Design Details: Incremental Correctness with Guillermo Rauch

In a recent Design Details podcast, Guillermo Rauch (@rauchg) shares his thoughts on the web, design, the value of code, type systems, cryptocurrencies and much much more.

I have a lot of respect for Guillermo’s philosophies, and what he’s building with Zeit. An early quote from the interview (paraphrased):

I’ve always had this passion for the hyperlink. My whole thesis is everything that has not yet been hyperlinked, will be hyperlinked. If we step back and take that thesis a little further—you look at GitHub and they but a hyperlink on everything. They put a hyperlink on every per-character diff of your codebase. Every line of code. Every changeset. Everything.

Listen to the full podcast on Spec.fm.

Server side rendering JavaScript from PHP

Server side rendering is a hot topic when it comes to client side applications. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy thing to do, especially if you’re not building things in a Node.js environment.

I published two libraries to enable server side rendering JavaScript from PHP: spatie/server-side-rendering and spatie/laravel-server-side-rendering for Laravel apps.

Let’s review some server side rendering concepts, benefits and tradeoffs, and build a server renderer in PHP from first principles.

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A pair of helping hands when naming things

One of the hardest (and sometimes frustrating) tasks in a programmer’s day-to-day workload is naming things. When I have a hard time finding that perfect word, I generally wind up in one of two situations:

  • I have a plausible name in mind, but I’m not entirely satisfied with it
  • I have no idea what I could possibly name it

Luckily, there are tools out there that can be of help.

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Debugging the dreaded "Class log does not exist" error in Laravel

Every now and then I come accross a Class log does not exist exception in Laravel. This particular exception is thrown when something goes wrong really early in the application, before the exception handler is instantiated.

Whenever I come across this issue I’m stumped. Mostly it’s related to an invalid configuration issue or an early service provider that throws an exception. I always forget how to debug this, so it’s time to document my solution for tracking down the underlying error.

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Diving into requestAnimationFrame with Benjamin De Cock

I love this post! requestAnimationFrame is a primitive browser API that doesn’t sound too interesting at first, but once you’ve grasped some basic concepts, it becomes an extremely powerful tool for dealing with animations in JavaScript.

At its core, requestAnimationFrame doesn’t do much: it’s basically just a method that executes a callback. In fact, there are very few differences between doing requestAnimationFrame(doSomething) and doSomething(). So, what’s so special about it? I’m glad you asked! In short:

  • requestAnimationFrame schedules the callback call on the next repaint
  • requestAnimationFrame passes the callback the current time

There are a few other distinctions, but these are the main benefits. Now, requestAnimationFrame doesn’t create an animation on its own, it’s the sequence of successive callbacks that will make things move on the screen.

My favorite part: since a large part of animating with requestAnimationFrame consists of composing small mathematical expressions, you can apply all sorts of functional programming tricks to your code.

Learn all about it on Benjamin De Cock’s blog.

Theme-based views in Laravel using vendor namespaces

I’m building a multi-tenant Laravel application. One of the requirements of the project is that every client can have their own theme based on their corporate guidelines. By default a few css adjustments will suffice, but some clients request a completely different template.

Conditionally loading a different stylesheet per client is pretty trivial, but in order to use a completely different view per theme you quickly end up typing the same thing over and over across various parts of your application.

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Introducing our company guidelines site

We just open sourced our company guidelines site! We previously kept the contents in a private wiki on GitHub, but I’m glad we finally put the time in giving the contents a real home.

Like our docs site, the content is stored in markdown files, which can directly be edited on GitHub. The site deploys whenever something’s pushed to the master branch.

As for why we decided to open source it all…

This site contains a set of guidelines we use to bring our projects to a good end. We decided to document our workflow because consistency is one of the most valuable traits of maintainable software.

The contents of this site exist for ourselves—more importantly, our future selves—and for giving future collegues a reference to our way of doing things and their quirks. The guidelines cover workflow, code style, and other little things we consider worth documenting.

The guidelines are available on guidelines.spatie.be.

What's in our .babelrc?

A lot has been going in in JavaScript the past few years. One of my favorite things has been the usage of babel, which allows us to write future JavaScript syntax today. The babel ecosystem has tons of plugins and configuration options, I’d like to elaborate on our usage at Spatie.

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Generate pdfs with Google Chrome on a Forge provisioned server

This week I needed to export some charts generated with HTML & JavaScript as a pdf file. I already had implemented the charts on a webpage so I wanted a solution that allowed me to use my existing code for the pdfs.

Headless Chrome to the rescue! Chrome can run as a cli tool, and print a pdf file from a url. All I had to do was make some layout tweaks to make everything printer-friendly.

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Is snapshot testing viable in PHP?

Christopher Pitt wrote a pretty comprehensive article on one of our latest packages, which is one of my favorite packages I’ve written at Spatie to date, phpunit-snapshot-assertions.

Ah-ha moments are beautiful and rare in programming. Every so often, we’re fortunate enough to discover some trick or facet of a system that forever changes how we think of it. For me, that’s what snapshot testing is.

Read the full article on SitePoint, or check out phpunit-snapshot-assertions on GitHub.