PHP Mode 1.13 and a Retrospective of Sorts

PHP Mode 1.13, A Retrospective

Version 1.13 of PHP Mode is out, two days later than I planned. That reason, and others which I will discuss today, is why I am stepping down as the maintainer.

Open-Source and Personal Use

When I took up the mantle of maintaining PHP Mode I was actually using the mode on a regular basis. The bug fixes and new features benefited my own, personal work. But after three years that is no longer the case. These days I rarely write PHP code and there are no PHP code-bases behind any of my major projects. Therefore my desire to improve PHP Mode diminshed more and more over time because it was no longer an integral tool in my workflow.

One great thing about public, open-source projects is that they can become popular. An increase in users typically leads to an increase in support from other developers, more scrutiny for bugs, important feature requests I would have never thought of on my own, and so forth. However, once a person no longer actively uses a piece of software, like how I do not use PHP Mode much anymore, these wonderful community contributions can too easily become side-lined or forgotton. The management of the project, or more specifically the lack thereof, creates a pressure where I feel like I am disappointing users by failing to keep on top of PHP Mode like I did when it was something I also used regularly.

The sense of freedom I get from open-source software backfires when enough people use that software to the point where I begin to feel like I owe them my time and effort. Even if it is not software I use anymore, I do not want the guilty feeling of screwing over people out of my own selfishness. And for me PHP Mode has become that kind of project.

At least I am thankful enough to have met a lot of great developers who I believe would be terrific maintainers for PHP Mode moving forward. So even though I have personally lost the drive to maintain the project I have no reason to believe it will die in my absence. There are plenty of great developers who I believe will step up to run the project as it’s more useful to them now than it is to me.


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