Category: "RIA"

PHP and javascript timestamper

This is an extension of an earlier script to demonstrate the difference in execution time of preg_replace and trim.

The objective of this demonstration is to show a quick time check method to determine the following:

  • Time required for PHP to process all statements
  • Time required for javascript to process all statements

This code is valuable for complex pages, specifically RIA pages, to assist engineers in finding ways to make the page display more quickly.

/* First line of the PHP script */

/* Beginning of the HTML */
echo '<html>';

/* This captures the time the first javascript statement was executed */
echo '<script>var d=new Date();var jsStart=d.getTime();var jsEnd;</script>';

/* This captures the time the page has finished loading.  If other code is executed prior to the page being considered fully rendered and functional, the EndLoad function should be called after the last statement */ 
echo '<script>function EndLoad(){var d=new Date();jsEnd=d.getTime();jsElapsed=jsEnd-jsStart;document.getElementById(\'jsStartDisplay\').innerHTML=jsStart;document.getElementById(\'jsEndDisplay\').innerHTML=jsEnd;document.getElementById(\'jsElapsedDisplay\').innerHTML=jsElapsed;}</script>';

/* Body tag */
echo '<body onload="EndLoad()">';

/* At the end of the PHP script */
echo 'PHPStartTime: ';printf("%f",$fStartPHP);echo '<br />'."\n";
echo 'PHPEndTime: ';printf("%f",$fEndPHP);echo '<br />'."\n";
echo 'PHPElapsed: ';printf("%f",$fPHPElapsed*1000000);echo ' microseconds <br />'."\n";
echo '<hr />';
echo 'HTML/JSStartTime: <span id="jsStartDisplay"></span><br />'."\n";
echo 'HTML/JSEndTime: <span id="jsEndDisplay"></span><br />'."\n";
echo 'HTML/JSElapsedTime: <span id="jsElapsedDisplay"></span>&nbsp;microseconds<br />'."\n";
echo '</body>';
echo '</html>';

AJAX Page Load Improvement

The application I am working on has several very complex pages, which take some time to render in the browers. I used the link above to create a ‘loading‘ gif (with great thanks to the authors and contributors). Set up a div to contain the image and ‘Loading, please wait …‘ text, with z-index set to -1. Added dojo.OnLoad() to hide the loading div and display the main div.

The effect of these changes is to prevent display of the page content until dojo had fully rendered it.

A side effect is that the page seems to load and display much more quickly. I suspect this is because the browser doesn’t have to display the page as it is being rendered.

dojo - Smarty - PHP - Synchronizing client- and server-side validation

The following architecture with Smarty and dojo allows you to the client and server synchronized for validation for RIA/PHP applications.

Each input has 4 characteristics defined in a (PHP) .ini file -

V_input_name = regExp (usually includes length)
L_input_name = max length
R_input_name = true or false (required or not)
T_input_name = type of input data in database, used to support documentation

Each input also has 3 characteristics defined in a Smarty .conf file, and there is a .conf file for every language (.ini be under languages)

E_input_name = error message
I_input_name = invalid message
P_input_name = prompt message

Smarty constructs the input tags like so:

<input type="text" dojoType="dijit.form.ValidationTextBox"
    name="input_name" id="input_name"
    length="{#L_input_name#}" />

There is a simple javascript validation that accepts an array of inputs and tests if they are valid with input_name.isValid(), displaying input_name.errorMessage if not, and cancelling the submit.

On the server side, there is a loop that tests the inputs against the same strings:

foreach ($aInput as $k => $v)
  if (isset($aIni['V_'.$k]))
    if (isset($aIni['R_'.$k])
    if (($aIni['R_'.$k]=='true') && ($sInput=='')) /* Test for required */
      return false;
    if (!filter($aIni['V_'.$k],$v))  /* flter ensures data complies with regexp */
        return false;

This allows the client-side code to help the user enter valid data, and allows the server-side code to protect the server by disallowing or discarding data that isn’t valid.

Please note that page-level validation, where the required state and content of data may vary based on other inputs must be reflected at both the client and server side.


In virtually every web application - performance should take precedence over everything.

PHP (and many other languages) are interpretive. The code is read over and over.

  • Organize the files such that the most commonly used code is first.
  • Keep files small.
  • Use a good architecture.
  • Don’t read data or access information that won’t be used. If it won’t go to the client, on every request, don’t read it.
  • Validate on the client side first, and don’t send the data to the server if it isn’t valid.
  • Perform quick validation and escaping to protect the server on the server side.
  • Cache files on the client whenever possible.
  • Cache information on the server, use session variables for anything that will be used on every request. Consider storing ACL data in a session variable, but be aware of security risks.
  • Be aware of PHP best practices, and the impacts of double-quoted strings.


If you need the JSON support functions json_encode and json_decode, but your server is not running PHP 5.2+, consider using the Zend framework.

One of the nicest things about the JSON support is that it will use json_encode and json_decode if they are available, if not, it will handle it.

Zend framework can be used as a library, so if all you need is the JSON support, you won’t incur alot of overhead.

The new version of Zend Framework includes dojo!

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