What 2016 Has in Store for PHP?

by Ahmed Khan  January 21, 2016

Last year was rather revolutionary with respect to web development. There were a number of major releases in the community last year, including Magento 2, Drupal 8, WordPress 4.4, Symfony 3, Laravel 5.2, and last, but the most important, the release of PHP 7.

PHP Trends 2016

News which broke last year was the moving of WordPress to Node.JS, which has created a great storm in the PHP world. We conducted a survey and asked about the upcoming trends and future of PHP in 2016, at various forums and personally with the PHP influencers like Cal Evans and Rafael Dohms. Below are the highlights about PHP Trends in 2016.

When we asked PHP developers at Reddit, we got interesting responses.

An expert of community Hall of famer said at Reddit:

“Node.JS is capable of competing against PHP 7, or even PHP 5.”

On a question about the rise of Node.JS and impact on PHP, another user Firehed said:

“They’re not even remotely the same markets. Node programmers are working on real projects at actual companies with budgets and employees. While plenty of PHP programmers are too, the ones using $2/month shared hosting most certainly are not.”

Regarding a question related to PHP 7, Sarciszewski said:

“PHP 7.1 is going to see a lot of security improvements, and I’ll only be driving a handful of them.”

Scott Molinari, a PHP developer and author at SitePoint said:

“PHP7 will bring change already in 2016. I’ll predict the uptake to PHP7 will be very large, especially compared to the uptake between 4 and 5, which isn’t much of a feat either. Still, PHP7 will be making some positive waves for the PHP community throughout 2016.”

Adam Englander, Director of Engineering of LaunchKey, Inc expressed:

“In 2016, we will see more and more interoperability between frameworks. Symfony, Laravel, and Drupal (CMS) are just the beginning. Thanks to PSR-7, middleware based frameworks will begin to become more common as well. Version 3 of Slim Framework and Zend Expressive are both full middleware frameworks. It’s a new age in PHP with interoperability at its core.

“We should also see a rise in asynchronous programming, thanks in part to icicle.io. The team building icicle.io has gone a long way to make asynchronous programming more straight forward with the use of promises and generators in much the same fashion as ECMAScript 2015 in JavaScript.

“My last prediction for 2016 will be predicated on the pervious prediction. You will start to see some movement into real hardware level Internet of Things (IoT) development in PHP. With a true asynchronous programming framework to take advantage of asynchronous I/O, you will now be able to write PHP applications to easily receive input from GPIO based hardware on Raspberry Pi, Intel Edison, and other IoT devices running Linux operating systems.”

Rafael Dohms , creator of AmsterdamPHP, and a well-known influence in PHP said:

“I think it will be an interesting year for PHP. Apart from the launch of PHP 7 that brings the performance jumps we saw in HHVM in recent years, which will on its own breathe new life into existing platforms as well as help many companies manage infrastructure costs, the factor that will stir things up is PSR-7.

“PSR-7, the standard for HTTP messaging, has brought with it the possibility of building solutions in many different ways. It has has first and foremost brought a lot of attention and ease-of-use to the Middleware pattern. This already allows PHP to follow trends, such as we see in the Node.JS community in building systems using middlewares.

“Zend Expressive is a great example of a very small implementation of this pattern, which in return allows us to move away from the monolithic frameworks (we have been doing this for 4-5 years now) and really start “composing” solutions out of many smaller and mixed solutions.

“It’s a new breath into the micro-framework and micro-library trend we have seen. At least to me the trend we will see is based on this, more componentized frameworks and solutions created from gluing pieces from multiple frameworks together, all being layered on top of a thin HTTP implementation based heavily on PSR-7 and middlewares.”

In an earlier interview for Cloudways, he said:

“I have a good feeling about this year as I had with last year. There is a lot happening in our ecosystem, from internals to the package libraries. I think one thing that will play a major role is PSR-7 and the middleware hype, I think we will see many interesting implementations in this field and a lot of simplified contexts to work in.

“The stuff coming out of the FIG will shape a lot of releases and make us more and more work with gluing loose libraries together instead of consolidated monolithic frameworks. This will also reduce a lot of libraries to small moving pieces, this will make for interesting work.”

When we asked the same question at PHP Help where PHP developer Jiml replied:

“PHP is definitely not as hip, [but] it still has a lot more resources and people who know and feel comfortable about it though. I won’t deny liking [Node.JS], mostly because you’re able to focus on a single language through the entire stack. When working with Spring or Symfony in comparison to what’s available in [Node.JS], though, I just can’t help but feel they have some improvements to do before they’re ‘there.’

