PHP is the Future

Catchy title, eh? I have to admit, I used a bit of an inflammatory title to pull you into the rest of the post, but I think you’ll like what I have to say. The title is true, but probably not in the way you think. No, PHP is not going to be the language that comes out on top, not the “one language to rule them all” sort of thing. Instead, I’m proposing that PHP, the flexible and powerful language that it is, has a very large roll to fill in the future of the web.

There’s lots of little things that the language has done along its life to help make the world wide web a better place to live. Most importantly it’s given the world an Open Source alternative to some of the other closed languages that some of the major companies of the world offer (okay, so I’m pretty transparent). PHP packs a lot of power in a little package, and the general developer community has definitely taken notice. This plucky little language that started as a handy tool for Rasmus to keep track of things in his personal pages has evolved into something that major companies around the world are implementing into their core software. Hear that? *Core* software. PHP isn’t some fly-by-night language that’s the latest fad being passed around like so many YouTube videos. PHP is strong, its powerful and it is most definitely here to stay.

But I digress…let’s get back to the point that the title of this post was trying to make. PHP is the future. No really, it is – trust me on this. Of course, there’s a difference between being the only path to the future and one of many means to getting there, but we’ll toss that aside for now. We want to focus on PHP and what it can do to make all three Ws in the WWW a better place to develop.

So, lets talk a little bit about what PHP has to offer to the world at large.

From its humblest of beginnings, one of the core values of the PHP project has been to provide the most power in the best code possible. Sure, it has its quirks and it can be a little rough around the edges, but line of code for code, PHP packs some serious features into a neat little package. There’s even the extension system that makes it super easy to add in new bits of functionality without even having to recompile the main engine. Oh, and did I mention it’s free? Open Source, well supported and very very popular among both the usual Open Source crowd and among other certain large entities (even those that might live in Redmond)

Every time I look the future of the web (linking services, making things seamless, integrating technologies), I can see PHP at every major crossroads. Its the flexibility of the language that does it. Sure, there’s still a bit of a niche that PHP fits into, but once you take a step out of that safe little shell, you really start to realize what the language has to offer and where it fits in the world. PHP has the potential for being the glue that binds the web together. There’ll always be other languages out there – to dismiss them would just be silly – but PHP, with its flexibility and power really has the feature set to help propel Open Source web development into the spotlight and shine for what it is.

The web needs a language that’s quick to adapt, easy to configure, comes in at a low cost and is popular enough to find good, talented developers for (yup, that’s a big point too). If you ask me, PHP fits all the above and more.

I believe that PHP can be the future of the web and be a key player in the web applications to come.



  1. “There’ll always be other languages out there – to dismiss them would just be silly – but PHP, with its flexibility and power…”

    Arrogance is not an effective way to gain new adherents, and ignorance just makes you look silly. Compared to most other languages PHP is neither flexible (with regards to what sort of tasks it can be used for) nor powerful (in terms of the expressiveness of the language).

    What it has become is one of those novelty Swiss Army knives with the 314 blades. You have multiple tools for every common tasks (say 5 ways to connect to a MySQL database), but every single one is a bit flawed, and there is no convention as to how to get the job done. How many different ways do you need to cut the string attaching your rickety tent to the ground?


  2. I totally agree with everything you write in this article!!! I am not leaving PHP for nothing, and I´ve tried all the alternatives, but they simply do not have the power or the features.


  3. @ Attallah
    – I concur with your sentiments – once you step outside the PHP world you realise how badly made, or rather how haphazard the language is. The point about the swiss army knife is very true, how many functions has PHP got, and can you even remember them, let alone the argument order…?

    However, this is another case of Betamax vs VHS – merit alone does not gain traction, popularity is the key. PHP has long been a default on most hosting environments, and is a great point of entry for “amateur” developers – that in itself is a double edged sword..

    Python is a much “cleaner” language, but lacks that “out of the box” functionality that is driving PHP forward. Sure, it’s better made, but is it easy to adopt?


  4. Attallah, you have done nothing but make absurd claims and exaggerations. There is one main data access layer which is PDO and that is 1 way to connect to a whole host of database platforms, not multiple ways to connect to one. Besides, the swiss army knife title should go to anything but PHP considering PHP is geared towards web development with its abundant web specific features.


