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  1. #1
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    Is the future of PHP in jeopardy?

    I was looking for some information on the upcoming PHP 6 and I chanced on this blog.

    http://philsturgeon.co.uk/blog/2013/...ng-in-the-wind

    Phil Sturgeon seems to strongly suggest that PHP 6 may not happen due to lethargy and political issues in the PHP core development team. I was a bit stunned to read this. Does anyone know if the Zend Corporation are really interested in continuing improvement in PHP or is it simply destined to perish because of out voting of new features that would be useful to the language but no one on the dev team cares enough about anymore?

    Do you think we will ever see a PHP 6 ?

  2. #2
    @php.net Salathe's Avatar
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    So you're really worried by one guy's (but, OMG it's Phil Sturgeon!!) minor rant from over a year ago? Don't be.

    PHP is very, very healthy and continues to push on in leaps and bounds. Zend Technologies (not Corporation) continue to provide their input, of course. Also, as has been the case throughout the last decade and more, theirs is still only a small percentage of the huge number and range of contributions to PHP and its ecosystem. Great new features are being added all of the time, you just have to take a peek at the change logs (or not hide under a rock) to see that.

    Yes we will see a PHP 6, or whatever number comes after 5, and it's going to be awesome. Don't worry!
    Salathe
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  3. #3
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    I recently came across an article by the guy who created PHP in the first place that talked about plans for what sorts of changes are proposed to be included in PHP 7. If there is going to be a PHP 7 then presumably we will first see a PHP 6 and even if PHP 6 never eventuates, PHP 7 will ensure the survival of PHP.
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  4. #4
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    Thats great, that we are talking about PHPx coming out to ensure survivability, but I agree here. PHP seems to lack vision, and thats scary to me. I can definitely see PHP loosing foothold in the next decade because of this combined with the possibility of something such as Go continuing to gain steam.

    Don't get me wrong, it's going to stick around. But I see it sharing more of the field soon.

  5. #5
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    I don't know. I think it will still be a live til we're all gone. PHP seems to be the only server side language that is widely used over the internet. Not a lot of developers use ASP .NET or aspx. Well I have seen few websites use it, but I read somewhere that about 90% of websites on the internet uses WordPress. If you know anything about WordPress, it's PHP driven.

    The main issue for me is when are all the website hosters going to convert from PHP v 5.3 to PHP v 5.5 or PHP v 5.6? I mean 5.3 seems to work just fine, but all the new features that 5.4 - 5.6 has, 5.3 doesn't and it makes me frustrated because I can't use features that are easy to implement when I'm stuck with PHP v 5.3.

  6. #6
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    Although the article was written a year ago, I think we'd all be a bit concerned with the fact that, these things are still happening, and they were identified a year ago! Features that seem to make logical sense with where the web needs to go, aren't being implemented because "they are too much work". Don't get me wrong, I love PHP and I hate PHP. There are just some things I feel it does terribly and others it is great, because I can churn out a complicated script quickly.

    I don't see it ever "dying" as I'm sure someone will breath life back into it, but I really think it needs a better way to get its features approved and implemented. What that answer is, I haven't a clue, but obviously there are gaps in the current method.

  7. #7
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    One of the issues with PHP 6 is that it started out trying to change too much all in one go. It has since been recognised that to actually make progress that smaller steps need to be taken so that each change can actually be implemented in a reasonable time. The same destination can be reached but instead of having to wait ten years for it to be implemented in PHP 6 it might instead be implemented in PHP 12 but with most of the functionality being implemented in versions along the way.
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  8. #8
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    It seems to become a problem with any software technology. Once its been around for awhile backward's compatibility and maintaining market share becomes an issue and makes it difficult for a language to progress.

    On top of that many software web applications are slow to migrate to newer versions of php. And not only software applications but also web hosts and in particularly the low end to free web hosts seem to be particularly bad in keeping pace with the current version of php. So maybe its the php industry that's in more trouble rather than the language itself, possibly?

  9. #9
    SitePoint Addict bronze trophy vectorialpx's Avatar
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    It is a big polemic to discuss here but, as a resume, if you have capable programmers you can do almost anything (from migration and patches to complete refactoring).
    So, stupid code must be removed and add some smart one instead. Of course, this is not an easy job.

    PHP Code:
    <?php
    $foo 
    "string";
    echo 
    strlen($foo); // Outputs: 6
    echo $foo->length(); // Outputs: 6
    Sounds nice. As long as we have backwards compatibility, I see no problem.
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  10. #10
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    As far as PHP6 representing the future of PHP I don't think it is relevant. What I've read about the issue with PHP6 is that converting it to a true unicode support was extremely difficult to the point they gave up on it. Since work began and was abandoned on PHP6 there have been subsequent versions of PHP5 released. It is still advancing so I don't think there is any worry of it going away. The PHP6 issue is ONLY related to core unicode support, which isn't really necessary for most people's purposes - at least not mine.

