Tag Archive for 'raspberry pi'

PHP Introduction to OOP: UI-Client-Request

clientBasicAn Easy Start

A lot of starting concepts in OOP seem designed to confuse and warn off developers who want to move up to OOP from sequential and procedural programming. This post is to give you a bit of what was presented at the NE PHP & UX Conference and to provide a simple yet clear introduction to OOP applied to PHP.

The easiest way (and least confusing) is to begin with the idea of “objects” and communication between objects. As you may know, objects are made up of classes containing “properties” and “methods.” Properties look a lot like PHP variables and methods like functions. So, think of properties as things a car has–like headlights, a steering wheel and bumpers, and think of actions your car can take, like turning left and right or going forward and reverse as methods.

The “blueprint” for an object is a class, and when a class is instantiated in a variable, it becomes an object. Objects communicate with one another by access to public properties and methods.

At the 2014 NE PHP & UX Conference in Boston, I told those at my session that I’d have some materials for them, and so you can download them here. One is a folder full of examples from my session and the other is an introductory book (in draft form) for getting started in OOP for PHP users. Also, the Play buttons runs the little example program for this post.

A Request-Fulfill Model

At the heart of OOP is some system of communication. The simplest way to think about communication between objects is a request-fulfill model. A client makes a request to an object to get something. The request can originate in the user UI, and it is passed to a client who finds the correct class and method to fulfill the request. Figure 1 shows a file diagram with an overview of this model:

Figure 1: Object communication

Figure 1: Object communication

In Figure 1, you can see that the only non-object is the CSS file (request.css), and so in a way, you’re used to making requests for an external operation if you’ve used CSS files. However, CSS files are not objects but rather depositories. Likewise, external JavaScript (.js) files can be called from HTML documents for use with Web pages, but they too are not objects.

Encapsulating HTML in a Class

With PHP, the UI is handled by HTML, but that does not mean that it cannot be encapsulated in a PHP object. Encapsulation is not accomplished by simply adding a .php extension to the file name, but rather, fully wrapping the HTML in a PHP class. The easiest way to do that is with a heredoc string. The following example shows how a fully formed HTML5 document is encapsulated:

Listing #1:

< ?php
class RequestUI
    private $ui;
    public function request()
        //Heredoc wrapper
        $this->ui=< <<UI
        <!DOCTYPE html>
    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="request.css"/>
    <h3>Mathster Mind:<br /> The UI Class & Method Requester</h3>
<form name='require' action='Client.php' method='post' target='feedback'>
    <input type='hidden' name='class' value='MathsterMind'/>&nbsp;MathsterMind Class<br />
    <input type='text' name='num' size='6'/>&nbsp;Enter value <br />
    <input type='radio' name='method' value='doSquare'/>&nbsp;Square the value<br />
    <input type='radio' name='method' value='doSquareRoot'/>&nbsp;Find the squareroot of the value<br />
    </fieldset><br />
    <input type='submit' name='send' value='Make Request'/>  
<iframe name='feedback'>Feedback</iframe>
    echo $this->ui;
//Instantiate an object from the class
$worker=new RequestUI;
//Call the public method from the instantiated object

The key aspect of encapsulating HTML in a class is the heredoc wrapper:

//Heredoc wrapper
//HTML Code

A heredoc string begins with three less-than symbols (they look like chevrons laid on their side), the name you give the heredoc string and it ends with heredoc string name fully on the left side of the source code and terminated with a semi-colon. Typically, the heredoc string is assigned to a variable ($this->ui). The great thing about using heredoc, is that you can develop and debug your HTML document, and once it’s all ready, you just paste it into a heredoc wrapper. Now, instead of a free range chicken running around with snippets of PHP code, you have a fully encapsulated object. Thus, your UI is a PHP class with all of the possibilities and security of a well formed class. (Click below to see how requests are “caught” by a PHP client.)
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PHP Memento Design Pattern Part II: Store & Retrieve

mementoWith a Little Help from Our Friends

As you saw in Part I of the Memento Design Pattern post, the design itself is fairly simple; at least judging from the class diagram. Also, in the first example, you saw how a state could be preserved in a Caretaker array and recalled upon request. However, I wanted to use the Memento with a more practical implementation of remembering a previous state to which users could return. For instance, the capacity to remember a choice on a Web page after looking at a series of choices would be an ideal use of the Memento pattern. The idea is to build an encapsulated set of objects that encompasses the UI, and the previous post shows how that can be accomplished. The latest problem encountered using the Memento pattern with PHP is that PHP doesn’t have the necessary UI event handlers, and the UI event handlers in JavaScript, while able to pass data, must do so through a PHP file; not an object.

