A PHP Developer's Blog - Joakim Nygård

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London in 59 busy days

29th October, 2006

It's already been 20 days since my last post and I really don't how that happened so soon.

Although I'm still working at Joshua, my contract is ending in about two weeks time, and with my phone ringing several times a day with potential PHP positions, I'm considering the options for the rest of my visit. With plenty of available work and the salary very good, I'm increasingly looking for rewarding positions on a professional level, i.e. expanding and strengthening my fields of expertice.

One of these offers looked particularly interesting since it's a startup company and in my experience they tend to be a little more chaotic and challenging as well as employ more enthusiastic people. I like that.

The company is called Tired & Tested and is branded as "myspace with shorts on" - it's a social networking site for people who enjoy sports. While the site is online, the code needs to be cleaned and new features added. That's where I (and the rest of the developer team) come in.

I got an interview last Wednesday with the lead developer Tom and managed to be there one hour early. I found out later that the time 'half one' means 1.30 rather than 12.30 as it would in Denmark. Very confusing. Anyway, the interview itself went very well, I felt we both had similar opinions on a variety of topics and that I managed to highlight some of my key abilities. He also seemed like a genuinely nice guy. Reassured that the project would indeed be challenging, I was given a short test to complete in two hours by the next day, to give a more concrete idea of my skills.

The test itself was intentionally simple and easy to keep focus not on difficult logic but rather coding style and way of thinking:

  1. Create a user interface to store: first name, last name, date of birth into a MySQL database table
  2. Create a search form where you can enter an age and list all people who are of that age OR MORE, listed in alphabetical order (last name)
  3. If possible also allow me to search based on surname OR PART OF surname (i.e. use some wildcard matching or regular expressions in the SQL)
  4. In the results show first name, last name, date of birth and AGE (using the SQL to calculate the age if possible)
  5. If you have time (and I dont expect you to) then set it up so I can reorder the results list by first name, last name or age
  6. Don't try to be too clever and dont worry about javascript validation of form inputs - I will just assume you know how to do all that.

After two hours of concentrated coding I came up with this solution. There are obviously areas where the code could be improved, but for a two hour job, I think the result is quite solid.

I got the feedback the next day and it was very positive indeed. If all goes well, I'll be starting at the new company in a couple of weeks time. Yay!

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