Depending on who you talk to:
- PHP sucked yesterday, sucks now, and will still suck tomorrow.
- PHP is a whole lot better than it used to be, and who are we to argue with Facebook, WordPress, Slack, and Tumblr?
For the record, we believe the nearly 30-year-old PHP is a great choice for creating top-notch websites and applications. So, while many naysayers have predicted its demise over the decades, our view is PHP is here to stay—and its future as an innovative programming language appears secure.
That said, there are definitely times you shouldn’t use a PHP development company, which we’ll talk about further down.
What is a PHP Development Company?
Originally an acronym for Personal Homepage, PHP now stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. Today, you can find it on millions of websites, making it one of the most in-demand server-side scripting languages developers use.
Like its closest competitor, Python, PHP is an interpreted, object-oriented programming language that can run on practically any underlying operating system. Among the first server-side languages that could be embedded into HTML, developers appreciate how easy PHP makes it to add web page functionality without having to call external files for data.
The Great PHP Debate: Yay or Nay?
Do a little Googling, and you’ll find plenty of people arguing that PHP is dying or dead. And they have plenty of reasons to support their POV:
- PHP unnecessarily complicates the development process.
- The only reason major players still use PHP is that it was at its peak when their sites and apps were built.
- New-generation programmers aren’t picking PHP as a language to master.
- PHP is insecure and exploits are readily found in its code.
And on and on it goes.
But here’s the thing. Personal opinions aside, the statistics show PHP is still a relevant language. It’s used by nearly 80% of all websites that use a server-side language, and over 60% of WordPress sites utilize it. Plus:
- It’s been around for a long time, which makes it easy to find PHP developers with years, if not decades, of experience.
- It’s open source. Who doesn’t love free, right? Anyone can download PHP to develop and build a website without having to pay to use it. And many popular PHP frameworks like Symfony and Laravel are built on top of PHP and also free to use.
- It’s highly supported. The hyper-collaborative PHP community has developed thousands of plugins and modules that provide distinct functionality and features.
- It’s versatile and quick. Developers can use PHP to create any type of website and solve just about any sort of problem. And because its libraries manage common tasks, there’s less code to write and less reinventing the wheel.
- It’s easy to learn. Developers love languages they can quickly master and that are well-documented. There are literally thousands of blogs, tutorials, books, and online courses on PHP, most of them freely available.
The bottom line? Wanting PHP to be dead and PHP actually being dead are two very, very, different things. The truth is PHP’s longevity is one of its greatest strengths. From its launch in 1994 as PHP version 1.0 to its latest release of PHP 8.2 in November 2022, the language has seen continuous improvement in its performance and stability.
When Not to Use PHP Development
In keeping with our well-earned reputation as an unbiased software development company, we’re happy to share a few reasons for not using PHP for your project.
- The primary issue is that developers today prefer to write less custom code and lean on the tested frameworks to accomplish tasks. Because PHP is an older language, developers can write a lot of code to make some functions work. For instance, if we need to use message queues such as RabbitMQ, we would spend quite a bit more time making the PHP code bulletproof compared to Node.js.
- In some cases, PHP can take a lot of time to code, which will increase the estimated time when compared to Nest JS, Java spring boot, Express JS, or other frameworks. These come with a larger library of built-in widgets and packages that require less coding from developers.
- PHP also lacks some of the newer tools for debugging which are crucial to identify errors and warnings.
- PHP traditionally is used with relational databases such as MariaDB, PostgreSQL, and MySQL. While you can use NoSQL databases with PHP, these options aren’t as popular, so the support and packages aren’t available which is more time-consuming.
Hiring a PHP Development Company vs. Freelance vs. In-house
The second biggest debate about PHP is whether a dedicated PHP development company or a freelancer can offer better PHP development services. Like most things software-related, you’ll need to consider multiple factors when deciding between the two. But here’s why we think working with a PHP development company instead of a freelancer is just about always a good idea.
- Expertise. A PHP development company typically has in-house web designers, developers, and an SEO team that can provide you with a full range of services. Most freelancers do not.
- Versatility. Most established PHP development companies have worked for multiple clients with different requirements. You might have to search far and wide for a freelancer who has worked on a project similar to yours.
- Reliable support. A development company with years of PHP experience offers support services, including post-launch. The last thing you want is a freelancer not taking your calls when a problem arises.
- Transparency in services. Freelancers don’t always offer the same level of workflow structure or communication as a development company does. For instance, you’re much more likely to get real-time updates and timely solutions with a development company than you are with a freelancer who lacks an internal support staff.
Of course, you could hire an in-house PHP developer, an option that comes with undeniable benefits—like they know your company inside and out and sit next to you as your project’s developed. For many businesses, though, this is a non-starter, as the associated costs of finding, onboarding, and paying a salary and benefits to a full-time engineer are prohibitive. By hiring per project, you can reduce costs and engage developers only when there’s a need.
All that said, if working with a freelancer instead of a PHP development company is what works for you, we support it 100 percent!
The Future Looks Bright for PHP
Developers who insist PHP is a stodgy relic of the past may never be persuaded otherwise. But with concerns about performance, security, and scalability addressed with each new release of PHP, it’s hard to see the programming language falling out of development teams’ tech stacks anytime soon.
Ultimately, the language you choose for your project depends on what you’re trying to build and what features you want to prioritize. It can be a complicated decision. But if you’re looking to build a dynamic website or application within a certain budget, PHP is still relevant and useful for front and back-end development. Whatever programming language you decide on, Zibtek’s network of developers have skills in all stacks, ensuring your project comes through on-time, on-budget, and with all bases covered. We would love to learn more about the product you are building. Schedule a meeting with us today to connect.