Date Published: 19 January, 2020

not equals ligatures

Fancy Up Your Fonts with Ligatures

"Woah, how'd you get your not equals to look like that?"

I've recently started a new job and am now taking part in regular code reviews. The majority of these reviews take place over a video chat in which screen sharing is used in conjunction with Intellij's "Git > Compare with branch" to display the diff. We then talk through the changes and raise any concerns with the changes.

On several occasions, usually mid-sentence, I get the question "Woah, how'd you get your not equals to look like that?" Or equals, or greater-than-or-equal-to, or lambda operator, or ... the list goes on.

"Oh, that? That's a ligature, you can turn that on easily in your Intellij settings."

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Date Published: 28 September, 2019

playing cards

Face Value

I'd recently been on a job hunt (now fulfilled), and I was contacted through stackoverflow by a recruiter that had located my stackoverflow Developer's Story and was impressed. He'd asked me to complete a coding challenge which I passed with flying colors. I was then invited to participate in a technical interview with one of their team leaders and a developer - this is where the trouble began.

The first problem was that recruiter had informed me that this interview was to go over my code sample and take a deeper dig into my background; so I wasn't expecting a full-blown technical interview and therefore had failed to do any preparation.

The second problem is that I'd never taken part in a "real" technical interview and as such as I wasn't sure what to expect. I had, of course, read articles in the past about technical interviews, but it had been quite some time. It would have behooved me to reread some articles to have a better idea of what to expect.

So problems one and two are closely related and boil down to a lack of preparation and experience. It is my insight garnered from the third strike that I would like to share with you today: take all interview questions at face value.

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Date Published: 31 March, 2019

Catching Mail with MailCatcher


[MailCatcher] is a powerful and easy to use Ruby gem that acts as an SMTP server that allows you to inspect emails that your application is sending out in your dev environment.


Installation is pretty simple, these are the commands that I used on my Fedora 29 install to get it up and running. If Ruby is already installed on your machine, or if you've already installed other Ruby gems, you may not need the first few lines.

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Date Published: 23 March, 2019


Inspired years ago by [Scott Hanselman's tool list] and more recently by [Wes Bos' uses] and prodded into action so I could make a pull request to the [awesome-uses] repo by Wes Bos, here is a list of the tools that I use on a daily basis:

Operating System

  • [Fedora] - currently using version 29. I've been using different flavors of Linux off and on since 2009, but after switching to Fedora (26?) in November of 2017 from Win10 both at work and at home, I haven't looked back since...

IDE's/Code Editors

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Date Published: 17 March, 2019

Automating Conventional Commit Messages - Globally

I am constantly on the lookout for ways to better myself as a developer. This includes not only getting better at the actual art of coding but also improving the processes of coding and finding ways to streamline and/or automate these processes. One of the areas that I had already (mostly) improved on is writing useful commit messages, so my git log doesn't end up looking like this XKCD comic:

One bad habit that is easy to fall into as a solo developer (especially under a time constraint) is to rationalize ignoring or delaying proper documentation since you're the only one working in the codebase it is easy to think that documentation is unimportant. And it is. Until it isn't - and then it is really important.

So that is one area that I am constantly trying to improve in. A git commit message is an oft-overlooked and undervalued form of documentation, so how can we improve here? I had already been, for the most part, following [The seven rules of a great Git commit message]. They made sense and were easy enough to implement, and almost got me to where I wanted to be as far as git commit messages were concerned.

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Date Published: 9 March, 2019

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Unit Testing Dates and Times with Carbon

One area of my codebase at work that I had problems sufficiently testing were instances in my code base that had time based logic to them. Since I work in the manufacturing sector, lots of logic relies on knowing what the current, last, or next shift is. There are lots of edge cases that need tested around shift change, especially third shift, which starts before midnight, but for all the reporting and other facets of my software it is technically tomorrow.

So these time-dependant functions for the most part did not have useful, functional unit tests, until recently. In the past I would write my logic, cross my fingers and wait for the bug reports to come rolling in. I'm so thankful that I discovered this testing aid built in to the [Carbon] PHP library. (If you haven't used Carbon, stop reading and go check it out, I'll forgive you. It makes working with dates and times in PHP a walk in the park, it is one of the most useful libraries I use!)

So now you are wondering, "What is this wonderful function that will let me test my date/time based logic easier?" I'm glad you asked. It is the setTestNow() function built in to the [Carbon] api. Basically, this allows you to determine when now() is.

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Date Published: 3 March, 2019

Creating an RSS Feed for a Symfony Blog


One of the features I've wanted to add to this blog for a while now, but kept putting off, until now, is an RSS feed. I recently created an account on [] and there was a spot to add an RSS feed to one's profile, which was the only thing stopping me from getting my profile to 100% and earning the "Profile completed" badge. Nothing like a little gamification to make me stop putting off this task.

Since I'm never one to re-invent the wheel, without justification, I of course looked to see if there were any Symfony bundles that would allow me to easily add an RSS feed to my blog. "Easily" being the keyword in that sentence. I did find several of bundles, but all of them seemed to have convoluted configuration, with a learning curve much steeper than rolling my own.

Oh, yea, you can see it in action here:

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Date Published: 23 February, 2019

Override a trait in PHP

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I encountered a situation recently in which I wanted to change the method signature for a method that was injected into a class via a trait, namely changing the default parameter. I wanted to do this so I didn't have to pass in the new default parameter every place that I called this method on this particular class.

