Lorna Mitchell is a PHP specialist and web consultant at Lorna Jane. She has performed in different PHP conferences as a speaker including PHPTek. She is also an author of many books including PHP Web Services. In her interview with Cloudways, she talks about PHP7, API’s and her upcoming book. She has also given wonderful advice to students. Enjoy the interview 🙂
Cloudways: Lorna, when did you start your career as a PHP developer? Who motivates you and from whom were you inspired?
Mitchell: I’d been developing in other languages, doing games and some DBA stuff, but with PHP as a hobby. I started doing it as a career when I moved cities and needed a new job, and realised my PHP skills were good enough. I’m inspired by open source, by people doing good work and sharing their ideas.
Cloudways: How would you compare PHP7 with other web development languages like NodeJS, Ruby on Rails and others in terms of speed and performance?
Mitchell: I’m not sure how easy it is to do a direct comparison, I like NodeJS but I tend to use it for different use cases than the way I use PHP. I can say for certain that PHP 7 performs at least as well as anything else around – and I don’t think any language has ever done such a great job of blistering performance improvements with very little Backwards Compatibility. This shouldn’t be a surprise to me, I know this community well, but still I’m blown away.
Cloudways: What are the features you like in PHP7 and what new features would you like to see in it in the future?
Mitchell: For me, PHP 7 has just one killer feature: the speed. PHP remains a wonderful, low-barrier-of-entry, very inclusive language that runs on all platforms and works for more or less anyone to get done what they need to get done. There are some interesting new features in the pipeline but at 20 years old, it’s a pretty complete language at this point.
Cloudways: Since you are specialist in creating API’s, which is your most preferred core PHP or some other PHP framework to create API?
Mitchell: It depends what the use case is. For an API that we know will not be complex but will be under load, I’ll always write that in POP (Plain Old PHP) because I haven’t got time to go around bootstrapping frameworks. I’ll add in some libraries but for the most part I try to keep it really really light if we’re under load. However if it’s complex and it’s going to be maintained by an existing development team, I’ll usually try to build in whatever toolchain they are familiar with. APIs are not so special that you need totally separate tools.
Cloudways: What was your first Project in PHP and what difficulties did you face in creating them?
Mitchell: I created some websites at university but that was a long time ago. I think I had the same problems all newbies have, forgetting to filter input, forgetting to save/upload my files … you know how that goes.
Cloudways: Ligaya told us that you and her were both selected to speak at the PHPTek conference. At the time, what were your feelings, when you were speaking for the very first time at that conference? What are your favorite topics that you love to speak about at conferences?
Mitchell: I was super nervous because I was a new speaker and not an experienced traveller – and this was my first time speaking in the US. I think had to give about three talks that week as well! These days I still speak at conferences and I’m still pretty nervous, so some things don’t change. My favourite topics are specific technical tools such as git or APIs, or more technical leadership topics such as how to conduct a code review.
Cloudways: Your books, PHP web services and Git both perform well in the market. Are you planning on publish another book related to PHP?
Mitchell: I’ve only just finished the second edition of PHP Web Services so I don’t know what my next book will be yet, I like to take a break and spend some time writing for the blog again before I take on another big project.
Cloudways: What advice would you like to give to the students who are thinking of starting their career as a developer? Which language would you recommend them to learn?
Mitchell: Language really doesn’t matter, because they change all the time anyway. You’ll be learning at least one new programming language every 5 years throughout your working life. My advice to people looking to improve their career is to keep reading – and perhaps more importantly, to try writing as well. Being able to explain something to someone else needs you to have really solid skills and I think that’s made a really big difference to my own career.
Cloudways: What affect will we see on PHP when WordPress is fully converted onto NodeJS?
Mitchell: I’m not sure it will impact PHP to be honest.
Cloudways: What is your best experience as developer that you can share with us?
Mitchell: I’ve been doing this for a long time so there are too many to count 🙂 I love shipping software that solves someone’s problem, whether that’s a great open source tool or a solid API for one of my commercial clients. That lightbulb moment of “look! I made this!” never gets old.
Cloudways: Do you think it is a good option to run your Rest API’s on the cloud to make it run faster?
Mitchell: I’m not sure the cloud is always faster. My advice would be to look at the requirements for your specific API and make sure that it is designed to be stateless – this lets you horizontally scale whether your hosts are “real” computers or cloudy ones. I prefer the cloud for easy management and scalability more than for speed.
Cloudways: We at Cloudways are providing one click installation for PHP stack and different PHP frameworks. I would like you to check it yourself and share your opinion about the platform. What can we do further to improve the outlook and performance of the platform?
Mitchell: I’m sorry, I haven’t used the platform and I don’t have time to look at it at the moment. Very happy to hear you support PHP though.
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