What is Larry Thinking? #73 => Useful Resources

June 11, 2014
The Yii Book If you like my writing on the Yii framework, you'll love "The Yii Book"!

In this edition…

About This Newsletter

So………you may have noticed that it’s been a while since my last newsletter. It’s been a loooong while. And, technically, the last newsletter was just a “hey, I’m going to start doing newsletters again”, so the last real newsletter was even longer ago. Hmmm…as you may know, I’m pretty crazy busy these days, and some things just aren’t getting done (despite the fact that I’m working 7 days a week, ugh). But let’s not dwell on the past, but rather revel in this, a new newsletter!

In this edition, I wanted to share some of the resources that I like to use for learning about new things. Safe to say that my (this) newsletter is rather personal and different (and more inconsistent!) than most. I gather people do find my newsletter to be useful, which is good, considering the effort I actually put into it. But if you’d like to broaden your horizons, to get information from other sources, these other newsletters are worth considering, too. Truth be told, then tend to stack up in my email until I have time to review them like once a month. And then I have to bookmark the articles I’m interested in for later reading, but still…worth considering and subscribing to. (They’re all free, by the way.)

Looking ahead, I have tentative newsletters scheduled on: the business of freelancing; attending and speaking at conferences; and on writing and publishing. I’m going to try to do better about getting these newsletters out more regularly, like every month-ish. As I’ll address later in this newsletter, the first version of “The Yii Book” is winding down, and I’ll be completing it and the version for Yii 2 this summer, so I’m hoping that my life becomes a lot more maintainable in the near future.

Returning to this newsletter, if you have any resources that you value that I didn’t mention, please let me know and I’ll include it in a follow-up. As always, questions, comments, and all feedback are much appreciated. And thanks for your interest in what I have to say and do!

Social Media

The first, and obvious resource, is social media. For me, this is almost entirely Twitter. I don’t really use Facebook much, or Google Plus. In fact, I practically don’t use them at all. I see their value, I just don’t have time. Twitter is similarly tricky in that there are hundreds of people I could follow, but then I’d never have the time to actually read what people tweet. It’s a balancing act. But following the right people in social media is immensely helpful when it comes to learning new things, being influenced, and so forth.

As I said, I’m not very active these days, but I’m on Twitter under @LarryUllman, on Facebook as larry.ullman.5, and on Google Plus using larryullman@gmail.com.

Cooper Press

A first good resource for newsletters is Cooper Press, from the great Peter Cooper. For me, the most critical newsletters from Cooper Press are:

The first two are, um, weekly newsletters about HTML5 (including CSS 3, WebSockets, etc.) and JavaScript (including CoffeeScript and server-side JavaScript frameworks). You’ll get links to featured articles, videos, and job postings. There are also links to relevant libraries, code, and tools.

StatusCode is less frequently put out and is not targeted to any one technology. But it includes a ton of great links about programming in general, trends and events in the community, and so forth. It’s irregularly put out, but one of my favorites.


Another good resource for newsletters is SitePoint. I subscribe to all of them, I think: SitePoint, Mobile, PHP, JavaScript, and the rest. They are short-ish, but high in quality.


Short and sweet, Websec.io is a newsletter that every web developer ought to subscribe to. The focus is on web security, with PHP given the most attention. Edited by Chris Cornutt, a PHP security guru (and the technical editor on my “Effortless E-commerce with PHP and MySQL (2nd Edition)” book), Websec.io helps to keep you up to date on the latest news and best practices relative to web security.

Chris Hartjes

Chris Hartjes, colloquially known as the “grumpy programmer”, is single-handedly leading the cause of better testing in PHP. (Okay, not “single-handedly” but…) Chris has a couple of books specific to testing, but any PHP developer will find his newsletter to be worthwhile. For example, there was a really good one recently about the minimum viable system administrative skills that everyone should have.

Kate Matsudaira’s Tech Leadership News

Kate Matsudaira’s Tech Leadership News (TLN) may be my favorite newsletter, but there’s the caveat that it’s so good, and comes out weekly, that I have a hard time keeping up with everything I want to read. In short, it’s The New Yorker of newsletters (that’s high praise in my book).