The result is that each time JavaScript passes a bit of data, it also re-instantiates a class in a file. When that happens, all of the stored states are reset to null. So while the Memento is great at storing data in an array (or scalar for that matter), getting that state back with another call via JavaScript (even if it’s encapsulated in a PHP object) nulls all of the stored states.

So, while JavaScript is OK for handling UI events and passing states to PHP, every state passed resets any saved states because the participants have to be re-instantiated. After trying out different methods, I eventually reached the conclusion that I was going to have to stash the Memento’s current state in a JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) file. PHP includes JSON methods, and while this does not exactly solve the problem of passing data without resetting the state, it can preserve the state stored in a Memento object. Take a look at the example and download the files to see all of the code employed:


For those of you unfamiliar with JSON and PHP, you can find it here in the PHP Manual. As noted, to work with PHP and a Memento design pattern the way I wanted to implement it required that I have some way to provide a persistent record of a “saved state.” In a nutshell, JSON is a faster-loading version of XML with hooks into PHP where data can be exchanged. That is an oversimplification to be sure, but as far as I was concerned if a state could be saved and retrieved quickly when wanted, my requirements would be met. I did not want to involve MySQL, XML or simple text files (even though JSON files [ext .json] are text files). JSON was the fastest in saving and retrieving, and PHP has methods for parsing JSON data.

The Caretaker

If you have not done so already, read Part I of the Memento Design Pattern. That will bring you up to speed on the structure and participants of the Memento design pattern.

The Caretaker participant in the Memento pattern is the warehouse for the saved Memento objects passed through the Originator. Essentially, the Memento is passed to the Caretaker where it is stored until called for retrieval. However, a PHP object cannot be stored as a straight JSON file, and so once the Memento object is passed to the Caretaker (in this example), I passed the Memento value to a JSON file. The second Caretaker method returns the stored JSON value directly to the client rather than re-loading a Memento object and returning it. You can see how this all works in the Caretaker class code:

< ?php
class Caretaker
    private $storage;
    private $caretakerStore;
    private $caretakerStorage;
    public function addMemento (Memento $m)
	$jsonData["hold"][0] = $m->getState();
    public function getMemento()
	$this->caretakerStorage = file_get_contents("store.json");
	$jsonData = json_decode($this->caretakerStorage,true);
	$this->storage= $jsonData["hold"][0];
	return $this->storage;

The two methods in the Caretaker are pretty straightforward getter/setter ones. The addMemento($m) method expects to receive a Memento object. (The type hint enforces it to.) However, instead of storing the entire Memento as was done in the example in Part I, the Caretaker uses the Memento’s getState() method to access the saved state. Then the state is stored in an associative array element named “hold.” ($jsonData[“hold”][0]). Written to a .json file the saved state might look like the following:


The value “7” is the saved string that is used to recall the correct file (dp7.jpg) in the patterns folder. While this might appear to be breaking encapsulation, the value is returned in a Caretaker private property, $this->storage.

To get a better sense of the Caretaker in the context of this particular implementation take a look at Figure 2:

Figure 2: File diagram of Memento used for recalling Web image

Figure 2: File diagram of Memento used for recalling Web image

The PhpCatcher class is an attempt to encapsulate the HTML UI into an object and have methods available to set and retrieve Memento object values using the Caretaker as a warehouse. To set the Memento and send it to the Caretaker, the exact same object communications are used as in Part I. However, the Caretake extracts the value from the Memento and stores it in the .json file instead of in a PHP array that stays extant through UI interactions. So, to recall a Memento value, the PhpCatcher goes directly to the Caretaker’s getMemento() method. (Perhaps a more accurate name for the getter would be getMementoValue().) In any event, at the time of this posting, I was unable to find a way to store the Memento in a JSON object and retrieve it; so the PHPCatcher communicates directly with the Caretaker as a client.

You need to use PHP 5.4+ and you need to set your .json file permissions

  • The PHP built-in JSON methods and constants used require PHP 5.4. If you find it impossible to install 5.4, instead of using JSON, you can use a text file, an XML file or even a MySQL file for storing the Memento value.
  • File permissions are grouped into three categories:

    1. Owner
    2. Group
    3. Everyone

    Further, each permission has three levels:

    1. Read
    2. Write
    3. Execute

    You need to set your .json file so that everyone can read, write and execute the .json file. I set mine for ‘777’ so that all groups and the owner had total access. On your computer or LAN, there’s not a lot to worry about; however, if you are nervous about opening up your .json file to the world on your hosting service, you need to read up on permissions security to see if doing so will cause unwanted problems.

