ramblings on PHP, SQL, the web, politics, ultimate frisbee and what else is on in my life


So I am way behind blogging on things of importance. Like the fact that Klopstock (one of) the frisbee teams I play with won their first Ultimate Frisbee tournament. I missed the Saturday action but was right on time to injure my elbow during the final on Sunday. Then there is a lot to say about what has been going on with the TestFest month, which is now over. But in this blog post I will focus on my pet project emPHPower, leaving the well attended talk (at 8:30am too!) at DLW/IPC in Karlsruhe on Doctrine with just this little side note.

Anyways, also at DLW/IPC I had the opportunity to hold a birds of feather session on emPHPower. In this session I side stepped some the more complex issues I think need to be solved (what do to with money that does end up in the hands of emPHPower, how the "governing structure" of emPHPower should be laid out and of course how to move from code name to a not so witty but more trustworthy name for the beast), to instead focus on more basic (meaning even more important) topics like the mission statement and how to best fit into the PHP eco system. We were only a little over half a dozen people, but there were people from small shops to big companies. I also explained the idea to several people between talks so I would say I introduced about 20 more people to the emPHPower idea.

One of the attendees of the session was Shahar who works for Zend. So Zend was also represented. I have given Zend a lot of finger slapping and more than one occasion. But the fact of the matter is that today they are stuck with a job they never asked to take over: They are the only PHP evangelism organization. So if you want to get some material on how to "sell" PHP to your Java loving IT department, Zend is the only real option to turn to. So we have to thank them for filling this void for now.

Anyways, I got several important pointers out of the discussions. I seem to be able to bring my vision across, which is important of course if this idea is to be grow, but at the same time not loose its focus in the process. One key aspect is in highlighting why PHP is different. That there is no foundation closely tied to the actual development already, like in most other similarly (or even smaller) OSS projects and how its more or less impossible and not even welcomed to try and setup something like this so late in the game. That instead the sensible approach is to setup a separate entity. Giving free membership to cvs.php.net account holders seemed to be considered a fair deal by all attendees. But pretty much all made it clear that there should be a link in a permanent fixed location (not just in the news section) on the php.net website to ensure that emPHPower would be taken serious.

In terms of growing the ranks from "just" the cvs.php.net committers, people also noted that while they feel they would not have an issue to explain to their boss to pay a 50 Euro membership fee (though they would definitely would prefer just having to point their boss at a link with some pre-made marketing speech) for each of their PHP developers, they do feel that there will be a challenge in getting the word out beyond planet-php.org readers and conference visitors. As such they suggested working towards ensuring close relations with large OSS projects like symfony, Drupal etc.

Furthermore working together with different existing PHP community sites (especially more regionally focused), should be put high even higher up on the agenda. People felt that especially regional sites should have the most to gain (drawing from the content being generated within the emPHPower organization that will be free to be republished and the opportunities to get funding/sponsors for local events) while having little to loose (the great masses in the end prefer their tried and trusted localized news sites .. speaking of which, a co-worker wrote an app to more easily read out videotext information in a web app because he prefers this over the available RSS feeds for news, but I am getting of topic).

I hope that I will get the opportunity to speak with more people about this idea through out this year in order to decide if I am going to commit myself to starting emPHPower next year or not. This idea needs to become bigger than just me to be worthwhile. So I am hoping that people will start approaching me directly or even better indirectly by just blogging about the idea to their readers. Of course I would love to be kept in the loop, but as long as its public, I will sooner or later stumble over your posts anyways by way of some search engine :)

Update [18/06/2008]:
I noticed that I forgot to add the slide notes to the PDF export of the Doctrine talk. I have updated the file now to include the notes. Enjoy.


Learning from Debian

Hi Lukas,

three points:

a) Maybe it would be a good idea to get in contact with Debian and learn from their experience.

b) My biggest question is, how can it be assured that decisions are made in a democratic manner? How can we avoid, that IBM, SUN of Microsoft pay membership fees for all of their employees and will so get the majority?

c) I think it would be a really great thing to get such an international association running. Debian and emPHPower could be examples for international grassroots cooperation in other areas too.

Re: emPHPower@DLW/IPC

Hi Lukas, I'm actually very excited to see this initiative continue and grow. Here in Belgium, there's nothing of a PHP community or user group, therefor we're starting up a PHP Belgium user group just to accomodate this.
Starting up this user group, I see a lot of concerns and ideologies for emPHPower that equally apply to a smaller regional user group/community, like ours. So it's great to see that emPHPower is open for collaboration with regional PHP communities, it can only improve PHP advocacy. If you need some help, just give a shout!

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