Weeknotes: Redis, PHP, mail and SOAP

I’ve spent some time writing a queueing library using Redis as a backend. I started with the notion that it would need to be a FIFO queue but didn’t want to only use the in-built parts of PHP as a stack using array_pop or array_push. Whilst it might be faster, it doesn’t allow for queue storage if the worker / router calling the queue does not run until a certain time so I looked at Redis. I  drew some inspiration from MEMQ, a queue implementation using memcached. I wrote a quick set of functions to handle connection, enqueuing and dequeueing with the ever present Rediska as the underlying Redis connection library. I’m tempted to revisit this and to write my own connection to remove the reliance on Rediska. What I did learn was how to increase and decrease the number of items that could be dequeued. For some stupid reason, I’d got into my head that it would either by one or all items.

However if you think about the LLEN command, you can pop as many items as you want, drop them into an array and iterate across them. I need to try this but you could feasibly call items from the middle of the array by changing the start and end points in LLEN. Normally I’d do something like  <list name> LLEN 0, -1 for all items or <list name> LLEN 0, 2 for the first two but if you change 0 to something else where you know there are 30 items but only want 5 from position 20 then you could pop in LLEN 20, 5 to achieve the result. It is not really germaine to the queueing that I’ve been looking at (for system updates where I need everything or just the first item) but could be a useful adaptation for somebody else.

The main challenge this week has been reading Excel attachments from email. PHP’s imap library  allows you to read the structure of an email but is curiously reticent in retrieving data if you have mime parts. I spent ethe best part of a day and a half getting a script to iterate over an incoming email, filter the parts so that it just explored the attachments mime type and then retrive any attachments either from a flat structure or iterating over each part before calling imap_fetchbody(). So far the fix appears to work and has allowed me to create a prototype mail service for receiving email data. It seems odd that in the era of web services that financial data is still sent by insecure methods but we must accomodate.

I’ve also been looking at PHP’s SOAP library to create a status update service which will probably utilise Service Orientated Architecture to create a stable, scalable service. Initially I created a WSDL file using the Eclipse IDE but that threw all sorts of issues and ended up using Zend’s WSDL generator tool running across the existing server. Must look into this but there might be a conflict in versions of WSDL as well as first time learning curve. I’m hoping to get the first version of the service up this week.

I suspect that this week is going to complete the commission and service status services as well as possibly doing some documentation as it is beginning to pile up.