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  1. #1
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    Replacement programmer wanted...PHP or new route?

    This is my first time posting anything in this forum...

    I don't have a computer background, but I designed a website that is being built in PHP and I am running into several issues with the programmer. The site is fairly complex with three user types (buyers, sellers, and reps) and several functions for each one, site replication for reps and downline/commissions tracking for 5 levels of Multi-Level Marketing, posts/blogs with media and attachments similar to Facebook, email and SMS notifications, back-end management, admin, and more.

    The challenges I am facing:

    - the site has been under construction for over a year when I was told it would be completed within two months...it should be completed asap
    - almost every time the programmer updates some functions on the site, some other functions seem to fail (not always seemingly related)
    - the programmer is non English-speaking...the product is not being delivered in correct English, and the language barrier makes a lot of the work take much longer than necessary

    I am looking for someone to take over the project, address the unfinished items, and make what has been created already function properly without constant malfunctions.

    I have heard arguments that PHP is flawed to begin with and wondering if it would make more sense to finish the project in PHP (since so many of the functions are built out and have functioned at one time) or have the site rebuilt in another program that will not malfunction so often.

    Any words of wisdom or solutions would be appreciated, I am willing to pay market rate or other reasonable consideration for actual work done.

    Best Regards,

    Brian

  • #2
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    I'm not sure what you mean by "malfunction". Every language has its limitations and there are always bugs that follow, but an expert in the language can determine these bugs and typically find a work around (if possible). The only replacement language I would suggest at this time would be python; Perl is rather old and whilst an excellent language for desktop administration, has kind of diminished its following for web based software; C#/VB and ASP.net is windows only unless you trust mono which is guaranteed to be more flaky than the windows MIL interpreter; ruby, jsp and cold fusion will have more difficulty finding a supporting host. So PHP, Python and to a lesser extent, ASP.NET are the only suggestions I would make.

    Unfortunately, given the list you have here it appears you have found a novice PHP programmer that underestimated the work and under-delivered. Functionality that consistently breaks unrelated functionality is typically a sign of poor design principles that forces deep nested functionality between multiple pieces instead of datasharing with objects or sub routines (functions, but didn't want to confuse the term with the functionality). So for example there is functionality nested between two pieces of the application, and by changing something like, say, the database property names, you need to alter this in two locations instead of one. Every new programmer I know does this as well; its a matter of knowing how to make something work first, then figuring out how to make things work together by sharing therefore making it smaller, more efficient, and more centralized. This is a skill which is learned by programming experience, but unfortunately many novice to intermediate freelance developers do this on "the client's dime" (which may or may not be a problem).

    Typically in this type of situation, you will often need a complete rewrite. An intermediate or expert PHP programmer would probably waste more time debugging existing code and making it work versus rewriting it from scratch. Its one of the worst things to hear I know, but the developers in question would inform you of which approach they would take.

  • #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by BDETCINC View Post
    I have heard arguments that PHP is flawed to begin with and wondering if it would make more sense to finish the project in PHP
    There is nothing wrong with PHP as a language. It's the coder who writes the code in any language that makes it look like trash.

    It doesn't matter what you've heard about php if the coder isn't of a good standard, they will make php look like a very insecure language. The fact is that php is a stable language, there is a lot of support for it and if you get the right coder, you can create all sorts of wonderful things. Unfortunately as a language it also attracts a lot of wanna-be-pro coders. They manage to print "Hello world" into a page and think that they can take on all sorts of complex projects whilst learning on the job. While thats fine for personal projects, it doesn't work so well for paid projects.

    I took on a project last year which went south like yours. It should have taken a couple of months and stretched into around 6 before I gave it up. Why? I only do backend PHP / mysql (I'm cr@p at page design) and the project owner assured me he'd got a complete template done. All it needed was the back end code. What he'd actually got, was one page that was done by a smart talking 15 year old. Sure, it looked great.. but the parts of the page that were supposed to do things (eg flash images) were static gifs, it needed account pages creating, report pages creating etc and he simply had one page and expected me to do the rest. Then came the list of new demands which I simply couldn't meet but kept going with because he kept promising to pay more if I could get it 'working'. I went on for months trying to get the front end working, hired in another coder to help etc.. Long story short I quit the project because the front end was simply beyond me and I was spending more time on that than I was on the PHP / Mysql that I was supposed to be doing. I never got paid for any of it either

    So, there you go.. When you pick a coder, make sure that they are of good quality and speak the language. If you don't, it'll go south like the project I told you about. I mention the language thing as we get quite a few on this forum who speak bad english yet are working on big projects and want to know simple basic stuff to make their big project 'work'. Just because they are foreign and cheap doesn't mean that their standard of coding is as good as others.
    Last edited by tangoforce; 10-02-2012 at 07:37 PM.
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  • #4
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    Thanks for your insight. This programmer has created a quite intricate site with PHP so it is apparent that it has extensive capabilities. Most of the site work most of the time, but occasionally a major function will stop working, which would be detrimental if it were being publicly used.

    This was quite a bit more complicated than anticipated and I am amazed he'd hung in there, but he can't seem to get the whole thing to work smoothly. What would you recommend I do based on the fact that this complex site has been mostly built but has constant bugs and malfunctions?

