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Is Php Dead Now or is it Still Alive?

Once a giant segment of the web development industry was dominated by php. Sites like Facebook and Wikipedia are built on php. But php has recently been losing out on popularity owing to the arrival of newer programming languages such as python, ruby, lua, etc.

In this article we’ll discuss whether or not php is dead and if it’s still alive, then what is its future. To start with, php doesn’t seem to be dead. At the time of writing this article, nearly 75% of the web is powered by php. Most popular content management systems such as Wordpress, Magento, Drupal, etc are built on php. Php frameworks such as Zend, Symfony, CodeIgniter, etc are highly sought after.

The chief reasons php is still relevant are

Sites built on php

As we’ve stated previously, a significant percentage of websites are already built on php. Those sites were built during the heyday of php. Many of them are still functional and they need to be updated on a frequent basis. Those sites could be updated by using php scripts.

It’s fairly simple to update a php site and updates are quite fast too. Since php is a server scripting language, the updates will be done from the server side, not from the client side. It’s safer and besides that, the updates won’t be influenced by any browser setting. The server may become a bit overloaded but that totally depends upon its performance.

For example if the site moderator wants to update multiple pages on the site using php, then he needs to create a simple text document and then save it in a folder in cPanel that is accessible from the whole website. The file needs to be saved with .html extension. If the file name is “Myfile”, then he needs to write the following code;

<!-- Begin Myfile -->

<span style='color:select color;'>Myfile</span>

<!-- End Myfile -->

After that, he needs to add this code to each page;

<?php require("/folder name/Myfile.html"); ?>

It’s really that simple to make modifications on php sites.

Php libraries

There are php libraries galore to handle the functionality of shopping carts, blogging pages and CMSs. Those libraries are keeping php alive. They make object-oriented programming easy by providing a standard library of interfaces to developers. The inclusive the library, the easier is the task of the developer.

The most popular php libraries are CodeIgniter, Zend, Symfony, etc. There are plenty of other libraries to perform the following tasks;

  • Handling error and debug php codes.
  • Offering simple and user-friendly API.
  • Quick and hassle free integration.
  • Support for multiple caching methods.
  • Ready-to-use functions for working with web services.
  • Error display with syntax highlighting.

Php libraries are extensively used by developers. As they are high in demand, new libraries are being developed everyday that integrate seamlessly into any php environment.

Ample documentation

A programming language that has extensive documentation backing it, is sure to be every developer’s choice. Such is php. There are many php documentations available on the web along with document generators. Popular content management platforms such as Wordpress make use of customized documentation schema.

Normally the documented elements are

  • Classes and their properties.
  • Requires and includes.
  • File headers.
  • Hooks (actions and filters).
  • Functions and class methods.
  • Inline comments.

There’s no official standard for php documentation. Developers normally follow the coding guidelines of the Zend framework because Zend was responsible for the creation of php.

Experienced php experts

Php experts are too many in number and they are ready to offer support or maintenance related help. This particular aspect of php allows users and site admins to get help quickly whenever they come across any technical glitch.

The reason php experts are always readily available is php is very easy to learn. Even absolute beginners can learn it in just 6-8 months. Other programming languages are as effective as php, but they are comparatively more difficult to learn.

The above discussion points out php is clearly not dead. However, there are many challenges that php is facing. One of those challenges is there’s no way to write codes in php which would initialize only once. Due to this, every time a web request is made, the whole script reinitializes and runs from scratch. This increases the number of overhead for every request.

Another challenge comes from hackers. Php is held responsible for a number of SQL injection database dumps which make hacking easier.

The future of php depends on successfully overcoming these challenges. Php undoubtedly has many benefits such as its object-oriented approach, script support from most servers, etc; but unless developers come up with ways to bridle the challenges, php will most likely continue to be hated by developers.

Image Courtesy:

Adam Frankel

Adam Frankel is President and CEO of Frankel Interactive, a leading South Florida digital agency specializing in custom websites development, ecommerce development and digital marketing. For over 15 years he's been working with businesses and government agencies to bring their organizations online in order to build brand awareness, communicate with stakeholders, generate leads and drive sales. His belief is that all businesses need to keep up with technological trends including the continual transition from desktop to mobile, search engine algorithms changes, and social media engagement. His goal is to help them implement strategies to successfully compete in an ever crowding digital marketplace. When he isn't touting the benefits of web-based marketing, he enjoys fishing and spending time on the waters surrounding Miami with family and friends.

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