Phar out: horde/components in one file

tl;dr – I packaged horde/components as a single file for easy inclusion in build pipelines.

The horde/components commandline app is an important development tool. It lets you generate a composer.json file from the .horde.yml definition, helps with managing the changelog yml and provides a simple workflow utility which I use for release pipeline. Last year I added some capabilities for managing git branches and tags. It is very opinionated and I often think about generalizing some functionality to make it more useful beyond horde development.

But the tool is unwieldy. It installs 69 horde dependencies, 5 pear libraries and several more stuff, including a complete distribution of sabre/dav. This is an issue that will eventually get solved by slowly redesigning the dependency graphs. For now we have to live with it. But how? You don’t want to require-dev that beast into your working tree. Chances are it would blur what is really needed for the unit worked on and what is only needed to support the tool. It could also lead to library version conflicts.

So move it out of tree and run it as a separate root project, then symlink the commandline program to some path like /usr/local/bin? Yes, that did work but still two or three steps when there ought to be only one. I wished for a single file that I could easily install. The solution in php is a phar file, similar to a jar in java.

The documentation of phar consists of only a few pages detailing all the possible calls into phar, all the capabilities of the extension – but it left me completely in the dark how to actually use it. Looking at some CI pipelines of popular tools distributed via / phive gave some ideas but also did not bring the wanted outcome. The evening dragged on and on. Finally I found an old article by Matthew Weier O’Phinney. Back in 2015 he advised to use a helper (box-project/box) to build a phar. He pointed out what I already learned in a painful way: The official documentation won’t get me where I want fast.

His article also included some bits on distribution and signing which I will consider at a later stage and some bits specifically linked to Travis CI, back then the natural champion for CI needs in Github. Today Github promotes Github Actions as the preferred CI tool so I will have a look into this.

horde/components not only contains some internal workflows, it also used to have functionality to set up a jenkins CI environment. I haven’t used it in years and it is likely broken. I think I should rather implement functionality to call into a Github or Gitlab Hook, read metadata from the API, create artifacts like packages and release notes. Having the components tool in one ready to run file also makes it easy to get it into a CI. But we are not yet there.

My preliminary build is available via – there are no versions yet, there is no nightly update and there is no signing yet. I am still figuring out which parts work as expected and which need further improvements. This build is based on the maintaina-com repository and differs in functionality from the official code base. I think this deviation is inevitable for the moment though I don’t like it much.

If you want to build and distribute your own phar component, read the original article by MWOP. I am very glad I found it – saved this evening’s success.

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