“Some might argue the real advantage of [Node.JS] is to push out small performant micro apps or APIs fast. But I’ve grown very comfortable using frameworks that handle routing, authentication, access control, orm’s, etc. You can piece together frameworks on node/express (like Sails), but I always feel like I’m (much faster) ending up bashing my head against some weird wall when using Node.”

What problems will occur while adopting PHP7 as it comes?

“Outdated tutorials and mindsets – including hosting providers who refuse to update. Maybe we’ll finally see a push from small-time developers as well to use deployment tools, Docker, or VPS.”

Do you think frameworks like Laravel will help keep PHP as a major programming language?

“I think WordPress, Symfony and Laravel will keep PHP very relevant. The amount of resources and people who know the language and how easy it is to get started with will keep it popular for quite some time – I think.”

Ernieelex on PHP Help said:

“PHP 7 is faster and leaner.  It has nothing to do with [Node.JS].  They do not compare in my opinion.  Two different worlds…”

Maulikumrania at PHP Help forum expressed:

“CodeIgniter is ‘a fully baked PHP framework’. Zend Framework is made by Zend which is a huge contributor to PHP.

“Symfony is a ‘PHP framework for web projects’. Yii is a ‘fast, secure, and professional PHP framework’.”

Paulsimmons at PHP Help said:

“The main change made compared to earlier versions is the speed.”

Michelangelo Van Dam,  a very well known personality in PHP community expressed:

“I’d love to help you out with this, but I’m not sure if I can give you a ‘brief’ answer to your questions.

“Let me break down your three questions into sections:

“What has 2016 in store for PHP and web development?

“2016 won’t be so much different from 2015, except the fact we have new, better versions of the tools we used in 2015 and before. Unless the uptake of IoT will actually happen, I don’t expect 2016 will bring us really exciting changes.

“How well will PHP 7 be adopted?

“It’s hard to say. You know 82% of all websites run PHP (Source: W3Techs.com). Unfortunately, not all are running the latest version of PHP. This little schema will give you a bit more insight into the adoption of PHP.

php-version-stats
“As you can see, the majority runs PHP 5 but we can even break that down onto versions in more detail.

Percentages of websites using various subversions of PHP 5

“So, you see that even for PHP 5, the adoption rate is still not following the latest version. Worse is that PHP 5.3 is no longer supported since almost the last 3 years, according to the PHP Supported Versions but still the most popular version of PHP at this moment.

“To answer your question how PHP 7 will be adopted, I believe history will be our guide for the future. So my prediction for the adoption of PHP 7 in the upcoming years will be: Yes, you will have many early adaptors in the early weeks, but it all depends on how fast the major hosting companies offer hosting services based on PHP 7. These services are not just limited to hosting of PHP applications, but also in advising customers when they are facing problems with their applications. I also guess it’s adoption will be heavily based on how frameworks and other PHP tools (Symfony, Zend framework, WordPress, Magento, etc.). As I see it now, we’re seeing now already that the major frameworks are already PHP 7 ready. So I’m positive about the future.”

What does PHP mean for CMS and frameworks?

“Any kind of application can be built with any sort of technology. The fact that most known systems are built on PHP and that PHP powers 81% of all internet websites says it all.

“PHP is the magic language built for the web and when I see technology companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Google finding it hard to keep ignoring PHP it only confirms that it is a great language.”

Cal Evans, the Technical Manager at Zend and a popular participant of the PHP community shared his thoughts too:

“I think that the major trend advances in PHP over the next year will be in asynchronous processing. Projects, like React and Icecicle, have started the ball rolling. I think we will see this functionality added into the core in 2016/2017.

“I think that frameworks will become increasingly irrelevant to advanced PHP developers. The move towards standards based decoupled packages will pick up steam as more and more packages begin to implement PSRs.”

Nikita Pchelintsev, CTO of X-cart, a very popular Ecommerce software replied:

“I think that 2016 will be a year of the new PHP 7. And, while changes are more in the inner workings of the engine itself, these are quite fascinating. Benchmarks show performance gain up to twice on a real world applications. I’m sure this will strengthen the community of some of the best performing dynamic language on the market.

