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aoIt's Not Just About the Newsa

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 17 April 2840.
Planet PHP

Originally, I was going to present these thoughts at the PHP Community Conference (in a session titled aoIt's not Just About the Newsa) but it didn't work out for me to be there. I still wanted to share some of my thoughts and experience in running PHPDeveloper.org for the last 11 years.

In its very first form, PHPDeveloper.org was just a page of links. It was hosted on a local server I had at the collegel I attended and was aliased to the outside world under the hostname aobender.ods.orga. I started gathering links on that page to some of my favorite PHP resources of the time - things like PHPBuilder.com and, of course, the PHP.net manual. I was new to the language - this was back in 1999-2000 range - and was constantly devouring everything I could about it. Not many of the free hosting services supported PHP back then so running it on my own server was clearly the answer. I compiled my own installations from scratch complete with some of the earlier versions of Apache, PHP3 (fresh off of PHP/FI) and MySQL. All of my code was procedural and I had no clue about application design. All I knew was that I loved the language. I left my Perl books to gather dust and marched on to a bright PHP-based future.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure when I made the leap from a set of links to the sort of blog style PHPDev is in today. I was a huge fan of Slashdot back then (weren't we all?) and I think I thought to myself one day, aoI could totally do thata. So I hacked together a custom sort of content management system and started to work. Things weren't as consistent then as they were now. Back then I might have posted once a week, two or three times if I was feeling ambitious. If you want a good laugh, go back and take a look at some of my earliest posts on the Internet Archive.

I was a big IRC user back then - still am on Freenode - and I spread the word about the site mostly through there. There was no such thing as Twitter and getting sites like Yahoo to notice you wasn't as easy as it is now. I had one thing going for me thoughaback then there just wasn't another PHP news site out there, at least not one that was consistently updated. I was determined that PHPDev would become one of the best resources out there for PHP-related news and community happenings that it could be.

Some folks have called me a human aggregator in the past, and I think that's what really sets the site apart from some of the other PHP news/community sites out there. I've never, ever pulled in posts automatically from other sources. Yep, that's right - I hand-write every post you read on the site. I spend about an hour or so each day trolling through my Google Reader feeds (I'm up to 434 of them currently) to find some of the most interesting content out there. I actually spend some time reading the posts and writing up a good summary of what it has to offer. Plus, I can do some fun things the other automatic readers can't like:

  • Pulling announcements from Twitter
  • Listening to podcasts and summarizing their content
  • Filtering out posts that are related to a product or general commentary
  • Making community announcements about conferences
  • Taking specific article submissions

One of the best things, though, is subscribing to things like DZone or PHPCamp and discovering new articles that aren't even on other aggregator's radar. I gather things from the four corners of the web and try to make the best sense I can out them to share with the world. In recent years, I've realized that the aostuff I find interestinga approach is good, but I had to widen the scope to make it really work. I now read through my feeds and think more aois there a group that would find this interestinga instead. As a result there's been posts on things outside of PHP touching on software like Drupal/WordPress/Joomla as well as Open Source projects that might be related to PHP, but not always directly.

I'm sure you're curious about the technology behind the site. Well, let me say off the bat, you're probably going to be disappointed. Remember when I said I had a hacked together CMSish kind of thing to manage the content - it's not much different these days. I started with it back in PHP3 and it was all procedural. It wasn't pretty but I was proud of it and it worked. Then PHP4 came along and these magical things called objects and OOP came along with it. Of course, I just had to do a rewrite. PHPDev v2 was born. Thin

Truncated by Planet PHP, read more at the original (another 2539 bytes)