Upload images to S3 via WordPress Plugin

A few years ago I blogged about creating an Adobe AIR app that would allow me to drag and drop images on it and automatically upload them to my blog server. The backend code would store the image and create a thumbnail. The WordPress plugin would display the images on the sidebar.

Since visiting AWS re:Invent, I started looking for a project to play around with some AWS services and decided it was time to create a new version of the “uploader”. The stack I used:

  • WordPress plugin
    • PHP
    • JS
  • S3 to store the images and thumbnails
  • SQS to get notified when the thumbnails are created
  • Lambda to generate thumbnails after an image is uploaded to S3


A WordPress plugin is configured to run on the sidebar. For a guest user, only the functionality to list images is loaded. This will make an API call to load all objects from the S3 bucket. In JS, we parse through all objects and display the newest x thumbnail images on the screen. Clicking on the image will load the original sized version.

The experience for the admin user is a bit different. That user sees a drag and drop area above the thumbnails. Upon dropping images on that spot, two progress bars are displayed. One shows the progress of images being uploaded to S3. The other shows the progress of thumbnails begin generated.

Guest View:

Admin View:


The Process

High level, this is what is happening:

  • Images are dropped on the WordPress plugin’s drag and drop area.
  • A call is made to upload those images to an S3 bucket using the AWS JS SDK.
  • The S3 bucket receives the image and when it’s completed, a Lambda function is triggered.
  • The Lambda function creates a thumbnail image and puts it in the thumbnail bucket.
  • When the thumbnail is fully received, that S3 bucket sends SQS a message with information about that image.
  • JS keeps checking back with SQS to check on completed images and when all images are done, resets the display and shows the new thumbnails.



The first part of the process is to create two S3 buckets: one for the original sized images and the other for the thumbnails. The trickiest part here is to get permissions correct in AWS. We’ll need to attach the right policies. A lot of how I learned to configure this and how I got this to work comes from a hands-on training class from QuiklabsIntroduction to AWS Lambda.


The purpose of the Lambda is to resize an uploaded image and store it in the thumbnail bucket.


We use SQS to track what thumbnails have been generated. When the Lambda is done, it sends a message to the SQS queue to let it know it’s finished.

WordPress Plugin

Nothing fancy here, just a WordPress plugin that shows recent images based on an API call to the S3 thumbnail bucket. It has a widget setup page to store the AWS connection strings.

Here is the repo: https://github.com/joeyrivera/wp-s3-images

Steps To Make This Happen

  • Setup S3
    • create two buckets
    • setup permissions
  • Create Lambda
    • configure the resize script
    • set it as a triggered event on the S3 bucket
    • setup permissions
  • Setup SQS
    • add event to receive from S3 resize bucket
    • setup permissions
  • Create WordPress plugin
    • create widget form
    • create settings page
    • drag and drop


If you want more details, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer your question or update this post with more.


WordPress Plugins

  • https://developer.wordpress.org/themes/basics/including-css-javascript/
  • https://wordpress.org/support/article/debugging-in-wordpress/

Drag and Drop JS

  • https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/API/HTML_Drag_and_Drop_API/File_drag_and_drop
  • https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2018/01/drag-drop-file-uploader-vanilla-js/


  • https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSJavaScriptSDK/latest/AWS/S3.html
  • https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AWSJavaScriptSDK/latest/AWS/SQS.html
  • https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonS3/latest/user-guide/enable-event-notifications.html
  • https://www.tothenew.com/blog/configuring-sns-notifications-for-s3-put-object-event-operation/
  • https://stackoverflow.com/questions/19176926/how-to-make-all-objects-in-aws-s3-bucket-public-by-default
  • https://docs.aws.amazon.com/sdk-for-javascript/v2/developer-guide/s3-example-photo-album.html
  • https://run.qwiklabs.com/focuses/8613?parent=catalog
  • https://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonS3/latest/user-guide/enable-event-notifications.html#enable-event-notifications-how-to
  • https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/new-for-aws-lambda-environment-variables-and-serverless-application-model/

Phing and PHPUnit

I started reading up on Jenkins as I want to learn more about it and noticed it has an extension to work with Phing scripts. It’s been a while since I used Phing so I decided to spend some time learning more about its current state. The goal being to create a script that would run various PHP tasks starting with unit tests using PHPUnit. After spending some time, I got it working and decided to document my findings in this post.

