Dries Buytaert: Staking our future on PHP

April 12, 2011


Recently Dries Buytaert – CTO of Aquia, head of the Drupal Development team, keeper of the gate for all Drupal patches, User 1 – penned a post for his blog entitled “Staking our future on PHP”. In it he starts off with these words.

I believe that the growth of PHP depends increasingly on applications like Drupal, Joomla!, WordPress, phpBB, Typo3, ezPublish and similar systems. Specifically, I believe that most organizations adopt PHP primarily because they want to use one of these popular applications which have PHP at their core. Fewer organizations adopt PHP because they want to build from scratch their own PHP applications. Hence, more than ever, the future of PHP depends on popular PHP applications that have emerged over recent years.

Dries spends the rest of the post talking about how Drupal depends on PHP as well. He ends the post by asking his readers “If you could contribute to PHP core, what would you change?”.

His post, along with other recent posts, have started a conversation. Each person takes away from the conversation what they want and more than a few have simply labeled the entire conversation as link bait. That’s ok, it happens when people start discussing controversial change. What is good is that the conversation is happening; even those post to decry the conversation are participating in it.

My call to action for you is to join in the conversation. Find a post that strikes a chord with you – good or bad – and leave a comment. Better yet, post your own blog post with your thought on it. If you think the entire conversation is link bait, fine, don’t link to anyone in your post but explain why you think this. Regardless of your point of view, stand and be heard.

About Cal Evans

Many moons ago, at the tender age of 14, Cal touched his first computer. (We're using the term "computer" loosely here, it was a TRS-80 Model 1) Since then his life has never been the same. He graduated from TRS-80s to Commodores and eventually to IBM PC's. For the past 10 years Cal has worked with PHP and MySQL on Linux OSX, and when necessary, Windows. He has built on a variety of projects ranging in size from simple web pages to multi-million dollar web applications. When not banging his head on his monitor, attempting a blood sacrifice to get a particular piece of code working, he enjoys building and managing development teams using his widely imitated but never patented management style of "management by wandering around". Cal is currently based in Nashville, TN and is gainfully unemployed as the Chief Marketing Officer of Blue Parabola, LLC. Cal is happily married to wife 1.28, the lovely and talented Kathy. Together they have 2 kids who were both bright enough not to pursue a career in IT. Cal blogs at http://blog.calevans.com and is the founder and host of Day Camp 4 Developers

View all posts by Cal Evans

2 Responses to “Dries Buytaert: Staking our future on PHP”

  1. ariaminaei Says:

    It’s obvious that php is lagging behind in a few areas. But I think it’s not gonna be that hard for php to catch up. PHP’s competitors like ruby, C# and node.js are getting market share by adding more simplicity, performance and maybe introducing new paradigms. I think by implementing or faking a few of those features in php, leaving php for other languages won’t sound tempting for developers anymore.

    Ruby, as they say, "Makes a developer’s life easier." And most of that is done by having a simple, elegant syntax (I guess). Well if php offers an alternative syntax, something like ruby’s, that wouldn’t leave much desire for developers like me to even try out ruby. And I don’t think that’s hard to achieve.

    Also, php can run faster and safer like compiled C# does, if it offers optional strict typing. I read somewhere that every time a variable is used, php re-checks its type and that makes the script run slow.

    Node.js is getting popular too and one of the main reasons for that is that it’s event-based.
    Consider a php application built upon Zend Framework. On each request, a huge number of classes get loaded into memory (also, their paths should be determined by slow, php-coded autoloaders) and a complete stack is built, just to process that request. That approach is slow and kinda stupid (opcode is irrelevant here).
    Maybe it’s better to have something like a named global space in memory that is accessible by each request’s process, and have it hold all those class definitions and type hierarchies. Not a match for node.js’s event based approach, but at least a huge performance boost. And it’s achievable.

  2. wingbullet Says:

    I think that this statement is not entirely true. PHP is in a difficult situation, but it does not entirely depend on tools like WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. There are excellent frameworks for it under active development (Symfony, ZF…) which make it a good choice for project that need fast, custom development.

    I think that there’s a need for a group of people (an organization? Zend??) that knows which direction PHP should go. With PHP the problem is that things just seem to "be happening" with it, but nothing seems to be really planned, and it makes it confusing.

    I would really like to see a process of "converting" all PHP libraries and tools to OOP (see mysqli, datetime), make non-core elements load dynamically. I think PHP should "derive" from a framework to a language, but keeping all its good tools, but in a reserved way.

    Making APC a code PHP functionality would also be nice.