In the past 3 years, I went from freelance webmaster on my own —badly maintaining my so called framework— to a community aware developer. This transition was made easy being a member of the local PUG afup Lyon and being more and more involved at a broader range with the French PHP User Group. I can say PHP and its community had a big impact on my job opportunities, my vision of openness and my life as well.

The HaPHPy Birthday project

Not being a code genius, I wondered how I could contribute to the general effort or at least, how I could thank those who made it happen so far.

HaPHPy Birthday - the PHP movie
I started the HaPHPy Birthday project to allow anyone like me to express her/his feelings toward this incredible community. The idea was to gather people in a collaborative movie in order to pay a tribute to the PHP language, to those who helped building it to what it is today, to all the families it’s made of (WordPress, Drupal, Magento, ZF, Symfony…).

A story of enjoyment, doubt and satisfaction

I guess starting to think about the project late spring and building the website during summer was not optimal. On September the 1st, official opening for contributing, only 18 groups were supporting the project on the 200ish I contacted. Well, I was not totally happy with it but I was thinking it was just the beginning.

A good start

In fact, the kickoff went pretty well. Some of the people I admire for their involvement toward the PHP community like James Titcumb, Erika Heidi, Adam Culp… (just naming few) contributed quite early. Another good surprise was the translation of the website in Spanish by Luis Montealegre from the Comunidad PHP Puebla. Icing on the cake, came the video from the Kenyan PHP User Group, simple and so fresh! It gave me the Force to continue the long-term job of contacting the groups — I hope I wasn’t to spammy 😆. Reaching the target of 100 contributions to have a decent movie seemed obvious.

Winter was coming

And it came suddenly. Mid September, contributions almost stopped and a period of doubt began. New user groups were just supporting the project but few compared to the amount I contacted and surely not enough to make a representative video of the community. The minimum of 100 participations became uncertain. The long process of contacting groups and convincing people had worn me out. At one point, I considered giving up.

Gif kid begging for more (extract from silent movie)

Losing heart? Just look at what you achieved so far… with the help of others.

I made a break. I had a look at what was achieved so far. Well, most of the work was done and there was still time. At least, I could let run the project smoothly and see what it will become. A thought that kept me going on was the people who trusted in the project. I didn’t want to disappoint the first contributors, the early supporting groups or those who helped starting up the project.

PUG organizer opening a GitHub account to support HaPHPy Birthday
A non-techy community organiser creating a GitHub account and making her first pull request to add her group to the video. It seems pretty common to a lot of us but I took it for a great gesture.

Then new PHP user groups joined in to support the initiative, with more and more positive feedbacks about it. People I contacted expressed how much they were looking forward to the final movie. My mind was up again to make that one last effort in the communication campaign. Eventually, contributions went over the minimum required goal making the PHP movie come true.

A haPHPy end

The final movie reflects the PHP community. One made of people, of user groups, of companies… I’m glad with the overall result, the video is nice.

Starting to work on it, I didn’t imagine what I would have to go through to make it work (especially the relational side of it). For sure, the PHP movie would not be here today without the community support.