25 years of PHP: That's what the experts say about the perspective of the programming language

Alex Alex 30 October 2019
25 years of PHP: That's what the experts say about the perspective of the programming language

In 1995, the programming language PHP was developed by Rasmus Lerdorf. In the coming year 2020, PHP will be 25 years old. We asked the five PHP experts Marcel Normann, Sebastian Bergmann, Arne Blankerts, Ralf Eggert and Sebastian Feldmann, which role PHP still plays for them today. Above all, we wanted to know what future they see for and with the programming language.

The programming language PHP was published in 1995 and thus celebrates 2020 a quarter of a century. On this occasion, we asked five PHP experts and speakers at the International PHP Conference 2019 what role PHP still plays for them today. If you believe numerous statistics, PHP is on the decline - but our experts disagree.

The first part of our expert check is about the programming language PHP and its 25th birthday in the coming year 2020. We will explore the question of what role PHP still plays today for our experts. We also want to know what perspective they see for the programming language.  

25 years of PHP: The state of affairs

Developer: The PHP programming language will be 25 years old in 2020. When did you first come into contact with PHP and what role does it play today for you?

Marcel Normann: I was one of the last newcomers to the DotCom bubble at the end of the 90s. In 2000, I finally wanted to send forms by e-mail without accessing an external CGI mailer. Back then classic ASP and the fresh PHP4 came into consideration. It became PHP because ASP was a lot more expensive with the hosters, and I thought it would be more effective to write 500 times a day echoinstead Response.Write.

In the meantime I deal more with PHP at the strategic level. It's an important player on the web, but it's not the only one anymore.

Ralf Eggert: It must have been so in 1998, when I became aware of a mailing list by a certain Björn Schotte on PHP. At the time, I started bumming around with Perl, but that did not feel good. PHP just felt good from the beginning. Since then I have implemented many projects with PHP and built a small agency with meanwhile six permanent employees. In addition, I even develop Alexa Skills with PHP.

Sebastian Bergmann: My first contact with PHP was in the summer of 1998. Since then I have been programming almost exclusively in PHP. From time to time I program in C to fix small bugs in PHP or to add small features. PHP plays an important role for me because as a maintainer of PHPUnit, I am responsible for the tool that most professional PHP developers use to test their software. On the other hand, I work as a consultant and trainer, helping PHP teams develop better software with PHP.

Arne Blankerts: My entry was actually a change: I developed websites in the early days of the internet and needed more than just HTML for "dynamic" parts. However, since Server Side Includes and Object Pascal were not really a viable basis for such a thing with a simultaneous desire for meaningful perofrmance, I came to PHP fairly quickly. The first months still with PHP 3, the PHP 2000 released at the beginning of 2000 almost completely absorbed me.

Today, PHP is probably not just an integral part of my professional environment. As part of, a not-so-unknown PHP consulting firm in the community, I share my experience with many teams. In addition, I am fortunate that many conferences invite me to lectures and workshops around PHP.

In this respect, PHP has a fairly high status, which I also try to emphasize with one or the other open source development.

Sebastian Feldmann: The first time I came into contact with PHP at the end of 1999. So really with PHP3. I think the first thing I did with PHP was a guestbook. Today, PHP is still the programming language I program the most.

The possible future of PHP

Developer: Often you have counted the days for PHP. Which perspective do you see for and with the programming language?

Marcel Normann: That's what I've known since PHP. Meanwhile, there are actually valid arguments against PHP, but they are not as technical as they used to be. I'm still cautiously optimistic about the future of PHP: you should not underestimate the power of renewal of such a common language

- and certainly not the persistence of its persistent community.

Ralf Eggert: I can count the many candidates who have been working as PHP killers in the last 20 years on one hand.

PHP continues to have a bright and interesting future ahead of it.

In the broad field of web development, PHP still has the edge. In the statistics of W3Techs , the percentage for PHP is 79 percent. Candidates like Ruby or Node.js have hardly achieved any significant relevance.

I think that PHP continues to have a good and interesting future ahead of it.

Sebastian Bergmann: Honestly: which programming language has not been counted yet? Seriously, though, I'm not worried about PHP.

Arne Blankerts: PHP is a programming language with a stable market share for many years and is still clearly dominant in the web environment. So why I have to constantly speculate about the approaching end of PHP, I'll probably never understand. Even if no new projects were implemented with PHP from one day to the next, if banks and insurance companies are a benchmark with their Cobol installations, PHP would still be in productive use for decades and would probably be actively maintained.

Otherwise, I would like to refer here to my comments in the last interview with me, which are just as relevant for me today as a year ago.

Sebastian Feldmann: For me, this talk about the end of PHP has never really been relevant. Then as now, PHP is a technology to solve problems. Especially in the last few years, PHP has developed very much. Version 7 was a huge leap for the language. Although you can complain about inconsistencies and legacies in the language PHP is and remains a language in which you can solve problems easily and quickly and that is exactly our job as a software developer.

Developer: Thank you for these exciting insights!

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