Ms. Matsudaira is an industry leader that knows not just the underlying technologies, but also how to work with organizations and people. She’s an accomplished speaker, a paid consultant, and true leader, and still rather down to earth. I find myself wanting to read nearly every article she highlights, and frankly don’t know how she has the time to put out such a quality newsletter.

Some of the many topics covered include: leadership, management, being productive, technical web development concepts, startups, emotional health, career advice, and so on, and so on.

Just great, great stuff!

Yii 2 Status and Looking Forward

Switching gears, this isn’t a “useful resource”, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about the status of version 2 of the the Yii framework, “The Yii Book”, and so forth.

The beta of Yii 2 was announced in April. Besides being another release, which is a good thing, officially reaching beta status means that no new major features will be added before Yii 2 is released. In other words, what Yii 2 looks like in beta will be pretty close to what Yii 2 is. Yay!

Rather than discussing all, or the most important, changes in Yii 2, I’d recommend you read the announcement page just linked. As for how I imagine this will play out looking forward…

I expect the first general release of Yii 2 will be out this summer. I’m currently (and continually) helping with the Yii documentation, which is the last major hurdle in getting Yii 2 to a production release.

As for “The Yii Book”, I am still, of course, honoring my commitment to update the entire book to Yii 2. And anyone that’s purchased a copy of the book will get that update for free. I’m going to finish the book for Yii 1 first, though, for these reasons:

  • Yii 2 isn’t finished yet, so more changes in Yii 2 just means more changes in the book (i.e., it’ll be inefficient to rush into updating the book to Yii 2 right now)
  • Most developers are (and should be) using Yii 1 for the near future
  • Completing the entire book in Yii 1 will make the changes to Yii 2 that much more obvious and easier to highlight when I do the update

I’m separately going to send out an update to those subscribed to Yii updates (in the account page, if you purchase a book), but the short version is…
Right now there are just four chapters left. But I’m going to hold off on writing the chapter on unit testing (Chapter 21) in this edition. Testing in Yii 2 uses a different framework, so a chapter on testing in Yii 1 would be largely a waste of time. This leaves three chapters left: two example chapters, and a chapter on shipping your project. I’m going to write those three chapters and complete version 1 of the book as quickly as possible. Then I’ll update the book for Yii 2.

I don’t want to give a timeline on this (as I obviously can’t be trusted when it comes to my timelines), but know that I’m going to finish version 1 of the book ASAP, and then do version 2 of the book (for Yii 2) ASAP. The update for Yii 2 shouldn’t be that hard to do, or take that long.

As always, thanks to everyone for their interest in Yii, for their interest in the book, for their patience with a much-delayed and overworked writer, and for all the feedback and support along the way. Do let me know if you have any questions!

Larry Ullman’s Book News => “Effortless E-commerce with PHP and MySQL (2nd Edition)”

It’s been so long since my last newsletter, that I never officially mentioned that the 2nd edition of my “Effortless E-commerce with PHP and MySQL” came out last November. I think the new edition of this already popular book turned out well.

For the second edition, here are the main changes and updates that were implemented:

  • A third payment processing example, using a system and approach that’s only been invented in the past couple years: Stripe!
  • Updated PayPal section to reflect changes in PayPal’s options and methodologies since the first edition.
  • Updated Authorize.net section to reflect changes in Authorize.net’s options and methodologies since the first edition.
  • A chapter on adding functionality using JavaScript and Ajax.
  • A chapter on extending the first example site in many sites.
  • A chapter on extending the second example site in many sites.

And, of course, all of the existing material was also updated for clarity, fixing errors, and so forth.

As I said, I think the new edition turned out well, and it’s approximately 200 pages longer than the previous edition.

The only book on the horizon right now is the completion of “The Yii Book”, for both versions 1 and 2 of the framework. I’m pretty sure I won’t be writing another book in 2014, although 2015 may see updates to some of my existing books.