Creating Graphs in PHP

I was tasked with creating a demonstration of a dynamically generated graph for one of the grant proposals being worked on at present. This isn’t something we’ve really done before in PHP, but I had a feeling it would not be a unique requirement. A quick search revealed that a PEAR package exists for just this purpose: Image_Graph.

Installation was not too difficult, though I did have to ensure that a few dependencies were installed before PEAR would load the package. Documentation for the module is not that great, but there are a number of samples and a fairly active discussion forum. (There used to be a decent community, but the site appears to have gone under.)

I did not find the graphing object very intuitive. It seems to me that a lot of the properties and functions are abstracted from the objects they affect. I suspect this was a design decision to allow for greater flexibility, but it may also be due to an older coding style. The current branch appears to have been developed in earnest starting in 2005, and it’s been a few years since a new release. Even so, my initial exposure leads me to believe the package may be stable enough for even a production-level project so long as sufficient QA has been performed.

It took me only a couple of days to hack together the demonstration. Though the requirements of the script were few, I decided to push the limits of my object-oriented PHP and create the graphing component as a class. Overall it was a good first-try at producing something of this nature. You can find the demonstrator at

Items Utility: Piloting Data Entry Updates

Piloting packets for this year are starting to come in and the data from these packets needs to be entered into the items utility. Because the questions in the packet have changed from previous years, and due to the rigid structure of the piloting data entry form and data tables, I decided to rewrite the data entry form. The new format allows more flexible on the front-end without requiring modification of the back-end. In addition I modified the way PHP interacts with the packet data from MySQL by utilizing a structured array to hold the data.

Continue reading Items Utility: Piloting Data Entry Updates

Subversion Repository for Items

I’m currently cleaning up the items utility so that it can be brought into subversion. I’ve already deleted unused files and done some reorganization of the site files. Next up I’m going to work on some interface modifications that I hope will simplify the it as well as create some common navigational elements across  pages. The final step will involve unifying the code in a control structure similar to other recent projects.

Because this is more of a long-term project it is being performed along side any current development of the items utility. As a result any modifications to the items utility should be brought to my attention so that they can be ported to the SVN working copy if necessary.