All the following code can be found in this github repo:

Getting Our Dependencies

First we want to create a new folder and install composer. Now that you have composer, create a composer.json file with the contents of the file below:

    "autoload": {
        "classmap": [
    "require-dev": {
        "phing/phing": "2.*",
        "phpunit/phpunit": "^8"

and run:

php composer.phar install

This will install all you need to work with Phing and PHPUnit for this exercise. Now we want to add some code and tests to verify PHPUnit works. You can write some sample code or copy/paste the classes I created in this github project under src/ and tests/.


Before we run phpunit, we do want to add a phpunit.xml file and some configuration information so phpunit knows where the tests are and where the autoloader is as well:

        <testsuite name="Tests">

Now we can run vendor/bin/phpunit and see all tests pass!

Getting Phing To Work

This part was a bit tricky. I saw in the documentation the PHPUnitTask but I was unable to get it to run any tests. After some research, and I didn’t verify this, it seems the PHPUnit Task is not compatible with the later version of PHPUnit that use namespacing.

Instead of using the PHPUnit Task, I decided to try the ExecTask. That worked well! I just needed to find the right configuration to get Phing to detect the output and if it was a pass or failure. To do this, I used the following settings in the build.xml file:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<project name="PhingTests" default="tests">
    <target name="tests">
        <echo msg="Running unit tests" />
        <exec executable="./vendor/bin/phpunit" passthru="true" checkreturn="true" />
        <!-- doesn't seem to work with namespaced versions of phpunit -->
        <!-- <phpunit codecoverage="false" pharlocation="./vendor/bin/phpunit">
            <formatter type="plain" usefile="false"/>
                <fileset dir="./tests/">
                    <include name="**/*Test*.php"/>
        </phpunit> -->

Setting passthru and checkreturn lets us capture the results of the execution command and check the return code to see if it was a successful run or a failure. Now, running vendor/bin/phing (which by default calls the tests target) returns the following:

And there you have it, Phing with PHPUnit working! Just for fun, I updated the code to simulate a tests failure to verify the process is working and here is what you get in Phing when PHPUnit fails:

Doctrine2 and Postgresql timestamp with millisecond issue

I’ve been doing a lot of work with Doctrine 2 and finding some issues when dealing with PostgreSQL and Doctrine which I’ll be blogging about. I’ve ignored this particular issue for some time and finally decided to address it.

The issue is declaring a Doctrine entity property as datetime if the column in the db is storing the timestamp with milliseconds such as ‘2012-01-01 10:12:35.542’. When you try to load that into your entity, Doctrine will give you an error. An example of how this can happen is declaring a column timestamp without time zone and using now() as the default value.

Here is an example of a Doctrine entity property declared as a datetime

* @Column(type="datetime")
protected $discontinued;

And what the column sql declaration looks like

discontinued timestamp without time zone NOT NULL

There are three solutions that work, one is to configure Doctrine to not use the default DateTime classes, or you can declare your datetime properties as strings in your entities and convert them to datetime yourself if needed and finally the other approach is to update your db to not store milliseconds. I considered all approaches are decided that it would be better and more efficient to update the db than to write some custom DateTime classes or treat dates as string. If you would like to tackle this issue by creating your own custom DateTime classes then follow this link for more information.

I used the following query to identity all the timestamp columns in my db table:

select table_name, column_name 
from information_schema.colum
where table_catalog = 'gatweb2' and table_schema = 'public' and udt_name like 'timestamp%' 
order by table_name asc

Noticed I used like timestampe% instead of = timestamp. This is because you could have timestamptz (timestamp with time zone) columns as well. Once I had the list, I saved the results, did some search/replace magic to come up with alter statements for each table and ran the queries. I spent a little bit of time looking at cursors to see if I could write a cursor to loop through the list and alter each table but it was taking too long research and search/replaced was quick. This is what the alter queries look like for each table:

alter table 'contact' alter 'date' set data type timestamp(0) without time zone

By altering my timestamp columns to timestamp(0), it lets Postgres know to remove milliseconds from all values as well as to not store milliseconds in the future.

An issue I ran into when running all my alter statements was that some views were referencing some of the columns I was about to alter and Postgres didn’t like that. I did some research and it seems my only choice was to drop those particular views, alter the tables, then recreate the views. I created a big script that did all that, ran it, and now all my issues are gone and my unit test passed.

