February 14, 2011

Recess framework - An ignored PHP RAD tool!

My new personal project is being built on PHP stack instead of Java or .Net! My team (group of friends) not I are regular PHP coders and we decided to give PHP a try. Our application needed a simple MVC framework, REST support & small learning curve. During the search I stumbled upon Recess! - A RESTful PHP framework.

Recess! is a RESTful PHP framework that claims to be built for implementing RESTful application with strong object-oriented design, annotations and RAD tools. I decided to give it a try even though we have plenty of famous frameworks like Zend stack, CakePHP, Symphony etc.

I got quite exited after viewing the first screen cast about the framework. At the same time, I was little disappointed to see the framework was versioned 0.2 and dated to 2009. Nevertheless, I decided to download and try. I got my first blockade with the framework in 20 minutes to deploying it on my PC. Turned out that, the version 0.2 had bugs and I had to switch to the cutting edge version. With the latest version, I was running my first application in no time. But when you go beyond “Hello Wold” applications you will find real trouble due to lack of documentation.

The framework introduces annotations to PHP! Unlike java, annotation symbol used is ‘!’ annotation. Applications routing information, data model relationships, etc. are all provided in the form of annotations. In addition to this the framework provides an interactive toll to create application, scaffolding and manage your data models. Yes! You have CLI tools for other frameworks but this is simple and real RAD. Apart from these features, the framework had a plugin architecture and easy to extend.

But, even with these features, I don’t see the framework becoming popular. One reason for this could be the lack of documentation and tutorials. The framework lacks documentation and you will have to read the source code in order to understand and fix your issues. The community is also very small, so you are left out in the cold. This actually takes away the ‘RAD’ in Recess and your learning cure shoots up.

Another reason for lack of community would be because the framework has had very little changes after 2009. With no active development happening, new developers (like me) usually do not try it and end up with other frameworks.

Here is my final take on the framework:

  • Create RESTful application quickly and with great ease.
  • GUI based tool for creating project structure, scaffolding etc.
  • Declarative PHP with the help of annotations.
  • Loosely coupled Model-View-Controller.
  • Makes use of Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) philosophy & practice.
  • Caching-oriented architecture.
  • Provides a simple ORM library that is integrated into the framework.


  • Lack of community interaction and support.
  • Lack of Manuals, tutorials and API documentation.
  • Very slow development of the framework.
  • ORM is still not powerful enough compared to other available libraries.

Recess framework is really good RAD and its developers and community should take it forward. It makes PHP programming real fun!

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