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Tooling
PHP Best practices
tooling

This section list a number of tools that will help you respecting the best practices.

Use a static analysis tool

Beginner

###Rule

Install a static code analyzer in your project like PHPStan or Psalm.

###Explanation

A static analysis tool can automatically analyze your code base and issue warnings on potential bugs. Unlike styling tools (like PHP-CS-Fixer), the static analysis tools actually understand your code by creating a tree like representation of all your classes. They can go deep in your code, understand the type of each variable and provide advanced reports.

At TheCodingMachine, we are the proud sponsors of PHPStan. We even went as far as designing an extension for PHPStan that actually checks some of the rules described in this very web site.

###Rule

If you are using PHPStan, install thecodingmachine/phpstan-strict-rules for in-depth best practices checks.

Psalm is also known to be a very good static analysis tool and is especially great at checking types. It comes with its own generics syntax.

Use unit/integration tests

Beginner

###Rule

Write unit tests, for instance using PHPUnit.

###Explanation

Unit / integration tests are a great way to test your program automatically.

A whole book could be written on unit tests so rather than writing too few, here is a link to best practices from PHPUnit

Use Continuous Integration

Beginner

###Rule

Automate running your tools (static analysis, coding style and unit tests) by using a continuous integration server.

###Explanation

What you should NOT do:

You should never trust you running your tools manually. If you have no automated way to run your tools, here is what will happen:

  • At some point in your project, you will have a rush
  • You will commit to your repository without running your tools
  • After some time, the effort to bring back your code to a correct state will take too much effort
  • You will end up abandoning the tools
Instead, use a continuous integration server integrated with your development environment!

Each of your changes should be written to a branch. When you open a pull-request on that branch, the CI server will automatically run the tools for you and notify you of any problem.

Note: of course, you should run the tests locally first. It is way faster to run the tests locally that to wait for the CI server to kick in and run the tests. The CI server is only here as a last resort.

There are many CI tools out there. At TheCodingMachine, we use Gitlab CI that is directly integrated to Gitlab. But there are many other tools like Travis (with a generous free plan for open-source projects), Jenkins...

Use static code analyzers in your IDE

Intermediate ###Rule

If you are using PHPStorm, we highly recommand using the great Php Inspections ​(EA Extended)​ extension

###Explanation

This extension adds a great number of checks to help you write high quality PHP code. Some of the checks are redundant with PHPStan, but you get the chance to view those directly in your IDE while coding.

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