Archive for October, 2009

I ran a database of 23,902 unique user agents through both Tera-WURFL 2.0.0 RC4 and the new WURFL PHP API (1.0.1-rc2). Here are the results:

Total Time: 12.081017971039
Devices Processed: 23902
Total Queries: 23912

Total Time: 217.57795381546
Devices Processed: 23902
Total Queries: N/A

Both results were obtained after repeated testing to verify that the user agents were cached.

Tera-WURFL started in late 2006 as a personal project to make the WURFL PHP Tools faster by storing the device capabilities in a MySQL Database instead of flat files. It’s now late 2009 and I’ve finally got Tera-WURFL 2.0 up and running. As of now I’ve released RC4 and I’m working on RC5. Hopefully I can get version 2.0.0 Stable out before I leave for Iraq. Here’s a breakdown of the features of Tera-WURFL 2:

Rewrote some of the UserAgentMatchers and deleted others to bring Tera-WURFL on par with the Java WURFL API. With the introduction of desktop browser UserAgentMatchers, we no longer need to use the large web patch; instead, you can just use the 8KB one from (included). Also, I fixed some typos and bugs here and there. NOTE: if you are upgrading from version 2.0.0 RC1-RC3 you should delete all your database tables before you update. You can leave the terawurflcache table if you want to retain your cache. Although it will still technically work even if you don’t delete the tables, you will be orphaning some unecessary tables in your database.

Complete code-rewrite from the ground up. The 2.x version of Tera-WURFL is loosely based on a pre-release of the Java WURFL Evolution Library, but the API is taken from Tera-WURFL 1.5.2. The following is a list of features found in Tera-WURFL 2.0:

  • User Agent Matchers have been created for each of the major manufacturers. These allow for specific matching methods to be applied to the user agent like string searching, RIS (Reduction in String) and LD (Levenshtein Distance).
  • Multiple patch files are now supported. Tera-WURFL ships with the current wurfl.xml, web_browsers_patch.xml and custom_web_patch.xml. Patch files can be added to TeraWurflConfig.php by separating them with semicolons in the TeraWurflConfig::PATCH_FILE directive. Patch files are loaded in order from left to right on top of the WURFL file, so if you want to override every other patch file, specify it last.
  • The custom_web_patch.xml file can be edited from the Web Administration page, and allows you to easily add non-mobile user agents to the patch file. The devices with these user agents will be detected as generic_web_browser (non-mobile).
  • Persistent Caching means that your cached devices stay cached. When you update the WURFL file or your patches, your device cache is also updated via the new database.
  • Cache Browser allows you to see what devices are hitting your site and what their capabilities were detected as.
  • Installation Script is better than 1.5.2. Once you download Tera-WURFL and extract it, edit TeraWurflConfig.php then go to /admin/install.php and follow the directions to finish installation.
  • PHP short_open_tags are no longer required to run Tera-WURFL. PHP has this feature disabled by default now.
  • Conclusive vs. Inconclusive Matching. If a device is matched with the UserAgentMatcher’s primary matching method it is considered a conclusive match, if it is detected via a recovery matcher or by the CatchAllMatcher it is an inconclusive match. This information is available via the tera_wurfl capability group.
  • tera_wurfl Capability Group. The TeraWurfl->Capabilities array now contains a group called “tera_wurfl”. This group contains the following Tera-WURFL related information:
    • num_queries – the number of database queries required to lookup the device.
    • actual_root_device – the WURFL ID of the actual device (not subrevision or generic), this can be null.
    • match_type – either conclusive or inconclusive.
    • matcher – the name of the UserAgentMatcher that detected the device.
    • match – whether or not there was an actual match. If there was no match, Tera-WURFL guessed which generic device is most similar to the device.
    • lookup_time – the time in seconds that it took to detect the device.
    • fall_back_tree – the complete fallback tree that built the capabilities of the device. This is a list of all the WURFL IDs from the detected device down to the base generic device.

Example Script

// Include the Tera-WURFL file
// Instantiate the Tera-WURFL object
$wurflObj = new TeraWurfl();
// Get the capabilities from the object
$matched = $wurflObj->GetDeviceCapabilitiesFromAgent();
// Show whether there was a conclusive match
if($matched){echo "Match found";}else{echo "Match NOT found";}
// Print the capabilities array
echo "<pre>".htmlspecialchars(var_export($wurflObj->capabilities,true))."</pre>";

I’m heading back to the desert for another deployment with the Army National Guard

I’ve been in the Army National Guard since 2003 and have been lucky enough to serve only one tour in Iraq (2005). In 2008 I moved from Michigan to Texas and in doing so I was forced to switch Army units. The unit that grabbed me up was already deployed and I was happily holding down the fort in the rear detachment. Unfortunately, a quick 3 months later I was scooped up by a different unit 300 miles away for a deployment. I am now in the final stages of my preparation for this deployment and am scrambling to wrap up all my stuff before I leave. Hopefully I will have a lot of time to work on Tera-WURFL when I’m gone; I plan to further abstract the database layer and introduce a MSSQL Database Connector in the coming months. I will let you know once I’m in the sandbox!