Disappointed in Zend

When Andi Gutmans was interviewed by Marcus Whitney on the phpArchitect Pro::PHP Podcast, he stated that there would be some sort of preview release for the Zend Framework sometime in February. It is now March and there was no release that I can find. This is a big disappointment for me.

PHP5 is an excellent language for developing web application, but it is in desperate need of some sort of standard or guidelines for ‘enterprise’ application. The Zend Framework is anticipated to fill this void. In some ways this anticipation worsens the situation. Developers are left worried that starting a big new project without the Zend Framework could be a bad idea, especially since the Zend Framework is hoped to be right around the corner.

This dilemma of whether or not to wait is a familiar one for the PHP community; the same thing happened with the release of PHP5. There were PHP5 books for sale in bookstores prior to PHP5 actually being released. I remember one of these books even included documentation for namespaces in PHP5. This was only possible because PHP5 was released a year late.

I imagine I am not the only one who is dismayed by this broken promise from Zend. Hopefully they will release a statement not only letting the community know when we can expect the preview release, but also how and why the deadline was missed and what steps are being taken to prevent it from happening again.

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  • Pierre

    PHP is a community project, if people are insane enough to write books about something that does not exist, it is their problems (and yours if you bought the books), if they are crazy enough to even publish the book, they need a doctor or a new publication manager.

    About enterprises application, do you suggest that without Zend nothing happens in the enterprise? Please check the other frameworks and other components. Zend is only planing to provide yet another killer framework, like the 20 last frameworks developed for php.

  • http://jaxn.org/blog Jackson

    There is plenty of enterprise development going on with PHP and I/We have done many enterprise projects. I have even written one of the PHP frameworks for such development. I have no doubt that PHP is capable, but it needs some form of standardization and I don’t think any of the community projects are going to be able to gain the acceptance. I think both ezComponents and Symfony could, but the promise of the Zend Framework is hurting their chances.

    Why is there a need for standardization? There are a bazillion ways to do things in PHP. When we write a big app for a client, it is written well, but it is the way we do things. If any developer comes along behind us there is a period of time that they have to spend to ramp up on the way that we do things. The same is true for when we take over an application that another developer has written. We have no option but to pass at least some of the costs to ramp up on the the client. However, when we take over a Ruby on Rails project we already know how it works. We can just dive in and start solving business problems. The same hold true for .NET. Personally I would much rather take over a Ruby on Rails project over a PHP one.

    We will gladly accept PHP work as long as there is a market for it. The Zend Framework has a lot of promise, and it will add directly to the bottom line of the businesses who are adopting PHP as long as it is able to gain some acceptance. Just like the Zend Certification will help companies hire PHP developers, proficiency in the Zend Framework will also be a differentiator for developers. However, if Zend continues to over promise and under deliver then the chances will begin to diminish.

  • Pierre

    This is where our oppinions differ. Certifiations mean nearly nothing to me, especially the PHP one.

    You have already some standardizatoin, the success of the pear installer could help in this area too (preventing conflicts, std install tree, common versioning). The API standardization in PHP is a myth, except for a very limited amount of tasks, common sense always wins here.

    If there is a really a need, I seriously doubt that the Zend framework will ever bring it to reality. I do not mean that their framework will be bad, only that Zend is not really in a position to take over the “market” with a fresh new framework.

    I think that all these frameworks do not bring what most of the users need, flexibility, easy integration. The components based tools are more reasonnable and follow the PHP way, like PEAR (the oldest components library) or ezComponent. It gives you the choices.

  • http://jaxn.org/blog Jackson

    Pierre, the PEAR installer is great. I think that the potential for the PEAR installer has grown immensely since the addition of channels. It is great work. If Zend is smart the PEAR installer will be an important part of their Framework.

    However, I am curious how you are defining ‘users’ here. I think we would both agree that frameworks and other developer tools are of not much concern to the end users. I assume you are talking about the developers who are using the tools. I would argue that when talking about enterprise applications the ‘user’ of the language / framework is the company, not the developer. Standards bring flexibility and easy integration to the companies who are thinking in terms of developers for their team and the costs associated with those. IT departments and projects are expensive and you want to make smart investments.

    I believe in what Zend is trying to do. They are just going to have to work with me here ;)

  • Dan

    It would seem as though Pierre is refering to the freelance type developers as opposed to a development team for a company that does enterprise level development. Although I agree with Jackson that a community accepted standardized framework will greatly benefit PHP as a tool for building web applications and would stomp out many of the valid arguments presented in the ASP.NET vs PHP debate leaving few valid arguments that ASP.NET is better. I would argue that it would be enough to definitevely turn the scales greatly in favor of PHP.

  • http://netevil.org/ Wez Furlong

    I think you have your perspective a little skewed on PHP 5; the books were released too soon. The only people to blame for that are the publishers; not the authors and not the volunteers pouring their spare time into developing PHP.

    On the the framework preview; it’s late, but it’s not due to lack of effort. Everyone is working hard on making the preview the best it can be. While I understand that you’re eager to get your hands on the framework, I think you’re over exaggerating things by calling this a “broken promise”, and I think your comments cast the efforts of the people working on the framework in a bad light. Don’t forget that it’s developed by a coalition of different companies, not just Zend. It’s hard enough to coordinate development time within a single organization, let alone between the better part of 20 different entities.

  • http://netevil.org/ Wez Furlong

    I feel that I should add that the fact that there are a number of people/companies collaborating on the framework is not the reason that it’s late, just in case someone decides to misquote or otherwise misinterpret my comment.

    It takes time to get things right; I for one would rather wait a little bit for something good.

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  • http://jaxn.org/blog Jackson

    Wez, the point is from the perspective of a Project Manager working in a firm that specializes in PHP, it doesn’t matter why it is late. What matters is that Zend explains why the February Preview Release did not happen. Otherwise they are going to lose my trust.

  • Dan

    Jackson was right on when he used the words “broken promise”. Its very simple: Someone says “X will happen at Y time” in a serious context. This statement can easily be considered a ‘promise’. If the time ‘Y’ has occured and ‘X’ has not yet occured, it is simply a broken promise. There are some very easy outs that one can use to avoid a broken promise. For example, one might add the word ‘may’ into the statement: “X may happen by Y time”. Or possibly using the phrase “We hope X will happen by Y time”. Maybe “We are working very hard for X to happen by Y time”. The possibilities are endless, yet zend said that it would be relased in February. There was no maybe, might, hope, etc.