I was just enjoying a conversation at the Insider Club discussion forums. You can join for free at www.insiderclub.org. Anyway, I was discussing the future of CodeIgniter with an Insider Club member called Ivars. He was asking if I knew any technically brilliant PHP developers and suggested that perhaps we could convince them to come and help to revitalise the CodeIgniter framework. Anyway, I typed out a rather lengthy response and right now I’m patting myself on the back because I think it was a good response. So, I thought it would be interesting to put this out into the wider web development community to see if anyone agrees with me.
Here is my response to Ivar’s suggestion:
|Well, I’m sure it would be nice if we had a Fabien Potencier waiting in the wings, ready to adopt CodeIgniter. However, there are 3 problems with this idea:
1. Guys like Fabien Potencier and Taylor Otwell are VERY hard to come by. Even if you do find someone of that kind of calibre then the chances are that they’ll already be engrossed in some other project – perhaps another framework.
2. Technically brilliant web developers are usually not rich. As a matter of fact most of the very best technical web developers out there are seriously financially challenged. Frankly, they haven’t got a clue how to run a business and that’s why most of them have ‘donate now’ buttons all over their websites. Now, I don’t want to get personal here and I don’t want to seem attacking – but do your research. Think of some of the best technical web developers you’ve heard of. Go see what they’re doing for a living. I think you’ll find that most of them either work for someone else or they run very humble web development consultancies. That’s a fact. (QUICK EDIT: I want to distance F.P. and T.O. from that point – those two guys happen to be very talented and I think they are exceptional cases.).
3. Most of them also lack, what I’d consider to be, fairly basic communication skills. If you don’t believe me, try listening to any web development podcast and see for yourself! (I should know, I have one of my own :P). This matters because good communication skills are an essential component of brilliant leadership. I’d encourage you to have a look by at some of the early presentations from guys like Bill Gates and Steve jobs. Those two heavyweights were brilliant communicators and because of this they were able to get people excited and on board with their ideas. If you want to talk about growing a business, I’ll take the visionary over the tech-guy any day of the week!
Many months ago I predicted that nobody would step up and take over CodeIgniter. Everything that I said has been proven to be right.
The reason why I knew nobody would step up is because I know that the person who Ellislab are looking for (to take over CodeIgniter) does not exist. That’s right. He or she does not exist!
You can search every corner of the Earth but I don’t think you’ll find a person who is technically brilliant at PHP, has great business acumen, has the ability to manage/build a community and (importantly) has money to invest in CodeIgniter. It ain’t gonna happen.
And of course, everyone is keeping an eye on Laravel, Symfony and Zend. They’re all wondering when CodeIgniter will catch up. We’re all waiting for the day when CodeIgniter developers will be exchanging bundles with Laravel developers and swooning with delight over Composer – delicately peppering our conversations with a gentle sprinkling of words like ‘elegant’ and ‘artisan’.
Here’s what I have to say about that – SHOVE IT!
In my opinion Laravel, Symfony and Zend have taken the PHP community in entirely the wrong direction. I for one think it’s a step backwards for us to be building websites via the command prompt. Command prompts belong in the 80s. They kill creativity! I’ll tell you something else, you can take any of those major frameworks and do a character strike for character strike comparison with CodeIgniter. CodeIgniter STILL does the job with less characters! CodeIgniter STILL kicks arse!
So, let’s consider the future of CodeIgniter. What should they do? My suggestion is radical. However, when all is said and done I think it would take CodeIgniter to a better place.
Instead of searching for the next Taylor Otwell or the next Fabien Potencier, the people behind CodeIgniter should be looking for the next Steve Jobs. This means that they should be more focused on greater things than code. The CodeIgniter community should be having a rethink about where CodeIgniter fits as far as the web development universe goes. There needs to be a complete rethink about what CodeIgniter’s primary selling points are going to be. Is it ease of use? Speed? Powerful code? Community? It’s not for me to say but I think there certainly should be clarity on that front.
Also, I don’t think CodeIgniter should be competing against Symfony and Zend, or even Laravel. Those frameworks have gone off in an entirely different direction and frankly, I think the idea of playing catch up is ridiculous. Let them go. Let them get on with it and good luck to them all. CodeIgniter’s competition should indeed not be Symfony or Zend. It should be WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.
The big three (WP, Drupal & Joomla) are killing it as far as community and business goes. Any one of them has more active followers than any of the major PHP frameworks that we’ve been talking about. Not only that but they’re attracting big business in ways which no other PHP framework dare even imagine.
Here’s ten big organisations who use WordPress:
4. The Wall Street Journal
8. The New York Times
Here’s ten big organisations who use Drupal
3. The White House
10. The UK Govt (data.gov.uk)
Here’s ten big organisations who use Joomla
1. Harvard University
2. The United Nations
5. Burger King
7. The Linux Foundation
9. Scandinavian Airlines
About four years ago a new PHP framework called Yii suddenly appeared on the scene. At the time it dramatically challenged the way we do web development. For a fleeing year or two Yii was in a league of its own. Technically brilliant, lightning fast and with a brave new web-based code generation tool for handling repetitive tasks. The reaction from the web development community was extremely positive. So much so that one of the world’s best selling PHP authors – Larry Ullman – wrote books about Yii and became a sort of ambassador for the Yii framework.
CodeIgniter needs to have a Yii moment.
Instead of playing catch up with the other frameworks, the people behind CodeIgniter need to think outside the box and give the community something that they really need and that nobody else is giving them.
I’ll close with a question for you. If Steve Jobs could suddenly appear on the scene and somehow ended up being hired to revitalise the CodeIgniter brand, what do you think he would say?
Peace, love and vegetables.