Tools, Tools (Ad Nausium) [sic.]
"There are problems with the many-tools-hacked-together approach that adds an odd balance to it."
[Bruce Alderson] and I have a common vision. I wish that there was a stable platform for PHP applications that provided all the common stuff like database abstraction, user login and account management. I just want to seamlessly combine the best of [MediaWiki][mw], [WordPress][wp], [Gallery][g] and [PHPbb][bb]. I don't want to have 4 different logins and spend weeks trying to make templates for each so that they all look alike. Somehow these Open Source packages need to cleanly separate the functional engine from the application presentation layer. Then I could mix and match them.
Platforms like [Smarty] are a step in the right direction. As is the [ADOdb] and [OpenID]. Now if only all the applications starting using those foundations, it would make integration easier.
Before I leave this topic, I have to express some of my concerns with Smarty's security. To use the caching features, you must have a directory with write privileges for the web server process owner. On a shared host, I've learned this is a dangerous thing. Other users on that same host can maliciously write files into your directory structure. I have opted to make all directories read-only and when my applications need to save data, they can do it to the database instead of to the file system.