Sneak Peak into Agile Toolkit 4.2

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011|Brainstorming, Core changes, Verison 4.2, Version 4|by Romans|9 Comments

As we nearing our deadline fro 4.2 release a lot of cool features have been added into development branch of Agile Toolkit such as:

  • Completely new “TMail” implementation
  • Completely new “DB” implementation based on PDO
  • Completely new “DSQL” implementation
  • Completely new “Model” implementation
  • Completely new SMlite implementation
  • Improvements in Site Debugging

The new implementations are functionally compatible with the 4.1 branch, although the do offer a number of benefits. In this article, I’ll highlight some of the new features about the new component implementation.

Another important feature of all the new modules is that they are are under heavy automated testing from the very start.

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Why I created Agile Toolkit?

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011|Beginner tips, Version 4|by Romans|1 Comment
Romans Malinovskis
Author of Agile Toolkit

I first have learned about Object Oriented in the age of 10, in 1990. I have already mastered BASIC and was exploring the world of Turbo Pascal. My young mind couldn’t grasp the ideas of in capsulation and polymorphism so I asked my mom to help out. She took the book and carefully kept re-reading the introduction.

“Objects. Think Objects”.

Years later I have been eager to apply the Object Oriented principles everywhere: the games I wrote, the demo-scene productions, my copy of multiplayer user dungeon. When I settled in as a Web Developer and learned PHP3.0 I was disappointed at the poor implementation of the objects.

The birth of Agile Toolkit was as soon as the Zend Engine 2.0 alpha was released. I started to re-wrote the framework I had into a new, powerful language. From the first versions the most important distinctive feature of Agile Toolkit today have been embedded into the very core of the framework.

Rendering of the Runtime Object Tree

2-3 decades have passed since the concept of Object-Oriented User Interface have been launched on the desk-top computers. The realization that the elements you can see on your screen have many similarities even through the look differently defines every Graphics User Interface today. To understand this concept Imagine a “button” and a “input field” next to each-other.

Here a two object quite distinctive in their appearance are being rendered by the operating system by calling each object’s rendering function. The system may decide to force objects to re-render or skip rendering if they are not actually visible on the screen.

The exactly same idea is in the foundation of Agile Toolkit. Because I have been creating my own User Interface in Pascal and Assembler this was to me the best possible solution to interfaces in the Web Applications – implement them as a tree of visual objects generated during the run-time of your application and then rendering the necessary components.

Making Interface More “Webby”

Initial implementation of Agile Toolkit was only good to produce back-end administration systems as it was too in-flexible to do the requirements of the creative minds of our web-designers. Many UI Frameworks are destined with the same interface style, but Agile Toolkit was able to introduce a great breakthrough.

All the objects in Agile Toolkit, no matter how complex, are producing a valid HTML code based on object templates. This approach allows to easily change HTML behind individual or all objects and finally produce the great solution for website front-ends. However the default look and feel of Agile Toolkit application gives developers a great start.

Progressive Enhancement

By the time Agile Toolkit has matured the move towards Progressive Enhancements in CSS and Scripting made it possible to create a separate JavaScript layer which would  be optional for the elements. While earlier we would need to set “onchange” and “onsubmit” handlers into HTML baking templates extremely complex, now all of the JavaScript code have gone into a separate JavaScript API based on top of jQuery UI.

This allowed to purge all the JavaScript hacks from the code and rely on a much more powerful Object-oriented interface between JavaScript and PHP.

Business Logic

With the increasing complexity of our projects, it became apparent that a Objective Model layer is necessary. It finally appeared in Agile Toolkit in 2008 as an optional component. The models in Agile Toolkit serve a different role than the Models of other ORMs and Frameworks. Instead of only offering DataBase engine transparency and populating classes from data structures models in Agile Toolkit introduce a new dimension to modeling – inheritance. You can understand the power of this when you can narrow down values in the drop-down field by simply setting the right model to the reference definition. SQL Databases could not implement such flexibility but a PHP framework can.

RoadMap for Agile Toolkit

Up till now, Agile Toolkit had been walking a different path than other frameworks. Their goal was to provide developers with “utility” or a wrench to do certain things better. Approach of Agile Toolkit is to build levels of abstractions from the very bottom up. I must admit, that I can solve any web-related task with Agile Toolkit, but if I must produce a solution in clear PHP I feel lost and confused.

The immediate road-map for Agile Toolkit is to improve the 3 strengths it has by making it easier to interact and build. The “Model Builder” is in the works, which provides a visual interface to building new model fields and actually generating a PHP file as a result. The syntax of Models is already extremely simple but it will be even more so with the builder.

Another initiative is the User Interface builder. This allows create pages and add objects on your pages with a drag-and-drop interface. Similarly the tool would be capable of outputting a valid PHP code you can then further modify.

