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Throwing in the towel with SabreAMF and Dropbox PHP lib

Note: This article was originally published at Planet PHP on 7 April 2011.
Planet PHP

I'm officially stopping development for my SabreAMF and Dropbox php library. I'm using neither myself anymore, which is detrimental for my interest and time I devote. So I felt like it's better to make it official.

I'm hoping for both projects they get forked and picked up by other people. I'm happy to transfer control of the sites to a different developer, if he or she can show good coding skills and some dedication. Dropbox-php has a mercurial repository so it's easy to clone / fork, and I just migrated SabreDAV from svn to git(hub).

Dropbox

Dropbox was a short ride. When the API first came out I had some projects in mind I wanted to write for it. Since there wasn't a PHP library yet, I took it upon myself to write one. My interests quickly moved to different subjects though. Bugs are there, and left unrepaired for too long. If you know of a good replacement library, post it in the comments.

SabreAMF

While the Dropbox lib is from pretty recent, SabreAMF is from somewhere early 2006. It was my first open source project, and it has been quite a ride. It's interesting to think back to where I was in life back then.

It kind of went downhill when Zend_AMF got released in late 2008. Originally I was helping the (paid) developer with the implementation, but then communication went silent. I only heard about it again when it was announced with much fanfare as the Adobe/Zend partnership.

This left me with a bit of a sour taste. The developer at the time was struggling with decoding the AMF0/3 bits, which was just released as an open spec at the time. Originally the AMF0/3 specification was closed, and as far as I know, there were no open source implementations. It took me several months of reverse engineering to figure it out exactly. This was probably also largely due to the fact that I had little experience in this field and never seen a variable width binary-encoded 29-bit integer before. So I was mostly doing it blindly (with help from the excellent Karl Von Randow and Kevin Langdon). Having a working implementation after that time felt like a great achievement.

After checking out Zend_AMF, I found that the developer didn't bother trying decoding himself, but effectively just took my design and renamed a few methods. Mind you, these were only a couple of classes, but they were the core of the project and my blood sweat and tears. I wouldn't have minded this if I could have been a part of it (which I thought I did for a bit), but it wasn't handled very decently. Since then the Zend_AMF library has greately improved, so the evidence is stowed away in much older subversion revisions.

I hope this doesn't come across bitter. I mean no harm to said developer, his perspective may well be very different from mine. I just wanted to write this out as therapy, as this has been bugging me personally for several years.

However,

I had tons of fun and learned even more. Very much a thanks to the users, and the people that helped me out in various occasions. I still believe there's room for a 'SabreAMF', as the main message I've always heard from people was that the alternatives are too heavy.

I've since then moved away from flash-work as much as possible, with the exception of the occasional feature that flash provides well, but browsers don't yet (video). If you're thinking you need an 'AMF'-like solution, I would first highly recommend to see if JSON does not already fit your needs. There are some benefits to the binary protocol, but they only tend to apply with large scale. Most people don't fit in that category. If you do, check out Zend_AMF.