KillerPHP Blog

Killer Open Source PHP Projects

March 27, 2008

Part of PHP’s power is actually found in the variety of open source (free to use) PHP based applications. I’m talking about things like blogs, web frameworks, forums, cms’ etc …

… I was just thinking, that a list of ‘killer’ PHP open source projects would be useful … for a few reasons:

  1. Once upon a time, a master programmer I know gave me a great piece of advice:

    “Grasshopper, it is always a much better idea to use proven code (that means good open source projects) than to start from scratch.”

  2. Checking out examples of quality code, is a great way to learn how to become a better programmer.
  3. Who doesn’t need a list of ‘best of breed’ projects?

I’ve been snooping about the PHP world for a while now, and I’ve come across some crappy PHP projects (I will not name names) but I’ve also come across many great PHP projects.

To be totally honest about it, we’ve seen much of the good stuff coming out of the PHP world, in the last few years.

… PHP developers are leap-frogging ahead with regards to their level of skill and the quality of code they produce.

That all said, the following are my favorite ‘killer’ PHP open source projects:



Probably the most popular open source blogging software out there. It has gone through a few major revisions and now has a more solid object oriented code base*.

WordPress has a flexible architecture (enabled through plug-ins) that makes modifying it relatively easy.

* UPDATE: to be clear, WordPress makes use of both functions (procedural code) and classes. They also seem to use an MVC pattern .. in a way. That said, you are best to modify WordPress using its’ plug-in mechanism and not by touching the core code.

… One advantage of modifying WordPress by plug-in, is that you should be safe when the core code updates .. at least in theory!


zend framework logo

One of several quality web application frameworks/component libraries that should make any PHP programmer proud. I’ve chosen the Zend Framework for several reasons including:

  • Has a smart flexible architecture
  • Has good documentation
  • Has great backing: Zend and IBM.

I’m such a big believer in the Zend Framework, that I created a Zend Framework section on

You can visit the Zend Framework home page here:



Drupal is a mature open source CMS that has a large community and a robust plugin system that has made Drupal very flexible in terms of what it can do.

Drupal is not object oriented, but the code is improving with each version. I’ve used Drupal 5 and played with the current (version 6) and have been impressed with the power of this CMS.

As you may or may not know, I’m a big advocate of using CMS’ or blogs as the foundation of many web design projects.



One of the smaller less known PHP based forums. I like PunBB because it runs fast (one advantage of procedural code), it is simple to install, simple to use and has a clean codebase. But like Drupal, it is procedural/function based.

If you have any ‘killer’ php project picks, please let us know.


Stefan Mischook