Zend Developer Zone – Revamp, Rebuild, Redo, Re-Everything

February 9, 2010


Zend Developer Zone Revamp

In January, I returned as editor for the Zend Developer Zone. At that time I mentioned I would be chasing my goal “To provide a huge value to the PHP community with original, deep, example and situation laden content.” And we have been preparing to start that effort, and in a big way.

We will be rebuilding ZDZ from the ground up and in full public view of the community — to act as a learning experience and a showcase for PHP best practices.

Zend Developer Zone as a Showcase

This site will act as a showcase for many things: best practices for PHP and database development, agile processes and team management, infrastructure and hosting, performance and scaling, and operational practices. And the best way for it to be a showcase is for us to make all of the process of working on the infrastructure completely transparent; to make the artifacts (code, scripts, configuration, machine images) readily available and to allow contributions from the community. And to top it all off, we can make these visible while using the actual site with “peak behind the page” features showing the involved code, related tickets, design documents and discussions.

In order to make ZDZ the showcase to the PHP community we need to build it from the ground up to represent the current state-of-the-art best and most usable practices. Each stage of the rebuild becomes content for the community whether that comes from code samples or commenting on issues that arise along the way. The content we write will include both stand-alone small-scale samples backed by larger in-context samples of it running within ZDZ and tied to other related systems.

We also need to consider that there is more than PHP at play in this rebuild. The cross-functional scope is much larger and we will want to showcase the best use of related resources as well.

Revamping Zend Developer Zone

Along with the modernization of the code, we are also targeting more interactive features for ZDZ such as:

  • Community generated alternative samples (i.e. "How I would do this in my framework")
  • Community translations for articles
  • Long-lived Wiki style articles
  • In-line comments on articles and code
  • Facetted search and more meaningful tagging
  • Smart landing pages
  • Semantic Search of Source Code (i.e. show me samples that call method X)
  • Community moderators
  • Integration with other social sites
  • Peaking behind the scenes of the live site

And infrastructure highlights including:

  • Cloud hosting (from test to production)
  • Clustered front-end
  • Clustered databases
  • Alternative data stores (Not just SQL)
  • Running on Linux, Mac and Windows

And highlighting our processes for:

  • Agile development
  • Team infrastructure
  • Continuous Integration
  • Developer Testing
  • Regression Testing
  • Load Testing
  • Scalability Testing
  • Automated Deployment
  • Management and Operations of the Site

Since the rebuild has to overtake the current feature set, it will be hosted in parallel — first with read-only features (and write features linking to existing site) and then later assuming the full responsibilities of the site. That will allow a as-we-progress view of where the project stands at any moment in time.

I look forward to starting this effort and the first step is to get a home for the team infrastructure (code repository, wiki, issue tracker, etc.) and setup an agile process for the team.


9 Responses to “Zend Developer Zone – Revamp, Rebuild, Redo, Re-Everything”

  1. jminard Says:

    Yes, in fact we are working on the deployment now to EC2… So coming very soon!

  2. jmkeith Says:

    It’s been nearly 6 months since this was announced… Is this still going to happen?

  3. stingrayduke Says:

    I guess a lot of people are searching for exactly these features (php is and will (hopefully) always be not php but everything on the web based on php).
    If you manage to release this project it will be definitly some kind of php goddess 😀

    I’m looking forward to learning & contributing :)

  4. slipcase Says:

    I must say I am very impressed with Zend and DevZone taking on such an ambitious project. All of the areas you’ve touched on affect so many people on a day to day basis that building such a resource should prove to be a great learning experience. Many new developers don’t get access to these kinds of processes. It should be interesting to see this take shape. Good luck!

  5. chrisixion Says:

    This looks like a really cool project. I’m glad you’re going beyond the code and also sharing your ideas on management processes and development practices. Can’t wait to see it take shape!

  6. jminard Says:

    The changes detailed above are the obvious needs of today.

    In addition we wil also be looking at other ways to improve the discovery and management features of the large content base created and contributed along the way; that must stay alive and be up to date with technology and practice changes as they happen. Content should deprecate or stay fresh and relevant.

  7. desiv Says:

    Even though I personnally would love to see ZDZ upgrade, and I would benefit from it most certainly, and I still remain with just one big question: where’s the innovation?

  8. jminard Says:

    It will be an ongoing discussion during the rebuild — but most likely it will be a combination of both. Eventually a community moderation process would be helpful as well.

    I am glad that you are excited, it will be a fun project!

  9. balupton Says:

    Sweet! As someone who always strives for the best, this has been something I’ve been longing for for a very long time! Cannot wait for this community of best practices!

    Question, how will this make it easier for the community to share? Will there be a submission process of articles/tutorials/projects to dev-zone for inclusion, or do we edit the wiki, or both?