HTTP Tools Roundup

At a conference a few days ago, I put up a slide with a few of my favourite tools on it. I got some brilliant additional recommendations in return from twitter so I thought I'd collect them all in one place in case anyone is interested - all these tools are excellent for anyone working APIs (so that's everyone!). First, my original slide:

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Notify New Relic of Jenkins Deploys

I'm a fan of Jenkins as a build server, and on one particular project we've also started using New Relic (I haven't figured out how to blog fun things about New Relic without sharing graphs of client applications which doesn't seem like a cool thing to do). New Relic has a feature where you can notify it when you do a deployment, and it shows on the graphs a line marking when that happened, which is super useful for correlating performance changes with code changes.


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Scaling and Sizing with PDFJam

I find myself needing to take a PDF, output it at a specific size, and have the result offset to the top right hand side of the screen. To achieve it, I needed a few new switches to my good friend PDFJam, so I thought I'd share my command!

pdfjam --suffix converted --papersize '{1920px,1080px}' --scale 0.4 --trim "-6cm -1cm 13cm 8cm" slides.pdf

The --suffix is instead of giving an output filename, whatever you feed in ends up with the suffix in its filename. This is very handy because I use this command in a script and only need to pass in one variable. The --papersize isn't a switch I have used before either but you can set exact sizes for the final output which is nice. The --trim switch can also be used to set --clip=true to remove the trimmed space from the document if desired.

I find PDFJam a very handy tool but with not nearly enough blog posts and code snippets around, so I'm dropping my command for future reference (yours as well as mine!).

Gollum the Git-Enabled Wiki

In trying to get company documentation off google docs and people's laptops and into a more useful format, I have been researching developer-friendly tools for business documentation. Requirements went something like:
- must handle words and documents
- should be available locally, bonus points for revision history
- must publish to the web, and ideally be editable there
- should accept content in markdown
- must have access control (which wiped out my original plan of using a static site generator)

While I worked on this, we were using the wiki feature in GitLab ... which pretty much hit the nail on the head. Further investigation showed that the wiki feature in GitLab (and indeed in GitHub) is a ruby gem called Gollum. Continue reading

Set Up Your First Hubot

It took me far too long to get my first hubot working; when I finally sat down to get it going the process was much easier than I expected! So here's a little guide in the hope that this helps you get started too.
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Hubot and Slack

I'm enjoying using hubot to integrate services very easily and both give updates and respond to commands in chat. One of my hubots chats to us in slack rather than in IRC, and there are a couple of gotchas that I wish I'd known about before I started!

  • Hubot will not respond to you in PM, you need to join a channel and then /invite @hubot and your bot will join you in that channel and then respond when you address him/her by name
  • When configuring channel names for slack (I use the gitlab plugin which needs a GITLAB_CHANNEL environment variable), do NOT include a # at the start of it if you use slack - works a treat in IRC, but skip it for slack. I spent quite a while looking for a bug in the slack adapter before I figured this one out so it's written here for me to look up next time!
  • Also note that your hubot can only speak in channels that it has joined; I have seen hubot actually crash when asked to speak in a channel that exists but which isn't known to it.

I think this central way of having plugins which can integrate with many messaging platforms on one side, and integrate with many external APIs on the other means we'll be doing much more in chat ops moving forward. Already I'm impressed by how many of the hosted tools I use have webhooks, although there aren't hubot plugins for all of them (yet!).

Compiling PHP Extensions

There are lots of reasons why you might like to compile your own PHP extensions. For me those reasons are usually:

  • The extension isn't available on pecl (e.g. uprofiler)
  • The extension is on pecl, but you need the newest version or a branch with a particular feature or fix in it, perhaps for testing
  • You are fixing an extension yourself (yay, we need more people like you!)

Related: If you followed my previous post on compiling PHP, be aware that in the php/bin/ folder there is a pecl binary that will install extensions correctly for whichever version of PHP it belongs to, so you may not need to read the rest of this post. However if you do, the paths follow on from the examples in that post.

I haven't seen a really approachable guide anywhere, we tend to speak of extensions in hushed tones, and actually it isn't particularly tricky so here is my quick how-to guide. Continue reading

Running Multiple Versions of PHP

When I advise people about upgrading their PHP version, I say things like "just run your test suite with the new version" "just grab the new version and try your site with the built-in webserver". A couple of people recently have asked for more detail on how to actually achieve these things so here's a quick primer on getting new PHP without touching anything to do with your existing PHP installation. Continue reading

Running Pull Request Builds with Jenkins

The projects are set up so that the build process runs on pull requests when they are opened, which is great! It means that contributors don't have to wait for one of the maintainers to look at it, only to reject the contribution on something that could be picked up automatically. I've had a few questions about the setup so I thought I'd share how it works. Continue reading

Easy Lint Check for JavaScript

I'm introducing lint checking on one of my projects, because it didn't have a build process yet and I love this as a great place to start. Oh, and because we managed to commit broken syntax! So I set up a php lint job (I will share my travis config in another post) and tried to work out doing the same thing for JavaScript. Continue reading