Is Zend really the PHP company?

I’m at Yahoo! Hack day in London – not hacking, but here for sessions on topics such as YUI (Yahoo! User Interface Library) and PHP.

I had a brief chat with Rasmus Lerdorf who is speaking later. I asked him about Zend, which presents itself as the PHP company (that is actually the slogan on its web site). Is it really?

Lerdorf says Zend has no special status. While acknowledging its contribution, he says there are 1300 PHP committers, and only 6 work for Zend. He emphasises that PHP is a community project and that decisions are made by consensus, influenced by who is actually willing to write the code, not by Zend or any company.

I also asked about PDT (PHP Development Tools), the Eclipse-based open source IDE. Lerdorf says there are lots of PHP IDEs, and people who use generic editors for PHP, and none has any more status than any other; he doesn’t use PDT.

From my perspective as press, there are only two organizations who ever encourage me to write about PHP. One is Zend; the other is Microsoft, keen to establish Windows as a credible PHP platform (Lerdorf says PHP on Windows has made enormous progress in the last couple of years). Zend does seem to do more than any other company to promote PHP for commercial and corporate development.

Lerdorf is not surprised. We’re developers, he says, we don’t do PR.

Zend’s effort is broadly beneficial to the PHP community – provided that it does not give a false impression of who owns PHP.

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7 comments to Is Zend really the PHP company?

  • This makes me wonder even more about just where Zend is placing itself.

    Zend Technologies is best known for its founders Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski who, along with other Israeli graduates of the Technion, extended PHP after its creation by Rasmus Lerdorf.

    In 1997, Zeev and Andi rewrote the parser behind Rasmus Lerdorf’s PHP-FI. The result was released as PHP 3. In 1998 they redesigned that parser completely, and named it the Zend Engine. PHP 4 was based on the first version of the Zend Engine and was extremely successful.

    If the inventor(s) company has very little presence in the development of the language and does no PR, then how can they afford to stay in business.

    Sun does have influence over Java and seems to be actively guiding its directions. But Zend has no such status with PHP? I find this very hard to swallow.

  • Thomas M

    I don’t think that Zend need to own the language nor be active in guiding its development to call itself the PHP company.

    It’s closer to PHP than any other company imo and projects such as the Zend Framework show that it’s still guiding the community in certain areas.

  • It makes for an interesting read and tidbit of news but in the end it doesn’t really matter. PHP is yet another great example of distributed collaboration through open-source.

  • Zend might not be the proper owner of the source code, but every php variable is stored in a C structure named of type zval, that seems to come from ‘Zend’. I do not know another parser for php apart the Zend one.

  • @Giorgio – what about Roadsend PHP? That is a totally separate PHP implementation that does not use Zend.

    I think to some degree Zend is influential, as Thomas M says, Zend Framework is a good example of that. I don’t see Zend as owning PHP per se – it’s open source software – everyone owns it!

  • Zend is PHP company, but It is not THE PHP company. I really don’t know how PHP would look like if there wasn’t Zend.

  • I agree with Radoslav Stankov – I’m not sure what PHP would be like without Zend. Though saying that I’m happy that a company has good interests and in an open source language. It could mean good things in the future…. (or bad)…