Quick Response Codes (QR codes)

Today I went to the Technology for Marketing and Advertising show with little expectations, however I ended up in the Mobile Internet seminar. This is where I found that QR codes (which I had briefly investigated last week for a work pitch) are already usable and being used in the real world (although they are old news in Japan and China I hear – they are even on McDonalds wrappers there).

Example QR code.

The above is an example code – use it and I’ll know when you do because it is a text message to me, telling me how modest (awesome) I am. All automated.

The programmes I installed to test the QR codes on my Windows Mobile Orange SPV E650 (aka the HTC S710) were the i-nigma reader and the Quickmark reader both of which work really well if the QR is large enough (anything over an inch in print was fine – screen worked better but that defeats the object!).

The QR code can include all manner of information – popular uses I have seen include sending direct to mobile web pages, auto dialling phone numbers, short texts and even full sms messages with number and message! If you want your own QR codes you can create them for non-commercial use on the kaywa web site. hey also have an excellent reader on there, just one not compatible with my phone at time of writing.

So I will be pushing for these codes to be used more in my line of work and looking out for them and using them when I see them. Apparently current uses include on “Lost” posters, on the labels of England shirts and The Sun ran a piece on QR codes when they printed a code in the tabloid back in December.

Now I’m off to make QR code t-shirts – and you won’t know what they say unless you’re as cool as me and my phone!QR code

PHP Frameworks, the research

So for part of my development at work, I have been looking at the various PHP frameworks there are around and trying to find something that I can not only use at work, but also use at home for my own sites.

Now I do a little PHP and it is my aim to one day be the front end “that is better than most back enders at back end stuff” coder, but that day is many moons away. In the meantime I have tried and looked at the hype about a few MVC style PHP frameworks.

Symfony

Symfony logo.

This was recommended by Manda Poo, my former colleague. Her new company Blu Halo use this and apparently to superb extent according to their web site, which utilised the framework (Blu Halo). They also use jQuery superbly, but that’s one for another blog. Blu Halo do have a quite excellent web site there. Pretty much a perfect example of what I want to do at Gyro (I’ll be lucky, Virgin Atlantic is a little heavy on my time right now…).

I found Symfony to look a powerful and all round excellent framework. Some massive sites have used the framework, as well as Blu Halo mentioned above, for example Heriot-Watt University, ASDA (press release source) and Shoot magazine (brilliant). I did have a few issues with local development, using the command line PHP interface and getting it to work with WAMP. Incidentally I just found a load of solutions, a little too late unfortunately. I must try harder to work through things next time!

CakePHP

CakePHP logo.

Next was Cake PHP and I found pretty much the same as above, but without a personal recommendation I kept going back to see what I could see about Symfony, hence only spending a little while with Cake PHP. This is quite possible the most useless review of anything ever.

I’ll try Cake again, but not quite yet!

Code Ignitor

CodeIgniter PHP Framework logo.

This has proved to win the competition to be come my current obsession. From seeing the ease of install (upload – that is it!) to the simple database set up and querying I have quite literally got stuck right in. Hopefully over the next few weeks I won’t find any problems with it because it would be heartbreaking.

The best bits I have found in very limited experience of CodeIgniter are that the organisation of the framework is excellent, the way the MVC works and the code helpers are clear, without any experience of them, is brilliant.

I also briefly looked at KohanaPHP, which is based on CodeIgniter and I think it probably is the way forward, if it is as flexible as claimed (which it appears to be). The choice cam down to the fact CodeIgniter had better tutorials and support to unfortunately.

Obviously not being a back end specialist and an especially insecure programmer, I need more input on what might work as a development tool at Gyro. There is always the chance we don’t need one at all, but if we want to be considered a serious digital agency, then we better get in line and use the powerful frameworks. Not that there is anything “wrong” as such with the current set up, but surely better is, erm, better.

I think I will go with CodeIgniter for the back end of my next web site incarnation, but when I get a little more experienced with OOP I reckon I’ll go back to Symfony. Only time will tell.

ASP.NET will never be mentioned in a blog here, expect then, because it smells.

Warning – Philosophical comment below…

Yesterday I thought about what I might have made of myself if I had either staying in the call centres or really pushed to be a teacher. I thought call centre manager would be about right, at LEAST whereby teaching would have been a struggle to get up the ladder. Then I realised what I have already accomplished with only 4 years of web programming experience. Building Xerox, T-Mobile, SportsAid and Tate and Lyle web sites. Even coding Virgin emails most days is a feather in the cap – especially as I seem to be the only email author that can make emails almost perfect in every client, even Lotus Notes 5. The best bit is I will only get better, so I’m not thinking about what I could have done any more, but thinking about what I will do for the Internet and myself in the next 10 years.