If you’re using a Raspberry Pi, you can find out how to change your permissions for this implementation here.

Continue reading ‘PHP Memento Design Pattern Part II: Store & Retrieve’


PHP OOP: Encapsulating & Communicating with JavaScript and HTML5

EncapDocCan We Talk?

The initial discussion of the Memento design pattern illustrated how a state could be saved in a different object than the one in which the state originated. A Caretaker object holds the saved state and when requested, it returns the state to the Originator, all without breaking encapsulation. A practical example of employing the Memento that comes to mind is where the user is looking through a list. As she goes through the list, she sees different items (flowers in this case) that she is considering. However, because it’s a long list, she cannot remember which one she likes; so she tags those she is considering. After going through the whole list (all of the different flowers), she can easily recall those that she had tagged–recall them from a Memento. Play the little app and download the source code before going further:

Communicating with HTML and JavaScript

Working HTML and JavaScript into PHP is no great shakes, and most PHP developers probably have done so at one time or another. However, most of the time I find myself creating horrible mixes of code for a one-off use with nothing encapsulated. The goal here is to see how everything in the application can be encapsulated and at the same time communicate. The purpose here is to find a single state variable that is used by HTML, JavaScript and PHP. Further, that state must be available for placing into a Memento object and stored for later use. (This post simply examines one way to encapsulate everything and have them communicate; however, material from this post will be used in developing a Memento example in a future post.) Also, I wanted to import all of the JavaScript and CSS separately. Figure 1 shows the general plan. (The ‘gardner’ folder contains the flower JPEG images.)

Figure 1: Encapsulating JavaScript, CSS and HTML into EncapDoc PHP class

Figure 1: Encapsulating JavaScript, CSS and HTML into EncapDoc PHP class

The CSS is just the stylesheet and it contained no functionality that you often find when it is used in conjunction with jQuery. I needed the JavaScript for clicking through the images. Had I swapped images using PHP I’d probably have to reload an HTML page with every swap and that seem prohibitively expensive. So I wrote the most simple JavaScript swap program I could think of with two functions for swapping and an added JavaScript function to get the initial starting picture (an integer value) passed from PHP. The following JavaScript listings shows how simple the script is:
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PHP OOP: Back to Basics

beginBack to Basics

Whenever I venture outside of PHP, which has become more regular as I’m working on app development in both iOS and Android. The former is Objective C and the latter, Java. Both languages are embedded in OOP and design patterns. It is during these ventures abroad (so to speak) that I’m reminded of some core issues in good OOP. I usually notice them when I realize that I’m not exactly paying attention to them myself.

Don’t Have the Constructor Function Do Any Real Work

When I first came across the admonition not to have the constructor function do any real work, I was reading Miško Hevery’s article on a testability flaw due to having the constructor doing real work. More recently, I was reviewing some materials in the second edition of Head First Java, where the user is encouraged to,

Quick! Get out of main!

For some Java and lots of C programmers “main” is the name for a constructor function, but I like PHP’s __construct() function as the preferred name since it is pretty self-describing. “Main” is a terrible name because the real main is in the program made up of interacting classes.

In both cases, the warning about minimizing the work of the constructor function is to focus on true object oriented applications where you need objects talking to one another. Think of this as a series of requests where a group of people are all cooperatively working together, each from a separate (encapsulated) cubicle, to accomplish a task. By having the constructor function do very little, you’re forcing yourself (as a programmer) to use collaborative classes. Play the example and download the code to get started:

A General Model for PHP OOP

As a nice simple starting place for PHP OOP, I’ve borrowed from the ASP.NET/C# relationship. ASP.NET provides the forms and UI, and C# is the engine. As an OOP jump-off point, we can substitute HTML for ASP.NET and PHP for C#. The Client class is the “requester” class. The UI (HTML) sends a request to the Client, and the Client farms out the request to the appropriate class. Figure 2 shows this simple relationship.

Figure 1: A Simple OOP PHP Model

Figure 1: A Simple OOP PHP Model

If you stop and think about it, OOP is simply a way to divide up a request into different specializations.

Avoid Conditional Statements if Possible

Figure 2: Requests begins with a UI built in HTML

Figure 2: Requests begins with a UI built in HTML

If you avoid conditional statements, and this includes switch statements, I think you can become a lot better programmer. In the example I built for this post, the user chooses from two different types of requests (classes), and each request has a refined request (method) that provides either of two different kinds of math calculations or display options. Figure 2 shows the UI (HTML) for the example. If the user selects “Do a Calculation” it sends the request to the Calculate class, but if the user selects “Display a story”, the request is handled by the Display class. Further, not only must the right class be selected, the right method in that class must be selected as well. The obvious answer is to get information from the UI and using a switch or set of conditional statements work out in the Client how to handle each request. You could even use (shudder) nested conditional statements. That approach could work, but when you start piling up conditional statements, you’re more likely to introduce errors, and when you make changes, you’re even more likely to make errors. The only good thing about conditionals is that you don’t have to tax your brain to use them.

