An IDE for PHP: Zend? Eclipse?

I’m thinking about switching from just using a text editor to an IDE, but I need some help. I went to the Zend web site and became thoroughly confused. So many versions. With and without Eclipse. (I’ve never used Eclipse, either.)

Help me out here. What package(s) do I want and why? Download Eclipse separately? Multiple versions of that, too. TIA.

IT Conversations RSS Feeds Moved

Due to the split with GigaVox Media, we were forced to move the primary feed for IT Conversations. It appears that only two-thirds of the RSS clients are responding to the redirect. So if you haven’t received any IT Conversations programs for the past week, check your podcatcher. The new URL for the IT Conversations RSS feed is


And in case you missed it, check out our new Premium Edition RSS feeds — without the promos, pitches and music.

Software Development in the 21st Century

There’s nothing unusual about my experiences, but I wonder if people in other industries realize how fundamentally the Internet has changed how software is developed. In my case, it’s software for and on the Internet itself, so the development environment is also the distribution platform. (That wasn’t always the case. Yes, there was software before the Internet.) Just consider what happened this morning.

  • We released a new feature, Slideshows.
  • A few minutes later, Paul Figgiani reported a bug when using Safari. Instant QA.
  • I used Twitter to ask “Are there any tools for debugging JavaScript and the DOM under Safari?”
  • Phil Windley and Coty Rosenblath replied within three minutes.
  • With their suggestions, I found the problem five minutes later.
  • Not knowing why my code didn’t work on Safari, I asked The Google about “xml load in safari” and found an explanation seconds later.
  • I coded a fix, tested it and published it via Subversion to our public servers a few minutes later.

Elapsed time from bug report to fix: less that 20 minutes. Okay, so that’s not unusual. We’ve all fixed bugs that quickly. But I never opened a book. I used a tool (Safari developer tools) I’d never even heard of. I learned and deployed a workaround to a browser-specific issue I knew nothing about. And I had support from three other people located in different timezones in near real time and for free. Without the Internet, this process would likely have taken weeks and a relatively formal QA process: test, document, research — and how would I have ever found the solution? — fix, test, release. Rapid development is an understatement.

Better than Video: Slideshows

We get many requests for videos of conference sessions in addition to MP3 files. Virtually every time we ask why, it’s because people want to see the slides. Most of the online conference videos you see are some combination of a presenter standing at a podium and blurry shots of a projection screen. What people really want is a high-resolution slideshow with synchronized audio. You asked for it; we did it.

Today, The Conversations Network published our first slideshow from a third-party conference. For no particular reason other than our internal production schedule, it’s the presentation by Jane McGonigal, Lead Game Designer at Institute for the Future, at last year’s O’Reilly Media Emerging Technology Conference (ETech). Let us know what you think. And expect a lot more slideshow-versions of programs as we’re able to get access to presenters’ PowerPoint and Keynote files.

The Value of Ratings

We’re in the process of re-evaluating our use of explicit ratings on The Conversations Network, so I just did an analysis of our rating activity. Interesting.

  • Total ratings to date: 65, 881
  • Mean per episode: 38.5
  • Median: 17
  • Most-rated episode: 1,041 ratings
  • Episodes rated per day: 60
  • Ratings made per day: 78
  • Distribution
    • Episodes with only 1 rating: 70
    • Episodes with 2 ratings: 77
    • Episodes with 3 ratings: 95
    • Episodes with 4 ratings: 61
    • Episodes with 5 or more ratings: 1,410
    • 40 most-rated episodes: >200 ratings each

The numbers tell us that ratings aren’t terribly useful in the short term such as to understand the quality of episodes published within the past week, but they are quite valuable for the long term.

Bush’s War

Must-see TV on a two-part Frontline (PBS), Monday and Tuesday night: Bush’s War.

Also on Monday, Terry Gross interviews Frontline producer Michael Kirk on Fresh Air.

And supporting the broadcast online:

Across the entire four-hour Bush’s War series that will be streamed online, FRONTLINE will integrate and embed in its video player an array of related interviews, background material and video that can be viewed with just a click. In addition, more than 100 video clips of key moments and events in the Iraq war will be the centerpiece of an annotated master chronology which FRONTLINE will publish on the Bush’s War site.
The interviews, video and background material are drawn from one of the richest archives in broadcast journalism: FRONTLINE’s 40+ hours of documentaries and 400 interviews done since 9/11 on Iraq and the war on terror, as well as new interviews conducted for Bush’s War

The Gang on NPR

Our old friend Steve Gillmor has published a great program about the state and future of NPR. Guests include Doc Searls, Stephen Hill and Dennis Haarsager, Chairman of the Board and now interim CEO of NPR. A bit long, but well worth the listen. [mp3]