ZendCon07 – Closing Thoughts

This is part of my coverage of ZendCon07. If you'd like to read the entire coverage, it is available here: Day 0 – Tutorials, Day 1 – Part 1, Day 1 – Part 2, Day 2, and Day 3. In addition, my presentation from Day 1 is available here.

I alluded to it earlier, but one of the best things about these conferences is the discussions that happen over drinks, over dinner, or sitting huddled around an electrical outlet. Unfortunately, some of these discussions have to end there… but the really interesting ones spark new questions. This year I leave ZendCon with more questions than ever…

I had a conversation about leadership within the PHP community. The other person works with a company that knows how to direct development communities and coordinate priorities but that's in a formerly relatively-closed environment. Unfortunately, that doesn't work the same in the PHP community. Yes, we have definite thought leaders who are pushing/pulling the community along. Yes, we have projects and project leaders who are doing amazing things. Yes, we have major companies that support and extend the community. But stop and look at all those groups. None of them have exclusive control. None of them can exist without the others. None of them can cut the others out. They effectively need each other and have to get along to some level. So the question becomes:

Can the PHP community be led?

Next, there's the Zend Studio changes…  I own a license of Zend Studio from late last year. I tried to use it for a while. I liked the debugging, code completion, and bells and whistles but the deal breaker was their repository support. You could use exactly one repository at any given time… either SVN or CVS. No matter how many projects you had checked out, to commit to a different repository, you had to go edit your global settings, put in your credentials, etc. By converting the system over to an Eclipse-based plugin, they've offloaded most of this work back to the people who do it well. Does this mean they've seen the light and focused on their core competencies? I hope so… but it begs the question:

So what is Zend's commitment to their original Zend Studio and now Zend Studio for Eclipse?

Finally, there's this ongoing struggle with Rails. Yes, it's shiny. Yes, it's nifty. Yes, it can be used for fast development. But more and more the PHP frameworks (CakePHP, QCodo, Zend Framework, etc) do all these things too. Numerous people – Wez Furlong, Terry Chay, Eli White and David Sklar off the top of my head – pointed out different issues with frameworks in general and specifically with Rails.

What about Rails? How does it affect PHP?

I don't pretend to have answers relevant to anyone but me, but I have some suspicisions, contacts, and experience in the community to have some guesses… what do you think?