PHPBot is a chat box that helps developers to look at PHP manual entries and allow them to generate example code out of it. It is important to not get confused with Fondbot or Botman because they are different things.

I do not trust in chatbots. It was only built to serve the commercial purposes and impress the Snapchat generation. But I was pretty sure about something will come up in near future which will be really helpful for the developers. Can PHPBot be the one? We will find out it here.

The Concept of PHP Bot

The idea behind it is pretty simple. Developers can enter a text input with PHP related term like “ksort” and the application will reply you back with its explanation and some useful examples. Check below its example:

On asking different questions you will get different responses. In case if you ask for echo:

Usefulness of PHP Bot

The theory of PHPBot may sound interesting to you but as an executive of the most reputed PHP web development company in India, I have found its practice a bit off.

Bugs and Knowledgebase:

The knowledge that the bot can provide is limited. If you ask for “preg_split” it copies the example from manual entry. However, it cannot recognize the new lines and messed up things:

It also seems like that the bot does not support the magic method also:

Some requests can be failed completely because the bot will not be able to find the example from its manual.

Suggestion and Auto Completion

Users have to keep typing the codes that bot does not recognize. It would be better if it show some auto correct or auto-complete drop-down. I think the bot should have been smart enough to suggest the right information on asking wrong thing.

Copy – Paste

The bot returns only the code-highlighted blocks of the text but they are not copy-paste friendly. You will never get sure what you are copying because the lines do not get wrapped. On the other hand, bot sometimes misformats examples and messed up new lines. So it is fair to conclude that they are not also paste-friendly.

API

The app does not provide any API access. So it is only good to use in separate browser or tab. We are living in an era where developers work while opening 10 – 20 tabs at the same time. Opening another one for running this app is not so useful. It would be better if it had an API or at least came up with a browser extension.

Source Code

PHPBot is closed source for the time being. That understandable but I would like to ask the developer to clean up the codes and make it open source as soon as possible. It will help our PHP web development company in India to dig in and do new things out of it that the author has not thought of.

Conclusion:

PHPBot is less like a bot and more like an “interactive” search field for PHP examples and manuals. It has very limited scope of use. Its knowledge is also limited and the examples are not so useful. Using this application can be considered as a cute experiment but do not expect anything more than it. I would like to suggest developers to use DevDocs as it is equipped with full manual and can also work offline.

PHPBot – Can It Help Developers to Look up Documentation Faster?
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