PHP Classes

The Future Beyond the 14 years of PHP Classes

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Categories: New site features

The PHP Classes site just completed 14 years age. Many new features were implemented last year. Many more will be implemented this year.

Read this article to review the main improvements and learn about the plans for the upcoming new features, as well participate in an optional survey to help deciding which features will be implemented first.

Loaded Article


Last Year Features in Review

The System of Missions and Levels

The Reputation System

The Future Features

Privileges for Reputed Users

Bookmark and Tag Packages

Faster Navigation of Packages

Small screen friendly Web site design

Composer Support

Promote Commercial Products and Services of Individuals or Companies

Help Deciding the Future of the Site

Last Year Features in Review

Another year of the life of the PHP Classes site just passed. It was a great year but it was somewhat different.

The site continued to grow as usual. It is reaching almost 1.2 million registered users now. So far 3,500 authors submitted more than 6,800 packages. That is nothing unusual.

What is new is an approach taken by the site to measure and reward more accurately the participation of the users in the site.

The System of Missions and Levels

The first initiative that followed this approach is the system of missions and levels launched in November. This is great initiative that helps guiding users on how to make advantage of the features that the site provides.

This initiative was mainly targetted to authors that submit classes in the site. Each mission they need to accomplish helps them getting more visibility and recognition for the work they share in the site.

Everybody that participate can earn publicly visible status and see the missions they have done so far, how many remain to level up and the badges they earned for each completed level.

The results of this initiative have been awesome. So far 500 or the 3500 class authors engaged at least on the first level missions of the system. The details about the missions that they engaged or not is valuable information to determine which parts of the site need to be improved.

The Reputation System

Another great initiative is the just launched reputation system. Basically it assigns point for all good actions each user does on the site. That is helpful to give feedback to the users regarding the value of what they can do in the site, so they are encouraged to execute actions that can earn them more reputation.

Unlike the system of levels and missions, the reputation system can engage any type of user, not just class authors. This is great because it hints all users that they can participate in a useful way in the site, even if they do not submit any classes.

For instance rating packages that a user downloads helps other users to see which are the better rated packages.

This system was being planned since 2007. The main reason that was holding it back is the pointing system. When you plan a system like this you never know for sure how many points it is fair to assign to each action. Finally I decided to assign a fair amount of points to each good action with the help of some beta testers.

It is not easy to evaluate the impact of this feature yet because the system was just launched. Still, so far over 70,000 users engaged in more than 220,000 actions since the beta testing period started a few months ago.

Most of those actions are very simple, like coming to the site as a logged user. The expectation is that they realized they can earn even more reputation by visiting their reputation details page and seeing all the other good actions they can engage and earn more reputation points.

The system is not yet completely done. Some of the types of actions that can earn reputation points are not yet being tracked. That will be done soon.

On the other hand a reputation ranking page was implemented after the system was launched. It can encourage more users to engage by showing where they are now and how many points they need to earn to rise in the ranking.

Users happy with their reputation can use the social sharing buttons that appear on the page to brag about how far they have gone.

The Future Features

The work to make PHP Classes better is never completed. Actually there are so many things to do to make the site better, that it is frustrating that it is not possible to implement everything in a short notice.

So you have an idea, the reputation system just launched was part of a greater plan designed in April 2011 to promote authors work.

Some users rightly complain that certain features and improvements should have been done already. They just have to be patient and wait for each thing to be done one at a time.

Here follows an incomplete list of features that are planned to be implemented.

Privileges for Reputed Users

The reputation system is only half of what is planned to motivate users to engage more in the site. The other half is to provide privileges for the users that earn more reputation points. That should reward them for the time and effort they spend in making the site better.

For instance, if you are a class author and you would like to have more details about the acceptance of your classes, the site can give you as privilege access to detailed charts and graphs of your package downloads among other things.

For users that did not submit any classes but helped rating and reviewing the site content, it may be interesting to give them access to see all packages that were not yet published while they are still in the moderation queue.

Reputed users looking for jobs may have early access to jobs posted in the site without having to pay for a premium subscription.

Several other types of privileges are planned to be implemented. If you have more ideas of privileges that you would like to have, at the end of this article there is information about a survey that you can fill to send your suggestions.

Bookmark and Tag Packages

Many users browse the site and would like to mark packages for later review, so they do not forget about them.

Being able to bookmark and tag packages is a feature being requested for a long time. The users could use other sites for bookmarking package pages but some would not like to leave this site for that. So, this feature will be implemented soon or later.

Faster Navigation of Packages

Some users complain that they do not like the site navigation. It is not easy to understand exactly what each user complains about. It may be the fact that they need to do too many clicks to browse and view code, or may be something else that escapes me.

A more fluid navigation taking advantage of AJAX requests, somewhat similar to Github is in the plans. But if there are other things that need to be improved, I certainly would appreciate specific feedback on this.

If you can provide more specific suggestions, please participate in the survey mentioned in end of this article.

Small screen friendly Web site design

The current site design was thought to be used in desktop computers with screens that are no smaller than 1024x768.

I do not imagine developers doing development working on computers with small screens. As a matter of fact only 5.2% of the users access this site from mobile devices, but that percentage has been growing.

So I do not know if users are not accessing the site more from mobile devices because the design is not appropriate or because they do not need to access the site from those devices at all.

Some feedback on cases you would like to use the site from a small screen device would be appreciated.

Composer Support

Composer is a tool for installing packages needed by projects with external dependencies. It can determine what packages are needed and download them before installing if necessary.

It seems to be a nice tool that addresses a real need of many developers. Several developers already asked to support it in PHP Classes.

It is planned to implement Composer support in PHP Classes soon. Some research is necessary to evaluate how to deal with packages of authors that require that the site tracks the users that download them. Some beta testers will be needed to help with this.

Promote Commercial Products and Services of Individuals or Companies

Since 2007 the PHP Classes has been helping many users getting better jobs. This is great because the site ends up being an ecosystem that helps users making a living as PHP developers, not only providing nice components to help doing their job, but also finding interesting jobs, thanks to the large reach that the site has in the PHP community.

There are other types of users that have developed products or provide services that are useful for the PHP developers that visit the site.

The PHP Classes site has great audience and so it can help you to promote your commercial products or services, like for instance developer tools, programming components, API based services, training courses, PHP developer events, among many other things.

The site can promote your products and services at the expense of a reasonable commission. That will also help generating more revenue for the site, so more developers can be hired to implement all the planned features faster.

Regardless if you are an individual or a company, if you would like to benefit from the exposure that the site can provide for your commercial products or services, please fill the survey mentioned below.

Help Deciding the Future of the Site

As you may have read, there are so many things to be done to make the site better that is hard to figure which of these things should be implemented first.

The best thing to do to help making a decision is to ask you, the user that is interested in seeing the planned improvements come to life.

Therefore I have elaborated a small survey that you can fill to give an idea of which features are more important to be done first. Please go to the survey page to submit your feedback now.

Your participation will be appreciated, but more important than that, your feedback will be used to motivate the implemention of the features that you desire to be made available sooner.

The survey results will not be made public but if you would like a reply, optionally you can provide your e-mail address, so you can receive feedback to your responses soon.

Other than that, feel free to post a comment to this article here if you have questions or want to give other type of opinion.

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