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Some lesser known PHP gems

… in alphabetic order.
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How to prepare your codebase for PHP 8

PHP 8 is planned to be released in November 2020. And while you might want to wait a few weeks or months before you start updating your production servers, you will definitely need to do it in November 2022 when all PHP 7 support ends.

The changes in PHP 8 are rather significant, compared to all previous releases – even compared to PHP 7.0. Sure, getting rid of register_globals was an enormous change. But it took a very long time, dating back as far as 2001, when $HTTP_POST_VARS was introduced as a first attempt to solve the problem. PHP 8 gets rid of more confusing, sometimes embarrassing design mistakes in a shorter time.

I compiled the following list from the work-in-progress upgrade notes with MediaWiki development in mind where we already have rather high standards.
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Re-visiting »PHP: a fractal of bad design« in 2020

I love PHP. And I love Eevee's (a.k.a. Evelyn Woods) blog post about PHP's bad design from 2012. Mostly because it's so massive. It lists really everything anybody ever disliked about the language, and explains why. It's fun to read. And it's true. Or at least was true. The post was compiled in 2012. The most recent – and only supported – version we had back then was PHP 5.3, as well as 12 painful years with PHP 4. And yes, PHP 4 was still in use pretty much everywhere. Adoption was notably slower back then.

It's 2020, and PHP 8 will be released in less than 3 months, according to the plan. And oh boy, what a leap forward! The PHP 8 changelog reads like they are finally fixing some of the worst design mistakes in the language.

Time to re-visit the »PHP: a fractal of bad design«.
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STEM. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. As in »Women in STEM«. As in "POC in STEM.

It's 2020. There is still so much to learn.

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I have a collection of obsolete »computer books« from the 1980s and earlier, including many about the programming language BASIC. Whenever I skim through another addition to my collection, one BASIC keyword keeps catching my attention: SWAP. It's such a simple enhancement. There are even dedicated Wikipedia articles about the concept (Dreieckstausch in German). Yet it doesn't exist in any of the modern programming languages I use nowadays. Why is that?
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I might have found the very first real-world application for the ~ CSS selector in my life. Or the last time I used it was so long ago that I totally forgot it exists. What does it do?
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I finally, finally found a solution for when the stupid Fn (»function«) key on my laptop keyboard get's »stuck«. This keeps happening to me ever since I started using Ubuntu back in 2014. The effect is that all F-keys are »broken«, and pressing them starts changing system settings (typically printed in blue on the keys), as if the Fn key is constantly pressed. F3 doesn't search but increases the volume. F11 doesn't toggle fullscreen but decreases the screen brightness. I have to hold the Fn key to get the normal F-key functions. I was never able to fix this on my previous Lenovo ThinkPad, but found a solution for my current DELL Latitude 7490. This Ask Ubuntu post lists a few possibilities, and mine is amongst them: Fn + Esc toggles an »Fn lock« feature.

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