Overriding the method, was easy enough. As soon as a new method is declared in a class with the same name, the trait method is overridden. The tricky part was calling the 'parent' method from the 'child' method, so I didn't have to duplicate the logic inside my new method. I tried parent::methodName() and TraitName::methodName() before running off to the google machine to learn the proper way to do this.

It turns out that it is as easy as creating an alias for the trait method name in the "Use" statement, which made perfect sense after I saw it.

So, if this is the trait that you want to use and override:

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Date Published: 17 February, 2019

Global Hooks with Git


Recently I began to wonder if there was a way to have a collection of [git hooks] that could run on all of my git projects to save me the trouble of creating/editing hooks in each of my projects. Yes, it is possible to do this for new projects, via the git config --global init.templatedir command, but I have a lot of pre-existing git projects that I wanted to add a pre-push hook to, and I wanted to be able to make alterations to this hook after the fact that would affect all my projects. Apparently, I'm not the only person who needed this feature, because it was added in git release 2.9.


Adding the global hooks was easy enough, thanks to this [stackoverflow] answer, but I did run into a couple of caveats after I had the global hooks path set.

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Date Published: 10 February, 2019

Version Bump for git using Fish Shell


One feature that I really like from npm is the version command which handles bumping either patch, minor, or major version number following the [Semantic Versioning] standards. This sets the version attribute in your package.json file and creates a [git tag] using the new version number.

For example you can run the npm version minor command from the root of an npm project and it will change the version from 1.2.12 to 1.3.0 write this out to your package.json file and create a git tag for the new version.

Since the vast majority of my projects are php projects and not npm, I don't get a chance to use this feature nearly as much as I would like, so I found myself wishing there was a way to do this directly from git.

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Date Published: 10 December, 2017

Alphabetize your Way to More Readable Code

Super short and simple post this time, because it's explaining a simple concept. The concept is so simple, that I'm slightly embarrassed, almost shocked, that it took me almost 7 years of professional programming, and 3 and a half years of college to see and use this pattern.

The tip? Any time you are writing code and the order of the lines is irrelevant, such as declaring class variables, creating a JSON object, populating an associative array, adding dependencies, configuring your configuration, ad infinitum, use alphabetical order.

Instead of:

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Date Published: 4 December, 2017

filter_var() is Your Friend


I was recently reading a blog post by Aaron Saray called In PHP, False is Sometimes True. This is an issue that I've encountered in the past and I'd already considered blogging about the solution, which is something Aaron left out of his blog post.

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Date Published: 30 November, 2017

Create a File Watcher for php-cs-fixer in PhpStorm

File Watcher Settings for Linux


This is a quick an easy guide to setting up a file watcher on PhpStorm so that every time a php file is saved, php-cs-fixer is ran on the file. More than just a linter, php-cs-fixer will update your code to match coding standards such as the official PSR-1 and PSR-2, as well as community standards such as the Symfony one. It will also do some

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Date Published: 26 November, 2017

php 7.3 - Flexible heredoc & nowdoc Syntax

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Although we've still got a while to go before we see php 7.3, since we're still 4 days away from the release of php 7.2, I've already seen one new feature that looks like it will make its way into 7.3 that I am excited about. This feature is more flexible syntax for heredoc and nowdoc statements. Here is the official rfc if you'd like to read it.

What are heredocs and nowdocs?

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Date Published: 24 November, 2017

The Joy of Rotating Logs in Symfony


Switching from my hand-made, hodgepodge, cobbled together collection of libraries that was trying to act more and more like a "framework" every day to a full-blown real, properly developed, properly tested framework like Symfony continues to be the best decision I've made in my programming career thus far. I've learned so much about clean code, design patterns, SOLID principles and many other programming best practices from working within Symfony's MVC (Model View Controller) pattern and reading its documentation and code when I need to extend it to bow to my every whim.

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Date Published: 19 November, 2017

Editing Shared Libraries in PhpStorm with Composer and git

Composer logo

The "Old" Workflow

When I started my current position way back in the winter of 2013 as the sole Application Developer in a corporate/enterprise environment, I was tasked with maintaining existing web applications, porting Visual Basic apps into a web environment, as well as creating new applications. Each of the php applications that I had inherited had several shared dependencies that were maintained independently in their separate project directories. Any bug that was found and fixed in one of these 'libraries' had to be copied manually to the other projects

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Date Published: 12 November, 2017

PHP_EOL is Broken (Sometimes)

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What is PHP_EOL?

Introduced in version 5.0.2 of php, PHP_EOL is a string constant that represents the correct end of line symbol for the platform that you are running php on. So on Windows this should be set to "\r\n" (carriage return and line feed) and on a *nix system it should be set to "\n" (only line feed).

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Date Published: 22 October, 2017

Code Highlighting in HTML

alt text

I've been wanting to start blogging for quite some time now, and I figured there is no time like the present. I am familiar with both WordPress and Drupal, but I wanted to "roll my own" both for flexibility and as a learning experience. Since this blog is going to be code heavy, one thing that was really important to me was code highlighting in the display. I really like the code highlighting on the Symfony documentation pages, and I've used that in some of my own documentation pages, however, that is using Sphinx and .rst files, which requires a compilation step. I was looking for a way to have markdown files parsed by a real-time HTML converter to give me syntax highlighted code in HTML. That's how I discovered highlightjs.

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About Todd

Full stack application developer. Life-long learner. Pragmatic programmer. Believer in clean coding. Proponent for extensible and reusable code. Hobbies include (very) amateur photography, collecting old jazz records and going to live music performances.

North Central Ohio, US

Obligatory Disclaimer

All opinions are my own, probably wrong, and subject to change without notice.

© 2017-2019 Todd Eidson. All content is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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