Slides from Automation with Phing presentation for Codeworks 2012 Atlanta

I had the pleasant opportunity to present at Codeworks this year. I’ve presented at the Atlanta PHP User Group a few times but this was my first time presenting at a conference. Overall I think it went well and I learned a lot from it. I picked Phing as a topic as we have been doing a lot with Phing in the last year at work. The presentation covers some of the improvements we’ve made to one of our applications by automating a few processes that we used to spend hours on. Here are the slides:

Zend_Json_Server and how to call it via JSON-RPC 2.0

So I started playing with Zend_Json_Server and was having a hard time trying to figure out how to call the server from a client. Finally I checked the JSON-RPC 2.0 spec and read a very important detail that I had not realized:

The Request is expressed as a single JSON Object

This was the key to my problem. There are 4 parameters that can be sent with each JSON-RPC 2.0 request but I was sending each as a post var which is not what Zend_Json_Server expects. It simply wants one json encoded object with all the parameters inside. The 4 available parameters are:

  1. jsonrpc – the version you are using; I’m using 2.0.
  2. method – the name of the method you want to call in the server.
  3. params – object of parameters your method needs. If you don’t need any, don’t send this param.
  4. id – an identifier (anything you want) that will be sent to and from the server for this request.

I’m using Zend_Http_Client() to make the request and here is an example:

$params = array(
	'jsonrpc' => '2.0',
	'method' => 'find',
	'params' => array('326691'),
	'id' => 'test'

$http = new Zend_Http_Client();

echo $http->request()->getBody();

Continue reading “Zend_Json_Server and how to call it via JSON-RPC 2.0”

Facebook Graph API App Easy w/ PHP SDK

NOTE: This post was written using Facebook’s PHP SDK version 2.1.2. Since this post was made, the PHP SDK has changed and some of the process that are explained below may have changed as well. At some point I’ll have to revisit this post and update it but at this time just keep in mind of the above.

As promised, here is a post (similar to my Twitter API post) on using the Facebook API. There are many reason why one would want to access the Facebook API – maybe to create a mobile app that lets you post photos to your Facebook albums, or maybe you just want to show your last few Facebook status updates on your blog; what ever the reason may be, Facebooks Graph API mixed in with their PHP SDK makes it really easy to accomplish this.


  • Setup our environment
  • Register an app on Facebook
  • Understand the authentication process and extended parameters
  • Understand Graph API
  • Retrieve our latest status updates
  • Add a new status update
  • Retrieve our photos from our albums
  • Add a new photo Continue reading “Facebook Graph API App Easy w/ PHP SDK”

Twitter API, OAuth Authentication, and Zend_Oauth Tutorial

* 06/2014 UPDATE
Thanks to Ivan for pointing out that the siteUrl is now ‘https://api.twitter.com/oauth’. Make sure to use this new value anywhere where the siteUrl is mentioned below.

I recently had to work on a project that required me to interact with the Twitter API. I had done this before so I wasn’t expecting anything different until I remembered that Twitter had changed their API to start using OAuth for authentication. If you are not familiar with OAuth, it’s a secure way of authenticating without requiring a user to submit their username and password to third-parties – you can read more about it at OAuth. There are lots of resources online that talk about this in detail but I wasn’t able to find one that explained the entire process in a way that made sense. Hopefully this post will give you everything you need to get started with the Twitter API. I’m going to go through the steps required to make this work without using the entire zend framework.


This tutorial will go step-by-step in explaining how to create a small PHP application that can interact with the Twitter API. Our goal is to:

  • Authenticate
  • Display our latest tweets
  • Post new tweets from PHP
  • Display the last few times our account was mentioned

The only assumptions at this point (other than knowing PHP) is that you have a twitter account and the zend framework library downloaded. We won’t be using the entire framework, just some of the files as standalone modules.

Registering An App

The first step in being able to communicate with the Twitter API is to register an app in their system so you can receive all the necessary keys to authenticate with OAuth. Go to dev.twitter.com and log in with your Twitter account. Now click on ‘register an app’ (if that link is not visible then click on ‘your apps’ on the top right and then click on ‘register an app’ in the next page). These are the values I put in the form on the next page for my app. Feel free to follow along. I’ll explain the important inputs.

Application: Joey’s Blog Example
Description: Twitter PHP App
Application Website: http://www.joeyrivera.com
Organization: None
Application Type: Browser
Callback URL: http://www.joeyrivera.com/twitter/callback.php
Default Access Type: Read & Write Continue reading “Twitter API, OAuth Authentication, and Zend_Oauth Tutorial”

Using Zend_Paginator with Twitter API and Zend_Cache

Zend Framework 1.10.0 is out and a comment was posted on my blog that lead me to creating this new post. I’m going to focus more on Zend_Paginator and Zend_Rest_Client to access Twitters API since I’ve already created a post on Zend_Cache. Normally, I would use Zend_Service_Twitter to access the twitter service but it still seems to require authentication to retrieve a users timeline where only protected users should require authentication.


