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Software Development

PHP Gets a Foundation to Work on PHP Core

The PHP Foundation officially launched this week with the goal of funding part/full-time developers to work on the PHP core in 2022.
Nov 27th, 2021 6:00am by
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Given recent events, it’s perhaps less “darkly humorous” than the Wikipedia article on the idea suggests, but the theory remains the same — how many members of your current team would need to suddenly disappear to grind your organization or project to a halt? That number is known as your bus factor, as in, how many people would need to be hit by a bus for everything to stop working, and earlier this year, PHP contributor Joe Watkins argued that the bus factor for PHP was a shocking number two.

“Maybe as few as two people would have to wake up this morning and decide they want to do something different with their lives in order for the PHP project to lack the expertise and resources to move it forward in its current form, and at current pace,” Watkins wrote at the time, naming Dmitry Stogov and Nikita Popov as those two.

Well, last week, Nikita Popov was thankfully not hit by a bus, but he did decide to move on from his role with PHP to instead focus his activities on LLVM.

Also thankfully, Watkins’ article earlier this year opened some eyes to the situation at hand and, as he writes in a follow-up article this week, JetBrains (Popov’s employer) reached out to him at the time regarding starting a PHP Foundation.

This week, with Popov’s departure, the PHP Foundation was officially launched with the goal of funding part/full-time developers to work on the PHP core in 2022.

At launch, the PHP Foundation will count 10 companies — Automattic, Laravel, Acquia, Zend, Private Packagist, Symfony, Craft CMS, Tideways, PrestaShop, and JetBrains — among its backers, with an expectation to raise $300,000 per year, and with JetBrains contributing $100,000 annually. Alongside that, the foundation is being launched using foundation-as-a-service provider Open Collective, and just under 700 contributors have already raised more than $40,000 for the foundation.

One of the key benefits to creating a foundation, rather than sticking with the status quo, goes beyond increasing the bus factor — it diversifies the influences on PHP. Watkins points out that, for much of the history of PHP, Zend, the employer of Dmitry Stogov, has been a primary financial backer, and as such has had some amount of influence on the language’s direction. Similarly, JetBrains had increased influence during its time employing Popov on PHP.

“To say they have not influenced the direction of the language as a whole would just not be true. Indeed, they have: Many parts of the language and its internals have been shaped by the fact that Zend pushed for them, enabled by their budget and dedicated engineer or engineers,” writes Watkins. “It’s also true that in the relatively short time that Nikita was with JetBrains, they too had some kind of influence, to say they didn’t would be to say there has been no difference between Nikita’s output before and during his employment with JetBrains.”

While Watkins says that everything has been above board and gone through standard processes to ensure so, influence is nonetheless indisputable, and that “The Foundation represents a new way to push the language forward. It provides us the mechanism by which to raise the bus factor, so that we never face the problems we face today, and have faced in the past.”

The foundation launches with a temporary administration, counting Popov, Stogov, and Watkins among the members, and JetBrains writes that any contributor to php-src may apply to the Foundation for funding, with the application period beginning immediately and lasting for 28 days. As for what will happen moving forward, the PHP Foundation will focus its efforts over the first two years on hiring developers to work on PHP core. The current RFC process, JetBrains writes, “will not change, and language decisions will always be left to the PHP Internals community.”

This Week in Programming

  • .NET and Open Source at re:Invent 2021: With Amazon’s re:Invent 2021 conference coming up first thing next week, the company has put out a couple of guides to the event that we thought might be worth mentioning this week. First, there has been a lot of talk about .NET lately, with the recent .NET 6 release, and AWS has written up a blog post about all things .NET at re:Invent 2021. The post lists the various breakout sessions that will be available to both in-person and virtual attendees, such as “What’s new with .NET development and deployment on AWS” and “Build high-performance .NET serverless architectures on AWS” among several others. The AWS attendee guide for Open Source at re:Invent 2021, meanwhile, takes a similar approach and lists out the various breakout sessions concerning open source, such as an “Introduction to GraphQL” or “Using Rust to minimize environmental impact”. The in-person event runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3, but the virtual event continues on for another week until December 10 and is entirely free to attend.

  • Amazon Previews Amazon Linux 2022: Amazon has previewed a new, general-purpose Linux distribution for AWS called Amazon Linux 2022 (AL2022), which it says is “designed to provide a secure, stable, and high-performance execution environment to develop and run your cloud applications.” The company has committed to providing a new major version every two years, with support for five years following, with quarterly updates for the latest software — although how you update will be entirely up to you. Right now, Amazon users choose between Amazon Linux 1 and Amazon Linux 2, but AL2022 will combine their benefits while offering “a predictable, two-year release cycle, so customers can plan for operating system upgrades as part of their product lifecycles.” AL2022 is based on upstream Fedora, has SELinux enabled and enforced by default, and is now available in preview at no additional charge. Head on over to the documentation for more information.
  • In Case You’re Still Confused About Docker Business: By now, you’ve heard all about Docker’s changes to its fee structure, especially regarding Docker Desktop, but you might still have some questions. Well, Docker recently held a webinar and was left with some questions, and has now put out a blog post to answer your remaining Docker Business questions. For example, will you need to pay for Docker Desktop? Even if you don’t use the Docker Desktop UI? What do you have to do by Jan. 31, 2022? Click through for the answers to those questions and more, or check out the Docker subscription cheat sheet or FAQ.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Automattic, Docker.
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