Tl;dr: it is not.
It was an important moment for me. I was turning 30. One of my best friends organized a lovely house party, and another DJ friend was playing nice music. Even my brother, who was living in Turkey, flew 3000 kilometers and caught the event at the last moment. There were some people that I knew but also some people I barely knew. One of these guys from the second category, who was working in a big IT company, asked me that famous question with a loud voice so I could hear him.
“So you're coding in PHP, is it not dead yet?”
He was sipping his cocktail and made that face with a big grin, which I see on most of the people who asked the same question to me. Yes, writing PHP is a part of my job, but as a software engineer (some call me a developer, but this is another discussion), it’s not the only thing I do. If there could be a chance for me to describe myself, instead of answering the “oh, which language are you working on for server-side programming?” question, I would love to talk about problems I solve, decisions I make, and the architectural reasons behind them.
But yes, I was (and still am) coding in PHP.
And there is a simple reason behind that. It is not just because PHP has the best tools for me, or because I love to write in PHP. But it is because someone else already made this decision ages before me. Yes, in today’s world, people at Booking.com are still writing in PERL, and that does not make them bad developers. The same argument is valid for developers who work for Facebook. Most of the successful companies around the world interview candidates without asking language-specific questions. They mostly focus on the algorithmic intelligence of their potential colleagues without being worried about their language backgrounds. That said, I don’t personally know anyone who only codes in PHP. Still, I am not sure if this is the perfect world that we are living in, but most of the developers I personally know are busy using different languages every day.
Then why is this question still coming up, as Jeffrey mentioned in his tweet here?
Jeffrey Way@jeffrey_wayIsn't it funny how no one ever asks if <insert *any* language that isn't PHP> is dead? And yet...
w3techs.com/technologies/o…15:44 PM - 07 May 2020
I see there are many sins for PHP developers here. However, I do not blame them for this entirely, either. The interesting thing about PHP comes from its nature. Most of the engineers out there did not see PHP as a purely functional language. Indeed, PHP implemented most features of functional programming, but the creators of PHP did not initially build it for this reason. The same thing applies to the argument that PHP is an object-oriented language. Even though the evolution of PHP supplied the required tools to us for good object-oriented design, again, that was not the language’s main goal.
PHP comes with the simplicity of releasing websites. That was the main goal of the language itself, which is mostly forgotten. In today’s world, PHP still runs 78% of the entire internet because of this simplicity.
I’m coming from the simplicity of the language to another simplicity, and that is managing content. Let’s face facts: Wordpress is still the de facto leader of the web. Most content creators use its weird admin interface every single day. Nine out of ten news websites in today’s world draw their strength from this CMS. Honestly, I don’t know how much Wordpress developers earn from their freelance work, but they still do a lot.
And the thing I know, the most important thing, is that content managers don’t know and don’t give a f*ck if the language behind their beautiful admin panel is PHP or not.
I’m coming back to the question and the smile on the face. I can imagine why these smart engineers blame PHP as the source of spaghetti code out there. And let’s get back to the fact that I’m coding in PHP; yes, I do. But believe me, I have no idea what is going on when I look at wp-blog-header.php. A lot has changed in the PHP world over the last ten years, and yes, not surprisingly, you can find elegant code in this world nowadays.
Either way, PHP and Wordpress rule the internet. Let’s respect that and continue to provide solutions to the problems we are dealing with.
Thanks to Jeffrey Way, the reason for this post.