I am a web developer specialising in web driven applications using PHP, MySQL, Symfony and Zend and I am currently working for the The Drum in Glasgow, Scotland.

Most days I can be found frantically coding away with EuroDance in my ears and consuming what I hope to be a never ending supply of coffee... happy days!

Installing and configuring Symfony2

Symfony2 is a fantastic framework for developing your web applications and services and installing and configuring Symfony2 is extremely easy.  With the use of composer and the Symfony installer you can get started in just a couple of minutes and with only a few simple commands.

Symfony2 Welcome Screen

Symfony2 uses composer as the package manager for managing all of the dependencies within your applications and is a prerequistie to developing with Symfony2 so we will install this first.

Read more

Easily validate your and Open Graph Tags in your development environment

Validating tags, open graph tags and testing how sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will treat a link from your site has always been difficult to test in development.


Some tools have allowed you to copy and paste HTML and although it is not necessarily the most convenience way to do things, it did allow you to progress.  Other tools require you to enter a URL which is crawlable in order to perform the validation but while the code changes reside in your development environment it can be a rather challenging to make these available for testing and generally there have been 3 options available to you: 

Read more

Disqus: How-To notify your authors of new comments

The commenting platform Disqus is really easy to get up and running and a great addtion to your blog.  However, there was one feature I needed for Inside the Agency that didn't appear to be as simple as it sounded.

disqus_logo_-_white_on_blue_background (1).png

An implied feature of any collaborative site (including Inside the Agency) is that each author who contributes to the site is notified of any new comments that were posted on their articles, but this is not a feature that Disqus handles directly.  Disqus can send notifications to each Disqus moderator when a new comment is posted but often the author is not a Disqus moderator so sending author notifications has to be handled outside of Disqus.

Read more

How-To: Tail Apache logs to Ubuntu Notifications

Like many other developers I aspire to write clean, efficient code and while I don't always achieve that goal I am always on the lookout for ways to help me in that pursuit.


It always makes me a little sad when I look at an error log file to try and diagnose a problem only to find it bloated with deprecation and notice warnings which are easily preventable with a little care and attention. I know you can turn off logging for these types of errors but I feel it is better to fix these issues rather than ignore them.

Read more

My Top 10 Linux Commands

Over the last couple of years my role has expanded significantly and I have really had to pick up some good tips and tricks to try and make me as efficient as possible.  One area that has had to grow has been my familiarity with linux, terminal and my comfort with the command line and so I thought I would share my top 10 linux commands which I use on a regular basis. 


Read more

Composer & Git Branch Names - A Doh! Moment

It was one of those moments of clarity followed quickly by a doh! from everyone.


We were trying to include a branch of one of our Symfony bundles in our project using composer but composer refused to see the branch.  We checked the repository and the branch was definitely there so we could not understand why composer was not able to check out the branch.

Read more

Sencha Touch for the PHP Developer

The beginning of the year saw me working on the latest version of the Herald Scotland app (both android and iOS versions were released at the beginning of May) using Sencha Touch and PhoneGap. App development is not one of my primary skills and the learning curve from my comfort zone of PHP to Sencha Touch has been a steep one and one which I'm still far from conquering, however I thought it might be useful to share some of what i have learned and hopefully steers others away from some of the issues I encountered.


If you only take away one thing from this article then it should be to forget everything you know about web development and start again... Sencha Touch is an entirely different beast to what you are used to.

Read more

Using setSharedMaxAge() with HttpCache in Symfony2 always returns s-maxage=0

When implementing HttpCache within one of our Symfony2 projects I came across a curious problem in that regardless what I set the shared max age to it would always show as s-maxage=0 in the network inspector and the cache result was always a miss.  This puzzled me and so to try and isolate the issue I broke it down to the most basic example I could, but even then I still experienced the same s-maxage=0 problem.

My simple example was

Read more

"-":4: bad minute when installing crontab from a file

I recently had to migrate a rather messy crontab from one server to another and to try and simplify things I wanted to split the crontab into managable chunks.  

Unfortunately the crontab does not have any import / include functionality and I didn't want to use different user accounts to have different crontabs (this would likely cause permission issues, a management headache, and I would be replacing one messy solution with another) so after a quick Google I found that the solution was to create the separate files and concatentate them into the crontab. i.e.

Read more

#htmlmovies - A bit of nerd humour

A colleague of mine pointed me in the direction of a humorous twitter hashtag of the IT variety which, with being a web developer I found quite amusing, especially on a friday afternoon.  The hashtag was for #htmlmovies.

If you've not already guessed, the basic idea is to convey a film is a clever way using html tags such as

Read more


Digital Ocean

Chris's Reading List

Shifted Up

Shifted Up

Five programming problems every Software Engineer should be able to solve in less than 1 hour

Whenever I post a job request for a Software Engineer position, applications start trickling in really quick. What bothers me is that several applicants will invariably have no idea of what "programming" means. Read more



Prefetching, preloading, prebrowsing | CSS-Tricks

When we talk about front end performance we think things like concatenation, minification, caching, or gzipping assets on the server so that the page loads Read more



Legendary Productivity And The Fear Of Modern Programming

JavaScript master Douglas Crockford once said that software is the most complex thing that humans have ever created. It’s made up of intricate bits and.. Read more

Confession: I was a teenage computer virus writer

Did your PC crash a lot in the 90s? Yes, sorry about that Read more

UserTesting Blog

UserTesting Blog

To Design an Awesome Product, Let Go of Being Right

I recently had a conversation with a designer who was working on the early stages of a new product. Naturally, I recommended getting user feedback early and often throughout the design process. And he said… “But what if what your … Read More Read more

Acer's coolest new PC lets you build a computer like Lego bricks

Building your own computer is starting to come back in style thanks to initiatives like Phonebloks and Google's Project Ara, and now Acer is bringing that idea to the desktop. It's introducing a... Read more