TYPO3: The Agile Future of a Ponderous Project

When Kasper Skårhøj wrote the first lines of PHP code laying the foundation for the TYPO3 CMS in 1998, he had not the slightest idea that a big part of the code he wrote would still be actively used ten years later. Adding the 3700 extensions contributed by an ever growing developer community resulted in an impressive amount of code — of varying quality.

Without surprise it soon became a challenge to assure a high quality and secure product. While the core developers were eager to add new features, the holy cow of backward compatibility was lurking at the next corner, waiting to be fed. The result is a feature-rich and solid but equally monolithic and complex pile of code that is, at best, hard to test. As a consequence we decided to rewrite TYPO3 from scratch.

In this case study we will share our experience with the technical and organisational techniques we have chosen for the development of TYPO3 version 5 and its foundation, the FLOW3 framework. It explains our pedantic pursuit of clean code, outlines our commit and coding guidelines and gives answers to tricky situations you face while writing and maintaining (true) unit tests. Finally we demonstrate how a clean architecture can help you tackling the complexity of your application.

Robert Lemke and Karsten Dambekalns are core developers of both TYPO3 and FLOW3.

A few recipes for writing good unit tests that are part of this case study are demonstrated in the "Delicious Test Recipes" episode of Robert Lemke's podcast.