Programming - - By Josh Catone

PHP Framework Plans Socially Responsible Coding Contest

I know from personal experience that a programming contest is one of the best ways to shed light on a web application framework. In the early days of the Ruby on Rails framework, it was sponsoring “Rails Day,” a 48-hour coding competition, that really jump started the growth of the Rails community site I own. That competition brought so much attention to the framework, that a good deal of it spilled over to the competition’s sponsors. Rails Day has since given way to the annual “Rails Rumble,” which we wrote about in October.

Over 500 people competed in this year’s Rails Rumble, and the competition got coverage in a number of large blogs and mainstream computer publications. So it’s no wonder that Symfony, a PHP web application framework, would want to emulate that contest model in order to spread the word about their project. Today, Symfony’s Community Manager Kris Wallsmith announced on the project’s blog their intention to hold a similar 48-hour programming competition in a few months. Symfony’s version of the Rails Rumble, however, comes with a twist.

One of the great things about these programming competitions is that they demonstrate just how quickly developers can use the framework to go from idea to deployment. When the Rails Rumble was finished, for example, there were over 100 complete, actual applications that could be used to promote the Rails framework as a good web app development platform.

Unfortunately, though some teams have continued work on their apps, the vast majority of the applications that were created have been left to gather dust and were never actually used. As a learning and promotional tool, competitions like the Rumble are great. But they also represent a lot of man hours wasted on projects that more than likely aren’t going to actually help any real users.

Wallsmith doesn’t want that to happen with Symfony’s competition. So instead of just creating random applications during the frenzied two days of competition, participants will be creating apps for a specific cause. “The applications we create during the course of the competition will be gifted to different socially-minded organizations around the world,” says Wallsmith. “Once the fun is over, our work will live on and hopefully do a lot of good.”

Symfony has put out a call for both sponsors (prizes and infrastructure) and “socially-minded organizations” that are in need of an interactive web application. Development team registration will open shortly and the contest is scheduled to take place a few months from now.

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