  11. #11
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    At this point, I think there needs to be a future release to be looked at as a completely breaking release (much like python 2 to 3) that focuses on fixing the big issues of PHP, without worrying about backwards compatibility. Fix the unicode issue, CLEAN UP the standard library, fix the runtime to allow for proper multi threading and communication, etc.

  12. #12
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K. Wolfe View Post
    At this point, I think there needs to be a future release to be looked at as a completely breaking release (much like python 2 to 3) that focuses on fixing the big issues of PHP, without worrying about backwards compatibility. Fix the unicode issue, CLEAN UP the standard library, fix the runtime to allow for proper multi threading and communication, etc.
    I agree, PHP will continue to lose ground to other modern languages languages like python and ruby unless they make breaking changes to the standard library - it's a junk drawer. A lot can be improved by taking a more OO approach across the board and putting the massive list of global functions into appropriate places.

  13. #13
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    PHP has too many things, they should clean all the old bad practicies/functions in future versions, making a modern mainly object-oriented language

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hollop View Post
    PHP has too many things, they should clean all the old bad practicies/functions in future versions, making a modern mainly object-oriented language
    And this is indeed the basic problem. Wanting "they" to do stuff. How about "you" do this?

  15. #15
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    True enough @ahundiak ; even if one doesn't know how to code in C there are plenty of opportunities http://www.php.net/get-involved.php
    Contributing to PHP

    Anybody who programs in PHP can be a contributing member of the community that develops and deploys it; the task of deploying PHP, documentation and associated websites is a never ending one. With every release, or release candidate comes a wave of work, which takes a lot of organization and co-ordination.

    With the introduction of release managers comes a smoother release process, but help is still needed: testing release candidates, finding and squashing bugs in tests, documentation, and sources.
    Four Best Ways to Contribute

    Running test suites in RC and release distributions of PHP
    Help finding and diagnosing failed tests, see the phpt documentation
    Filing and resolving bug reports at bugs.php.net
    Help maintain and or translate documentation files at edit.php.net

    Development of the PHP source

    Someone hoping to become involved in the maintenance and development of the source should be experienced in all of the areas mentioned above, as this creates a strong team; everyone knows how every other part of the project works.

    You will also need experience in C programming as PHP is written entirely in C.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mittineague
    True enough @ahundiak ; even if one doesn't know how to code in C there are plenty of opportunities http://www.php.net/get-involved.php
    Going from PHP back to C is kind of like going from an automobile back to horse and carriage.

    Edit: That probably isn't the best comparison considering compiled languages are always faster than interpreted but memory management and make files, yuck. Especially for most of use devs who probably haven't touched C in years if ever.

    I personally think PHP is fine for what it is. If you ever had to write things in C you would appreciate PHP. I get that more modern languages are flashier and what not but PHP is fine for what it needs to accomplish.
    The only code I hate more than my own is everyone else's.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Addict bronze trophy Hall of Famer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hollop View Post
    PHP has too many things, they should clean all the old bad practicies/functions in future versions, making a modern mainly object-oriented language
    Yeah I second this. PHP should be moving at Python and Ruby's direction, a modern object oriented language. PHP right now is merely an object-capable language, it supports OOP but at its core PHP is not object oriented. Strings and Arrays for instance, are not objects and the object operators do not apply. Its also a better idea to make functions into first class objects, but I understand that it may be difficult.

  18. #18
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oddz View Post
    Going from PHP back to C is kind of like going from an automobile back to horse and carriage.

    Edit: That probably isn't the best comparison considering compiled languages are always faster than interpreted but memory management and make files, yuck. Especially for most of use devs who probably haven't touched C in years if ever.

    I personally think PHP is fine for what it is. If you ever had to write things in C you would appreciate PHP. I get that more modern languages are flashier and what not but PHP is fine for what it needs to accomplish.
    You missed the point of the comment that you are referring to. The reference to C was because that's the language that PHP itself is written in. The code written using PHP is interpreted/compuled using code written in C in order to work out what the PHP commands mean.

    Writing a language using the language itself is far more difficult than using a lower level language to write it in.

    Possibly what needs to be done to help convert PHP into a more object oriented language would be to switch from C to C++ so that there is more of a one to one mapping from PHP built in objects to the actual definitions of those objects.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by K. Wolfe View Post
    At this point, I think there needs to be a future release to be looked at as a completely breaking release (much like python 2 to 3) that focuses on fixing the big issues of PHP, without worrying about backwards compatibility, etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by markbrown4 View Post
    I agree, PHP will continue to lose ground to other modern languages languages like python and ruby unless they make breaking changes to the standard library - it's a junk drawer. A lot can be improved by taking a more OO approach across the board and putting the massive list of global functions into appropriate places.
    unfortunately, php has the same problem as a number of Microsoft apps (especially IE). While it's nice to say that you'll just break backwards compatibility, you're risking 1000's, if millions of lines of production code. Should the developers kept up? Absolutely! But like my boss said the other day. It's hard to justify rewriting code sometimes when you're in a time crunch.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveMaxwell View Post
    unfortunately, php has the same problem as a number of Microsoft apps (especially IE). While it's nice to say that you'll just break backwards compatibility, you're risking 1000's, if millions of lines of production code. Should the developers kept up? Absolutely! But like my boss said the other day. It's hard to justify rewriting code sometimes when you're in a time crunch.
    It seems to me that PHP web hosts don't seem to have too many qualms about keeping old versions of PHP around. That means that developers of php products have to not use newer language features for a long time in order to cater for maximum market share, so if you're a web host and support 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 you are effectively supporting 3 script languages. If that's the case I don't see why they can't break backward compatibility in say the 6.0 series. At some point they are going to have to do a rewrite and that would be the right time to remove all the php embarrassment (imho). I suspect its being held up at committee level trying to decide what to break and what to carry forward.

