Zeev Suraski wrote:
> At 05:36 26-08-01, Manuel Lemos wrote:
> >The first problem is technical. You just keep developing PHP to satisfy
> >the user needs as soon as you perceive them and that's it.
> I think we're doing that nicely, but it's quite true that meeting the
> technical needs is not enough.


> >The second problem is marketing. It doesn't matter for people that have
> >to make the decisions how much better PHP in fact is if people don't
> >hear about it. Even if they hear about it, it may not be enough if they
> >hear much more from the rest (Java, ASP.Net, C#, , whatever).
> >
> >Here PHP looses bigtime. You may not want to believe me, but I am afraid
> >that unless PHP is better marketted, soon or later its market acceptance
> >will be weakened.
> I think you're right here also, but only to a degree.  PHP has reached (or
> is quite close) to the critical mess it needs to penetrate the suite of
> 'accepted solutions'.  As in, solutions which are covered by analysts and
> that exist within large organizations.  It's true that it took it some 5
> years or so to make this penetration (and it took .NET about -2 years), but
> that is the price you pay when you don't have gigantic marketing budgets to
> compete with.  Undoubtfully this is a problem, but the bottom line appears
> to be that we managed to overcome this, despite the lack of resources.

The merit of what was achieved without financial resources is not in
question. What is in question is what could and can be done even without
financial resources to make PHP be more accepted than it is today.

> >That's not my point. Some marketing is better than no marketing at all
> >which is what you do today. There are plenty of ways to do some
> >marketing on PHP that don't even cost money to you.
> I don't think it's fair to say that there's no marketing today.  Well,
> forget fair, but I don't think it's accurate either :)  There are several
> good PHP sites, and there are a few companies advocating PHP as
> well.  Analysts are starting to cover PHP, and it's a fairly important
> landmark in PHP's penetration to the family of industry-adopted solutions.

I don't think we have the same understanding of what is marketing. For
me, marketing is being proactive in terms of promoting something before
the potential market. Seeing people advocating PHP or analysts covering
PHP here and there is not proactive at all. It is a result of the
evolution of PHP capabilities, but it was not something that was
especifically planned.

What I mean is there is a large potential market for PHP for which there
is no specific plan to address, not just in technical terms, but rather
in the message that that market is (not) getting about PHP suitability
for their needs.

You need to first watch the market and spot areas where people could be
using PHP but their are not, realize why they are not using PHP to
finally do something about it. As I said, it is not a technical problem,
but rather a people problem. 

> At any rate, suggestions will be welcome.  I've seen the Web Developer Ring
> you suggested, and I think it's worth thinking (the reason I'm not going
> wild with enthusiasm is that I think it also has drawbacks, not only
> advantages).

I don't know what drawbacks do you see, but let's discuss it openly.

> >oh, man Linux was a different story. Expecting a similar future for PHP
> >I'm afraid it may be wishful thinking. PHP is mostly focused on Web
> >development. Web market is fading out.
> I agree with the first part of the paragraph, but completely disagree with
> the 2nd.  Web is not fading out, the .COM era is.  Web, as a medium, is
> here to stay, and on the long run, it's going to grow to be much larger
> than what it is today.

Ok, it is not fading out, but it is fading, meaning it is no longer the
exciting thing that it seemed to be and was attracting some many people
from everywhere.

> As for the similarities and dissimilarities of PHP and Linux, I think it's
> fair to say that it's pretty difficult to predict the way things will go
> with PHP in the enterprise, but I doubt it'll happen in a similar way to
> that of Linux.  Linux 'made it' when huge corporations like IBM started
> using it and advocating it, after smaller companies (like RedHat) managed
> to create enough hype to 'wake the giants'.  It's unlikely that such a
> giant will make the same choice with PHP, even if we just look at it from a
> statistical perspective.

Right, so be it, PHP will have to grow in the market without any giant
force behind it, at least for now. Let's consider that one extra
challenge for PHP future.

> >Even if you can do non Web programming with PHP, most people are not
> >aware of that. You need to do some marketing to put in evidence that PHP
> >is as much capable for non-Web programming.
> Given the fact that I don't see the Web going anywhere, I strongly
> disagree.  PHP's strength is in its focus to provide a good Web development
> framework.  Losing that focus would be a bad idea.

It is not a matter of loosing that focus, but rather enlarge the focus
of PHP that is adverstised for things that some people are already using
it seriously.

Anyway, lets just concentrate on the Web development focus. Web
development is not just Web scripts that are served by the Web server.
Web development is also, installing and maitaining applications and also
run processes that run separately from the Web server.

You know you can run PHP from the command line to do things like run
database installation scripts or run cron scripts that execute periodic

The truth is that most people are not aware of this. They think PHP can
only be run from the Web server to serve Web pages. I was suprised by
the number of people that was telling me that Perl is better for running
scripts from the command line. Duh?! Why? Because nobody told them
otherwise! This very wrong perception of the current PHP user base needs
urgent fixing! The fix needs not to be applied in PHP, but rather in PHP
users minds. PHP needs to be advertised as tool than can run scripts
from anywhere, like any other language. For starters, drop the
designation of PHP CGI version.

> Projects like PHP-GTK are nice and for certain audiences they're also quite
> useful, but it's very wrong to assume that PHP's future lies in
> there.  There are too many languages in the world, including ones which are
> much more capable than PHP in the GUI programming area, and if we move the
> focus to this front, we're going to fight a lost battle.  In the Web front,
> on the other hand, we're doing quite well.

If people are already using PHP that way for serious purposes, why
neglect that it can be used that way? That only lets other languages
take over a space that PHP has already conquered.

The way I see, most people tend to only use one language at once. If
they see an alternative to PHP not only serves well for Web programming,
but also for non-Web programming, PHP will loose its user base there. It
is a matter of time until a lot of PHP people will start seeing it that

> >There you have another big problem that is there is no affordable way to
> >compile and generate executables from PHP programs. I know that
> >historically you never liked this ability into PHP programs, but that is
> >a vital need for people that will want to distribute their programs like
> >VB or Delphi programs.
> If you mean native executables, then I have to disagree with you yet
> again...  I don't think native executables are the thing that's holding PHP
> back.  It's a direct deduction from my view that PHP's main course is the
> Web environment, where native executables simply do not make sense.
> If you mean something else, I'll be happy to discuss this with you over
> personal email :)

No, I mean executables that may be just like VB executables that
basically contain PHP code compiled into Zend bytecodes or whatever is
enough for most people be stopped from copy source code directly.

A lot of people give up PHP because it does not provide affordable
conditions to let them sell whole applications that others can't still
their code, when they can just spend only US$100 or less in VB, Delphi,
Java, Kylix, etc... suite and compile programs that they can distribute
or sell to others without risking their business.

There are a lot more other things to say on these subjects, but these
should give you enough to think for a while. :-)

Manuel Lemos

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