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.

8 Responses to “At TekX Chicago”

Posted by Desdenova on May 29th, 2010 at 5:50 pm:

Uhm, I don’t think phpBB _can_ be fully compiled and work seamlessly using HipHop. Last I knew, HipHop does not implement every function that is included in PHP which includes eval(), which is used in the template parsing engine.

Posted by A_Jelly_Doughnut on May 29th, 2010 at 5:58 pm:

You’re right, eval is not implemented. But I doubt that would be a blocking issue – compile the templates outside of HipHop, and include it once you go into the HipHop environment.

Posted by Keith Casey on May 30th, 2010 at 3:44 am:

Hey, I’m one of the guys that said something along the lines of “Its nice to see open-source projects represented at Tek” as I’m one of those guys also. I originally started attending conferences after I joined the dotProject team. We’ve since forked to form web2project, but the point stands.

And in general, the community doesn’t have a favorable opinion of phpBB.. or really any successful project. There are Drupal-haters, WordPress-haters, etc, etc. More than anything, I think many of the projects are in their own world and don’t keep an eye on best practices. And then on the flip side, the core community doesn’t interact with the projects to determine what functionality could be useful.

Regardless, welcome. Happy to have you aboard. πŸ™‚

Posted by 莱ζ­₯ζ·˜ζ·˜η½‘ on June 7th, 2010 at 7:09 am:

You’re right, eval is not implemented. But I doubt that would be a blocking issue – compile the templates outside of HipHop, and include it once you go into the HipHop environment.

Posted by bantu on June 12th, 2010 at 1:26 am:

For HipHop and phpBB … check out

Posted by FeyFre on June 19th, 2010 at 3:34 pm:

> But I doubt that would be a blocking issue – compile the templates outside of HipHop, and include it once you go into the HipHop environment.
AFAIK, templates are not only part of phpbb which is eval-ed in runtime. For instance, ACP/MCP/UCP modules auth system? Module access condition evaluation is quite flexible now, and I’m afraid it cannot be Hip-Hop-ed without power loss.

Posted by John Wells on June 22nd, 2010 at 2:55 am:

I’m making it easier to integrate phpBB with WordPress — we’ve overcome most of the hurdles that exist with WP-United.

The biggest problem to date has been a cultural mismatch. WordPress users, and even power users and devs, are used to the WordPress plugin system — and used to piling up many plugins into their blogs with their one-click install system.

phpBB’s MOD system pales in comparison, even with AutoMod — making upgrades quite painful.

However I’m still adamant that phpBB and wordpress make excellent sense together, if integrated properly.

I think the biggest blocker to date has been distributing WP-United as a phpBB MOD — we have integrated wordpress into phpBB by wrapping it in phpBB code. However it is too unpredictable, with literally millions of plugin combinations not expecting to be wrapped and ready to put a fly in the ointment. All simple fixes but it kills me in terms of support.

In the next few weeks I’ll be attacking it from the other end — a one-click plugin for wordpress that wraps phpBB. May even go the phpBB premod route (pre-modding on the fly).

I’m fairly confident that a one-click-install phpBB for WordPress will bring in thousands of users.

One simple change to future phpBB’s that will make integration with third-party software easier will be proper namespacing of functions — please no more common names like submit_post, make_clickable, validate_username… etc… the days of PHP packages being used in isolation are over.

Posted by Max on July 1st, 2010 at 9:14 am:

Ok thats the reason I also faced problem with eval..
I will have to read things over again I guess πŸ™‚

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