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How to Turn an Open Source PHP Project into Your Own Business - 14 Minutes of the Lately in PHP Podcast Episode 89 part 2

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Categories: Lately in PHP Podcast, Software Business

Many developers publish their work as Open Source projects to share them with many other developers.

Turning an Open Source project into a successful business is one of the main topics commented on by Manuel Lemos and Mike Stowe of the NomadPHP fame in the second part of episode 89 of the Lately in PHP podcast.

They also have commented on why they have not yet upgraded all their projects to use PHP 8.

Listen to the podcast, watch the video with manually edited subtitles in English, read the transcript to learn more about these exciting PHP community topics.

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Episode 89 Part 2 Video

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Transcript of what was said in the podcast

List of Transcript Sections That You May Read Below

Shoutout to the podcast sponsor RingCentral (0m 16s) Why We Have Not Yet Upgraded to PHP 8 (0m 47s)

What is the Plan to Turn a PHP Project based on Open Source into a Successful Business (4m 06s)

The Actual Transcript

Shoutout to the podcast sponsor RingCentral (0m 16s)

Mike Stowe: I have to give a shout out to my my real employer who is sponsoring today's episode, so I don't get in trouble.

That is a quick thank you to RingCentral for sponsoring the Lately in PHP podcast.

If you have not heard of RingCentral, RingCentral offers full cloud communications, so we're talking messaging, video, phone in the cloud.

And they have a bunch of APIs that allow you to connect and build your own applications on top of their 

RingCentral MVP platform. So definitely check them out at and the developer platform at .

Why We Have Not Yet Upgraded to PHP 8 (0m 47s)

And what we have today is PHP 8. I have to admit I have not shifted to PHP 8 because every new version there are new features, but there are new bugs OK.

So I don't think to jump on the latest version precisely to get the gives core developers time to get it stable.

But if you are brave (I'm admitting I not brave) that you feel you are brave, you could go ahead and tell us how it worked because the people that go ahead they can share their feedback and tell: this is not working, this is working well, this needs to be fixed.

So everybody is important regardless of whatever version of PHP they are using. I have been shifting to the latest versions of PHP and still not in the latest PHP 7 version because the latest has a few issues and every time I need to upgrade and figure the issues, it's a lot of code that I need to test and I spends a lot of time.

There's always a chance that something have escaped me and I could not figure what it was I only realized later when somebody is telling your site sucks because it's not working here.

Oh really? Well I went to check. Oh it's the latest PHP version. He doesn't care.

He just care that the part of the site that he wanted to use does not work.

Mike Stowe: Really quickly, my take on that because when my site doesn't work it's usually because of my code.

I got to bring that. You brought a really great point about PHP 8. PHP 8 is new. And one thing I want to give credit to the core contributors is how much work goes in that.

We've seen back in the days of PHP 3 to 4 the changes in PHP. But yeah, I don't want people to be hesitant to upgrade to PHP.

A lot of people don't realize and ask behind the curve on this myself, PHP 7 actually has end of life, like 7.2, I believe it is this end of life.

So having that chance to upgrade to the latest either 7 version the more security issues, the latest stable 8 version because there are gonna be unstable versions, there's development versions.

But to Manuel's point, one of the challenges you have is there are some backwards incompatible things. There are some ways that things operate differently.

And when you make that transition doesn't always work. I'm not saying you have to be on the absolute latest version.

Manuel, you have the best advice there which is: it's always not a bad idea to be a version or two, especially a minor version or two, behind to let the bugs get worked out, unless there's security issues, in which case, obviously those vulnerabilities may take precedent.

I don't think we have time to talk today but there's so much that's exciting about PHP 8 and what the core team is doing.

We talk about the silent developers, there's so many people on there, and I talk about Sammy K. and Sarah Goldman and many, many more that you know we don't have time to name, they're really the true heroes behind the scenes making this happen.

What is the Plan to Turn a PHP Project based on Open Source into a Successful Business (4m 06s)

But Manuel, going back really quickly, we talk about the true heroes who work in the background, I have been working with PHP since... oh man, probably 2000... maybe not quite 2000. Maybe about 20 years now.

And my understanding is PHP Classes exceeds that. So how old is his PHP Classes? And I have to ask:

How did you get started with that? How did you come up with the idea to build PHP Classes?

And then what have you seen really changed over the last 20 years? I mean that's two decades. I can't even fathom that right now.

Manuel Lemos: Yes. Well, it's a lot of things to talk about. Well first the site that was started because I wanted to share my work and get feedback.

And feedback could be in form bug reports and suggestions. Well you may think: well if that's your work why aren't you making money?

