Many people seem overwhelmed over the recent exposure of some problems in the PHP internals. I will answer a few questions here for those who are worried about the state of PHP and provide a few ideas for improving things.
Is PHP going to die?
No, the PHP project will not die anytime soon. The problems raised are not new. Those who have been following the project’s development a little closer have known this for many, many years. But since the common users only just became aware of that, there are a few blog posts about impending doom. Pay them no attention.
Why are there so few new features compared to other languages?
PHP has a very large user base. Some other languages evolve at the speed of light but break backwards compatibility with every minor release. It’s a trade-off, and PHP took the direction of reliability over fast feature development. This is one reason that allowed it to make its way into enterprises and governments. Still, there are many new features and improvements that bloggers overlook for the sake of creating drama. Drama is a good marketing tool.
What are the original authors doing?
They are busy doing whatever makes them happy and feeds their families. They don’t have a lifetime obligation towards the project. They sacrificed much to build something amazing and then just gave it away for free. Don’t forget to thank them. Now they have every right to make money, because those bills can’t be paid with community love. These people haven’t disappeared either. They are watching this unfold and hope that the community could find solutions to their own problems. They’ll comment on the topic once people finish letting out their steam.
What does it take to make the project better?
There are many avenues to explore. I’ll throw a few ideas for consideration.
1. Organize conversations. The forum idea is really great. It provides benefits such as creating separate threads when a conversation goes off-topic, hiding poisonous messages once enough community members flagged them or occasionally tune-out from the chatter.
2. Create a general roadmap. Finding consensus is not impossible with a good moderator. the moderator does not even have to be a member of the PHP community. The initial roadmap could be done in person by top contributors, for example. Each can raise money to cover their own travel expenses.
3. Start a foundation. There are many people out there with a great potential for contributing, be they individuals or companies. Although they can spare a little time for free, having funds will certainly allow them to dedicate more time to the task without risking their livelihood or burning out. The foundation will also allow hiring of non-developers, such as people to handle user questions, manage the website’s content, etc. These people would otherwise have no interest in participating in the project.
Add more ideas in the comments below. Please be constructive