  • Conctacts/Calendar items are updated immediately


I love it! It is fun to use, so far more reliable than every Win Mobile device I ever used before. It’s really quick and “just the right size” for the display it offers. BTW, did I mention I love the display?


  • Handling
  • UI
  • Widgets
  • Market
  • Google sync


  • HTC sync
  • Tasks
  • Notes

Final words

This might be a rather unconventional “not even test report”, but it’s just a collection of notes that might be helpful for some, planning to buy one or not.

Starting to get addicted to unit testing…

During the last months, I started paying more attention to unit testing and writing tests in my symfony apps. But not until this awesome post from Bernhard Schussek, I really understood how you can make your testing life easier and get tests done better, faster and be more efficient.

It also helped me to understand, to which granularity you can and should break down your tests as well as your methods in the lib classes.

So this really is a BIG FAT recommendation on reading the article!!

What I learned from it and what I am doing ad enjoying right now, when creating new functionality:

  • If I have a complex method to write, I break it down into the smaller parts that need to be done step by step. For this, I write the logic with methods that are not even exisiting yet.
  • Next, I write the unit TESTS for these non-exisiting methods, filled with test cases that make sense in the current context of the problem and help to make sure the method works
  • Next, create an empty stub of the new method, so you can start running the test without a crash – but of course it will fail
  • Add functionality to the method to make sure you finally pass all tests.

This really makes the whole process a lot of fun because it really is rewarding to see the “All tests successful.” or “# Looks like everything went fine.” at the end.

And you can continue with your next part of the more complex functions with a good feeling of confidence, that in the end it will all work fine 😀