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

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.