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The Truth About WordPress

If you ask the average PHP developer what they think about WordPress, you may be disappointed with their answer. Their answer may make you think that WordPress is the bastard child of PHP, totally unloved and unwelcome in the PHP community. They’ll cite code quality, community, even personalities in their argument. I’ve even heard stories of a WordPress developer asking a prominent member of the PHP community about using their tool to improve WordPress. The response? “WordPress needs a rewrite.”

And I should know; I’ve been quite vocal in my frustration with the fact that WordPress still tells people it’s okay to use old versions of PHP. And yet, despite WordPress’ shortcomings, it has definite advantages that the PHP community needs to recognize and embrace.

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Making your development process suck less

One of the easiest ways to start an argument in developer circles is to propose making a change to the development process. The means of developing applications is so crucial to the process of developing software that everybody has an opinion, and they’re convinced that their right.

One company I worked for had a terribly dysfunctional development process. It started with the product manager (who was not technical) writing a spec. As developers, we’d ask technical questions about the spec, which would prompt changes to the spec. Of course, the deadline never changed. You can probably guess what happened with that deadline.

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You should never quit your job to freelance

It’s the dream of every software developer: “I’ll quit my job and be my own boss! I’ll have clients pay me to do what I’m good at!” The developer quits and feels that breeze of freedom, right before they run into the brick wall of freelancing realities: you’re not your own boss, and you traded one boss for five.

Freelancing may be the goal of many developers, but it’s a fantasy, a fake, something that you think you want. Here’s why you should reconsider.

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The Community Toxic

There’s a famous line in the movie Bruce Almighty, where the protagonist is describing a cookie as being like a community. He opines that a community is made up of hardworking and dedicated members, with a few nuts thrown in, that make a cookie great.

The PHP community is lucky that our “cookie” contains few nuts but many hardworking and dedicated individuals. There are dozens if not hundreds of developers working daily to improve PHP, and to make the community, the product, and the environment better for current and future developers.

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PHP 5.6 is coming next week

According to PHP.net, PHP 5.6 will be released next Thursday. This is an incremental release of the PHP language, offering a few new features. Yet even though this release is relatively small in features, the features included are powerful and will change the way each one of us develops.

PHP 5.6 is easy to install, and works the same way that PHP 5.5 did. In other words, if you have a proven process for installing PHP 5.5 from source, that process can work for upgrading to PHP 5.6. There are a few backwards incompatible changes to watch out for, but for the most part, you won’t have any trouble upgrading.

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Using GitHub for things other than code

At SunshinePHP in January, Elizabeth Naramore gave a talk on how GitHub uses GitHub internally for projects that may or may not involve code. For example, all requests for sponsorship are turned into issues, which are tracked, tagged and labeled.

After this talk, I decided to create repositories for the purpose of tracking bugs in my books. The idea was that I would have a place to track the issues, and that readers would be able to file their issues with the books in a place that most of us are familiar with using and interacting already. No writer is perfect, and no book is published without bugs, so it seemed like a win for everybody.

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