Let’s enjoy the Symfony

By Igor Vrdoljak -

One of the news that shook the eZ Community this month is the announcement of eZ Publish 5 being developed with Symfony framework.The initial blog post got a lot of attention, with the sentiment by far being positive, but with some well put concerns regarding the business side of the decision.  Taking these into account, we still think the positive repercussions of this decision greatly out weight the possibly problematic ones, and here is why.

The initial blog post (check it out at http://share.ez.no/blogs/ez/an-explosive-cocktail-symfony-and-ez-publish-5-joining-forces, do not skip the comments, there are some juicy elements there) got a lot of attention, with the sentiment by far being positive, but with some well put concerns regarding the business side of the decision.
Taking these into account, we still think the positive repercussions of this decision greatly out weight the possibly problematic ones, and here is why:

Focus

By leaving out the parts of the system that are not related to it’s core business to a quality framework such as Symfony, eZ can focus even more on the CMS features that need to be engineered and developed. Netgen is actively involved in the development of the next version of eZ Publish (part of our crew is working intensively on the new Public API and the new REST API implementation), and we know from the first hand how much work is there to be done to fulfill the vision of the new eZ Publish stack. All this work takes time (and money!) and every engineer hour not being wasted on yet another MVC implementation can be put into making eZ the best CMS solution it can be. And there IS work to be done, as can be seen on the image depicting the difference between the old and the new eZ Publish stack:

ez-publish-5-architechture

eZ Publish 5 architecture, lasagne style!

 

The wheel is invented

Symfony is a great and extensively used framework, and it provides a great number of infrastructure that eZ needs. As it is a modular framework, only the components eZ engineering needs (and do not want to waste time on developing) can be used, like HMVC, templating engine, etc. While there were earlier attempts to develop all this in-house (eZ Components), I think that this approach just wastes too much resources that can be put to a better usage.

The more the merrier

One of the issues any web development company focused on eZ Publish encounters is a shortage of eZ developers available. eZ is a great product, and it is the cornerstone of our technical expertise here at Netgen, but if there is one thing I could mention as a possible problem for anyone trying it out for the first time, it is its rather steep learning curve. With so many big players in the CMS arena one can choose from, eZ needs to be as competitive on this field as on others. By using a well known and popular framework such as Symfony more new developers can be attracted to eZ and become productive in shorter period of time. Also, potential clients could be more willing to embrace the CMS if it is, even partially, based on a technology that they are already using or they are aware of.

Tricky parts

Of course, as any change, this one also brings some issues. For one, there will be a lot of new things to learn, and some very specific skills in eZ development could become obsolete. But anyone working in the web business should be already accustomed to this, as if there is anything constant in the web development world it is the change itself. The other thing often mentioned is the problem with the existing clients, and their willingness to pay for the re-implementation of their sites. eZ Systems seems to be determined to support the 4.x versions of eZ Publish for years to come, and the 4.x kernel will be fully integrated in the first version of eZ 5 (as a legacy bundle), with gradual transition to the new technology stack. Also, as the database schema remains the same, the transition to eZ Publish 5 could be made a part of usual 2-3 years re-design cycle which most of the sites need to follow anyhow.

Conclusion

The CMS market is advancing even faster, and eZ needs to keep up the pace of changes. With its focus retained on solving the core business issues and by providing added value in CMS and CXM field, eZ will be able to keep it’s position as a technology leader in the field.

And we all want exactly that, so let’s enjoy the Symfony.

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