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Phil Sturgeon's Blog: Packages: The Way Forward for PHP

Note: This article was originally published at PHPDeveloper on 8 March 2012.
PHPDeveloper

In this new post to his blog Phil Sturgeon talks about what he (and apparently several others) think is the "way forward for PHP" to make it a better language and ecosystem - packages.

What is a package? A package is a piece of reusable code that can be dropped into any application and be used without any tinkering to add functionality to that code. [...] Most package systems also allow for something called dependencies. [...] This is how most modern programming languages work, but to make a generalisation: PHP developers hate packages. Why? Well while other languages have great systems like CPAN for Perl, Gems for Ruby, PIP, PHP has had a terrible history with package management going back years.

He talks about one of the main current packaging systems, PEAR, and how, despite its attempts, it just hasn't seen the adoption the package management of other languages has. Phil makes a recommendation that is slowly becoming more and more popular in the PHP community - building "unframeworks". These sets of reusable components (similar to the ideas behind Aura, Symfony and Zend Framework 2) are designed to be dropped in and used without the dependencies of the frameworks they live in. He points to the Composer/Packagist dynamic duo as a way through all of the current packaging issues - a simple way to make any project an installable package just by adding a configuration file.