10 Lessons From The Symfony Ecosystem That Can Be Applied To Your Projects And Team

Developing a web application is not easy by any stretch of the imagination – it has to function correctly, while addressing user needs and being scalable enough to meet spikes in demand.

App developers must understand the purpose of the app, the problems it addresses and then build an application that provides the necessary solutions.

But app developers are only a part of a bigger team of professionals who understand coding architecture and fix errors on the go.

This team usually consists of UI and UX designers, system admins, frontend and backend developers, project managers, quality assurance specialists and requirement analysts, to name a few – and many of them may even be working remotely!

This makes it crucial to create an environment where these teams can come together to collaborate and deliver on targets.

The Symfony Ecosystem

78.8% of all websites (Mar 6, 2020) in the world are made using PHP, a widely-used programming language that is also great for creating databases and all kinds of dynamic content.

Symfony is one of the leading frameworks for PHP development and offers a set of reusable PHP components that facilitate web app developers. It is open-source and widely available for use since 2005.

Here at Polcode, we use Symfony daily as it simplifies work for our developers so that they can build high-performance, high-quality and wide-ranging web applications quickly and efficiently.

We’ve learned some valuable lessons about team management from the Symfony ecosystem, and gathered some of them here for your perusal.

10 Lessons From The Symfony Ecosystem For Project Managers and Team Leads

Whether you are a manager, a team lead, or simply a developer who wants to excel at their craft, here’s what the Symfony ecosystem can teach you:

1. Anything Is Possible With Remote Teams

Over 2000 people from all around the globe collaborate and coordinate remotely to make Symfony work – and they have never even been in a single room together!

That’s why Symfony is living proof that it’s possible to maintain remote teams and manage them effectively for any project, no matter the size.

Remote teams offer workers greater flexibility, which can help reduce turnover. Not only that –  many HR professionals say work flexibility allows greater creativity, which means remote teams are more innovative.

But for remote teams to work effectively, proper communication standards are a must.

2. Communication Is Crucial

Communication between team members is crucial for the success of a web development project and that’s why it is a top priority at the Symfony community. Every decision, big or small, is discussed in the RFC (request for comments) standard before it is finalized.

This mitigates the chances of errors in the final product as clear communication allows team members to discuss problems and work on a solution cohesively.

Such communication standards should be set by team leaders of the project to ensure that there is an understanding among the members for what needs to be done.

3. Empowered Team Leaders

Symfony has a Core Team, i.e., a team of developers who determine the direction and evolution of the Symfony project.

Good team leaders layout expectations clearly from the start of a project. They listen carefully and value the input of team members while also incorporating this feedback into the project.

This means that it is essential to develop team leaders with the right soft skills to keep other team members feeling motivated and empowered.

4. Project documentation

Proper project documentation is often overlooked in small/mid-sized projects.

This happens for a simple reason – writing documentation does not have an immediate return of investment as the person responsible for it already knows everything there is to know.

However, this paperwork can be beneficial when a new team member enters the team.

We learned this from Symfony documentation, which is an integral part of the project. First of all, new features can’t be merged into the code without proper documentation beforehand. Secondly, documentation is also an open-source project – that means everyone can work on it to improve it!

Make sure you also document the essential features/procedures of your project and everyone in your team contributes to it. Use version control not only for code but also for the documentation to ensure that things stay on track.

5. Git all the things!

Hopefully, you are already well-versed in using proper version control.

However, Symfony ecosystem can teach us how to use it properly and efficiently in terms of workflow and commit messages.

Make sure that you describe not only what you do in your code change, but WHY you do it.

6. Embrace Simplicity

When creating projects, put your efforts into necessary business logic and not add-ons. Make overall architecture as simple as possible and extensible when it needs to be.

Main Symfony logic is closed in one class – the Kernel.

7. Separate Project Concerns

The developers at Symfony strongly believe that delineation and correlation of elements are crucial to creating order within their ecosystem. This can only be done by carefully separating concerns to manage the complexities of a comprehensive project.

Make sure that all the elements of your software system have a singular purpose so that they don’t share in unrelated responsibilities.

Look into Symfony Components – every one of them has a single job to do, and (in most cases) they are self-sufficient and extensible.

8. Automate Processes Where Required

Symfony has automated not only its processes but also the required checks and balances to save time and resources.

It starts with the typical continuous integration process, running tests and code style checks, and includes tools for managing big git repositories as well as components for code generation.

Automated processes make it easier for you to focus on creating excellence while also completing projects on deadlines. It is essential to set up these labor-saving initiatives so you can concentrate on the more pressing matters.

9. Don’t Be Afraid Of Change

Symfony updates its applications regularly and their developers are not afraid to embrace change. And that’s a good thing because there is no such thing as stagnancy in software development anyways.

You can see that Symfony took a dynamic road to stardom in the developer community – and they wouldn’t have it any other way. From the very first version of Symfony up till its latest iteration, every major release has introduced some significant variation from before.

Your business should also do the same – plan for the long term and ensure that all team members are willing to make way for new ideas and processes. There is always a chance you wouldn’t make it right in your first try so be ready to try another approach.

10. Be Kind To Everyone

Last but not least – be kind. This is visible in the Symfony community, where members appreciate each other’s work and value their contributions to the project.

This creates a welcoming environment, which is really important, especially for newcomers and first-time contributors to the open-source world.

In Conclusion

As you can see, we can learn many things from the Symfony ecosystem and not all of them are technology-related.

A few years ago, there was a revolution here that wanted to make work more accessible for new developers. It was called “Developer Experience” (DX) and hoped to make the installation processes, error messages, etc. conducive to work for newbies.

I recommend that you put your project through the same process of change and prioritize your people over processes.

Remember, all software development is about people; technology is secondary. You can’t fulfill the needs of demanding projects without skilled people and their knowledge. Help them by creating an environment where they can reach their full potential.

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