If you’re a seasoned PHP programmer, you may think you already know everything about PHP (including the internals). However, even the most experienced PHP gurus can improve their skills. The best programmers constantly evolve their coding based on the latest releases, changes and insider knowledge. Take a look at these three helpful hints all PHP developers should learn to create cleaner and more optimized code.
1. Take Advantage of Unit Testing
Unit tests (such as SimpleTest or PHPUnit) provide a simple way to maintain your codebase and avoid code rot. First, you can use unit testing to write proofs that your code functions as intended. Then you can refactor the code, and test again to see if the new code still functions the same way. You can also use tools such as XdeBug or FirePHP to monitor how your code and how it performs on the front-end and back-end. Keep a close eye on what your code is doing and if you don’t understand something, find out the answer from other programmers or documentation online. You should also keep an eye on error reports and strive for clean logs.
2. Choose the Right Caching Technique
There are several different caching techniques – each applicable in different circumstances. One of the simplest and most universal ways to cache data and increase PHP performance is to use an opcode cache. Opcode caches (such as APC or XCache) store opcodes in memory to eliminate a lot of redundant work on each step in the process. Simpler caching approaches — such as those that serialize data and store it in a temporary file – also work to optimize your code. Memcached stores data on a central server with many servers accessing it and avoids the overhead of network and disk access. This technique works best if your application is distributed across multiple servers. Don’t just use the same caching technique for every project. Take into consideration the logistics of the project, the scale of the project, and your reason for optimization.
3. Connect With Other Programmers
Don’t just keep your head down coding in isolation. Visit other programming blogs, podcasts, Twitter, and YouTube. Attend programming conferences in your area and connect with experts who can teach you something new. Participate in code reviews and bug reports. Help out newbies who are struggling to figure out what you already know. Contribute to an open source project to hone your skills. You’ll find that interacting and participating within the programming community allows you to stay current and up-to-date on the latest industry trends. You might even learn something new along the way.