If we speak about programming and the word “PHP” comes out in this dialogue, many developers will demonstrate either indifference or open hate towards this programming language. While some tech takes don’t like PHP due to some of its functional things, others just hate it because of common prejudice.
Although many people will eagerly say mean things about PHP, it still remains one of the most popular programming languages. According to the statistics provided by W3Tech PHP is used by 79% of websites whose server-side programming language is known. So speaking in more clear numbers almost 8 out of 10 websites built using PHP we use on a daily basis. Not so bad for a language that everyone tends to hate. So maybe PHP is not worthy of hate at all? Even now in 2020 it is listed among top 5 programming languages standing next to Python, Java, JS and C#.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into this topic and discover what PHP is about, what peculiarities it has and why actually so many developers claim that they hate it.
What is PHP about?
Abbreviation PHP means PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor and this language was initially created to build personal web pages. Before PHP appeared programmers used C, Perl and CGI-scripts to create well-functioning websites. As complicated as it sounds that method needed some changes and so PHP appeared. The main purpose of PHP usage was generation of HTML code what made it quite popular due to the easy development. And this simplicity is particularly why so many developers tend to hate PHP.
But what exactly is PHP good for? There are a lot of things you can do using it because it supports applying of functions, mathematical computations, working with variables, object creation, and addition of “if – then” conditions. This possibilities are used mainly for:
- Sending forms;
- Working with databases;
- Creation of dynamic pages;
- Usage of sessions and cookies;
- Image creation;
- Uploading and processing of files.
Time was passing and of course PHP obtained more new features, however its defining ones stayed the same. And by these we mean:
- PHP is free, omnipresent and still supported by almost every hosting provider.
- It remains specialized on web development and even now it has no barriers for people who want to learn it.
- PHP is supported by the large developers community and they keep building web projects using it and contributing to its understanding.
Taking all of the above into account it is really hard to comprehend how a programming language that is so accessible and easy to learn can be hated by anyone. There definitely should be a range of serious reasons for that. But is it really? Let’s discover together.
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Why do some developers dislike PHP?
To answer this question, let’s get back to some historical aspect since it can shed some light on PHP functionality. If we take any other programming language like Ruby, Python or Java, they all became an inseparable part of web development thanks to their frameworks that appeared with time. Ruby on Rails, Django, Spring – they all are web-oriented frameworks widely used by developers all over the world.
And now let’s get back to PHP, because initially it was not a language, it was rather a set of tools created for personal purposes usage. PHP did not have all its features from the very beginning and they were added whenever the need for them appeared. This extraordinary origin of PHP explains some functional things that it has. And for some of them this language is being disliked. Wondering what exactly we are referring to?
Even the developers who have never worked with PHP have heard about its sloppy syntax, unpredictability and inconsistencies in function naming. While all other languages have a lot of restrictions when it comes to coding, PHP lacks them. And this leads to bad quality code. Errors are inevitable if a language offers so much freedom and variety of options.
For example, there are no strict rules regarding parameters order. The function names can be written by a developer in different conventions. Sometimes even the easiest operations will make you take a look at the documentation because you are not quite sure if you are doing them right. We must admit, it is pretty confusing when some functions use abbreviation words written together (like in C) and others need prefix and underscore. And what about mixed occurrences in the command set? You think you can use only Verb plus Noun when, in fact, Noun plus Verb will work as well. And these are just a few examples of what you may face.
Although PHP is easy to learn, only experienced developers can guarantee that your code will be clean and well functioning. So if you are planning to develop something using this particular language, but you are quite inexperienced in this, then you’d better delegate this task to the professionals. In such a way you will save you time and costs that can be spent on rewriting the bad code. People who work with PHP for ages can easily deal with all inconsistencies because they faced and fixed them numerous times.
#2 Security matters
PHP is known for being an open-source language which is exactly why the security concerns appeared. If someone discovers a code vulnerability, the others can access that information in no time. This means that before the issue gets fixed, the discovered vulnerability can be used by the skilled developers with malicious intents.
However, should we blame PHP for that? In fact, there are a lot of other open source technologies used worldwide and something of a kind can happen to any of them, not only to PHP.
Some also claim that because it is easy to write code in PHP, it can be too vulnerable to any side attacks like SQL injections or else. Yes, that is true but only in cases when your code is written by someone inexperienced or self-taught. There are many examples when people who do not work in IT sphere code just for fun or make programming their hobby. Of course their code is not perfect and its security is questionable. This is exactly why so many rumors and prejudices appeared around PHP. But if you let real professionals do the job, you will not even have to worry about your project. Don’t blame it all on PHP, just think about the vendors.
#3 Lack of contemporary libraries
It would be unfair to claim that PHP has not enough libraries because it offers a lot of them for various needs. If you Google “Best PHP libraries” you will see a lot of options allowing you to create a great web application.
Yes, unfortunately as of now PHP does not have any library that can support some modern technology trends and people who develop a basic app in the beginning, and plan to turn it into something groundbreaking sometime later, should use other programming languages like Python, C#, C++ or Java.
#4 PHP is everywhere
Some developers who are often involved in reviewing codes or fixing some issues in existing projects are not happy with PHP. As we’ve already mentioned in the beginning of his article, almost 80% of websites are powered by PHP. It is literally everywhere.
Wikipedia, Slack, Facebook, Etsy, Cloudflare and even Tesla – all these websites run in PHP. If such powerful and influential corporations choose PHP then we should not doubt its functionality and quality. Whether developers want it or not this programming language is with us for a long time. So if you can’t get away from something, you’d better learn how to work with it properly and make the most of every project you make. Such broad usage of PHP and active live community of developers allows to discover all issues quickly and eliminate them without stressing out.
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Reasons to use PHP
Even though we in our team also faced some PHP challenges, we can say for sure that it is a decent language that you should not disregard. It has a range of advantages that help to make top-notch web projects able to stand out on the digital market. Here are some reasons to use PHP that you might consider before making the final decision regarding your project:
- There are many available tech takes and clear documentation. You can always choose a team whose conditions and price will be acceptable for you. And in case you don’t like something in your project, you can go with another team which will fix all the issues. PHP is extremely popular and thanks to its popularity there are numerous forums where specialists share their coding life hacks and advice. So apart from quite clear documentation you can always get assistance from knowledgeable people.
- Huge choice of databases. The connectivity is impressive, because PHP allows you to work with almost any database you need. MySQL, MS-SQL, SQLite and other databases can be used by you. Although many developers tend to choose MySQL the selection is not limited to it.
- Faster development. The thing is that PHP is a cross-platform language and it can be used on Windows, macOS and Linux. Do you need to combine this language with another one? No problem, PHP is flexible enough to do so.
- Possibility of deployment on cloud services. Cloud-based solutions are extremely popular right now and with PHP you should not worry about the compatibility. It is supported by numerous cloud services including such a giant as AWS. So your solution can have more benefits than you might have initially wanted.
- Less expensive development. PHP is an open-source language and many tools that should be used with it during the development are free too. The hosting services are also not expensive. So if you are limited in budget, then PHP is always a good idea.
To sum it up
PHP still remains one of the most popular languages in the world and it is probably the most discussed one too. Many developers have those love-hate kind of relationships with PHP because it is a living paradox. How can a language so simple to comprehend and write on, be so inconsistent and confusing at the same time?
We can say that as any other programming language PHP has its pros and cons. And it’s not going anywhere in the near future. So it is not reasonable to hate PHP and look for minor disadvantages when actually you need to master it and make great use of all the benefits that it offers.
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