Phing development update

Starting today, I’ll post regular updates on the development of Phing (which is, as you might know, a PHP build tool based on / inspired by Apache Ant).

For the past three years I’ve been the lead developer on this open source project, and thus responsible for deciding the direction of the project, integrating the various contributions, publishing releases, etc. Should you be interested, Lorna Jane Mitchell published an excellent post detailing some of the challenges faced by open source project leads.

The last few months have been especially interesting, as I’ve moved the Phing source code to GitHub. This has greatly improved the number of contributions and in general speeded up the development of Phing.

Let’s discuss some of the interesting commits that were made during the past two months!

Try/Catch task

A feature that has been requested before (and has been on my personal wishlist) is the ability to run task(s) whenever a task fails (very similar to PHP’s try/catch statement). During my talk at the PHPUK2012 conference, one of the attendees asked when this feature could be expected. So, while waiting for my flight home I decided to get busy and add the trycatch task.

<trycatch property="prop.testTryCatchFinally">

		<echo>In &lt;catch&gt;.</echo>

		<echo>In &lt;finally&gt;.</echo>

Parallel task

After a very interesting talk by Jeroen Keppens (@jkeppens) during this year’s PHP Benelux conference, Mike van Riel (@mvriel), the author of DocBlox, and me set out to enable some form of parallel processing in both Phing and Docblox. Mike authored a generic library, which I used in the new parallel task. This task is still very experimental (and it only works on Linux due to some OS limitations), but it’s definitely a nice example of how the community works and inspires!

<parallel threadCount="100">
	<echo>Job 1</echo>
	<echo>Job 2</echo>
	<echo>Job 3</echo>
	<echo>Job 4</echo>
	<echo>Job 5</echo>
	<echo>Job 6</echo>
	<echo>Job 7</echo>
	<echo>Job 8</echo>
	<echo>Job 9</echo>
	<echo>Job 10</echo>
	<echo>Job 11</echo>
	<echo>Job 12</echo>
	<echo>Job 13</echo>
	<echo>Job 14</echo>
	<echo>Job 15</echo>
	<echo>Job 16</echo>


Together with Stephan Hochdörfer (@shochdoerfer) I’ve been working on integrating his Liquibase (a Java database refactoring / change management application) tasks into the Phing core. The liquibase tasks will complement the dbdeploy task and assist the user with database changes / rollbacks.


ApiGen is a Nette framework based documentation generation tool for PHP 5.3. Phing now supports this tool through the new apigen task, contributed by Jaroslav Hanslík.

RNG schema updates

For a while now, Phing ships with a RNG schema to validate your build files. However, this schema was incomplete and did not contain some of the more recent tasks and changes. Johan Persson has done some invaluable work to get the RNG schema up to date.

Various (bug)fixes, the 2.4.10 release

Steady progress has been made towards the 2.4.10 version (which is scheduled to be released early April). Below is an overview of the tickets that have been closed so far:

#519 Extend mail task to include attachments 5 days
#334 Run a task on BuildException 6 days
#849 Symfony 2 Console Task 2 weeks
#835 JSL-Check faulty 2 weeks
#850 Typo in documentation – required attributes for project 3 weeks
#853 PHP Error with HttpGetTask 3 weeks
#671 fix CvsTask documentation 4 weeks
#852 Several minor errors in documentation of core tasks 4 weeks
#851 RNG grammar hasn’t been updated to current version 4 weeks
#790 Make it easy to add new inherited types to phing: Use addFileset instead of createFileset 5 weeks
#847 Add support for RNG grammar in task XmlLint 5 weeks
#846 RNG grammar is wrong for task ‘foreach’ 5 weeks
#833 Exec task args with special characters cannot be escaped 5 weeks
#587 More detailed backtrace in debug mode (patch) 5 weeks
#834 ExecTask documentation has incorrect escape attribute default value 5 weeks

Besides those commits, a good amount of other (small) fixes and contributions will make it into 2.4.10. A complete list of commits can be found here. Keep those pull requests coming! 🙂

Michiel Rook

Michiel Rook is an experienced, passionate & pragmatic freelance coach, developer & speaker from the Netherlands. He loves helping teams and companies to develop better software and significantly improve their delivery process. When he’s not thinking about continuous deployment, DevOps or event sourcing he enjoys music, cars, sports and movies.

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