The State of PHP Mode for GNU Emacs

Back in 2011 I took it upon myself to fork PHP Mode 1.5, resulting in the PHP Mode you will find on my GitHub page and Emacs package repositories like MELPA. I’ve been blessed and grateful that the project has attracted a lot of great and talented contributors who have improved the project by leaps and bounds.

Recently Turadg Aleahmad, the original author of PHP Mode, contacted me to give me control of the PHP Mode project on SourceForge. And I felt like he effectively gave me his blessing as my fork being the ‘true’ successor of PHP Mode, inasmuch as such a concept exists in free, open-source software.

Ironically, however, this strengthens something about the project which I wanted to leave behind.

What I Hoped Would Happen

Five months ago I asked if anyone wanted to take over. Since then no one has stepped up in a serious capacity; although I am not criticizing anyone for that. During my years maintaining PHP Mode I have had the pleasure of interacting with talented developers who I believe would be equally great maintainers. But I also do not feel like it is my place to thrust the project onto anybody.

Since that is not going to happen, another alternative is for me to simply walk away. I rarely write PHP code these days. My time is split between building up my own software company and dealing with health issues. More and more open bug requests pile up. I am not being paid to work on PHP Mode and receive no material compensation of any kind for my efforts maintaining it. Nonetheless, I believe it would be a grevious error for me to suddenly abandon the project. So I intend to grit my teeth and maintain the project until a more active PHP developer and Emacs user offers to take over.

The Immediate Future of PHP Mode

In the past I have said that version 1.13 is the final version I intend to release. However, with PHP 5.6.0 on the horizon—I just tested out the second beta today—I may go back on my statement. (Even though I rarely write PHP I still like to keep up-to-date with its development.) So now I believe there is a chance of a version 1.14 this year.

I have thought about simply dropping the major version number, e.g. the next version would be version 14 and not 1.14. Personally, the only way I imagine a PHP Mode 2.0 is if someone rewrites it from scratch, and I’m not doing that. But I’m going to hold off on any such change until I hear feedback from users in the community.

Conclusion

I hope my article has not given the impression that I am unhappy with being in the maintainer position for PHP Mode. That is far from the truth. However, I really hope for someone else to take over by the end of this year. If you are a PHP developer and Emacs fanatic then consider it; you don’t need to be an Emacs Lisp guru or anything. Or if you know someone who is, then I would greatly appreciate it if you point them in my direction.

In the mean time I’ll happily try to address bugs and feature requests as best I can.

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