The principle of least astonishment applied to code design

In a previous post I stated that “when you want to write a singleton, drink a single malt instead”. I also mentioned the “Golden Hammer” pattern which leads to poor design and low maintainability. The bottom line of it is : code design is not made of simple recipes you can use for every need. It is all about analysis and thinking. And it’s something you can (well, must) apply every day.

Application development is a world of rules. Unless you lived in a cave the last twenty years, you’re aware of design patterns, SOLID principles, test-driven development and some other best practices, you may even apply (please: not the singleton). The principle of least astonishment is not one of them in the first place, it was mostly established as a rule of thumb for user interfaces. But if we think about it, it’s a rule we can apply on software design and architecture.

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feed-io 4.3 : feed discovery

In version 4.3, feed-io now gets the ability to discover feeds included in the head section of a HTML page. For instance, browse to and take a look at the page’s sources. You’ll see something like this in the head section :

 <title>PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor</title>

<link rel="shortcut icon" href="">
<link rel="search" type="application/opensearchdescription+xml" href="" title="Add search">
<link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" href="" title="PHP Release feed">
<link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" href="" title="PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor">

The interesting parts of it are the two <link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" /> tags.

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From Wordpress to Symfony 4

On February 1st, I moved on the blog from a WordPress instance to a Symfony-based application hosted by OVH. Why ? There are many reasons for this :

  • I can do it. Yes it sounds stupid, but a personal blog can be built upon a few tables and a reasonable amount of code. Unless you really want to do something big, you don’t need more
  • it was the perfect opportunity to work with Symfony 4 on a live but harmless project (seriously, who cares if I break my own blog ?)

But these are not the only reasons I decided to leave WordPress. The idea came when this news came out. Then this one made me think it probably was a wise decision. And recently this one came as another nail in the coffin (yes, I read The Hacker News). All these flaws are representative of something really bad : Security is not a major matter for Wordpress developers and that’s the main reason I left Wordpress.

Because as an IT professional, I consider that Security MUST be an important topic in every development project. Period.

feed-io 4.0-beta1 is out

With PHP 5 reaching its end of life at the end of 2018, it’s time for modern libraries to move on and take advantage of PHP 7 features such as return types and scalar type declarations. So I did it to feed-io in the next release to come, tagged 4.0 and in beta phase until mid-September followed by a two weeks RC phase and then a final release in early October.

What will change in feed-io 4.0 :

  • PHP 5 will no longer be supported in this version
  • Return and argument types are declared in function declarations
  • Some bugs due to past versions’ design are fixed
  • Memory usage optimization

Users of feed-io 3 will have to adapt all classes implementing interfaces like FeedInterface to add the type hints in functions’ declarations. By the way : feed-io 3 will be supported until the end of 2018 so don’t panic if you didn’t plan to upgrade soon.

I am looking for testers and feedback will be highly appreciated. You can submit your issues in the project’s Github repository, I will give you an answer as soon as possible.

feed-io 3 : JSON Feed support

In my previous post I introduced JSON Feed, a new syndication standard published on May 17, 2017.

And now feed-io supports this new format since the last release. It was tagged 3.0 as it breaks compatibility with the previous version, which was a necessary evil because FeedIo::format() returned a DomDocument, no longer relevant. Now this method returns a string you can display without calling saveXML() anymore. This is the main change from 2.x to 3.0 and if you need to know everything on how to upgrade your code, please refer to the upgrade guide.

For those how don’t know feed-io yet, it is a PHP library built to read and write feeds initially written with RSS and Atom formats in mind. I sometimes had the feeling that one day a JSON standard will come this way, but I always ended thinking “nay, not that year”. Good news : I’m finally wrong ! And I guess nobody cares about what I am thinking, so now I’ll get to the point : the code.

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A new syndication standard : JSON Feed

With Atom and RSS being the major syndication formats since more than a decade, there’s not much room for another one. In fact, trying to introduce a new one in 2017 is a real challenge as those XML-based formats are used by billions of websites and known by every web developers.

