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Conflict PHP

Ian Felton has written several articles claiming that PHP is intentionally becoming closer to Java and this is a plot by Zend to make more money. He says in his introduction:

Why is PHP become more like Java, when the PHP developer community seems to want anything but that to happen? What is Zend thinking?

There is a germ of truth in his statements in that the majority of PHP developers are using PHP because it is easy to use. Ian is concerned that moving towards a more complex design:

In the Zend survey, the company asked what PHP overwhelming reason given was that PHP is “easy respondents said that PHP’s ease of use was the primary they used it because they could remote control their said they love PHP because it was easy to use. When information in front of them while developing PHP5 making PHP a complex, object−modeled language using PHP because it was easy to develop with?

These are valid questions to ask if you talk rationally.

However Ian takes an emotional and very rash view of the matter, accusing Zend of going in this direction for the sole reason of making more money.

[Zend] have lost touch with their own creation. Instead of a business plan that involves sacrificing community in exchange for lucrative deals with corporations, consider an alternative business plan that will make more money, increase the popularity of PHP and give PHP distinction throughout the IT world. The key is to amplify the qualities that people have said makes PHP their choice for development.

Let me address this.

Firstly, a large number of developers will continue to use PHP as a procedural language, Rasmus Lerdorf, the father of PHP being the most prominent advocate of this approach. The complexities of the OOP approach will not bother this group. And I feel that procedural PHP with its Keep-It-Simple-Stupid philosophy is in safe hands as long as Rasmus is actively participating in PHP's direction (and he is).

The rest of the PHP developer community, as far as i can see, has accepted that having a more powerful OOP model is a requirement for moving forward. Why?

  • Developers are creating more sophisticated types of web apps.
  • Attract developers from other languages such as C++ and Java.
  • Provide a set of more powerful error-handling options using class-based exceptions.

Surely this will increase the popularity of PHP and give PHP distinction throughout the IT world. You get the feeling that Ian dislikes Zend for some personal reason and is not thinking straight.

You can argue, as Ian does, that adding better Unicode support or more consistent naming conventions should have been given priority over better OOP. But Ian forgets that in an Open Source project, what gets developed gets developed because someone volunteers. The people at Zend contribute code and work with a large team of outside developers despite disagreements and personal differences.

So Ian, if Unicode or naming conventions is so important, contribute code, or volunteer your services to coordinating an effort to improve Unicode/naming support. If you cannot handle disagreements and personal differences, grow up. Anything else is just hot air and trolling.

Update 18 Feb 2004

Ian also seems to imply that PHP is owned by Zend, and is able to dual-license it at will:

Instead of selling 6000 licenses of your proprietary code to enterprise businesses and forking the direction of PHP away from the community, sell production licenses to every commercial website using PHP for a low fee. Zend has worked to influence MySQL to adopt a appears to be working. Why can’t PHP adopt a similar license?

But Zend does not own the PHP copyright. They are not "The PHP Group" (which owns the PHP copyright), nor can they dual license PHP. Zend might have misrepresented themselves in the past as "the PHP company" and "the founders of PHP", which Ian could have validly criticised. Ian didn't, and he went off on a meaningless tangent because he didn't get his facts right.

Lukas Smith has more to say.