Smarty not so smarty in PHP5. Try XSLT instead.

So I’ve been working on this pretty big migration project lately, from PHP4 / MySQL 4 to PHP5 / MySQL5. It’s even larger because we’re moving from a largely procedural code base to using objects with inheritance and a lot of composition.

So what’s all that have to do with Smarty? Well, all our PHP devs are busy getting familiar with the framework I’ve built for the project. So, that leaves some HTML gurus and ASP folks sitting around under-utilized on this project. Ideally, I’d like the PHP folks to work on the backend stuff and then have an HTML or ASP dev take care of the views.

Of course, if the templates are all done in Smarty that means these folks have to possess not only a decent understanding of PHP, but also thorough experience with Smarty templating. These skills are a bit of a reach for the HTML folks… and the ASP people will mostly just protest because they’d have to learn PHP stuff AND develop on a Linux box. ;-)

Enter XSLT. Most developers in other languages use XSLT already (ASP, .NET, JSP, etc). I’ve never understood why it’s so slow to catch on with PHP. Perhaps because the XML tools in PHP4 were so poor?

So if the ASP folks already know XSLT, and the HTML folks don’t yet, but can learn a templating skill that is basically development-language-agnostic, I think it’s a win-win-win situation.

I’ve thought this way for a long time but this project has really crystallized my take on it. Developers at any level should strive to learn tools and techniques that can be universally applied to other languages. You may be a PHP programmer today, but you might be something else tomorrow.

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