But maybe that’s the problem : two XML-based formats. Working with both of them is tricky, as there both share the same goal using similar schemas on top of a complex markup language. Look at feed-io’s \Rule namespace, you may see by yourself that sometimes I had some headaches writing this library.

So, in order to offer an easier way to serve feeds, two web veterans (Brent Simmons and Manton Reece) proposed a new standard based on JSON with the following motivations :

We — Manton Reece and Brent Simmons — have noticed that JSON has become the developers’ choice for APIs, and that developers will often go out of their way to avoid XML. JSON is simpler to read and write, and it’s less prone to bugs.

So we developed JSON Feed, a format similar to RSS and Atom but in JSON. It reflects the lessons learned from our years of work reading and publishing feeds.

Here’s the example provided in JSON Feed’s specifications :

"version": "",
"title": "My Example Feed",
"home_page_url": "",
"feed_url": "",
"items": [
"id": "2",
"content_text": "This is a second item.",
"url": ""
"id": "1",
"content_html": "<p>Hello, world!</p>",
"url": ""

Really easy to read. So easy I decided to implement this standard in feed-io.

feed-io v2.4 : Json serialisation

In version 2.4, feed-io introduces the ability to convert feeds in valid JSON string :


$feedIo = \FeedIo\Factory::create()->getFeedIo();

$feed = $feedIo->read('')->getFeed();

echo json_encode($feed);

The whole feed is exported in the JSON string, including medias, categories and additional elements.

FeedIoBundle was the new rss-atom-bundle

Two years ago, I announced the future replacement of rss-atom-bundle in favor of FeedIoBundle. The goal was to get a cleaner code based on feed-io and new features like an user interface to handle feeds, without causing any trouble for rss-atom-bundle’s users. The result was not what I expected : forms made FeedIoBundle much harder to maintain than rss-atom-bundle and almost nobody adopted FeedIoBundle. Besides, rss-atom-bundle’s community is still growing, with some of these people opening new issues and even sometimes submitting pull requests. As a consequence, I drop FeedIoBundle in order to focus on rss-atom-bundle and feed-io.

This isn’t a problem for me to take this kind of decision. I tried something that didn’t work and now it’s just time to put an end to it. No matter how much time I spent on programming FeedIoBundle, it was worth the effort as I grabbed some knowledge thanks to this project.

So now the package will be tagged as “abandoned” on Packagist and all users are encouraged to use feed-io or rss-atom-bundle.

Edit : I managed to remove FeedIoBundle from Packagist, you can’t require it in your project anymore.

PHP and design patterns : a smart way ?

Thanks to Jon Lemaitre’s excellent article “A Response to PHP the wrong way”, I recently discovered self-exposed as the counterbalance of Then came the need to write an answer on the subject, my views on framework, OOP, standards and the rest but I realized I would end up with a very long article full of obvious arguments or at least statements many people already know. Boring. Seriously who wants to read another pros and cons on frameworks and OOP ? Is it really worth discussing it nowadays, knowing how many classes are offered by PHP itself and how its own syntax is object oriented ? I just think that if you don’t want to write OOP code with PHP, you’re free to use another language or to fork PHP 3.

The only subject I will cover in this post is the usage of design patterns. It could have been the wisest part of “PHP the wrong way” but the author failed to provide relevant arguments by focusing on a philosophical point of view. My goal here is to bring a more objective point of view with technical facts.

The wrong way: Looking for a pattern to solve a problem

True, this is a dogmatic approach we must stay away from. Patterns were designed to implement common needs like separation of responsibilities, open/close principle and to save some precious time finding design solutions. However, it has some drawbacks and the use of design patterns requires skills and common sense.

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Feed-io v2.3 : the CLI is here

From now on, feed-i is a little bit more than a library. Since version 2.3, it comes with a basic client you can use through your terminal :

./bin/feedio read -c 1

The instruction above will fetch’s feed and display its latest item. I used the “count” option to get only one, but this is not mandatory; without it, feed-io displays all the items included in the feed.

The command line interface will probably be the main subject of the next few releases. I’m thinking about features like JSON output or items ordering and if you have any suggestion, feel free to submit a new issue on Github.