Thanks for your very full and thoughtful reply

> Surely there are things we can improve upon, but the current statement of
> the problem whichs assumes that Perl and Java are lightyears ahead of PHP
> when it comes to extending their functionality just isn't true.

I am not very technical, as you will have gathered. But all I can do is pass
on the view of my (rather good) ISP. They offer Java, Perl and PHP, and say
that they find PHP much the most difficult to extend. As other responses
have pointed out, Perl and Java, while not perfect in this area, do seem to
offer a number of advantages.

You ask for practical suggestions. Well, it is clearly a fair comment to say
that you can't offer 200 certified libraries on every platform that compiles
PHP. But you could surely make a very large dent in the problem with a very
much smaller initiative.

Being practical, the vast majority of serious PHP applications will be
running on Linux. If you were to cover RedHat, and .rpm compatible distros
such as SuSE, you would cover the requirements of perhaps the majority of

You could also prioritise the libraries. I would suggest that there are a
number that are clearly of strategic importance for using PHP in mission
critical settings: XML, encryption, graphics etc. I would guess that perhaps
20 or 30 libraries would cover 80% of user needs. The development team would
have a pretty good idea of the priorities, I would imagine, or you could run
a poll through this list.

So if you define the initial task as providing a practical way to add around
25 certified libraries to RedHat and compatible distros (ideally on the
fly), the issue would surely be more managable, yet any solution would make
a big impact on the problem. I guess that something as convenient as the
Apache module system would be the ideal for ISPs. I am not qualified to
comment on the best technical solution, but I suspect the mechanisms are
already in place in the current version of PHP.

I have no direct experience of this field, but I suspect that companies like
RedHat and SuSE might be open to some kind of partnership here and sponsor
the project. Or Zend ( or RedHat or SuSE) could develop an extended distro
as a commercial product - I don't see that ISPs and corporates would object
to paying a modest sum for a tested and certified distro with extended

Obviously, coders like to code. The other stuff is just an unwelcome
distraction. But there are two other issues that contribute greatly to the
viability of any application - documentation and installation/configuration.
With documentation, I am sure that the whole community would congratulate
the PHP team on what they have achieved. It would be great if you could make
similar progress with installation/configuration.

What do you think? Does any of this suggest a practical way forward?

Geoff Caplan

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