    Quote Originally Posted by tangoforce View Post
    There is nothing wrong with PHP as a language. It's the coder who writes the code in any language that makes it look like trash.

    It doesn't matter what you've heard about php if the coder isn't of a good standard, they will make php look like a very insecure language. The fact is that php is a stable language, there is a lot of support for it and if you get the right coder, you can create all sorts of wonderful things. Unfortunately as a language it also attracts a lot of wanna-be-pro coders. They manage to print "Hello world" into a page and think that they can take on all sorts of complex projects whilst learning on the job. While thats fine for personal projects, it doesn't work so well for paid projects.

    I took on a project last year which went south like yours. It should have taken a couple of months and stretched into around 6 before I gave it up. Why? I only do backend PHP / mysql (I'm cr@p at page design) and the project owner assured me he'd got a complete template done. All it needed was the back end code. What he'd actually got, was one page that was done by a smart talking 15 year old. Sure, it looked great.. but the parts of the page that were supposed to do things (eg flash images) were static gifs, it needed account pages creating, report pages creating etc and he simply had one page and expected me to do the rest. Then came the list of new demands which I simply couldn't meet but kept going with because he kept promising to pay more if I could get it 'working'. I went on for months trying to get the front end working, hired in another coder to help etc.. Long story short I quit the project because the front end was simply beyond me and I was spending more time on that than I was on the PHP / Mysql that I was supposed to be doing. I never got paid for any of it either

    So, there you go.. When you pick a coder, make sure that they are of good quality and speak the language. If you don't, it'll go south like the project I told you about. I mention the language thing as we get quite a few on this forum who speak bad english yet are working on big projects and want to know simple basic stuff to make their big project 'work'. Just because they are foreign and cheap doesn't mean that their standard of coding is as good as others.

  • #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BDETCINC View Post
    Thanks for your insight. This programmer has created a quite intricate site with PHP so it is apparent that it has extensive capabilities. Most of the site work most of the time, but occasionally a major function will stop working, which would be detrimental if it were being publicly used.

    This was quite a bit more complicated than anticipated and I am amazed he'd hung in there, but he can't seem to get the whole thing to work smoothly. What would you recommend I do based on the fact that this complex site has been mostly built but has constant bugs and malfunctions?
    Realistically there isn't much you can do to 'manage' this. It's one of two things once you hire another coder:

    1) Have someone go through it, debug it and fix it (time consuming, may do a lot more damage than it fixes)
    2) Have it re-written from the ground up.

    Option 1 IMO would be a nightmare scenario BUT having said that, there are some bl**dy good coders who can see straight through code, clean it up, re-write it etc and do it quickly. It really depends on how much code there is and what the database is like - that may need restructuring too.

    Option 2 is quite possibly the better option but again its more development time from the ground up. That coder will also need time to debug and fix their own code (no-one writes perfect code instantly) and test its logic etc.

    Which ever one you choose, you have risk I'm afraid. When I say risk, I mean in terms of time and money. What you want done is doable its just a matter of damage limitation and unfortunately both could be very expensive.

    How many different php files are there for this project? Is it a large, medium or small project? - These will also affect it. If its a huge project you may well be better off going with option 1 and applying fixes as you find them. Not ideal I know but it may get you up and running faster than starting from scratch.
    See my new CodingForums Blog: http://www.codingforums.com/blogs/tangoforce/

    Many useful explanations and tips including: Cannot modify headers - already sent, The IE if (isset($_POST['submit'])) bug explained, unexpected T_CONSTANT_ENCAPSED_STRING, debugging tips and much more!

  • #6
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    Again I appreciate your time and the straight shots...you are correct that there is risk either way, but it's good to have your feedback from both sides of the coin. I don't even know how to access the code or look at the db to see how many pages/lines/files etc it is, do you know how I go about finding those things out?

    Quote Originally Posted by tangoforce View Post
    Realistically there isn't much you can do to 'manage' this. It's one of two things once you hire another coder:

    1) Have someone go through it, debug it and fix it (time consuming, may do a lot more damage than it fixes)
    2) Have it re-written from the ground up.

    Option 1 IMO would be a nightmare scenario BUT having said that, there are some bl**dy good coders who can see straight through code, clean it up, re-write it etc and do it quickly. It really depends on how much code there is and what the database is like - that may need restructuring too.

    Option 2 is quite possibly the better option but again its more development time from the ground up. That coder will also need time to debug and fix their own code (no-one writes perfect code instantly) and test its logic etc.

    Which ever one you choose, you have risk I'm afraid. When I say risk, I mean in terms of time and money. What you want done is doable its just a matter of damage limitation and unfortunately both could be very expensive.

    How many different php files are there for this project? Is it a large, medium or small project? - These will also affect it. If its a huge project you may well be better off going with option 1 and applying fixes as you find them. Not ideal I know but it may get you up and running faster than starting from scratch.

  • #7
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    At a minimum, you would need to either go into the websites file manager OR download a copy of everything via FTP. Filezilla is a free ftp client that you can find via google.

    You'll also need your username and password for the site.
    See my new CodingForums Blog: http://www.codingforums.com/blogs/tangoforce/

    Many useful explanations and tips including: Cannot modify headers - already sent, The IE if (isset($_POST['submit'])) bug explained, unexpected T_CONSTANT_ENCAPSED_STRING, debugging tips and much more!


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