It struck me at Kiwi Foo that PHP’s place in the world has changed. Ten years ago, it was a niche tool for solving a particular problem, the Web problem. Using it felt like an adventure, clients had to be talked into it, documentation was patchy, you might not know in advance if something was possible.
Today, a great many things are being approached as a subset of the Web problem, and PHP is everywhere. Using it is the safe, easy choice. You are almost certainly not going to be the first person to try to implement some weird functionality. You are almost certainly not going to be the company to test its ability to run large sites. You will know what you intend to do is possible before you start. PHP is on the slow downhill slope to that dusty, tweedy place where boring old programming languages go to be tended to by boring old programmers.
It will not be long before you are driving past an old people’s home near you and see a sign reading “Bingo Mondays, PHP Classes Tuesdays, Lawn Bowls Wednesdays”
The dilemma really, is where would I go?
Clearly I could not switch to Java. Now don’t get me wrong, Java is a fine language for some things, it is just that the main thing it is good for is keeping an army of people who don’t really enjoy programming but enjoy earning a decent living productively occupied and off the streets. It is not ideally suited for the Web, and it is not something I would use for fun.
Ruby is nice in many ways, and although Rails is not as nice, Ruby’s main problem is the user community. I don’t remember the PHP community when it was the same size being infected with the same degree of religious zeal and rampant fanboyism. Trying to advocate a particular piece of technology and clinging to a blind refusal to admit that your technology of choice has any flaws at all is not convincing.
Python syntax annoys me.
Perl has already descended further down the dust, dentures and bingo slope than PHP.
Some things though have not changed over the years. PHP may have its wrinkles, but it is still a great tool for pragmatic people to get a job done quickly and efficiently. That of course is the reason that I will be using PHP tomorrow, and presumably for a while longer too.