Thursday, July 18, 2013

NEPHP 2013 Talks: Package Management in PHP

The Northeast PHP Conference is coming up, and to keep myself motivated and on the edge of my seat, I figured I might write about some of the talks and workshops I'm looking forward to...

One of the talks that I'm really excited to see at NEPHP is titled "Package Management in PHP: Better Late than Never!" (you can see it at and

To be honest, I don't think I have to say much on this at all. As far as I'm concerned, if you don't understand the premise then that's a great sign that you have something interesting to look into. If you do understand it and don't care, then I believe that you're on the wrong path.

The description itself explains the crux of the issue: a lot of current (and some not so current) languages already have similar tools for managing the packages that you use in your code, and it's great to see some advancements in this field for PHP.

Don't get me wrong: PEAR was a pretty good start, but it seems as though every attempt at improving that process seemed to fail, until now with Composer and Packagist.

A simple command line tool that lets you easily dictate the required versions of libraries and then takes care of grabbing them (and their dependencies!), storing them in your project and even managing upgrades? Count me in!

While on the one hand we have Composer, that manages these packages, it has to get them from somewhere, and while it can get them from practically anywhere, we look to the other hand and we find Packagist. Packagist is quickly becoming the 'go to' place for these libraries. It's almost like the new PEAR site, or Perl's CPAN. So put these two together and suddenly we have an easy way to find packages, and then an easy way to manage them in our own projects.

It's becoming more and more obvious that we will be using more and more of these focussed packages for single purposes as time goes by, and keeping track of all of that will be a nightmare without something like this. If you're not at least trying to use these packages, then let's face it: you're probably wasting time re-inventing the wheel.

As I mentioned earlier, Composer really is picking up steam and I'm loving the fact that frameworks such as Symfony 2 (and it's little brother Silex) are using it as the go to system for managing their own packages.

I hope I sound as excited as I actually am for this stuff: it's an awesome development for successful code reuse that's spreading across entirely separate projects and all of a sudden PHP developers are OK with reaching outside of their own source tree to find something that works well and works now.

Hat's off to the Composer and Packagist teams, and I can't wait to see Sequoia McDowell's talk at Northeast PHP this year.

Hopefully I'll see you there too!

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