  5. @Attallah This blog post is clearly an emotional opinion, and your response is too. Personally, I’m tired of the same old pros and cons arguments of PHP, especially the butthurt naysayers – its always the same and it has no effect on the popularity of PHP. the LAMP/WAMP stack is everywhere and that makes anything anyone says about it irrelevant – PHP is here for the immediate future. Btw, calling someone “arrogant” and “ignorant” is a bunch of shit. I wouldn’t even do that on an ASP blog. Hurray for your anonymity


  6. I’ve been working with PHP for several years, I’m a Zend Certified Engineer PHP 5.
    PHP is really cool, widely used. What makes it useful is more the community and the open source software it offers (ie. frameworks, cms, libs, etc.) rather than the language itself. Technically, PHP is not very good : not consistent, advanced features that other languages offer are not always bundled in. Anyway, it is fast enough to be used, even on big projects. A good point is that it is easy to learn, that’s why more and more people are learning it.


  7. “I believe that PHP can be the future of the web and be a key player in the web applications to come.”

    Speaking of the futur of the web I’d rather say that javascript (and all the stuff we do client side) is making the point.


  8. I have been using PHP since the PHP/FI days, I like it warts and all, but I really fail to see what the author’s point is in this article. Did the author just find out about PHP? What is the take away from this posting?


  9. I’ve been using PHP since the early 3.0 days – maybe not an absolute pioneer, but I’ve pulled more than a few arrows out of my back. 😛

    For years and years, I LOVED PHP. I liked that PHP 4 started giving a ‘taste’ of what an object-oriented PHP might be like, and PHP 5.0 to 5.2 were three good approximations of the end result. I even started writing a book on open-standard Web development, using PHP as the language that tied everything together.

    My fave TV show had one of its most popular episodes titled, approximately “Tie me up, tie me down,” and no, it had nothing overtly S&M about it. But by the time I saw it (we’re a couple of years behind the curve out here in Second World Singapore), that’s pretty much how I was starting to feel about the language. I’d done a few ASP-to-PHP conversions by then, and feel that that was definitely the correct direction…. but I’ve also done four Web projects in Python. Now, I hadn’t touched Python for the better part of ten years, since 2.0 was but a gleam in Guido’s eye. I was amazed, awestruck, dumbfounded. Sure, there were a few rough edges here and there, but not many, and not particularly difficult to deal with. But what really got to me was the way it encouraged me to think about design and code. THere’s an adjective, ‘Pythonic’, bandied about, and there’s absolutely no translation into the PHP scheme of things – because PHP lacks that overarching, unified way of looking at the world. It’s less moronically haphazard than Perl (shudder), but that’s about like saying that your elixir of choice is less toxic than plutonium: why set the bar so low? PHP 5 up to 5.2 was a valiant effort to try to actually THINK about the language and How Things Should Work™; if not for all the backward-compatible cruft, they might even have pulled it off.

    My impression of 5.3 thus far has been that, ok, they’ve cleaned out some of the truly toxic legacy bits, but they’ve gone back to ad-hoc hackery of new features. I haven’t yet met anybody outside a certain small Southwest Asian country that thinks the new implementation of namespaces is clean and logical; it’s not like they didn’t have numerous examples to draw upon. The code I’m already seeing in the wild, written both by people who ought to know better and people who can’t really be expected to, is showing that confused, here’s-a-feature-so-gotta-use-it mentality that overwhelmed PHP 4. I don’t see this getting better in 6.

    PHP is also unique among the scripting languages i’ve used that support multiple platforms by supporting each one differently. There are numerous features, faults and foibles that are specific to Linux, or to Windows, or to Mac OS X, and support issues are pretty clearly worked on in that order. When I work in Python or Ruby (*not* Rails, thank you very much), I don’t find myself writing nearly the platform-specific frippery that is the *norm* in PHP. I also don’t have a problem with the most commonly-used unit test framework for the language not being usable on my Mac because it relies on features only supported in newer releases than what I have, and getting a new release up and happy in OS X is now more difficult than on CP/M 2000 (aka Windows). Updating Python – even working with three or four different VERSIONS of Python – is a no-brainer in comparison.

    Yes, I’m talking about ease-of-use; I’m talking about not wanting to spend weeks(!) flailing around trying to make something work; tools are supposed to make my job easier, and the ones that don’t, simply don’t get used very much. PHP is in grave danger of finding itself with pride of place on that list.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s