I’m approaching the launch date for my first site based on Kohana and feel it’s time to spill the beans. Somebody posted on the forums today and asked why Kohana isn’t more popular when compared to Cake, CodeIgniter, Zend or Symfony. The simple answer is that it’s not meant to be.
When I started messing around with Kohana, I was impressed. It met my needs, fitted in with my level of programming knowledge and saved me a lot of time writing my own library of code, or my own framework. However, I think I misunderstood the objectives of the development team.
They seem to want to promote Kohana as a better version of CodeIgniter with loftier goals, mainly that it’s based on PHP v5 and that it’s not guided by an evil corporation. However, mainstream products come with a price tag, you need to sell it. For any code library, that means a slick site, easy to access API and high-quality documentation. CodeIgniter has this, so does CakePHP, Symfony, Zend Framework and other high profile open source libraries such as jQuery and Prototype. If Microsoft has taught programmers anything, it should be that marketing wins, not the quality of code. Most of Microsoft’s software is so-so but the interface is usually very well engineered and the marketing machinery is superb. Together they’ve managed to eliminate many pieces of better software.
Kohana seems to be at a crossroads today. Do they pursue the mainstream; gain wider adoption, more users, more money and become more competitive OR do they stick with their niche product and keep telling people to read the source code? Either way is good for me, I’m sure I’ll stick with the product until it dies, gets forked and renamed. I’ll just stop saying nice things about it and stop doing my bit to try and help out, ease the woes of newbies and tell them to go somewhere else.
I just wish the project had better management at the top and knew where it was going, rather than just ambling along at the will of the lead developers. It almost seems that Kohana is what it is and if it works for you, good. If it doesn’t, there are plenty of other frameworks out there.
A popular question asked all over the internet is – “Which PHP framework should I choose?”. The likely candidates are Kohana, Cake, Zend, CodeIgniter and Symfony. There’s a very simple answer.