Best way to get help coding a large code-base built with custom php framework?

Over the last 9 years, I have built a custom PHP framework, with AJAX and JQuery UI, and with it, a public-facing marketing website and a back-end web application for members. There are currently 48k lines of mostly object-oriented PHP 5, ~9k lines of javascript, and 120 MySQL tables. I built my own framework as CakePHP and CodeIgniter weren’t full-featured or fast enough in my opinion 9 years ago. The PHP is very well-structured, with a good, descriptive naming convention for variables, classes and methods, and but sparsely documented. It is sort of MVC, but the V & C are mainly combined.

I am now the bottleneck of the company as I can no longer keep up with the demand for new features. I need someone to help me code, as well as a complete review of the LAMP configuration and health, as I am not an expert in those but have set them up myself.

I wish to keep too many people from having access to the entire code-base as it embodies much of the company’s structural capital.

Should I hire coders in-house (there would definitely be enough work for them), hire individual contractors for long-term commitments, or out-source to a large off-shore firm?

What do you mean by this part?

Hi Charles,

I’ve done the same between 2001 and 2008 and I had to realise that it doesn’t embody much capital at all. Instead I started using SYmfony as a framework which had virtually all my functionality, slicker and better. I could now also tell clients they can find resource if I’m unable to, which allowed me to talk to bigger clients.

Frameworks are nowadays becoming standard, its a hard market to be in, unless you manage to pull one off. And even then you’ll need to open source it to get scale and buy-in.

HTH, Jochen

The one thing that turns me off to any new open source software is poor documentation. If you are the original creator and take this seriously write good solid documentation. You should probably do that before adding any new features. No developer is likely to even consider using your software without good documentation. There are just to many other php options available which have a large community, decent docs and quality programming. Programming quality really means nothing unless the documentation exist to help people understand it.

Structural capital is all the knowledge a company has about its business processes and the shared knowledge of its employees.


The framework is only a small part of the code by itself does not embody any business processes. The rest of the code embodies a lot of business processes which represents the staff’s combined knowledge (over 200 man-years) of our specific industry.

I meant, why don’t you want others to share in the code? Are you trying to keep your expertise exclusive? Are you trying to keep proprietary code off the open market? What is the business strategy to leverage this codebase?

It the business processes that are proprietary. The framework itself is not really worth anything to anyone except us.

Ahh… so, you would probably be best off doing a staff lease, i.e. a dedicated php developer that you can hire and manage overseas. That way, you get the benefit of having a single person in your codebase, but the flexibility of having a company behind them in case you want to grow. I place jobs like that from time to time and you can find excellent resources if you are able to manage them properly.

I’m not trying to get people to use my custom framework. I just want to hire people to help me code, and they will need to learn it to do so.

I have done that a number of times. Just hire someone and get started teaching them how it works.

HTH, Jochen