Our virtual interviews are back! Join Elan as he talks with Vince Oostindie (creator of Eclipse - a PHP library) about his programming expertise, Eclipse, the future of programming and his thoughts on .NET.
Virtual Interview: Vince Oostindie - A Little Background... (Page 2 of 5 )
Elan: Before we dive into Eclipse, perhaps you can give us your background. When did you start programming?
Vince: From the ZX-81 I went to a ZX Spectrum to an MSX to an MSX2 to an 286. 15 years ago.
Elan: How were you introduced to PHP? What were your initial impressions?
Vince: That was about 3 years ago. I was asked to build a web site (an on-line shop) with what was then PHP3. It had no support for OOP, so I built a large site with a mumble-jumble of functions. It worked alright, but I didn't quite like it.
The Eclipse Library
Elan: For those of us who arenít familiar with Eclipse, could you give us a brief summary of what Eclipse is and what it stands for?
Vince: Eclipse is 'the Extensible Class Library for PHP Software Engineers'. And the name tries to say it all :)
For one, it provides the data abstraction layer everybody needs nowadays. Also, it tries to allow programmers to write code more generic than they normally would. Eclipse doesn't provide code to solve all kinds of problems directly. It tries to provide building blocks (components) from which solutions can easily be assembled.
Elan: Why did you decide to write Eclipse? There are many libraries out there. What makes Eclipse better than the others?
Vince: I decided to write Eclipse as soon as PHP got support for OO. PHP 4 that was, I think. I needed a database abstraction layer (among others). From what I learned about Object Oriented Programming in college, writing bloated classes wasn't the right solution, so I decided to put all the available libraries aside, and write one my of own.
Eclipse isn't 'better' than many other libraries in many ways. Other libraries offer much more functionality, because they are much bigger. Eclipse tries to get away with doing as little as possible. But what it does, it does very efficiently.
Eclipse is 'better' because it was designed and implemented by someone with a formal education in computer science and object oriented programming (that would be me). Many other libraries are written by self-educated programmers. That isn't necessarily bad, but it does show...
Elan: Has anyone else contributed or worked on Eclipse with you?
Vince: No. Although there were some people asking for functionality not there. I like the fact that Eclipse is completely 'my' property. I don't need to add what I don't want. PEAR is clearly an example of a library that grows too big because of all functionality requests. No library can suit everybody's needs, so why try?
Elan: Do you have any plans on expanding Eclipse, or are you just going to fix bugs and make minor changes?
Vince: I do have some plans, yes. I recently finished a large object oriented application framework (in PHP), and some of the classes in it are general enough to be added to Eclipse. In my opinion, Eclipse should remain generic, so it can't have code that is too specific. That makes adding new code pretty hard. I definitely want to support more DBMSs than is the case now.