Suppose for a second that all of your conditional statements were taken away. How, using the information sent from the HTML UI to the Client class can the selections be made without conditional statements? (Think about this for a moment.)

Think, pensez, pense, думайте, piense, 생각하십시오, denken Sie, 考えなさい, pensi, 认为, σκεφτείτε, , denk

Like all things that seem complex, the solution is pretty simple. (Aren’t they all once you know the answer.) Both classes were given the value of their class name in their respective radio button input tags. Likewise, the methods were given the value of their method names. With two radio button sets (request and method), only two values would be passed to the Client class. So all the Client had to do was to use the request string as a class name to instantiate an instance of the class, and employ the following built-in function:

call_user_func(array(object, method));

That generates a request like the following:


In other words, it acts just like any other request for a class method. By coordinating the Client with the HTML UI, that was possible without using a single conditional statement. In this next section, we’ll now look at the code.
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PHP OOP Game Coding: Collision Detection

ropeDistance in 2D Space

For a number of years I’ve had David Bourg’s book, Physics for Game Developers (2002, O’Reilly), and I’ve been meaning to translate a set of formulas into OOP classes that could be used as part of a PHP game development library. After spending time on (simple) game development last summer using Python, I decided it was time to get busy with a similar project using more OOP and PHP. I wanted something that was small enough to run on Raspberry Pi computers, but still an animated video game.

On previous posts on this blog I’ve used SVG graphics with PHP, but the examples I used were fairly static. Here I’d like to try them in a more dynamic role to see if PHP could generate code to make them dance. For starters I thought that a simple 2D space game would be appropriate — more on the order of Astroids than Space Aliens.

2D Outer Space on a Grid: Plane Geometry

In order to get anywhere, I decided that the universe (galaxy, solar system, whatever; you choose) would live on a 500 x 400 grid. It can be adjusted for different screens, but the first step is to set up a common grid for clear discussion. Further, I thought that starting with rectangles as ‘space ships’ would make everything else easier. (You can build something more elaborate later in the series.) The two space crafts are Oopz and Titeaz. Oopz is crewed by OOP developers, and Titeaz has a crew of sequential and procedural programmers who keep getting in trouble because of spaghetti knots and tight bindings. The Oopz goes on rescue missions to send them PHP code packages of classes and design patterns. Figure 1 shows the initial positions of the two ships:

Figure 1: Grid with Oopz and Titeaz

Figure 1: Grid with Oopz and Titeaz

Each of the grid squares in Figure 1 is 50 x 50 pixels, and the space ships use conventional a x|y position denotation.

Determining Distance and Collision Detection

The first thing we’ll tackle in Rocket Science 101 is determining the distance between two objects.

Raspberry Pi Users: You will need the Chromium browser for the graphics in this series. You can download it using the following code:
sudo apt-get install chromium

The distance between objects can be used for everything from determining when two objects have collided (distance = 0 + fudge-factor) to when another ship is in rescue range to receive project-saving OOP code. The SVG objects on your screen (without the grid) can be seen in Figure 2:

Figure 2: Determining Distance

Figure 2: Determining Distance

The code for this starting screen is based on the SVG W3 standards and saved as an XML file:

< ?xml version="1.0" standalone="no"?>
< !DOCTYPE svg PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD SVG 1.1//EN" "http://www.w3.org/Graphics/SVG/1.1/DTD/svg11.dtd"> 
<svg width="500" height="400" viewBox="0 0 500 400"
     xmlns="http://www.w3.org/2000/svg" version="1.1">
<desc>Oopz and Titaz</desc>
<!-- Show outline of canvas using 'rect' element -->
<rect x="0" y="0" width="500" height="400"
        fill="#DCDCDC" stroke="blue" stroke-width="1"></rect>
<!-- Space craft Oopz -->
<rect x="100" y="100" width="30" height="20"
        fill="#cf5300" stroke="#369" stroke-width=".4"></rect>
<!-- Space craft Titeaz -->
<rect x="300" y="200" width="30" height="20"
        fill="#369" stroke="#00cc00" stroke-width=".4"></rect>

To see the distance calculation, click the Play button. See if you can figure out what formula is used before you look at the code:


The calculations are based on one of the most fundamental theorems in plane geometry. Before continuing, see if you can figure it out and resolve the solution.
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