Another PHP Framework that falls flat - PHP on Trax

February 7, 2006

A rails alternative in PHP? Sounds great, I dont have to spend my weekend learning Ruby. That's what I hoped when I came across PHP on Trax which dubs itself as a Rails alternative for PHP. At first glimpse of the code they do a nice job implementing a dynamic active record setup to quickly generate the most commonly needed funtionality. Where this framework really falls flat is documentation, samples, and support. There is one BARE BONES example of how to create a new application. Thanks, that rocks. I'm now sitting here 4 hours later still trying to get it work with parse errors, fatal errors all over the place. I know what you're thinking.. hey if you're pissed why don't you write it? Screw that. If you're going to promote a framework to the community at least have some halfway decent docs. Here is a GREAT quote from the ruby on rails developer David Heinemeir...

"The biggest hurdle is documentation, which needs to be reviewed and extended. An open source infrastructure project is worth little more than its documentation in my opinion, so releasing something half-baked would sell the package short."

The man says it all. You want a framework to cut your development time, not have you digging through source code to try and find errors and documentation.
PHP Trax has potential, yet falls flat for lack of documenation, support, and/or general community interest.


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  1. Ryan Platte says:
    February 7, 2006 @ 22:15 — Reply

    But you could still learn Ruby. :-) Admit it, you're tempted...

  2. Cmircea says:
    February 8, 2006 @ 01:39 — Reply

    How about CakePHP? A MVC Framework modelled after ROR.

  3. Andrew says:
    February 14, 2007 @ 09:16 — Reply

    I was excited about cakePHP before it became popular and was very lightweight (it is becoming a Behemoth). There are several huge problems with it: 1. The models are only used for retrieving data from the database. They return the data as an array of associative arrays. Blah, can't encapsulate any business logic with arrays in PHP. 2. No name spacing. This framework will work for small sites but any large scale applications that need many controllers/models will trample all over themselves. I know PHP doesn't support name spacing or modules but PEAR does a pretty good job of name spacing through class / file naming conventions. 3. "This is a feature request not a bug." I saw tons of this on the Trac site long before a 1.0 release. This (imo) is usually the sign of an open-source project's death throes (look at php and mysql bug forums, blah). I used 1.0 for a quick production site and I found that the "convention over configuration" mantra of RoR has been replaced with "Use our conventions or eat flaming death!" by cakePHP developers.

  4. Jim Plush says:
    February 8, 2006 @ 07:13 — Reply

    Ryan, you're right :) I've been reading up on ruby & rails in particular and rails is literally the perfect framework so far for rapid development. Its kind of crazy actually. As far as cake, it's still a mess from what I've seen months ago. It might be better now, but when I first tried it I had numerous bug/errors/lack of docs, etc

  5. Markus Wolff says:
    February 8, 2006 @ 11:04 — Reply

    You should give Symfony a try ( - excellent and always up-to-date documentation!!

  6. Alex says:
    February 9, 2006 @ 06:37 — Reply

    Here are some more, but all of them are in very early development stages -

  7. John Peterson says:
    February 13, 2006 @ 02:45 — Reply

    Documentation is coming. I have a guy working on commenting the code for phpdoc and will be making more tutorials and sample apps. As far as the fatal errors I not sure what your environment is and what version of the code you tried but I always check it out of the trunk and it works fine... We may be on our face cause of docs but we are getting up soon and will be running !

  8. Jim says:
    February 13, 2006 @ 07:46 — Reply

    Hey John, thats good news. I really think you have some nice code in there and I believe its going to be the easiest framework for people to get up and running on. I'll be checking in.

  9. Jonathan Rhodes says:
    February 26, 2006 @ 19:49 — Reply

    This looks kind of interesting: Bumpted into it today at the developer's web site:

  10. Barty Funman says:
    April 28, 2006 @ 01:56 — Reply

    Umm, John built most of Trax by himself, In the last few months others have started helping; which simply translates to: They need a couple more people to help a bit in order to get it cookin'.

  11. Barty Funman says:
    April 28, 2006 @ 01:59 — Reply

    Thought it might help to have a link: PHP on Trax

  12. progress says:
    May 11, 2006 @ 21:45 — Reply

    trax documentation is 2.7 lightyears ahead now

  13. Jim Plush says:
    May 16, 2006 @ 11:56 — Reply

    seems that there are still only 5 links to documents on the site

  14. John Peterson says:
    June 8, 2006 @ 12:55 — Reply

    There are more than 5 links on there now, and many sub pages under those links. :) I have some video tutorials / screencasts now on how to setup and create a blog app in Trax.

  15. Jim Plush says:
    June 8, 2006 @ 16:01 — Reply

    awesome John that's good news. I'll be sure to check out the new goods :)

  16. Andrew says:
    December 19, 2006 @ 10:18 — Reply

    More video tutorials please, a little bigger so we can see the code please :). Also, the video tutorials are awesome, but don't be afraid to talk more, there are lulls where the narrator codes without speaking and I lost track of what was going on.

  17. Sam Diaz says:
    January 24, 2007 @ 16:25 — Reply

    Here is a report comparing PHP Frameworks to Rails. It's interesting that the best PHP Framework is the newcomer Akelos, which incidentally fails on community and Documentation as this report says. I've checked the docs and they have even ported the documentation from Rails, so it must be a matter of time to get a strong community around Akelos

  18. D Porter says:
    February 17, 2007 @ 22:22 — Reply

    PHP on Trax did sound promising. I went to the site and looked for documentation; there is none. So, I figure, I'll give it go anyway. I tried to download it...and couldn't. The pear module is not present. Finally, about an hour later, I find a copy and download it into my pear installation and given on the site. I follow the direction on the site--nothing. The trax.php file which handles CLI produces errors. I'm over two hours in now and have yet to get it even installed properly. I gave up on it. So far the best framework for PHP that I've come across is Code Ignitor. I say this for several reasons: 1) there framework has the most complete documentation of any framework that I've come across. 2) The framework is not bloated, its lightweight. It gives just enough of a framework to knock the monotony out of programming, but not so much so that one is locked in. However, it is still a young framework and need more work. After searching for several weeks for a descent framework--I think I will just bite the bullet and learn Ruby.

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