This past week I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s php|tek PHP conference up in Chicago. It was four days packed with some great PHP-related content and included two major events for the PHP community – a “standrds session” and a meeting of several core developers of the language to hash out some standing issues face-to-face. The week saw a nice blend of both sessions related directly to the language an more periphery topics like MySQL tuning, project management and version control systems.
In the midst of all of this, there was something else I saw that, I have to admit, slightly caught me off guard. See, I’ve been a part of the PHP community for years now and I’ve seen some of the good and the bad along the way. Last week I saw something that gave me hope about the community and the future of the language – I saw that PHP (and its community) is growing up.
Back when I first started out in the community, PHP wasn’t taken quite as seriously as it is now. Sure, there’s those that dismiss it as “one of those languages” that’s not ready for anything more than small sites or little jobs. The truth is, PHP is running lots of major sites out there and running them very well. A shift in perception like this is all well and good but, especially with an Open Source language like this, there needs to be the people there to back it up. Lots of the other languages have corporate backing to keep them going, but PHP is in a strange place. Zend, the company most people associate with PHP, is not a direct supporter of the PHP project. They provide resources (and some of their staff) to help work on the language, but it’s not a direct involvement as a “sponsor”. Instead, PHP relies on the strength of those in the community to support it through those good and bad times and to help it weather any major storms that might come its way.
At php|tek, through all of the sessions and after-hours activities (oh yeah, we like to party), I could still see people stepping up to fill in spots that were needed. You could see it in the leadership of the core development team, in the community support both from countries here in the U.S. and overseas and, most importantly, in the words and actions of long-time members of the community willing to take the steps needed to get the community flowing. I’ve seen these people come from humbler beginnings – some joining the community after me – to become a strong foundation for the rest of the group to build on.
PHP’s future is bright with this solid crew at the helm. To all of you who have made and are making PHP and its community what it is today, I thank you.