Archive for May, 2010

At TekX Chicago

Posted by A_Jelly_Doughnut in Events with the tags , , , on May 29th, 2010

(That’s Tek-Ten, by the way)

A week ago, I was recovering from a weeklong trip to Chicago for php|tek. Here’s a few of the things I heard about:

  • Derick Rethans on the DateTime functions added to PHP 5.2. The power of the DateTime class is pretty awesome. The class’s essential beauty is in the fact that it stores a time and a time zone. It can also do accurate math against times and solves the 2038 problem. phpBB will be moving this way for Ascraeus.
  • Git is here to stay. Talks from Travis Swicegood, Lorna Jane Mitchell, and Matthew Schmidt all talked about version control systems in some way or another, and a great number of the conference attendees are trying to move their projects to Git. Matthew gave the keynote on Thursday, and included phpBB in his listing of “open source projects driving the move to Git”. Thanks Matt!
  • HipHop for PHP, a technology created by Facebook, and open-sourced for anyone to use, essentially compiles PHP into C++ for performance. Scott MacVicar, now at Facebook, formerly of vBulletin had a conversation about the future of bulletin boards – the name of the game is doing it better, not about doing more. I’m looking forward to the day that someone compiles phpBB using HipHop and reports their performance gains.
  • JIRA is successfully used in other open-source projects. I spoke with Matthew Weier O’Phinney, project lead of Zend Framework, who says that they’ve been very happy with JIRA. I was surprised that I was able to talk with him on an intelligent level about it, because Zend Framework has used it for years, and phpBB has used it for just a couple of months. Unfortunately at Tek, very few of the “front-end” open source projects were represented. For example, I don’t know of anyone in attendance who had submitted code to Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, MyBB, or Magento. There were, however, numerous framework developers running about.
  • Some Things Never Change. As I went around during social periods telling people “Hi, I’m Josh, I work on phpBB”, I got several responses:
    1. Oh, that software that gets hacked more often than ? (This is the “take another look” argument. I politely informed these people that phpBB3’s security record is greatly improved compared to phpBB2.)
    2. Its nice to see open-source projects represented at Tek.
    3. I spent hours trying to integrate that with WordPress and failed. What’s the deal with that?
    4. How’s the transistion from 2 to 3 going?
    5. How do you bear to work with that code?

I came away from these conversations with the opinion that phpBB is well known in the community, but not necessarily well-liked. A lot of this is because it can be difficult for these experienced developers to integrate with their products. Some wanted single-sign-on, others found that the layout was hard to customize to match an existing site, and still others wanted to add custom features but weren’t sure where to start.
I told people in person that we want to work on that, and we will, with some improvements slated for Ascraeus.

A large portion of the learning these conferences is not the talks, but the socialization that happens around them. A lot of the un-conference portion of the conference revolved around frameworks. It seems that everyone hates at least one of them, but many of them are looking forward to Symfony 2 and Zend Framework 2, both expected by the end of the year.

This was my first major PHP conference, and it was a good experience. With any luck, I’ll be there again in 2011.

phpBB at Jump In! camp in Switzerland and on the Microsoft Web App Gallery

Posted by naderman in Development with the tags , , on May 7th, 2010

Last month, three phpBB developers spent a few days at Jump In! Developers’ Camp in Feusisberg, Switzerland. The event was organised by Microsoft for developers of a variety of open source PHP applications. We met with Microsoft engineers to learn more about SQL Server, the Web Platform Installer, Windows Azure and a few other technologies. In a beautiful setting we had time to work on a number of phpBB projects relating to those technologies and we had many insightful conversations with both Microsoft employees and other participants of the event. If you need video proof, Microsoft has provided it.

(link via Yuriy Zaytsev on Twitter)

Henry Sudhof (kellanved), Chris Smith (ToonArmy / cs278), and me (Nils Adermann / naderman) appear in order beginning around the one minute mark.

One result of this conference was a test release, phpBB 3.0.7-PL1 with MSSQL Server Driver for PHP. This includes a patch largely contributed by Chris Pucci of Microsoft adding a phpBB database abstraction layer for their SQL Server Driver for PHP. Apart from many improvements over existing methods of using Microsoft SQL Server from PHP it also enables phpBB to use SQL Azure, a relational database running on their cloud platform.

Resulting from the first test release we put together while in Switzerland, phpBB is now included in Microsoft’s Web Application Gallery. This makes phpBB available for easy installation through the Web Platform Installer. The Web Platform Installer is meant to simplify the installation of web applications like phpBB on Windows by automatically installing dependencies like a database and PHP.

During the event we also got phpBB running on the Windows Azure Platform, which provides the means to run PHP web applications in the cloud. The IIS web server is used to serve content from Windows Azure, so we also worked on adding IIS versions of some of the Apache web server specific files we provide. In combination with SQL Azure this kind of cloud setup should allow you to scale to a very large number of users. More information on how to set phpBB up on Azure will be provided at a later time. The MOD for storing Avatars in Azure blob storage which Henry wrote during the camp will also be published then. Chris also worked on a WinCache backend for phpBB’s cache abstraction.

The Web Platform Team also blogged about the results of phpBB’s participation in the camp.