There has been some discussion recently, in IRC, issue queues, and blogs, about the Drupal 7 database API and its impact on supporting different database engines. While I am still trying to avoid large amounts of public distraction, especially when we're supposed to be trying to get a Drupal 6 beta 1 out the door, I feel it's important to get a few points cleared up lest they lead to confusion later.
PHP 5, however does include lots of "magic" capabilities, some in the object model directly and some via SPL Interfaces, that, if used properly, can make up for a lot of that lack of dynamic capaibility. A favorite of mine is the ability to add methods to a class at runtime.
What? You didn't know PHP can do that? Well, that's because it can't. However, we can simulate it pretty closely if we're careful. Let's see how.
Are you tired of hearing me talk yet? If not, why not come work for Palantir.net? We're looking for a PHP/Drupal programmer and a web developer/themer. Benefits include a full time position at a small business in Chicago, working on sites for higher education, not-for-profits, and other non-evil clients, a company issue Nerf gun, and access to the company Wii. And getting to work with Larry! Who could ask for a better job?
What a week it's been! Eight days ago, we launched GoPHP5.org to try and break the stalemate that kept PHP 4 on past its sell-by date. At launch, we had a half-dozen projects and about 10 hosts that had signed up.
What a difference a week makes.
"Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have." --Margaret Mead
A while back, various people were lamenting the state of PHP 5 adoption, myself included. What to do about it? How to get hosts to let programmers leverage the added functionality that PHP 5 offers? How can we do that without cutting off 80% of our user base?
The solution a few people suggested was team work. If all PHP projects stopped supporting PHP 4 and made the jump to PHP 5 at the same time, none of them is penalized in the market for being "first" and web hosts will have a clear business case to upgrade their systems to PHP 5. We can then all start offering faster, cleaner, more powerful, more secure web software.
But how does one get all PHP projects together to agree on something like that? Actually, it's fairly simple. You ask them.
So it only took them a month to grade it (silly paper exams), but I finally heard back from Zend about the Zend PHP 5 Certification exam I took at php|tek last month. I passed, of course. :-)
Let the bad puns begin!
Dries has been commenting recently, both on his blog and elsewhere, about one of the chief advantages of using open source: All developers/users are on equal footing. If you try to learn a proprietary app or framework, you know what the main developer feels like deigning to let you know. Anything else is either a mystery or, in some cases, illegal for you to find out (if there's any encryption or copy-prevention involved). You can never be as good an expert as the author, because the author has access to the Holy Book (code) and you don't. With an open source project, everyone gets the same access to the code. The only thing stopping you from being the best expert on the planet is your own skills and time.
He's very right about why you should choose to use an open source project. But what about why you should start one, or release your own code open source? As a developer, that's a far more interesting question for me.
I am a regular reader of TheDailyWTF. Aside from being thoroughly entertaining, it's a great way to learn what not to do by example. Sometimes, though, they have a really insightful article, like The Great Pyramid of Agile. It's spot-on.
Nick Lewis has set off a bit of a firestorm with his latest blog, "Drupal is Part of the Problem". In short, his argument is the same chicken-and-egg that the PHP dev team keeps saying: Hosts won't move to PHP 5 until the applications are there, so the big applications need to lead. In a sense he's right; web hosts are by necessity cautious and conservative. At the same time, though, developers can't take the whole blame.
Over on the Planet PHP site, another author has brought up the monthly PHP 4/PHP 5 rant again with regards to why the major open source packages (he picks on Drupal and Wordpress in particular) are still developing for PHP 4. It's like clockwork how often the question comes up. The answer, as always, is dead-simple. I'd love to use PHP 5's features, but can't. Check out the latest PHP usage stats, published on the same planet site, to see why. (Hint: See the 3th chart.) Until that changes, developers can't drop PHP 4 support.