Dlayer, vNext

This is a cross post from the Dlayer.com blog, it is relevant here because their is a good chance I will be releasing new open source libraries related to the tools development.

Development work on Dlayer vNext is deliberately slow; I’m attempting to ensure that any and all of the core architecture issues I noticed developing version 1 get resolved.

I spent a considerable amount of time on the UI and UX for version 1 of Dlayer, very little of that will change for vNext. My issues with version 1 can be summed up in one word, modular, as in, the app wasn’t.

There are two parts to the problem; the designers were not modular, in Zend Framework 1 (modules were a bit of a hack), and two, the tools were not plug-and-play.


This one is easy, by switching to Zend Framework 3, and being careful as I develop, the modules can behave as real modules, turn them on or off, transfer to different apps, all possible


The tools in version 1 of Dlayer had too many hooks into the system; they could be disabled dynamically, but you could not drop a tool into another module or quickly remove the code for a disabled tool.

On paper, I have a new plan; and I am in the middle of prototyping to see if it solves the core issues.

The solution is complicated; it will take time to develop examples of each tool type. However, as soon as I am sure the design is right, it simplifies the rest of the app.

Simpler app

The tools in version 1 were solely data management within the designers, in vNext, this changes.

The tools in vNext are responsible for everything relating to the content item, including, how the content is displayed in the WYSIWYG designer. The app at this point is merely a vehicle to provide access to the tools.



Ubuntu: Install Apache, PHP, MySQL, SASS, Bower and PhpStorm for local development

Whenever I need to set up a Linux machine or VM for local PHP development I either recall what I need to do from memory or cobble together what I need from the web, years ago it was very simple, Apache, MySQL and PHP, that is no longer the case. These days a simple setup could be Apache, MySQL, PHP, Git, Node, Bower, Ruby and SASS. Rather than have to recall from memory again I decided to document it when I installed Ubuntu on my laptop.

After the steps below the following will be installed and configured.

  • Apache, two sites, one for a Bootstrap HTML site, the other for a site using Zend Framework 1
  • MySQL
  • PHP
  • Git
  • Bower, via Node
  • SASS, via Ruby
  • And just for good measure PhpStorm


We need to install Apache and configure two websites, one will be a simple PHP website and the other will be include rewrites for Zend Framework 1. The sites are going to be created in /var/www/html but we will create symbolic links in our Documents folder that point to the directories.

Install Apache

$ sudo apt-get install apache2

Configure Apache

Create directories for sites and set permissions, replace site1 and site2 with whatever names you want to use for your sites, in my case dlayer and site.

$ sudo mkdir –p /var/www/html/site1
$ sudo mkdir –p /var/www/html/site2
$ sudo chown –R $USER:$USER /var/www/html/site1
$ sudo chown –R $USER:$USER /var/www/html/site2
$ sudo chown -R 755 /var/www/html

Create conf files for the new sites, as above replace site1 and site2 with whatever you used previously.

$ sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available/site1.conf
$ sudo cp /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf /etc/apache2/sites-available/site2.conf

Edit the conf files

$ sudo gedit /etc/apache2/sites-available/site1.conf

You need to set ServerName and update DocumentRoot, in my case for site1 which is a Zend Framework site I have the below.

DocumentRoot /var/www/html/dlayer/public
ServerName dlayer.dev

Because this site is a Zend Framework base website we need to add in the rewrite rules, the below needs to be added, I add it just before the closing VirtualHost tag.

<Location />
   RewriteEngine On
   RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -s [OR]
   RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -l [OR]
   RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} -d
   RewriteRule ^.*$ - [NC,L]
   RewriteRule ^.*$ /index.php [NC,L]

Set the ServerName and update the DocumentRoot for the second site, my second site is a simple Bootstrap based site, the settings are as below.

$ sudo gedit /etc/apache2/sites-available/site1.conf
DocumentRoot /var/www/html/site
ServerName site.dev

We can now enable the sites and disable the default site

$ sudo a2dissite 000-default.conf
$ sudo a2ensite site1.conf
$ sudo a2ensite site2.conf

Enable the rewrite module and restart Apache

$ sudo a2enmod rewrite
$ sudo service apache2 restart

We can update our host files so we can reach the sites

$ sudo gedit /etc/hosts

Add the ServerNames you defined in the conf files, in my case I added the below    dlayer.dev    site.dev

Create the symbolic links to each of the sites, you can the point your IDE or editor at you projects folder rather than /var/www/html/…., replace site1 and site2 with whatever directory names you created in the first step and Site1 and Site2 with whatever you want to directory names to be in your projects directory.

$ sudo ln –s /var/www/html/site1 ~/Documents/Projects/Site1
$ sudo ln –s /var/www/html/site2 ~/Documents/Projects/Site2


Install MySQL and MySQL Workbench, if you don’t want to use MySQL workbench simply doesn’t include it in the install command

$ sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-workbench

Follow all the prompts, make sure to set a password for the root user, if you have problems copying a password from your password manager into the password field just press return at the prompts setting the password to nothing and update the password afterwards following the below steps.

$ mysql –u root –p
$ use mysql;
$ UPDATE user SET Password=PASSWORD('PASSWORD you want to use') WHERE User='root';
$ flush privileges;
$ quit;


Install PHP, we are also going to include the GD library and the MySQL PDO driver.

$ sudo apt-get install php5 libapache2-mod-php5 php5-gd php5-mysql


Install Git and set your name and email address

$ sudo apt-get install git
$ git config --global user.name "Your Name"
$ git config --global user.email "Your email"

If you need to generate a SSH key for GitHub check their website or execute the below.

$ ssh-keygen –t rsa –b 4096 –C "Your Email"
$ ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa

To add the key to your account do the below

$ sudo apt-get install xclip
$ xclip -sel clip < ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub
$ copy the contents of the clipboard to the relevant section in your GitHub profile settings


Install Bower

$ sudo apt-get install npm
$ sudo npm install –g bower
If the above doesn't work enter the below and try again
$ sudo ln –s /usr/bin/nodejs /usr/bin/node


Install SASS

$ sudo apt-get install ruby
$ gem install sass


On my Linux machines I use PhpStorm, I have used PHPed on my Windows machines for the last 12 years but can see myself moving to PhpStorm on both platforms if only for consistency.

Download PhpStorm and unpack

$ tar –xvf [package name]

Move it install /opt and execute the shell script

$ sudo mv [Directory to move] /opt
$ cd /opt/[PhpStorm directory/bin
$ ./phpstorm.sh

You should now have a functional development server and IDE, checkout your sites into your Project directories and start coding,

Imminent return to contracting

I’ve taken the majority of the last two years off work to help my wife raise our new son and also work on my own project, Dlayer.com.

Dlayer is not yet ready for promotion but it has improved massively between July 2013 and today, I would have loved to get more done in the time I had but how does the Lennon quote go, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans”.

When CodeSpaces went out of business, like a lot of other people, I lost some stuff, in my case it was just the SVN history for Dlayer but it was still data that I valued and because of the loss I can only look back at Dlayer’s near past.

When I return to work I am going to add a sub domain to Dlayer.com showing  the before and now, mainly for my own purposes but if interested people can see how much it has evolved over time whilst still being very recognisable as Dlayer.

At the moment I am not sure how far back I can go, hopefully two or three years, I have a year of history on GitHub and I made manual backups occasionally by doing an SVN export.

I always enjoy going back to contracting, meeting new people, picking up new ideas, tackling a new problem and generally just working with peers, always something new to learn and you never know where it will come from.