PEAR state of play, why move to PEAR2

Published 2009-09-21 14:16:30
Just before I saw Brendan's post about PHP4 compatibility in PEAR, I had been getting a few queries about making a couple of my PEAR packages more 'PHP5' compatible or PEAR2 ready.

From my perspective, pretty much all of the packages I maintain (As far as I know) are PHP5 'compatible'. however they may emit E_STRICT errors.

This brings up the interesting question, which I guess all the current maintainers, users and contributors have come across, how much value is added to the existing packages by adding that level of support.

From an 'ideal world' / 'perfect coding' perspective, they would benefit from this changes. but as somebody who earns an income by delivering projects as quickly and efficiently as possible, the return on investment for making those changes is very tiny, if not negative.

Since the packages generally just work, making the changes required, would not really change that 'just work' situation, and as Jamie Zawinski famously said "How will this software get him laid?"

Two of the biggest changes I'm aware of for this 'PHP5 compatibility' issue are the 'static' method prefix and getting rid of 'var' which completely break PHP4 compatibility (and yes we still maintain PHP4 applications, and clients rarely have budget to make changes like this). Doing these changes would mean that I would have to either freeze or depreciate PHP4 support, or start maintaining dual versions. (Personally I would prefer a hook in the package builder that would do the replacement for me, so I could upload 2 package on each release).

Going forward, PEAR2 is still in a gestation period, (as PHP5.3 and namespaces support has just come out.) Resulting in any code that had targeted PHP5.3/PEAR2 aging very quickly (eg. requiring changes to handle the final changes to the namespace syntax.). This may start changing soon, however I suspect it would really take some significant effort in time to start creating PEAR2 packages for existing code (which has a rather poor return on investment) . And without a reasonable base number of packages, the attraction of submitting code to PEAR2 is lessened. A classic chicken and egg situation.

At the same time, there is no real alternative to PEAR2, pretty much all other 'framework' solutions have been built around the assumption that you have to accept a majority of the 'framework' to utilize the single packages. Which is even worse that the pains that PEAR(1) imposes on you.

All that said, if you want to send me patches to fix any big PHP5 issues in my packages please don't hesitate, I will try and make the changes.

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