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Isra Skyler
Isra Skyler

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The Rebel Language That Rules the Web

So, picture this: I used to be that coder who raised an eyebrow at PHP. All those Silicon Valley tech enthusiasts and YouTube stars couldn't stop singing praises for the 'cooler' languages like Python and JavaScript. They made it sound like PHP was just a relic of the past. But then, I stepped into the real world of coding, working on projects for actual businesses, and guess what? The stats told a different story – PHP was everywhere, especially in the realm of small businesses. I was starting to work at Hybrid and everyday, the most work we had was on PHP.

Then I thought let’s be a rebel, just like PHP. When everyone says that PHP is dead, let's talk about why it is still hanging on. What you read was not a clickbait but a serious conversation pending for a long time. Let's spill all the beans on why that is so, even when the cool kids look the other way. Plus, I'll share my secret sauce for choosing the right language for your projects – it's all about facts, not fads. Brace yourself, it's bound to be an eye-opener! πŸ˜‰

What Makes PHP A Juggernaut?

In 2023, PHP commands a whopping 78% of websites globally. Yes, you read that right – nearly 4 out of 5 websites rely on PHP. And when it comes to content management systems, WordPress, built in PHP, reigns supreme with a staggering 60% market share.

But why does PHP persist? Well, its user-friendly nature is a big reason. For newcomers and small businesses entering the web game, PHP offers a gentle learning curve – no complex frameworks or dependencies needed. Just find a server that supports it, upload your PHP files, and you're good to go.

PHP also found its footing during the web's infancy, catering to startups hungry for rapid, cost-effective development. While other languages focused on the big league enterprise, PHP democratized web building for the underdogs.

Once entrenched, technology is hard to dislodge. Millions of PHP sites stand because migration would be colossal. With such a vast PHP ecosystem, it's a pragmatic choice for many.

Modern PHP (versions 5.6, 7.x, and 8.x) is no slouch. It's secure, scalable, and enterprise-ready. PHP 8, the latest iteration, packs even more punch for complex systems.

Sure, other languages have dazzled – Java, C#, Python, Ruby, JavaScript, Go – each with its niche. But PHP thrives in real-world scenarios, despite its elitist detractors.

Why Such Hate?

So, why does PHP bear the brunt of developer disdain, even as it powers a significant chunk of the web?

Much of the flak stems from PHP's humble beginnings as a beginner-friendly language. Born in the '90s, its simplicity aimed to welcome newcomers to web development. However, this led to it being labeled as an "amateur" or "toy" language, a favorite target for prestigious devs.

Compare PHP's accessibility to languages like Java, C#, and Python, designed for enterprise-level complexity. The latter seemed like the choice of the pros. PHP bashers used it as a badge of superiority – "I'd never touch PHP."

PHP's inconsistent syntax didn't help its case, with quirks that became fodder for ridicule.

Hipsters reveled in hating on PHP as overhyped and mainstream. It became the cool, rebellious stance among coders to scorn it.

But behind the scenes, PHP quietly evolved. Object-oriented features in PHP 5, the rise of frameworks like Laravel, performance boosts in PHP 7, and enterprise-ready PHP 8 painted a different picture.

Yet, first impressions linger. PHP's early reputation as unsophisticated stuck with purists, more focused on theory than real-world results.

In reality, no language is universally "better" or "worse." Each has its place. But developers can be opinionated. PHP's accessible roots made it an easy target for snobbery.

Then there is another factor, Boomers. All the boomers who are developers since ancient times or know a bit about development just only want PHP. Like our company provides PHP development Services in Seattle and the most of our clients who want us to work with them on Laravel or PHP are boomers. So this association also gives a hint that it is a relic of past.

What Language Should You Choose?

So when it comes to choosing languages for your own projects, how do you cut through the hype and technical elitism to make the best choice?

First, take a hard look at your specific goals, target audience, timeline, budget and business needs. Are you a small startup trying to build an MVP as quickly and cheaply as possible? Or an established enterprise with long term scalability concerns? Identify your constraints.

Then, examine the ecosystem surrounding each language. For example, while Ruby on Rails may be elegant, there's a smaller pool of developers skilled in it which could make hiring difficult. Meanwhile, Java has a massive ecosystem but also more ceremony around frameworks like Spring.

Look critically at the dependencies and tooling too. For instance, JavaScript's npm was notoriously fragile, causing "dependency hell" when packages broke. Languages with more oversight like C# avoid this issue.

Also consider hosting and deployment factors. PHP is easy to host anywhere. But deploying, say, a complex Dockerized microservices app requires more orchestration.

Legacy technology plays a role too. Rewriting an older PHP system into a trendy new stack may not be worth the resources. Enhancing it incrementally could be smarter.

And don't overlook language familiarity in your own team. Leveraging existing skills boosts productivity dramatically. A less popular language may have a steeper learning curve.

Beyond that, analyze usage statistics in your industry rather than broad hype. While Python may be very popular overall, is PHP or .NET more common for the types of applications you build? Let real-world data guide you.

Most importantly, don't let peer pressure sway you. Developers can become religious about their preferred languages for emotional rather than practical reasons. Make a rational choice based on evidence.

Every language brings distinct advantages that make it suitable for certain use cases. The "best" choice depends on context. For example, while I love Python's elegance, for web-based business apps I often turn to PHP or JavaScript for their ubiquity.

Every technology has downsides too. But used strategically, even imperfect tools can build something incredible. Focus on the business problem first, then choose the language that pragmatically makes the most sense.

Don't Believe the Hype - Examine the Evidence

So what are the key lessons we can learn from taking an honest look at PHP's ongoing prominence compared to the hype around trendier languages?

Focus on statistics, not opinions.

Programming language discourse online can get extremely inflammatory and tribal. But rather than getting sucked into the zealotry, stay objective. Look at hard data on usage and job demand to see the full picture. The numbers don't lie.

Evaluate tools in context.

No language is the unequivocal "best" or "worst" universally. Each has pros and cons that make it suitable for different purposes. Make choices based on your specific constraints and use cases, not abstraction.

Right tool for the job.

Given the same task, an artisan woodworker and a mechanical engineer would use very different tools. Similarly, different languages excel at certain jobs. Select what pragmatically makes the most sense.

Don't reinvent the wheel.

Before discarding legacy systems to jump on trends, consider incremental improvement. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Refactoring working code into new tech may not be worth it.

Beware the hype cycle.

Developers chase after the hot new thing constantly. But early-stage languages lack maturity and stability. Their pitfalls aren't yet known. Proven languages have already dealt with growth pains.

Stay flexible.

Languages come and go. Frameworks rise and fall. Sticking dogmatically to just one narrow skillset leaves you vulnerable. Maintain breadth across languages and embrace learning.
Watch for elitism. Some developers disparage certain languages irrationally to sound sophisticated. But use by beginners doesn't make a language inherently bad. Judge tools by their utility alone.

Focus on transferable skills.

While syntax differs, core concepts like logic and problem-solving translate across languages. Invest in honing those rather than fixating on one language.

At the end of the day, no one language or technology will ever dominate all use cases. As developers, we have an incredible array of tools at our fingertips, each with strengths suited for particular applications. Stay open-minded, focus on business value, and let real data guide your technology choices. The hype will fade, but good code endures. Peace! ✌


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