Zend_Paginator from the Zend Framework site:

Zend_Paginator is a flexible component for paginating collections of data and presenting that data to users.

Zend_Paginator automatically creates pagination for you by setting up a few parameters and passing it an array of data. What is pagination, if you have ever gone to Google and searched for anything, usually you’ll see something like the following at the bottom of the search results page:

See the numbers and the text links, this is called pagination. So much data exists for the particular search that it wouldn’t make sense to display it all in one page. It would cause large amounts of scrolling down to view, the load time of the page would be affected, so we rather show fewer results and give our users the option of viewing more by clicking on the pagination links.

To demonstrate how to use Zend_Paginator I created a sample Zend Framework 1.10.0 application. This application grabs my last 50 tweets using the Twitter API and displays them 10 at a time using Zend_Paginator. I use Zend_Cache to cache my twitter data so I don’t have to spend time accessing their api every time – I’m sure they would appreciate it.


The first step was to create a new zend framework project. I’m making the assumption that if you are reading this then you already know how to do this. After creating my new project, I added two methods to my bootstrap file to autoload and to init Zend_Cache. My bootstrap looks like the following:
Continue reading “Using Zend_Paginator with Twitter API and Zend_Cache”

Caching using PHP/Zend_Cache and MySQL

I like the definition used in Wikipedia: “a cache is a temporary storage area where often accessed data can be stored for quick access”. The idea is to get ‘often accessed data’ from a database and store it in memory (RAM or as a file in your local file system). This is because:

  • it’s quicker for a machine to read from memory than to connect to a database and query data.
  • it’s more efficient for the database to not waste time and resources returning the same dataset multiple times when it could be focusing on other tasks.

As long as the data, in this scenario from the database, doesn’t change, there is no need to query it again.

Resources are limited on systems and to take advantage of your resources, you need to make sure time isn’t spent on tasks that could be handled better elsewhere. Here is a silly real world example. Imagine on a daily basis, I have to track how many magazines I have and send this information to Person X. I get new magazines at the beginning of each month only. To track the number of magazines I have every day I could

  1. Count them, one by one every day and send Person X the total. If I have 50 magazines this could take some time and assume I get 10 more every month, after a year or two I could spend all day just counting how many magazines I have instead of working. Sound productive?
  2. Count them once and write the number down on a piece of paper (caching!). Everyday when Person X asks how many magazines I have, I read the number from the piece of paper. Only when I get new magazines (once a month) do I count them again (or just add the current number + the new amount) to get my new total. Then I update my piece of paper with the new total (updating the value in cache).

The latter is definitely the more productive choice.

The same idea applies to computer systems. In the web, you have static and dynamic files. Static files are quicker to serve on a server because the server only has to read the contents of the file and send it to the browser requesting it. Dynamic pages take more time and resources because the server needs to execute the code in the page and only once it’s done can it send the request back. PHP can be used to create dynamic pages. The server executes the php code and spits out a file that then is read by the browser. If a database is involved, then the database has to run it’s task as well before the final file is returned.

When ever possible, it’s more efficient to serve a static file or static content. We use cache to accomplish this. In this post I’m going to talk about caching files and database queries to local files on the server. Continue reading “Caching using PHP/Zend_Cache and MySQL”

Implementing Vanity URLs in PHP w/ Zend Framework

One of the reasons why people like vanity url’s is because they are easy to remember. For example take the following url:


If this was the url to my page in some social network site, there’s no way I could remember it nor would I be able to easily share the url with others unless I sent them the link. Now, if I could instead create a vanity url that looked like the following:


it would be much easier to remember and to share with others. Not only that but now I have a much more search engine friendly url with keywords that I would like to be found under – but ignore the search engine benefits for now.


I’m currently working on an application that can benefit from vanity urls for the reasons mentioned above so I decided to spend some time thinking of ways to implement this. The first way that came to my mind was using mod_rewrite. Mod rewrite lets you manipulate urls. For example, you can write rules in your .htaccess file so when a user goes to http://www.somesocialsite.com/joeyrivera it really calls http://www.somesocialsite.com/search.php?user=joeyrivera or in zend the request would be more like http://www.somesocialsite.com/search/user/name/joeyrivera Continue reading “Implementing Vanity URLs in PHP w/ Zend Framework”