Now I don't make money directly from that. But you make money from quality.

If you have a good quality product and if that product address needs and desires of your target users that are in the market, in the end they'll pay money for that work.

That's how it worked. When I started, I didn't know much about business, I have to admit, but that's how it all starts.

Maybe a few people have learned about business before they started the business. Nowadays I'm trying to help others to shift that.

That will be another story, maybe for another podcast which is the mentoring. Nowadays, I am a mentor.

I can see very big projects coming in the future. They are not related specifically with PHP but eventually they will be implemented in PHP in the background.

So PHP is very powerful in the sense that it powers the background, whatever code is running behind that site.

Many, many sites are done in PHP. But back to all the story of PHP Classes, I looked around and I wanted to share my code in a way that every time I do an update of my code, the users that tried my code before, they could be notified.

I looked at the PHP Code Exchange and David Sklar and well this could be the site that I could share my code. I contacted him and told this is great.

Can I contribute something to make the site better to eventually let the users that try my code to be notified, maybe by email, so they can get the latest version? And he said: ah nah nah.

OK I respect that. So he didn't want to do that that's OK. I think the site exists. I don't know how it is going today but since he did not want. I try to do it myself.

I started working on the basics of the site, which is having packages, and also have the possibility for people to register, so they can be notified when a package is updated.

So I implement that like in one week. And later I saw another site. I'm not sure I think it was web dev or something, and they had a nice thing.

They not only have code of the author of the site, but also have code of others.

Oh let's learn from others because we can always learn from everyone. I'm learning from everybody every day. And that's a good thing that I also recommend to everybody. We don't know everything.

If you believe that you know everything, you are out of your mind. That's not realistic.

What's realistic is the knowledge that you learn over time, it's a lot more than you know today. And if you keep learning every day you will be better and better and better. Better in many aspects.

Better ultimately as a human being, but you need always to focus on others because others are the ones that will tell you if your work is valuable.

So I did decide and I didn't have a way to make money. It was only spending me money for the hosting, spending time a lot to develop new features, and I stayed there like for two years.

But I was working other things. I worked on Internet companies in the days that were called the dot-com bubble.

It was crazy. A lot of money to be wasted on sites that did not do much that was useful, or if they do it but they were losing a lot of money. I worked in one of those companies for a long time. Those companies do not exist anymore.

They bankrupted very quickly because they are not doing the right things. They were copying others, but copying in the wrong way.

And I always say: if somebody goes to a hole, are you going to also jump in that hole?

Beware of what the others are doing just because they are doing it it doesn't mean it's right.

It doesn't mean they are trying to do something useful. Sometimes it's useful, Sometimes it's not.

But I have learned a lot. The PHP Classes was not very good in the beginning. It was just a repository and I had to develop a lot of code.

I have not checked in these days but last time that I checked there was like 600 thousand lines of code, half of which is generated with a tool called MetaStorage.

This does the what people call Object-Relational mapping but I don't do it in the traditional way that frameworks do like mapping objects.

I use a meta-language that generates code from a description. And every time I need to improve the generated code, I just improve the description and it works much faster. That's the internals.

Anyway I use that until today. I use a lot of PHP components that are share in PHP Classes as myself, I use them in the site. If they are useful for me maybe they're also for others.

Of course there are many ways to do the same thing like form processing, newsletter delivery, everything. And that's why PHP Classes exists.

It provides a way for people to share code that probably already did the same thing but with their own code. So that was the beginning.

Things started growing. And in 2001 when my son was born. And thought about that myself by then.

I was in a job that, it didn't work very well. I stayed there like 4 months. It was not even PHP related. It's like management. I didn't like to be in the management then.

Nowadays, I'm in the management but then I did not like that and didn't do very well. They fired me. And it was fair. I was not doing a good job and but they even paid money.

That's part of which was not very fair because they paid money for not doing a good job, OK.

But there is a logic around that. They paid money, that's fine. And that helped me to survive for over one year without making any revenue.

Later around 2002 and 2003 I started joining ad networks and those ad networks that start generating revenue. But it's not any kind of revenue, it's recurring revenue. And this is the key, actually one of the keys to success.

If you want to succeed in business, you have to have as many sources of recurring revenue as possible.

That could be advertising. Could be subscriptions. Could be hiring contracts. Whatever it is recurring is something that repeats because you don't need money in this month only.

You need money in the next month, in the following month, and in the following month.

And that's how you at least survive. But you don't just want to survive. You want to evolve.

You want to develop new features, develop new code, develop new products and services to serve your community better. And that's the plan.

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