cURL SSLv3 calls failing

If you try and connect over HTTPS/SSL with cURL you may get an error similar to:

sslv3 alert handshake failure


Unknown SSL protocol error in connection

If you cannot see a descriptive error message, use –verbose to report everything.

The cause of this often that hosts have disabled SSLv3 because it has now been compromised. The solution is to use TLS, which is a newer more secure protocol.

curl --tlsv1 --verbose hostname

If you are using cURL in PHP you can change the SSL version to use TLSv1.2.


You should then be able to make the cURL request over SSL successfully.

Troubleshooting xdebug profiler

Xdebug can be used to profile your PHP applications. However, it can be difficult to configure and get working. There are a number of gotchas to look out for.


To enable the profiler on every request you can use the setting:

xdebug.profiler_enable = 1

If you want to just enable it for certain requests you can use:


This will allow you to use ?XDEBUG_PROFILE=1 in your query string. However, if you are using mod_rewrite to rewrite your URLs in Apache, you need to make sure the rule has the [QSA] flag in it to pass the query string through or this will not work.

Output direcotry

You can set the output directory to whatever directory you wish using the output dir setting:

xdebug.profiler_output_dir = '/tmp/xdebug'

However, xdebug will not create this directory for you. You need to manually create the directory and give write permissions to the web server too.

MSVCR110.dll errors when running PHP

If you attempt to run php.exe on Windows you may get an error involving the following DLL.


The resolution to this is to install “Visual C++ Redistributable for Visual Studio 2012 Update 4”. Note that you should install the 32-bit version even if you are using a 64-bit operating system!

This can easily catch people out first time, however you can just install the 32-bit version over the top.

Class constraints in Symfony2

Sometimes you need to put a constraint on a whole class, rather than a single value. Duplicate usernames are a good example of this – you don’t want to be able to set a username to one that is already in use – but if it is in use with the user you are currently working on, you don’t want to flag it up as an error!

Lets use that as an example. You have a Username constraint and a UsernameValidator object to do the actual validation. We need to supply the validator an object, so we need to put the following method inside the Username object.

public function getTargets()
    return self::CLASS_CONSTRAINT;

This will turn the first parameter in our isValid function in the UsernameValidator class to an object.

public function isValid($user, Constraint $constraint)

Finally, you can call the constraint from your YAML validation file.

        - nocs:UniqueUsername: ~

Normally, under user you would have getters and properties – but here we’re adding a new section named “constraints” which lists all the class constraints.

Validation in Symfony2 unit tests

Want to use the Validation module in your Symfony2 unit tests? No problem, thanks to the ValidatorFactory, it’s relatively straight forward.

use Symfony\Component\Validator\ValidatorFactory;

class ExampleTest extends \PHPUnit_Framework_TestCase
    public function testSomething()
        $validator = ValidatorFactory::buildDefault()->getValidator();

Simply include the ValidatorFactory namespace and then use the class and it’s default values method to deliver you a validator, which you can then validate your objects against just as if it was in a controller.

Installing Imagick on Ubuntu 12

To install Imagick, you would normally do this via PECL.

sudo pecl install imagick

However, when trying this on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, you may get an error similar to the following.

checking ImageMagick MagickWand API configuration program...
configure: error: not found. Please provide a path to MagickWand-config or Wand-config program

You can resolve this by installing a few extra packages.

sudo apt-get install libmagickwand-dev libmagickcore-dev

Now try re-running the original command and it should be successful.

Installing ImageMagick and Imagick on Mac OS X

Trying to get ImageMagick and it’s PHP extension working on OS X Lion is a frustrating process. It will often fail and even if you try to configure it manually you may get an error like the following.

checking ImageMagick MagickWand API configuration program...
configure: error: not found. Please provide a path to MagickWand-config or Wand-config program.

First of all, install ImageMagick via MacPorts.

sudo port install ImageMagick

Now install the imagick PECL module.

sudo pecl install imagick

Very importantly however, make sure you specify the path when prompted, to be /opt/local, do not let it auto detect! Once this is done it should compile successfully and you will be prompted to add to your php.ini file.

PHP complains date.timezone is not set

Sometimes, PHP will kick up a fuss complaining about date.timezone not being set. We found this on the Symfony framework and were able to replicate it on standalone scripts.

DateTime::__construct(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings.
You are required to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set()
function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this
warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier.
We selected 'Europe/Berlin' for 'CEST/2.0/DST' instead

Normally, you would fix this by editing your php.ini file and adding a declaration there.

date.timezone = "Europe/Berlin"

But we had already done this and it still wasn’t working! After some further investigation, it seemed that PHP simply couldn’t access the value.


This doesn’t make any sense, and we never got to the bottom of what was going on, but there are two ways around the problem. Firstly, you could modify your PHP script so that it makes a call to set the system timezone.


However, this involves having to modify your code, which is bad as you don’t want to have to set the timezone manually, especially in a piece of code which could be deployed to servers in different timezones.

A better approach is to set it in the vhosts directive in Apache.

php_value "date.timezone" "Europe/Berlin"

This isn’t the cleanest solution but allowed us to solve an otherwise unexplainable error.

PHPUnit on OSX Lion CLI

If you’re trying to run PHPUnit from the terminal in Mac OSX Lion, you may get an error similar to the following.

File/Iterator/Autoload.php failed to open stream

You can resolve this by running the following commands.

curl > go-pear.php
sudo php -q go-pear.php

PHPUnit should now run without errors (or at least, without errors in their code 😉 ).