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#26 2019-07-02 20:35:35

Ben
Moderator
From: Melbourne, Australia
Registered: 2012-09-29
Posts: 4,081

Re: sudden death

Hi Michael, I meant to follow up on your post.  I don't believe there is such a thing as a standard PHP environment.  There are two aspects in which environments differ: feature support and configuration.

Upon seeing your post I downloaded the full PHP source code and compiled it from scratch to see what features vanilla, unadulterated PHP provides.  The vast majority of functionality is compiled in by default, but some functionality that I would consider quite generic, is not compiled in unless explicitly configured.  That includes features such as multibyte string and exif support.  The list of optional features that ship with the PHP source code is not extensive, and since it comes from the PHP project itself so should be of pretty dependable quality, I can't see why hosts wouldn't compile in most, if not all, of them.
To see what has been built into the version of PHP on your server, click on the View PHP Info button on the Backlight landing page and look for the --enable flags in the Configure Command section.

Configuration is another kettle of fish.  There are a myriad of settings available to system administrators through the php.ini file and huge scope for them to mess something up.  PHP is unique in that the language features themselves are also configurable through the php.ini file.

All I can suggest is that you use a well-reputed host, and if you encounter configuration issues, that you hound the technical support to fix it.  We have jumped through hoops over the years to make our code as portable across hosts as possible, but there are some misconfigurations that we can not code around.  A host configuring the PHP mail log to a location that is not writable is something beyond our control.  It is so far out of our control that even if we stripped out all emailing functionality from our code, the error would still exist.

I realise it's frustrating, but that's the state of the PHP world, which unfortunately is the only option we have for ubiquitous back-end language support.  If I were deploying PHP code for a business (which I do for my day job), I would avoid shared hosts altogether.  The only dependable way of running PHP in a state that doesn't break over time is to manage your own server.  I'd love to offer a hosted solution for TTG, but we do not have the resources to do so, and it also goes against the grain of self-hosted sites that is the target of our software.

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#27 2019-07-04 09:05:03

5Michael5
Member
Registered: 2016-11-04
Posts: 28

Re: sudden death

Good day Ben!
I am very grateful for this vital piece of background. I had already drawn the inescapable conclusion that it was useless to further try and "hound the technical support" from hosts who deny and/or ignore the issues I have so tirelessly put before them. For this reason I am leaving, and will continue to work with Backlight on one of my other hosts where thing do work.

As far as I know PHP itself is not the problem, although only really diving into it's technical heart will open up all of its possibilities. But first and foremost....we are photographers (to be).

That said, I would aks TTG to consider the possibility of making some kind of test-set (I'm not a coder so this will most likely sound silly) in order for clients to check their hosts before investing quite a bit of time on what for many of us is - though much loved - a hobby and pastime. You speak of "well-reputed hosts" but I'm afraid that is way beyond what the vast majority of your users will be able to find before actually spending money. I have read hundreds of pages in my own country and all over the internet, looking for reliable client experience information, but again 90% of what you find is either very/too angry customer reviews or biased commercial promoting.

I will certainly forward the essence of my experiences and your valuable comments to my soon ex-provider if only to stress that with probably little effort they could have had and kept a happy client.

Oh and if you DO see a way to start TTG hosted solutions (day job or not wink).....LET ME KNOW!

Thanks again,
M.

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#28 2019-07-07 20:15:58

Ben
Moderator
From: Melbourne, Australia
Registered: 2012-09-29
Posts: 4,081

Re: sudden death

Hi Michael, Backlight does check for PHP dependencies on every page load (perhaps overkill, but the overhead is very low) and report with an appropriate error message if the dependencies aren't met.  The checks performed cover the PHP version (at least 5.4), database support and XML support.  We'll add items to the check over time if they are features that we can look for.  There are other fallback mechanism in the code when certain functionality isn't provided, such as when the latest password encryption function isn't available or multibyte characters aren't supported. 

What we can't check for is issues in configuration, such as the mail server trying to write to a location that can't be written to  An ongoing issue that users face is hosts moving the goal posts.  A site may work perfectly well but then break over time due to hosts upgrading PHP versions without notice, and changing the supported feature set, or breaking configuration in the process.  We do what we can.

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