Friday, March 04, 2005

What's your view?

We've known for a little bit that we need to formalise they way in which we think about the implementation of our UI.

We've got pretty good at making sure our PHP business objects are well defined, and we refactor at quite nice pace now. New business rules, classes and structures drop in easily. All in all, pretty well thought out, we like to think.

Our UI isn't quite so clear cut. We've had a bit of a go at an MVC based model, but it was put together before we really knew what MVC was. It's a little messy. Not unfathomable, but a little messy.
So, we've decided that it's worth taking good hard looks at Struts, and PHP implementations to see how it should be done. Don't get me wrong, we're not about to jump in and throw everything we've already done away. And we're certainly in no rush to get it started. We figure we can look, learn, experiment with some small areas of the application, refine our knowledge and finally see where and when we can refactor our more complex stuff into the new framework. More evolution than revolution.

So we started reading up on PHP MVC. It appears to be fairly well respected in the community, so it seems a good place to start.
Only, in the middle of its 'User Guide 101' it says the following:
"The php.MVC framework consists of a complex arrangement of many classes. Luckily we do not need to know in great detail how all these classes work, in order to use the framework."

Now if we were talking about a calendar class, a spell checker or some other 'drop in and use' set of classes, then yes, I'd agree. But we're not, we're talking about the fundamental framework that is the basis for the design of a whole slice of our application. If we don't understand how that framework fits together and how every component should be used then we're going to be in serious trouble. We do need to know in great detail how all these classes work, in order to use the framework effectively. If we don't then we'll end up with the same problems we have now. It worries me that such a project would suggest anything else.

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