“While being the first major upgrade for more than 10 years, the actual upgrade is quite a breeze. There are already a plenty of CMS and frameworks, which adopted the new version of PHP. We, at X-Cart, will surely won’t stay apart. 🙂

“On the frameworks side, I think Laravel will continue its journey on the path to the most well-suited PHP framework for small (and even small-to-mid-sized) internet projects.

“Though I’m not betting too much on it, I hope the asynchronous PHP will gain the new maturity level in 2016. Asynchrony continues to remain almost an exclusive prerogative of a NodeJS when it comes to web development. Will PHP world be able to step in – will see in the next year.

“Happy New PHP!”

 CEO of X-Cart Maxim vyrdin says:

“In my opinion, the major trend for 2016 is switching to PHP 7 and releases of new framework versions based on the features that were added in PHP 5.5 / 5.6 / 7. Also, I believe people will be looking forward to further development of PHP. The RFCs contain some very interesting proposals regarding further modernization of the syntax (like https://wiki.php.net/rfc/generics and https://wiki.php.net/rfc/short_closures). If this trend keeps up, PHP not only will become significantly faster than Ruby and faster than Python, but it will also have the same “syntactic sugar”, if not better. This may cause many developers to switch back to PHP from Ruby, especially after the release of PHP 7.1-7.2, in which many of the current RFCs are expected to be implemented.”

The above statements are just opinions of PHP developers from around the globe.

In concluding the above statements, I can say that 2016 seems to be an exciting year for PHP and its associated CMS’s and frameworks. Experts in the PHP community are of the view that the rise of Node.Js is a threat for PHP as they believe that PHP itself has a large community of experts containing a bigger market share. However, with that said, it only remains to be seen how PHP is going to prevail in the coming year.

 

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About Ahmed Khan

Ahmed was a PHP community expert at Cloudways – A Managed PHP Hosting Cloud Platform. He is a software engineer with extensive knowledge in PHP and SEO. He loves watching Game of Thrones is his free time. Follow Ahmed on Twitter to stay updated with his works. You can email him at ahmed.khan@cloudways.com

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  • Husain Ahmmed

    Nice post

  • Adam Englander

    Atif, thanks for the mention. One quick note. I am the Director of Engineering at LaunchKey not the CTO. I did double check to make sure I wan’t promoted. 😉

    • Saad Durrani

      Sorry about that, Adam. We have corrected this mistake. Please visit us again. 🙂

  • Great sum up of influential people in the community and their future projections! What really got me interested was Zend Expressive, I had missed it completely and it seems like a great framework. I wrote a blog post recently on choosing a PHP micro framework, I will update that to include Zend Expressive.

  • I actually see Node.JS (Node) losing some ground in 2016. Node’s popularity is waning a bit, I’d say, because of the rapid evolution of JS. JS is a bit of a paradox currently. It is growing up very fast, especially with the new ES versions and this is causing a bit of a turmoil. The paradox is found among the devs of course. They want the shiny new stuff for sure, but also hate having to recode things so they work with the shiny new stuff. They also don’t want to change too much either, because of the shiny new stuff. Typically human. Yet, these things within JS that make up the shiny new stuff are a lot of neat improvements to the language. One could say, they are necessary for a much more homogeneous programming base. Yes, a pretty decent paradox going on there….

    PHP doesn’t have these “growing pains” or the paradox, at least not at that level, and the PHP internals team do their best to avoid it. PHP isn’t perfect either. I’d agree to that any day.

    That being said, PHP does have a lot of things going for it.

    It is relatively easy to learn, mainly because it does so much in terms of web application development for the developer up front.

    The OOP paradigm is now completely “built in” and throughout the PHP ecosystem.

    PHP has probably the best manual for any programming language out there.

    One might argue about the plethora of Frameworks out there being something negative. However, I’d say this development of the past few years means PHP is already past the mega-framework point in evolution in a language and going to the next logical step. “Modularization and interoperability”. When that happens, holy friggin cow people. There will be no stopping PHP then.

    Testing is now a no brainer for over 60% of the PHP community (did a poll on this on G+ among 45K PHP enthusiasts) and I’d say, in geneneral, this professional attitude is growing more and more! (thank the heavens for that, right!?)

    And PHP still runs over 80% of the Internet! Let’s not forget that amazing number.

    Yes, PHP is coming out from under its “bastard programming language” rock in 2016 and beyond. Devs of other languages will stop rolling their eyes, when someone says, “I’m a PHP developer.” Those days are over! In fact, I am very proud to say it now.

    I AM A PHP DEVELOPER! 🙂

    Scott