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A discussion group was formed to define standards to be adopted by PHP frameworks and applications.

This article gives an initial overview of what is this group about.

Loaded Article

* Who? What? Where? Why?

* Is this good or bad?

* The PHP Community Process

* Who can participate?

* What do you think?

* Who? What? Where? Why?

Just a few days a group it was started by several well known members of the PHP community a discussion group to debate and define standards to be adopted by PHP projects.

It was created the php-standards mailing list to have a place where the discussions are taking place. This list hosted under like other mailing lists, so it is available via e-mail and news groups (NNTP). The archives are available here:

David Coalier posted the minutes made by Brett Bieber after the meeting the initial group of people had at PHP-Tek event in Chicago last week:

To make it clear for everybody that was not present in the creation of the group, Cal Evans wrote a message to explain why the group was created, the PHP developers that were present at the initial meeting, and the structure of the group.

It seems that initially the mailing list was not open, but Rasmus Lerdorf, the original creator of PHP, just posted a message stating that the list should be open to the community.

* Is this good or bad?

Above I described the facts as I gathered from the mentioned pages. I hope I have not misunderstood anything. If anybody realizes that my description of the facts was not accurate, please feel free to correct me, so I can fix this article.

Analyzing what happened, different people may have distinct views of the pros and cons of initiatives like this. Let me just tell you what I think from what I know of this initiative.

* The PHP Community Process

If I got it right, this initiative may be able to address a criticism that I made about 3 years ago regarding PHP lacking of formal standard specifications. I wrote that in an article about recommended PHP frameworks. ...

Basically I support the idea of having an organization for PHP similar to Java Community Process. This is an organization made of Java developers that propose standard specification for frameworks or API.

The specification proposals are discussed by the community. The specifications may be revised based on community feedback. Then there is a vote to determine if the community discussion group members agree on it.

The result of this process is not code but rather a specification document that may have distinct implementations by different developers.

Multiple distinct implementations may seem a duplication of efforts, but as long as each implementation is compliant with the agreed specification, it is certainly much better than what we have in the PHP world, which is too many incompatible MVC frameworks, too many incompatible database abstraction layers, too many incompatible template engines, and so on.

With a single specification, the whole community can develop unit tests that can be used to verify the compliance of each implementation.

Another benefit, is that the developers have freedom to switch between implementations, thus without getting stuck to the limitations of certain implementations.

For instance, imagine you are using a certain framework under PHP 5 that is compliant to a given specification. If somebody releases a new implementation that is optimized to take advantage of PHP 6 features, you can easily switch between implementations without affecting your application.

I have yet to see how similar this PHP standards initiative is to Java Community Process. If it is really something like that, I am all in favor. PHP as a whole has a lot to gain from standardization. It is the right way for PHP being taken more seriously in the so called enterprise world.

* Who can participate?

From what I read so far, the initiative was started by a group of few developers. The group is responsible for voting the proposals. It may include more members as long as all other agree.

Maybe I am misunderstanding this, but I am not sure if this is the best approach. In JCP, there is not just one group but several groups that are formed to discuss and vote different specifications. Developers maybe interested in one type of specifications, but not in others.

There is not much point in restricting decisions to a single group, when not all voting members have have vocation to decide about all types of specifications. For instance, some developers are more concerned with MVC frameworks, others may be more concerned with database abstraction layers, etc..

Another point is that for some reason there is a personal disagreement between one member of the decision group and a candidate that requests to join, the candidate may be left out for personal reasons totally unrelated with the purpose of defining the specifications.

This kind of exclusion should be avoided. Otherwise it may cause resent and motivate the excluded developers to act outside boycotting the adoption of the specification.

I understand that initially the discussion list was closed but Rasmus Lerdorf decided to keep it open. I could not agree more with Rasmus this. Despite it may attract all sorts of people that may act inappropriately in the list, this effort should not be restricted to just a few that only act silently on behalf of their own interests.

The process should be fair, transparent and open for everybody that cares to participate.

* What do you think?

This initiative is of the interest of all PHP developers. If you have your own thoughts about this, maybe now it is the time to share your thoughts, or otherwise not complain it is all wrong when it is too late.

DO you think things are going in the right direction for the benefit of the whole PHP community or is this something that only matters to a few?

Feel free to post your comments if you think you have something to say.

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1. Calculate amount automatically - Nonso Azuka (2011-07-20 19:12)
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1. PHP Framework Standards Group (2009-06-10 03:48)
Geek news, just in: a discussion group was formed to define standards to be adopted by PHP frameworks and applications...

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