You Used PHP to Write That?! - Uh yeah.

I have gotten pretty good at staying out of language flame wars recently. Usually, when some wide eyed neophyte wipes a trickle of Kool-Aid from their chin and says “Ruby is sooooo much better than PHP”, I just say “uhuh”. I can’t be bothered opening a can of Terry Chay on them and I don’t really see the point. I can’t even usually be bothered saying “uhuh, that is why Twitter is the only A-list Web2.0 site built with Ruby and it is down all the time.”

Every now and again though, I just can’t help taking the bait.

You used PHP to write WHAT?! by Kenneth Hess on CIO.com grates. PHP programmers in general are pragmatic. It is not generally a language chosen by purists and zealots who latch onto one tool and claim it to be perfect in every way, and appropriate for every task. There are plenty of people with deep PHP knowledge who could have written an insightful article fitting into the CIO series’ theme that no one language is right for all applications.

Pap annoys me more when it appears in something claiming to be mainstream media than when it appears in some loser’s blog. Traditional media, while possibly doomed, does employ editors and generally attempts to check facts.

Well, sometimes they check facts. Ignoring the subjective parts that are merely the authors opinion, this article has so many simple factual inaccuracies that it is laughable. I assume the author does not have a great deal of experience with PHP.

Given he claims you can port an application from one database to another with minimal effort by running find and replace to swap mysql_query() with mssql_query() it seems likely that he has never written a non-trivial application in any language. So his major claim that PHP does not scale is presumably based on conversations he had with the fairies that live at the bottom of his garden.

Maybe it is just that Java fanboys push my buttons more than Ruby fanboys. Maybe it is just that damning with faint praise is more annoying than overt attacks. Barack Obama is “articulate“. Australia is “lovely” and reminds Bill Bryson of Iowa in 1958. PHP is good for “Creating an intranet site”. Come on!

Actually, it is might not not even be the factual inaccuracies and unsupported assertions that irritated me most. When I hear “enterprise” used as an adjective and not a punchline I involuntarily clench and it is there five times on one page.

Postscript: A couple of days later, Terry Chay could not resist opening a can of Terry Chay on them.

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