Archive for June, 2006

Who fancies a community effort to write a PHP book?

The PHP Developer’s Network forums were abuzz today after a member’s proposal to write a community PHP book for novice programmers, with sections targeting advanced topics and programmers. The instigator was d11wtq (Chris Corbyn), who on a side note recently released the excellent Swift Mailer library. It’s a simple proposal - write a book, and release it in some (or many) formats for free.

So why write yet another PHP book? I think the proposal caught such attention because of the method of writing and the motivation for doing so. And admit it, it’s a very intriguing idea ;-).

It’s a community sourced effort first and foremost. It’s not required that a contributor be a savant with a word processor or the English language. Even expertise with PHP is not strictly a requirement since a medium skilled writer describing a PHP function is likely to be just as accurate as a seasoned expert. As a community driven effort there would be a support structure in place where text would be peer reviewed, discussed, edited and subject to public comment. All friendly and without a contract hanging over your shoulder like a war axe.

Further, it’s not profit motivated or written under the watchful eye of a local friendly publishing house. It will be written, published in various formats, and freely available. Those contributing could be in it for any number of reasons: fame and glory, developing technical writing skills, simple wish to help fellow PHP programmers, being involved in a community effort, and countless other motivations. Simple fact is, there are a lot of folk out there who just plain like helping others and this appeals to them all on some level.

A third broad element is creative freedom. People like to do things their way. It’s a chance to take the standard PHP book approach and maybe push some new ideas. A public project is not going to face the same limitations as a formal published volume. Want to present a chapter in some newfangled way? Then there’s nothing stopping one from trying it out and seeing what the community thinks. It’s a playground, and we all like to play in the sandbox from time to time since it’s just plain fun.

So apart from commenting on why any sane PHP developer would contribute to a free PHP book - would it be worth while? To this I’d answer with a resounding yes. Why not? If people want to do it, have the enthusiasm to pull it off, and think they can give something to the community - then really, why not? If you take another view (for the rational types), what are the alternatives? That may be an interesting question to pose - are there free PHP books out there? Excepting the usual out-of-date goodwill gestures from publishers (not that I don’t appreciate them).

Anyway, I am keenly following the ongoing discussion - it’s a gestating idea but it’s building up momentum. I admit the idea appeals to me. I don’t have the time or resources to write a whole book by my lonely self - but a community effort is something I can jump onboard with. I guess I’m in the creative camp - I just like writing and this is another attractive forum. As a bonus, I could get to work with a lot of folk whose professionalism and opinion I’ve grown to respect after almost a year of being a regular Devnetwork member.

IBM DevevloperWorks: Understanding the Zend Framework

For those wishing for a decent introduction to the Zend Framework, IBM developerWorks has posted the first of a series of such articles. It looks like it will eventually form a highly detailed look at using and working with the framework - possibly the best consolidated introduction yet?

Part 1 is a general introduction to the Framework, its components and basic usage. More in-depth topics are to follow. Looks like a good read.