Zend Framework University

Few days ago I have launched a news & community website for Zend Framework developers – Zend Framework University. The goals is to create a community of PHP and Zend Framework developers helping each other, sharing their experiences and publishing news, tutorials and other articles about the framework.

If you ask why I have decided to create such page my answer is short and simple. Because there is no such website. I develop in Zend Framework since it’s early days, first official announcement and whenever I am looking for something about particular component my first step is manual, of course. And in most cases I don’t find answers there.

One might say that the manual should be better, but I can not fully agree. Manual is good enough to familiarize with Zend Framework and it’s components. If you want to dig into details, you won’t find much in the manual. Basically Zend Framework is top huge and too flexible to describe everything in the manual and keep it up to date.

Fortunately there are many interesting articles on the internet, very often published by author of particular component. I’ve found this, and browsing the source code, the best way to learn many interesting tricks about the framework. To share this knowledge, I’ve made Zend Framework University website.

The idea is to make it a community website, having not only one author. So if you think your have decent knowledge of Zend Framework and you would like to write something from time to time, join the community and contact with me to get Publisher privileges. Let’s promote Zend Framework together!

Hot summer

I could even say that I have subtropical “weather” here, but not outside the window. I had accumulation of three releases in June, including one big one.

At the beginning of June I have managed to release my start-up, Krewni.pl. This is family tree building social network similar to Geni.com. You might ask why to create a copy of some well made website? Well, I have few good reasons and it is not exactly a copy.

I had this idea since 2006 and didn’t know any website of this kind back then. Once I have discovered Geni I found it very entertaining, educative and addicting, proving that my idea was right. Unfortunately Geni does not support Polish language and has some flaw. Like in my opinion it is too complicated. And it is not exactly my idea. Anyway, seeing that generally what I was thinking about works, people like it and not finding any Polish language alternative I have decided to create similar website.

And here it is. After several months of work I have finally released it. It works, people do register and get back, there are some heavy users, some are concerned about the site and send their ideas and discovered bugs. What I am proud of that I have managed to attract matured users, including age 50+ group, just as I wanted. I was even surprised today by receiving and e-mail from 78 year old user. I think this is something everyone can be proud of – to create product that is attractive and simple to use for all age groups. Even if my start-up will fail (strong, well financed competitors have appeared recently) I will know that I had unique, solid product designed and made by me and that I can make another one.

So, this was first release. And the first one when I was crossing fingers. Algorithms I had to use were not easy and obvious, there were some stupid bugs right after release, late coding, pressure but finally site stabilized and I am working on adding features that will distinguish it from competitors. Basically, I am moving to original idea. But meanwhile I had some time to “rest” by doing two more small releases.

I own two small dancing community websites. First one is about ballroom dancing in Poland and is quite popular. Only few hundreds visitors per day but taking into account how much people really do ballroom dancing and comparing to popularity of “competitors” I am on top. Unfortunately I was not taking care about the site since long time mostly because of time it required. It was not only about copy/paste content from e-mails I receive from dancing schools, dancers etc. CMS I was using, Joomla, was simply not working. It’s a crap. Don’t use it. Posting new copy/paste article could take up to 2 hours including correcting data consistency and data itself (in database), manually fixing or adding some things, regular crashes… Pleasure of running community website quickly became a nightmare.

Finally I made decision to switch to another platform. I have decided to give a try to WordPress MU with BuddyPress and some smaller plugins. After about two weeks of new site running I must say it was good decision. It took me only two days to create decent design for such small website (thanks to easy to learn WordPress templating engine), migrate all data and install and configure all plugins (almost 15 including gallery, forum, events calendar…). More people registers, I have received positive feedback about new look and functionality, in only last week two shops asked me about possibility of putting their banners on page. Looks good, isn’t it? So, goodbye Joomle, I will stay away from you, welcome WordPress.

Having my ballroom dancing website migrate and running smooth I did the same with my second dancing community website. Argentine tango focused. It is similar story to ballroom dancing, but this time source CMS was different and whole process took me less time.

Argentine tango was the third release and I almost did one more in a month. I am sharing now my experience with WordPress + BuddyPress to help someone building gaming community. The only thing that takes a lot time in this project is bought template. It looks great, but is coded horribly. Almost each day we discover some CSS flaws in one of major browsers. Too bad, would be 4 release, but 3 is still something.

As you can see this summer is really hot for me. Since spring I was working 24h on my start-up, then I have decided to do something about my two small community websites, and recently I got involved into another start-up. But this is a story for another post or maybe even a series of posts.