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PHP: The Myths, The Maths & The Musts

Updated on  16th June

3 Min Read
Reading Time: 3 minutes

There’s a popular saying about programming languages from Bjarne Stroustrup, the creator of C++.

“There are only two kinds of languages: the ones people complain about and the ones nobody uses.”

I think the most targeted language in this regard is PHP. If I had a penny for every time someone bashed PHP, I would have been a millionaire by now. (Yup, that’s one more way of becoming a millionaire in silicon valley 🙂 ) The reality is that PHP may have a few drawbacks, but still it is the first language of choice for web development.

PHP is around now for a couple of decades and it has yet to face any real threat from any other web development language. In a field where people switch IDEs, frameworks and tools so frequently, this fact makes PHP really awesome.

The Myths

Myth 1: Luck

Most non PHP developers consider it as an accidental empire. However, the reality is much different. In all fairness, PHP has certain qualities which makes it a first choice for developers. Following are three truths that give PHP the position it has in the development world:

  • PHP has a very small learning curve.
  • PHP focuses on getting the job done.
  • PHP gives superb ease to framework developers which results in a variety of quality frameworks. Checkout the features in these Yii framework  and Laravel. Only a subset of these features are the USPs of many new languages.

Myth 2: Performance

PHP is slow as it parses the files each time a web request is handled. Script caching has been a part of PHP for many years. (Check PHP APC and PHP OPCache). PHP indeed runs a separate process for each request which makes it marginally slow, but this prevents memory leaks. This is a great benefit of PHP over Java and .Net based web apps.

Myth 3: Competition

New languages are constantly offering great new features and PHP is left behind. This is certainly not true. The last three versions of PHP—5.4, 5.5, and 5.6—are feature-rich which makes PHP even more robust now.

Closures, built-in development server, namespaces and many more exciting features are there. You name it and PHP has it. 🙂

The Maths

As they say numbers don’t lie and in the case of PHP, numbers are its most strong argument. Number of PHP developers, number of sites built using PHP, and number of open source projects based on PHP all indicate one thing: PHP remains to be awesome.

When it comes to server side, PHP still leads with no competition in side. Popular websites, like Facebook, QQ, Flipkart, and many more, trust PHP for its server side requirement. It is also worth noting that WordPress, the CMS which powers the 20% of websites, is built on PHP.

The Musts

Like everything in this world, there is a right way of doing things and there is a wrong way. Same is the case for PHP. Here are some must to-dos if you are using PHP for your web deployment:

  • Use frameworks instead of creating core PHP apps.
  • Always use the latest version of PHP.
  • Don’t be afraid to use experimental versions of PHP like PHP NG. They are as stable as any of the recently evolved web development language.
  • Keep updating your PHP knowledge, so that you can use latest PHP features effectively.

I think slinging mud at PHP is a childish thing. Every language has its ups and downs. However, PHP has shown that it is going strong even after 20 years. Do you agree with or not? Tell me your opinion on this in the comments sections given below.

Share your opinion in the comment section. COMMENT NOW

Najmus Saqib

Najmus Saqib is currently working as Senior Software Engineer at Cloudways. He specializes in PHP, Python, and Google App Engine.

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