The number of Views and Templates will be made available through an on-line repository. In a way this would be similar to WordPress extensions, but tho time you will be installing classes which will aid you in building an Interface. The available views could be either free or paid creating a possible new revenue model for developers. A good example for such an view would be a “Gallery”. You could add this to any application you’ve got and bind it with the model holding images.

Unlike add-ons in other frameworks, the unified UI, JavaScript and Model structure makes sure that the add-on you are adding will fit-in perfectly, will be easily configurable to do the job and will contain minimum amount of code.


I adore web applications, but today it is way too complicated to build a web application. The situation reminds me the “DOS” and with Agile Toolkit I am able to introduce a Graphical User Interface for The Web.

Integrating Agile Toolkit with WordPress

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011|Beginner tips, Version 4|by Romans|1 Comment

The question I get asked a lot is how to integrate Agile Toolkit with other frameworks.

One of the best qualities of Agile Toolkit is that it can be very nibble when you want to use it to fill the gap. So let’s scrap the whole page routing mechanics and simply create a SINGLE PHP file which would work on it’s own. For this, you will need to have most up-to-date Agile Toolkit (4.1.3).

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Agile Toolkit Weekend $1 sale

Friday, September 23rd, 2011|Beginner tips, Core changes, Misc, Version 4|by Romans|1 Comment

Agile Toolkit is Open for Business!

I am very pleased to announce that Agile Toolkit is finally ready to be used in your business applications. Not only the code-base, Learning guide and Documentation have matured over the last few months but we’ve got the resources to help you with your questions!

We are running $1.00 license sale. For just a single dollar you will get the following:

  • Developing a closed-source application with Agile Toolkit
  • Same business day email support
  • Instant-messaging support (skype, gtalk)
  • Your Code review, suggestions and hints
  • Missing a feature? Request it an we’ll make it!

Monday morning the per-domain price will be back to $130, so spend the weekend wisely and get a few licenses for yourself and make sure your friends are in it too.

Click it before it’s too late:

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Agile Toolkit for CodeIgniter developer

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011|Beginner tips, Brainstorming, Version 4|by Romans|4 Comments

Welcome to the series of posts which helps you understand Agile Toolkit if you are coming from one of the other PHP Frameworks.

This post focuses on developers who are already familiar with CI (Code Igniter) and are willing to try Agile Toolkit.

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Bundling Agile Toolkit Libraries into a single PHP file

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011|Misc, Version 4|by Romans|

Agile Toolkit now includes the ability to put all it’s PHP classes into a single file. This way you would only need to distribute one file along with your application.

Bundle would only contain classes from “atk4″, so add-ons will not be bundled. Clever minds should be able to extend the bundler to pack add-ons they require along with their own classes.

As a result, you can have all your PHP in one or two classes. To create the bundle you need most recent copy of Agile Toolkit (4.1.1+ would do) and Unix shell. Execute:


Will produce atk4/atk4-bundle.php and also atk4/atk4-bundle.min.php. Replace your include for atk4/loader.php for ‘atk4/atk-bundle.php’ and everything should continue to work. You can then remove atk4/lib.

Please note that Agile Toolkit contains images, styles and JavaScript files which are not minified by this process.

Agile Toolkit – Chat room

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011|Brainstorming, Misc, Version 4|by Romans|

With increasing popularity of Agile Toolkit, I’m getting more requests from volunteers and people who want to actively learn it. While forum and community portal is still in our short-term plans, we are now using for daily communication.

You would need to register with stack overflow and get some reputation if you want to chat, so be sure to ask a couple of “atk4″ questions (or answers)

Stable release 4.1 is finally here

Monday, August 22nd, 2011|Core changes, Misc, Version 4|by Romans|1 Comment

For all of you who have tried version 4.0.3 and have been stuck with it for a while, now it’s the right time to upgrade. There are a lot of new features and I’ll try to quickly go over the ones which are most important.

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Learning Agile Toolkit – the Book

Monday, August 15th, 2011|Beginner tips, Core changes, Version 4|by Romans|2 Comments

More and more pages are being added into a “Learning Agile Toolkit” book. The section explaining the fundamentals of Agile Toolkit is mostly complete:

The most recent addition was JavaScript chains section and Models section.

Looking for PDO compatibility testers in Agile Toolkit

Sunday, July 10th, 2011|Brainstorming, Core changes, Version 4|by Romans|

I now need your help with testing. It shouldn’t take too much time. I would love if you could test non-mysql database connectivity.

The test-suite is located in github, with public access:

Installation is straightforward, similar to in the configuration file you would need to add:


Instead of mysql you can use different database. Once you open it locally, you should see this:

I am combining the new module from experementall stuff and dblite and it turns out AWESOME. Parametric queries, sub-queries, cache, everything is done elegantly:

I will document it all properly as soon as the module is finished. Please report any errors right away. Other areas will be eventually added. Do not use new PDO driver for production yet. It will be made more compatible and more integrated with the rest of Agile Toolkit.