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Financial Carrot for PHP Developers

The open-source PHP programming language can be found on more than 10 million domains worldwide. Mega portal Yahoo is migrating from a proprietary system written in C/C++ to PHP for its backend scripting and companies like Motorola, EarthLink, Lycos and IBM are all using PHP for high-traffic Web applications.

Yet, the lack of marketing muscle to push for mass adoption of the server-side language means it continues to lag behind JSP and ASP among enterprise users.

If Canada-based php|architect has its way, that's all about to change. The subscription-based publication has created a Grant Program that offers financial incentives to developers who create open-source projects related to PHP (but not necessarily written in PHP) and within the first week, more than 100 submissions have poured in from around the globe.

Participation in the program, which has received the blessings of The PHP Group is open to all open-source projects related to PHP and the deadline for submissions close on June 15.

php|architect publisher Marco Tabini, who dreamed up the idea to offer financial incentives to PHP programmers, said the quality of submissions received so far have "exceeded expectations." "The response from the developer community has been very positive. We received more than 100 submissions of PHP-related projects in the first week and we expect it will grow by the time we make our selections," Tabini told internetnews.com.

He described PHP, the HTML embedded scripting language used to create dynamic Web pages, as "one of the best programming languages around" but lamented the shortage of marketing dollars to put PHP up against programming languages from Microsoft and Sun Microsystems .

"The fact that PHP, without the big marketing push, has penetrated 10 million sites tells a big story. PHP can be found within applications from some of the biggest Internet companies but the growth of the language needs financial assistance. That's what we hope to accomplish," Tabini added.

The Apache-backed PHP project, which was created in 1995 by Rasmus Lerdorf, has seen startling usage growth since 1999, according to Netcraft. Despite the increase in PHP usage, Tabini said many "good PHP projects" never get off the ground because open-source enthusiasts are short of funding.

"In the open-source, a lot of things happen without financial incentives. In the context of this community, we want our grant to help push some very good projects out of the door. A lot of projects are sitting around because of material costs, whether it's hosting, software or hardware. That's where we think this program works," he added.

The Grant Program won't limit the scope of what types of PHP-related projects can be submitted. "Our goal is to find one or two very good projects that has the potential to bring a revolution to the world of PHP. We have some suggestions of our own but we are not tied to anything," Tabini said.

The online magazine, which counts about 10,000 paid subscribers for its $19 per year publication, is looking for projects that "bring new and original ideas to the PHP community."

Tabini suggested programmers could build a compiler that transforms PHP source code into a binary executable or maybe a "solid substitute for PHP-GTK."

"A compiler, for example, would give PHP a whole new marketing opening. If someone creates a compiler with a GUI developer tool, millions of people can go from developing sites to developing GUI applications that are better than proprietary systems. That's the kind of innovation we are looking to kick start," he said.

He said money distributed from the Grant Program would go towards paying for hardware or hosting needs, or to pay for development costs of the selected project "When a grant application is made, the team must specify what the funds will be used for an how. We will not accept a grant application until we are satisfied that the grant moneys will be expended for the benefit of the project's needs."