  21. #21
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    I'd generally argue that the main reason PHP is keeping going is not because of breathtaking new work in PHP but because drupal and wordpress have won large parts of the CMS war at this point. Making significant breaking change would break those apps and if you are starting fresh in 2014 do you a) pickup some new, potentially broken version of a language without a great reputation or b) pick up something like python or ruby which has loads of solid options, good standard libraries and effective benevolent dictators making sure the language don't get too FUBAR.

    Moreover, many of the sorts of features advanced developers would want perhaps fly in the face of PHP's other use case -- for "designer-developers" who aren't looking to make sense of a MVC framework, they are just trying to get a little server-side voodoo into what is really a static HTML site.

    So basically PHP has hit a point where they are damned if they go forward and damned if they don't go forward.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wwb_99 View Post
    I'd generally argue that the main reason PHP is keeping going is not because of breathtaking new work in PHP but because drupal and wordpress have won large parts of the CMS war at this point.
    So basically PHP has hit a point where they are damned if they go forward and damned if they don't go forward.
    Well, I think you've hit the nail on the head there. It sounds like Zend corporation is playing the strategy of keeping PHP backwards compatibility going for as long as possible and future improvements are not a priority as that goes against their business model of keeping PHP as pervasive as possible.

    Look what happened to Cobol 20 years ago. You virtually never hear of it today. They tried to bring out an object oriented version but it never went anywhere. Nevertheless, back in those days, Cobol developers were in great demand but primarily to keep their legacy apps going.

    PHP is not quite in the same boat but its close. PHP still has the advantage of a small memory footprint. However there is a real chance it would go the way of Perl, becoming of interest only to "language archaeologists".

  23. #23
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    Yet your phone billing system and airline ticketing system run COBOL (or other things of that era). There won't be much new PHP work in 20 years but I'll bet you can keep body and soul together patching 25+ year old apps.

    On memory -- I think PHP "cheats" a bit here. Unlike everything you'd compare it with the memory lifecycle of any PHP script is just the script wheras just about everything else anyone programs anything in in 2014 has some sort of persistent server running. So PHP is alot more approachable for the uninitiated -- leaving a database connection open has little consequence if everything just ceases to exist at the end of execution. And it also means that PHP doesn't sit on ram and occupy resources at rest the same way a ruby or uwsgi or .NET app would.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by wwb_99 View Post
    On memory -- I think PHP "cheats" a bit here. Unlike everything you'd compare it with the memory lifecycle of any PHP script is just the script wheras just about everything else anyone programs anything in in 2014 has some sort of persistent server running. So PHP is alot more approachable for the uninitiated -- leaving a database connection open has little consequence if everything just ceases to exist at the end of execution. And it also means that PHP doesn't sit on ram and occupy resources at rest the same way a ruby or uwsgi or .NET app would.
    That's an interesting point as I made the same argument (against certain rails deployments) here:

    http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/show....php?t=1198406

    I did a quick Google of uWSGI vs WSGI. I generally use Django with WSGI which is an apache module Wheras uWSGI is not. uWSGI runs as a separate process with all the extra ram that entails.

    The claim seems to be that if you have web application processes sitting around all the time, that they eliminate the startup and shutdown time of a script that needs to be invoked on every request.

    However the feeling I got is that PHP didn't perform badly in language benchmarks so maybe I need to see if I can get some good stats on that.
    In most web applications its not the language performance that matters but the database performance and the biggest lag in the request/response cycle seems to be I/O bound (database lag) most of the time. However I must admit I haven't done any high volume traffic testing with php against other language or framework configurations but would be interesting.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by wwb_99 View Post
    Yet your phone billing system and airline ticketing system run COBOL (or other things of that era). There won't be much new PHP work in 20 years but I'll bet you can keep body and soul together patching 25+ year old apps.

    On memory -- I think PHP "cheats" a bit here. Unlike everything you'd compare it with the memory lifecycle of any PHP script is just the script wheras just about everything else anyone programs anything in in 2014 has some sort of persistent server running. So PHP is alot more approachable for the uninitiated -- leaving a database connection open has little consequence if everything just ceases to exist at the end of execution. And it also means that PHP doesn't sit on ram and occupy resources at rest the same way a ruby or uwsgi or .NET app would.
    .NET doesn't sit on ram and occupy resources at rest. It is entirely dependent on how your IIS is setup, but by design, it doesn't do that. I use that daily, and I'd see that, if that were happening.


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