Many of you have seen my Worst 3 Programming Languages blog where I share my distaste towards PHP. Unfortunately, I believe people took my opinion a bit too seriously. I’ve received hundreds of comments on how I’m a hypocrite because I talk trash about PHP while using PHP to power my personal website.
Am I a Hypocrite?
Absolutely not! Maybe. I’m not sure, honestly. But that’s besides the point. The thing I want to talk about in this blog is that just because I believe something sucks doesn’t necessarily mean I can’t use it and never will.
My opinion towards PHP is just that, an opinion. Every language has its quirks and I believe, in my own personal opinion, that PHP is fairly high on the annoying programming languages list. But you can ask me next year, I’ll have a new one.
Battle of the Languages
Can one language be objectively better than another? In my opinion, yes. But the fact that I introduce my opinion into an objective measurement changes the answer to no. So why are we even arguing about this?
Age Doesn’t Make you Qualified
If I get one more comment saying “In my 30 years of experience…you’re a noob” I’m going to lose hope in humanity. Years don’t translate to capabilities. This is the exact reason things like the Imposter Syndrome exist (saying you must be a seasoned pro to be of any value).
Being a PHP developer with 30,000 years of experience doesn’t some how make you a better developer than a talented individual with less years of experience. I’m not claiming that I am a better developer than you (even though I am 😉), I’m just saying your point is invalid.
Besides, most people don’t have 30 years of experience. They really have the same 1 year of experience repeated 30 times throughout their life.
Getting to the Point…
Now that I got that out of the way, I want to talk about why I use PHP for my blog.
Besides the fact that I still consider PHP a potential tool in my toolbox (it was the first language I learned in high school, I’ve used it professionally, and did tutorials on PHP long ago), the main reason I use PHP for my website is because I use a content management system (CMS). Now I know this is hard for you seasoned pros to understand, but a content management system abstracts away the programming and lets me easily create content.
I really don’t care what language my CMS was developed in. It gives me the easiest platform needed to build a blog without touching any code or working with the database.
My favorite content management system happens to be built in PHP. I could just as easily chosen a non-PHP CMS such as Umbraco. But because the language doesn’t matter, I chose the CMS I was most familiar with and that I liked.
PHP is Popular by Force
Most web hosting companies (like my recommended BlueHost) support PHP. This isn’t a problem, it just makes PHP websites a lot more accessible.
The majority of people using PHP never touch PHP. They use it through the intermediary of a CMS. Thus, just because the majority of the web uses PHP doesn’t mean it is, by any means, favored.
Anytime anybody says something bad about PHP they get attacked by people claiming that Facebook uses PHP and thus it’s an amazing, scalable language. I’ll probably dive into this in more detail in a future article, but this is a weak argument. Every language has its giants. Node.js, for example, also has an impressive portfolio of users including Netflix, Walmart, and LinkedIn due to its scalable nature. Every reason to use PHP for its scalability is countered with a reason to use something else because of its scalability.
My site will never reach this level of popularity (unless I keep making these controversial blogs haha), and worrying about scalability to this extreme is well beyond my concern. PHP will forever serve me (and my web pages) just fine. If you think you might be receiving traffic like Facebook, then what language you choose to start may have a big impact. Switching is not always the easiest move.
Besides, Facebook has an altered backend such that they’re not deploying vanilla PHP. And I’m only making a guess here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if their codebase was as messy as their privacy laws. At this point, It’s probably not worth the effort required to switch to another language.
Whatever Gets the Job Done
PHP is an effective programming language in that it is usually capable of getting the job done. I still don’t like it, though. And that’s ok.
If you use it and like it, good for you. I know many who do.
I can’t disagree with the statement that it is less about the language and more about doing what you need to do to get the job done. I wish I made this more clear earlier. PHP can make websites, and many websites use PHP. The latest version of PHP even has a lot of improvements.
Creating my Website has Nothing to do with Software Development
If this was all about development and I had to start a website from scratch, I wouldn’t use PHP. This isn’t the case, though. I created this website so I can blog, not so I can spend all day coding.
This is the same reason I generally shy away from even languages like Swift (iPhone development), or R (statistical processing). The domain of capabilities is narrow compared to a general purpose programming language. Yes, a good developer should be able to learn multiple languages, but why do this when when you don’t have to?
To conclude this section, if it was all about development and programming language, I’d build my website in a general purpose programming language that would give me the shortest path the success.
I Need a Better Title
Maybe I need a new blog / video title…”Worst 3 Programming Languages” has a very negative vibe and it’s unfortunately that YouTube chose this video to go viral over any of my other 800 positive videos.
If I knew this would be the case, I would have put more care into it to assure I wasn’t stating my opinion as fact. But I’m unable to think of any other video titles…
“3 Languages that I Don’t Prefer”
“Languages that Everyone Likes That I’d prefer not to Use”
“Top 3 Programming Languages that are the Actually the Worst”
Yeah, I think I’ll keep the title.
PHP has it’s place. And despite everything in me that feels that its the worst language, not everyone in the development community agrees. I don’t see PHP going away (yet 😅) and I’ll continue to use it through a CMS until I have a solid reason not to.
What do you think? Should we judge a CMS by its language? Is PHP 100% objectively the absolute most terrible programming language in all of the entire universe, or just Earth? 😉Looking forward to reading your responses!