Most PHP Web developers have heard of PEAR, the PHP Extension and Application Repository, but very few of them actually use it on a regular basis. Here are 10 reasons to get started today.
Most PHP Web developers have heard of PEAR, the PHP Extension and Application Repository, but very few of them actually use it on a regular basis. This is an oversight that should be corrected, because PEAR is actually a rich treasure trove of PHP widgets that can significantly simplify the average Web developer’s workday.
If you think I’m overstating the benefits, ask yourself if you’ve ever written custom code to (a) create HTML e-mail, (b) generate Web forms on the fly, or (c) validate email addresses. PEAR has pre-built PHP packages for all these tasks, and a few hundred more besides. These packages provide a robust, well-tested code base that can save you the time and effort you would otherwise spend on “rolling your own” code. You can’t beat the price either…they’re free!
PEAR classes cover a wide range of tasks, and so this document will focus specifically on classes of interest to developers working with Web pages and form input. If there are other categories you’d like to see addressed, send in your suggestions and we will examine those areas too…and until then, here’s to easier coding!
Note: You can install PEAR packages directly from the Web, by following the provided instructions.
Package Name: Validate
Description: This package provides validation routines for common input types: email addresses, credit card numbers, URLs, dates and times, string and number classes, and more.
Use this package to test user input entered in Web forms and ensure it is valid before using it in a calculation/saving it to a file or database.
This package creates calendar data structures for one or more months. These data structures can then be combined with HTML formatting or a template to create a calendar display, complete with forward/backward navigation links.
Use this package to quickly integrate a pop-up Web calendar into a Web site.
This package provides routines to create a MIME-compliant multi-part message. Such a message can contain embedded HTML, images, file attachments, or other parts. The package also provides functions to decode received multi-part messages into their constituent parts.
Use this package to create HTML email with embedded images, or messages with one or more attachments. You can also use this class to decode multi-part messages – for example, as an attachment browser in a Web mail client.
This package provides a simple caching framework for a Web site. It allows you to cache the output of PHP scripts as well as function calls, and reduce response times by rendering the cached pages to clients. Cached pages may be stored as files on disk, in a database, or using a custom storage engine.
If your site receives a lot of traffic, use this package to reduce server load and page processing time by occasionally providing clients with snapshots from the page cache instead of the “live” page. You can also reduce the load on your database server by caching the output of frequently-used SQL queries.
This package makes it possible to automatically convert numerical data into a graph suitable for display on a Web page. Bar, graph, pie, radar and scatter graphs are just some of the supported graph types. X and Y axis customisations are supported, as are many different output formats.
Use this package to display numerical data in a visual manner for easier comprehension – for example, when calculating Web site traffic or ad clicks.
This package provides routines to generate, validate, and process Web forms programmatically. It supports all the HTML form input types, and comes with built-in validation routines for most common input types. It also provides built-in functionality for multi-page forms and file upload forms.
Use this package to significantly simplify the task of generating Web forms at run-time, or to efficiently validate and process form input.
This package provides a framework for a basic login/authentication system using PHP. It can verify user credentials against a variety of data sources, including MySQL databases, ASCII files, LDAP servers and POP3 servers.
Use this package to quickly create a login system for a Web application. Because it has “out of the box” support for so many authentication sources, it can also be used to implement Web-based “single login” infrastructure.
This package is designed to parse RSS documents. It extracts information from an RSS feed as PHP data structures, which can be processed and formatted for display.
Use this package to integrate RSS feeds from other sites into your Web pages.
Use this package to display progress bars for time-consuming Web tasks — for example a file upload or a long-running loop.
This package provides a framework for multi-lingual Web sites. It contains routines to retrieve a translation for each string value from a database and insert it into the appropriate location on each translation-enabled page.
Use this package to efficiently handle multi-language versions of a Web site.