Thursday, January 29, 2009

eZ winter conference

Today I went to the eZ International Winter Conference here in Barcelona. Mainly because it was local, free and I quite liked the last PHP conference I went to. The location was the old centre of commerce near the Estacion Francia. It is a beautiful location and I am glad I was able to see it from the inside once. The conference room was certainly fit for the G7 or signing of peace treaties. (I will try to find some pictures on flickr later).

I first have to say that I have not used eZ publish or the eZ components, but I have heard of both and was especially interested in the components.

At the company where I work we are currently looking for a new content management system. We are using typo3 for most of our projects and some are done in cakephp for the ease of development. Ideally we would like something which provides an easier way to develop, a CMS which can be used by our customers but has still enough features to be flexible.

The talk about the eZ components was very good and I like the bottom up approach to the MVC support. The talk was by Derick Rethans, who also did the xdebug talk at the php conference last year. There was also a good talk about the eZ Find extension, which allows full text search implemented with Solr.

The last talk focused on the future direction of eZ publish, especially version 5.0. This version will be a refactoring of version 4.x and they want to move to a more micro kernel with extensions approach instead of the monolithic one they have at the moment. This version should also use more of the eZ components and the MVC features. The 4.x branch will be maintained in parallel until version 5 is established.

To anyone who follows the typo3 development, this might sound familiar. typo3 also has a version 5 in the works, which is a complete rewrite (not refactored), uses a MVC framework, will be developed in parallel to the 4.x branch and nobody knows when it will be finished.

The difference is the development model. While typo3 is developed in the open by individuals from multiple companies or private individuals, eZ is produced in house by a business with a clear focus to make money. From what I have seen so far I like the eZ product more, because it is developed with a clear use case in mind and with the knowledge that you have to stay with your feet on the ground. typo3 tries to use every design pattern and development method on the planet, it seems to be more like a way for the developers to show their knowledge instead of thinking of the end user or developer.

Both CMS frameworks also make the mistake of reinventing the wheel. PHP already provides nice libraries for database abstraction, template systems and other things which are implemented again by both frameworks. eZ seems a bit better in this regard by just providing wrappers for existing libraries.

I will have a closer look at the eZ components and will suggest evaluating eZ publish in our company. So overall a success for eZ I would say.


  1. Thanks for the comments on eZ and TYPO3. I've been working with TYPO3 for 6 years and have similar feelings about the developer "show-off". Then again, with the devs showing off, we've got an extremely flexible framework that's quite adaptable to most any environment.

    For more, I've been writing about TYPO3 business, social, and technical aspects at

  2. We will have to see what the future brings. At the moment it looks like typo3 5.0 will be a point where many people might take the opportunity to look at other options.

    And typo3 certainly seems to be doing something wrong for us now, because we wouldn't invest the time looking into different solutions otherwise.

  3. Though I'd like to say otherwise, I've heard similar rumblings surrounding the TYPO3 5.0 release.

    However, from what I've seen of TYPO3 5.0 so far and some of which has been back ported to TYPO3 4.3 has been quite slick.

    In any case, many of the larger content management systems open source and proprietary are all undergoing major rewrites to become serious content management frameworks.

    As such, many folks from many CMS background will be looking around seriously to go with a basic framework, content management system, enterprise CMS, or a content management framework.

  4. I think it is not generally wrong to rewrite, even from scratch. As F. P. Brooks, Jr. writes in "The Mythical Man-Month, chapter 11 "Plan to Throw One Away", citing a study by Lehman and Belady:

    "All repairs tend to destroy he structure, to increase the entropy and disorder the system. (...) As time passes, the system becomes less and less well-ordered.(...) Each forward step is matched by a backward one. Although in principle usable forever, the system has worn wout as a base for progress. Furthermore, machines change, configurations change, and user requirements change, so the system is not in fact usable forever. A brand-new, from-the-ground-up redesign is necessary."

    That might be the case for a software that started as a "one man show" and grew uncontrolled over the last 4 years after it matured with version 3.7/4.0.

    Anyway. Reinventing the wheel isn't the right idea either, for example in the critized creation of a new template engine in FLOW3 instead of using Smarty, which is quite established.

    Keeping alive the 4.x tree, easing the migration from 4.x to 5.x as mentioned above and trying to introduce and learn from some modern software development techniques and theories should give all of us the chance to go on with our business (staying with 4.x and using our well defined development processes) or to satisfy our interest and our need to improve steadily by experimenting with 5.x.