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FuelPHP history and future



When I move to the new job I have started using FuelPHP framework for new project. We have to decide which framework we will use in development: Kohana, Zend, FuelPHP or something else available in the community. We choose FuelPHP because it has all great and sexy stuff and it was built for php 5.3 only. At that moment FuelPHP was first framework which used namespaces and was production ready at the same time. Small footprint, flexibility, namespaces, modularity and other gears make this framework great for building web applications. Let’s talk about FuelPHP history.

First steps

FuelPHP was rolled up by Dan Horigan. Phil Sturgeon joined him when he realized Codeigniter is stuck in php 5.2 without abstract classes, interfaces, autoloading and other things that makes developer happy. Phil wanted a real change. Other great people joined core team: Harro Verton aka WanWizard, Jelmer Schreuder and at the end Frank de Jonge.

I started building web applications in version 1.1, and at this moment 1.4 is latest production ready version. So I wasn’t involved in community from the beginning.

I have started following this small community at the beginning of the 2012. This year was important for PHP community, many great things were built and many projects were created:

  • PHP Framework Interoperability Group accepted PSR-0, PSR-1 and PSR-2 standards
  • We get the Composer – great package repository for developers
  • We have guide for developers – PHP The Right Way
  • New star is born – Laravel framework
  • I am sure I missed few great things too

For FuelPHP team 2012 was year with ups and downs. Dan Horigan was not available for his team members few months and no one didn’t know where he was. He show up on the twitter and then he was unreachable again. WanWizard (Harro Verton) and Jelmer Schreuder were most active at the building FuelPHP core and they done a great job.

One day Dan Horigan show up and he was active in the community again. Unfortunately he left FuelPHP team, and start to work on some other projects. Later Phil Sturgeon decided to left FuelPHP team too. Dan and Phil work on same project at this moment.

FuelPHP version two and road ahead

Jelmer Schreuder started to work on FuelPHP 2.0 version. He work hard and he build Fuel 2.0 psr-1 compliant version based on Composer. This version was build without ORM, because you can use any ORM from composer’s repository. In this version Jelmer wanted to avoid statics and use full potential from unit tests. He created IoC container in this version. Anthony Ferrara criticized this way of implementing IoC containter in his blog post “Object Scoping: A Triste Against Service Containers“.

Fuel team decided to go step by step from current version to FuelPHP 2.0, as they said – “We’re going to make changes in the next couple of version 1 releases that will bring it closer to the new architecture, so that the eventual switch to version 2 isn’t such a big hurde to take.”.

Jelmer left FuelPHP core team few days ago. His thoughts about version two: “Developing and thinking about version 2 was possibly even more of an educational experience than version 1 had been. It grew to a state close to maturity in a matter of months, enough for me to start developing on top of it. But again I realized I had made some decissions along the way I no longer felt good about, and it really needs a rewrite to overcome those.”

Jelmer is not happy with version two, and it looks like his code in version two will be just proof of concept, and outline for real version.

FuelPHP has future, but from my perspective it is not so bright I thought. Harro Verton is great developer, and current version is very solid for most web developers. When they move framework to composer, add IoC container, and remove statics, this is going to be strong and modern framework. Now in the core team left Harro and Frank.

Where to go now ?

If you want latest and greatest you should wait for Laravel 4. Phil Sturgeon said all he wanted to do in FuelPHP Laravel in version 4 already did. My next step is Laravel because it has all latest and newest bright php stuff. Laravel is supported by company UserScape, and this is important if you using framework in company. You want to make sure framework will be developed and supported in coming years.

I will use FuelPHP for my current projects, and also I will try version two when it will be ready, but from my point of view it’s time to move on. It’s time for Laravel.


After talking with FuelPHP users and developers I have to make things about this framework future more visible. Users with business build on this framework can’t afford path with big changes that brakes their applications. These changes cost real money. FuelPHP’s direction is modern framework with composer support, IoC container and testable codebase. They will get there but without leaving their customers in pain from switching to latest framework version. FuelPHP way is legacy and stability, with modern features in mind. Their challenge is to find the ballance between inovation and stability. If stability is important for you and your company, this framework is good choice.

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  1. When fuel was started , me and many others ( iirc Lukas ) have criticized for not using PSR-0.

    Later they think its good, and if I am right the problem started from there and moving on.

    Thank you for the history on Fuel. By the way checkout aura also http://auraphp.github.com/ for some awesome libraries if you guys are interested.