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Talking Code

December 2017

Voice and natural language are the new frontiers for interacting with our computing devices and services. It’s a natural evolution given the proliferation of smaller and even screen-less devices connected to the internet. In this issue, we look at how you can build an application which recognizes and reacts to what your users are saying.

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Chatbots and PHP

By Katy Ereira

Chatbots are currently experiencing a rapid increase in popularity, with millions of people regularly using messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and Slack. In this article, I’m going to explain why chatbots are important, and how we as PHP developers can become part of the robot revolution.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)—The Future of Internet Services

By Kesha Williams

Hands-free is the future of internet services due to artificial intelligence (AI). AI is a branch of Computer Science which investigates and creates intelligent machines and software. Amazon Alexa is leading the charge to a hands-free future. Amazon initially launched the Echo, with relatively low fanfare, in 2014; however, fast forward to present day, the device is a sure-fire hit and has caused competitors to take notice. The device realizes the promise of voice as a more natural way to interact with technology. In this article, we will investigate how to interact with Amazon Alexa and teach this AI to become smarter by developing skills (Amazon’s term for voice-based apps) for it using the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).

CQRS & Event Sourcing in the Wild

By Michiel Rook

In software development, change is pretty much the only constant factor. In fact, embracing change is one of the twelve principles behind the Agile Manifesto. The need for adaptability and ability to change becomes especially apparent when developing an application, or a product, for a longer amount of time. As time passes, our understanding of the domain we are working in evolves. We develop based on new requirements, opportunities, changes in the market or legislation, or other factors.

Learning Machine Learning, Part Three: Data Wrangling

By Edward Barnard

Part One and Part Two of Learning Machine Learning explored the machine learning (ML) workflow. We built and evaluated a K-nearest neighbors classification model. By far the most work for this classification project, behind the scenes, has been wrangling the input and output data. Since this sort of PHP/MySQL data wrangling is nothing like building a website, we’re using Part Three to build our wrangling skills.

Education Station: How to Write Your Own Code Sniffer

By Matthew Setter

Whether you’re new to PHP, or you’re more of a seasoned veteran, you’ve probably heard about PHP_CodeSniffer. The package, which has been around since September 2006, checks source code for coding standards violations. I’ll start off by showing you how to create a style which is a combination of other standards. I’ll then refactor it, so you learn how to pick and choose only the elements from those standards you need. Finally, I’ll step through the process of creating your own code sniff from scratch, one handling a specific use case.

Artisinal: Queue Monitoring

By Joe Ferguson

Laravel Horizon is a beautiful and code driven configured dashboard for your Redis queues. You can easily monitor throughput, job run times, as well as job failures. Horizon utilizes asynchronous process signals which means your project should be on PHP 7.1 or higher. You _are_ running PHP 7.1, right? Horizon keeps your worker configuration in one simple file, so it’s easy to share with your coworkers or teammates via version control.

The Dev Lead Trenches: Measuring Success

By Chris Tankersley

There will come a time, probably once a year per team member, when you will have to assess how well a team member is working. Are they contributing overall to the team? Are they making their goals? Do they know what their goals are? Are they pulling their weight? For as long as there have been companies, there has been a need to quantify how well an individual employee is doing. “Gut feeling” is not the most accurate way to do this. There are also many ways which do not work in real-world situations.

Security Corner: PHP, meet Libsodium

By Eric Mann

By the time you read this, the PHP community should have introduced the world to the newest version of our favorite language. This latest version adds better support for type annotations, allows trailing commas in lists (just like JavaScript and other dynamic languages) and introduced several security improvements. The most notable security addition, however, is the introduction of the Sodium cryptographic library as a core extension.

Community Corner: The elePHPants thing…

By James Titcumb

There is something unique about the PHP community. At first, you might not spot them but if you look a little closer, you might see there are a bunch of PHP developers with stuffed elephant toys on their desks, in their children’s toy boxes, or being looked after by their pets.

finally{}: Poised for Growth

By Eli White

If you look at the JavaScript community at the moment, you will find an ecosystem that is exploding with constant innovation. New tools and new frameworks are being created so fast, that the community has begun to make fun of itself for it. It can attract younger programmers eager to be always on the cutting edge of technology, and it is something that PHP is missing at the moment.

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