My name is  
Jurgens du Toit.
Systems Developer.
Problem Solver.

About Me

Technology and Solving Problems are my passion. I'm a South African that loves my wife, life, and coding.

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The Logstash Config Guide

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18 March 2010

Backend-PHP Framework

By Jurgens du Toit

Update: 21/11/2011

Backend has undergone a major rewrite. Get the latest info here, and get the code on GitHub

In the past few years I’ve been working on a PHP framework / backend. Sometimes out of frustration with copying and pasting code, but usually because I’m to lazy to write a lot of code, so decide to write a little bit of code to do a lot… And then I write some more code, to do a little bit more, and before you know it, it’s yet another PHP framework. I tried to get some public input on the project once before, but that went nowhere, and I left it there - until of course I had to do some work that required the same type of thing, and now I’m at it again.

What makes backend different from my previous failed experiment? Well, the fact that this is now the 7th or 8th time that I’ve rehashed the concept, and that this time, I’ve actually put some thought and effort into it. No, it’s not perfect, and it won’t solve the world’s problems, but it better and simpler, and hopefully more useful.

One concept that I definitely want to run with in backend, is the concept of backend as a web service, as opposed to a framework or a content / data management system. Backend provides a client, as in a browser or an application, with the requested data, in a format that the client can understand. Be it a human readable web page, JSON, XML or even PHP variables. This struck me as important after reading this by Ryan Tomayko:

Wife: A web page is a resource?

Ryan: Kind of. A web page is a “representation” of a resource. Resources are just concepts. URLs—those things that you type into the browser…

Wife: I know what a URL is..

Ryan: Oh, right. Those tell the browser that there’s a concept somewhere. A browser can then go ask for a specific representation of the concept. Specifically, the browser asks for the web page representation of the concept.

Wife: What other kinds of representations are there?

Ryan: Actually, representations is one of these things that doesn’t get used a lot. In most cases, a resource has only a single representation. But we’re hoping that representations will be used more in the future because there’s a bunch of new formats popping up all over the place.

Wife: Like what?

Ryan: Hmm. Well, there’s this concept that people are calling “Web Services”. It means a lot of different things to a lot of different people but the basic concept is that machines could use the web just like people do.

So it’s important for me to make it easy for web developers to easily provide data in different formats. Backend can already provide any client with data in 4, yes 4, different formats:

This will hopefully increase backend’s usefulness as a web service. And yes, I know, XML is missing, but of those 4, HTML was necessary, although not necessarily easy, and the other three were extremely easy to implement, as they are all products of simple PHP functions. One day when someone uses backend and actually needs XML, we can implement it. (Notice that I said we, not I - I rarely use XML, so I won’t know the requirements, so if I do it alone, it will probably be useless).

At the moment backend is on version in my personal repo. All that means is that I’ve decided I’ve reached a point where I can actually release the code to the public, and made some improvements, fixes and changes. When will it be marked as version 1.0?

When we have the following:

  1. A fully fledged and integrated admin space 2, Easy and intuitive setup / install system
  2. Easy and intuitive update system
  3. An intuitive plugin system
  4. Intuitive and function DB Objects<
  5. The ability to easily implement different data formats
  6. The ability to use multiple and different data sources (MySQL, SQLite, flat files, etc.)
  7. Working and secure user access control
  8. Either a REST-full implementation, or a roadmap towards it
  9. Something that makes coding easier

That’s ten requirements for me to release backend v1.0…

What’s already done?

  • Semi working DB Objects
  • Output of different data formats using views
  • Simple templating / caching system
  • Simple user access control
  • CRUD, actually, just CRU actions. I haven’t gotten round to the Deletes yet.

I’m using jQuery as a JavaScript backend, and blueprint for my CSS needs. For now it’s under the EPL, but I may switch to the MIT license at some point. I’m using MySQL exclusively at this point, but am hoping to add support for other DB’s / sources eventually.

I’ll be putting the code on Launchpad soon, so if you want to contribute, or comment, please do!

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