Intervista a Tobias Schlitt di eZ System

Cena a bari Dopo le fatiche del phpDay rieccomi con un'interessante intervista (in inglese) fatta ad uno degli autori di eZ Components, una libreria di classi PHP open source su cui si fonderà il futuro eZ Publish. Prossimamente sempre dalla stessa manifestazione pubblicherò le interviste fatte ad altri sviluppatori che gravitano all'interno del mondo open source. :)

Ed ora l'intervista!

OssBlog: Good morning Tobias! First of all, present yourself to our readers.

Tobias: My name is Tobias Schlitt and I'm working for eZ systems on the eZ
components library, a general purpose, enterprise ready development platform for PHP 5. I am 26 years old and currently study computer science at the University of Dortmund (Germany). I'm an open source
addict, who runs Linux only for more than 3 years now and who works with PHP for more than 5 years.

Beside my interest in any kind of geek stuff I am doing tournament ballroom dance sport.

OssBlog: why do you like a programming language like php, do you use othe language? (java, python, perl...)

Tobias: What I love in PHP is its simpleness. It does not follow any clear programming paradigm and allows people to code efficiently. For example Java is purely OO and you cannot simply write a few lines of code without creating a class for it or simply write a function, when you consider this more appropriate. Beside that, I love the sweet little sugars, PHP offers me, like the "? :" operator, the overloading methods and so on. These syntactical sugars fit exactly into my style of coding.

For a longer time I did not use any other language beside PHP (except when I was forced to, like at University). Sure, I tried out a lot (like Perl, C, ...) but in the past few months i started digging into C# and
Mono, which I find really interesting. I'm quite sure that I will stay with PHP anyway, but the concepts realized in C# look really promising and will probably influence my style of coding.

OssBlog: So, you actually work on OSS software. What is your position about OSS?

Yes, I'm working on OOS, mainly on the eZ components project which is an enterprise ready PHP library, provided under the New BSD license. Beside that, I still maintain some packages in PEAR, occasionally commit to Serendipity and some other
projects, when I need a change or a bug fix there.

Regarding my position about OSS I think, that all software should be open nowadays. That sounds a bit radical at a first glance, but I have some valid reasons: Most software today does not invent any really new
technique or concept. Software development mostly consists of taking parts from other software, putting those together and code a little bit around it. This concept aligns very well with the concept of open source. Another reason is, that the software market is changing (maybe because of open source or maybe the other way around). It is not the software itself, where the money comes from, but the services provided for it. The last reason is my personal geekness. I love to learn from other peoples code and I love to just change the code, when I need a different feature or fix a bug. :)

OssBlog: Why do you think that is possible that a commercial society as eZ can survive with Open Source solution?

Tobias: The concept is quite simple. As I already mentioned in the last answer, I currently see the whole software market changing. It is not they software itself where you earn money from, but the services provided for
it. We at eZ provide lots of large companies with services for their eZ publish (our enterprise content management solution) installations. That works from installing and tuning the system, over customization and integration services to maintainance and bug fix guarantees .

Beside that, we (and our software) benefit from the open source community a lot. There is a huge number of extensions for eZ publish available out there. Since eZ publish is GPL licensed , all of these are GPL licensed, too. When developing a customer solution we can get back to these solutions. Also the community makes our software more stable, which results from the "a thousand eyes" principle of open source. 1000
developers can definitely find more bugs than 10 can. For this reason, people start to trust more in open source than in proprietary software.

Anyway, eZ publish itself is also available under a commercial license, which is mostly meant
for partners who want to sell solutions based on eZ publish, since this is not possible with the GPL.

OssBlog: why php 5 isn't yet used a lot and many of developers prefer to use yet php 4?

Tobias: I don't think that many developers prefer to use PHP 4, but they are still forced to. :) Many applications out there do not run properly with PHP 5, yet, and developers in general are lazy, so they won't migrate, if they are not forced to. ;)

OssBlog: what do you think on the evolution of php, what's about the forthcoming php 6?

I'm pretty much looking forward to PHP 6. Unicode support is an important feature that PHP still lacks in comparison to other languages.

Beside that, we will get rid of many old PHP 4 compatibilities, what we should have done with PHP 5 already (e.g. register_globals). Anyway, the big step for PHP has been PHP 3 to PHP 4 and the migration time from 4 to 5 and 6 will take much longer. Maybe the development team will find a new "killer feature", that will make people to use version 6 faster as it was for version 5... who knows? :)

OssBlog: can you tell me why I should start a project with ez component instead zend framework or symfony or $anotherFramework?

Tobias: Oh, that is a hard question. I think the main reason is, that eZ components is not a framework. :) eZ components are designed to be as independent as possible from each other. You can simply pick out 1 or 2
components and use them without being forced to use others. A second argument can be, that eZ components are designed with a more clear goal in the background. We will use them to develop the new eZ publish version, so we have a clear idea of what we want to do with them. What also plays a role here, is that we will definitely not break BC because of this reason, because then we would shoot ourselves in the foot.

In respect to totally community-driven open source project you have the benefit of reliability with eZ components. It will not happen, that the development of the library certainly stops or that there are no bug
fixes for some months, which is quite usual in a totally community-driven project. You can also purchase professional support and services, which is not that usual for community-only projects. Basically
you can use our enterprise PHP library as OOS, but your are not left alone in case you need help for mission critical apps. :)

OssBlog: What do you think about the "web 2.0" revolution? is it a bubble 2.0 or is it something different?

Tobias: Web 2.0 sucks. No, I do not mean the technologies that are commonly associated with the term, but the term itself. It's a completely artificial buzz word (even worse than AJAX) and you cannot even give 2 technologies that are definitely part of it.

Anyway, if I assume that e.g. the semantic web is part of it, I like it quite much. Having information provided in a human- and machine readable way is a very good thing and allows us to combine information in completely different way. If you mean AJAX, I don't really mind. I've never been a big front-end fan and it does not really matter to me, if I create simple HTML pages and reload those or if I replace the content
with JavaScript on the fly.

So basically I'm quite satisfied with the evolution of the web and I'm very sure that we will see a lot of interesting technologies evolving in the future... and a lot of bullshit, too, but that's simply the web,
isn't it? ;)

OssBlog: Thanks for the interview, let's go for our "last beer of the day"...

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