Community Hoops

In this post, I want to reflect a bit on the previous 5 years of Laravel development and its / my relation with the “PHP Community”.

First, it seems important to define what I mean by “PHP Community”. I don’t mean the entirety of all PHP developers on the planet. I mean a group of 50–100 people who mainly interact via Twitter, IRC, and conferences. They were an established group of friends and acquaintances before I ever left the .NET world for PHP.

When I first wrote Laravel, I only knew of a few PHP programmers in the CodeIgniter ecosystem, and I had no intention of it becoming any big deal. I just wrote the framework I wanted in order to quickly build some business ideas I had. Many of the ideas were a combination of things I picked up from .NET (auto-wiring, reflection based IoC), Sinatra (routing), and Rails (ORM).

Slowly, I became more acquainted with various “PHP Community” members / leaders. Unfortunately, Laravel seemed to be greeted with suspicion by many of them. This really bummed me out. I just wanted to build something enjoyable to use and share it with other people. It bummed me out for a deeper reason though:

I wanted to be a part of their club.

I wanted to be seen as a good PHP programmer, with something valuable to contribute. Instead, it felt like I was constantly told what I had done wrong. X isn’t maintainable; Y is dangerous; Z will lead newcomers astray. I have to admit, it’s easy to feel defensive. I had poured a lot of time into a tool that wasn’t earning me any money, and it felt like the “PHP Community” just wanted to criticize it. I wasn’t making the PHP ecosystem better by giving away this tool, I was told I was making it worse.

So, I decided to start trying to jump through their hoops.

Facades are a problem? Let’s release an entire package of only interfaces for easy dependency injection of any major Laravel component.

My code should be able to be used in any framework? Let’s make it easier.

I don’t do enough to help people write quality code? Let’s write a book on SOLID.

I think testing is dead? Let’s make it a breeze to get started with testing.

The Laravel community is isolated from the rest of PHP? Let’s invite half of our Laracon speakers from outside of the Laravel ecosystem.

But, I started to notice something. After jumping through every hoop to try to be in their club, another one was waiting for me on the other side. The snarky comments continued, the Artisan jokes continued, prominent members of their community still looked down upon me. I still wasn’t in the club.

I was tired of the hoops.

So, I embraced the people who loved Laravel. I listened to stories of how it changed people’s lives. I went back to just focusing on what I loved: building tools that were enjoyable to use. And, when I stopped jumping through the hoops, I saw that I already had what I wanted: a community of programmers that love building cool stuff and sharing it with others. I wouldn’t trade it for any other.

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