I beat PHP and so can you!


3 min read
development
php

By request from Bill Martin, an abridged history of my relationship with the bastard child of programming languages, PHP.

Ahh PHP. I love it. I hate it.

For well over a decade, I slung PHP day and night. I got into PHP at the tail end of version 3. Prior to that, I was working with Perl (cgi-bin, much?) and ASP (pre-.NET).

Why PHP? Pretty simple, really. Perl just wasn’t my cup of tea and anything was better than some closed sourced Microsoft nonsense.

PHP was my hammer, my screwdriver and my saw. Sometimes it was even the nails, too! There wasn’t much I couldn’t do with PHP.

That’s not to say that I have never dabbled with other languages. I try to pick the right tool for the job. Often times that was PHP but other times it was Python or Ruby.

During that time, I had written and released some moderately successful PHP packages and even built my own PHP framework called PICKLES. The original concepts for the framework predate Wordpress.

Yes, there was a time before Wordpress.

PHP was the language that not only helped me pay the bills, but was also my language of choice for my side projects.

My ability to build sites in PHP that generate revenue is why I still defend PHP or any language for that matter.

It doesn’t matter what language you use as long as you have users and/or it makes money.

So if PHP has done me so well, why do I say that I beat PHP?

Because I did beat it. After 15 years of being a PHP developer by trade, I pursued my dream job at Sumo, a predominantly Node.js shop.

I actually didn’t have a ton of Node.js experience at the time. I had built a chat system in it when Node.js was only a few years old and a static site affiliate thing with Justin the year prior to taking the opportunity.

Too my earlier point, both of those endeavors had users and made money ;)

So just over 2 years ago, I got out of my comfort zone and started to sling Node.js full time.

No regrets.

It was something I had seen my buddies Daver and Dean do over the years. They both jump languages every few years and I always thought that they were missing out on becoming experts with any particular language.

Thing is, it has nothing to do with the language, it has everything to do with the programmer and their ability to pick up on the syntax. An expert programmer tends to transcend the language itself.

So here we are, two years deep into Node.js and I’m feeling fairly proficient.

I still run a couple of sites that are built on PHP. No benefit to rewriting them for the sake of it.

More than likely, I’ll always have a PHP site or two laying around. New stuff will probably be in Node.js until I finally get swayed over to Golang or something even more hipster and/or esoteric.

Would I change anything about sticking with PHP so long?

Absolutely not. My time doing PHP was less about the PHP and more about the people I had met and worked with and the companies that I helped build and to succeed.

For me, that’s the stuff that matters.

Just so it’s not false advertising, I did mention that you can beat PHP too.

Well you can, just need to be confident in your development abilities, not your PHP ones. In fact, I’ve found it’s better to make light of the fact that you do PHP. Some folks will look down upon it and a little bit of self-depricating humor is good medicine ;)

And if you’re in the market and looking for a change, we’re hiring for a number of roles, not just in development!