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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Question Has the Fun Gone Out of PHP?

    If you haven't been reading the Ruby forum there is an interesting thread where a guy talks about building a fairly large site in Ruby that had been in PHP. I asked him how what he did would compare to a modern PHP development. I surmise that it probably would have been about the same. But this thing that interested me was that he said he really enjoyed using Ruby -- it was fun.

    http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=303571

    Given the long, tiresome threads here about OO vs Procedural, lack of interesting new features, difficulty implementing frameworks cleanly in OO, PHP5 woes, BC breakage complaints, etc ... has the fun gone out of PHP? Has PHP become a boring workhorse like C with plenty of utility but nothing new on the horizon? Has PHP become the vision its visionaries wanted and this is it?
    Christopher

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by arborint
    .. has the fun gone out of PHP?
    YES. Period.

  3. #3
    eschew sesquipedalians silver trophy sweatje's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arborint
    has the fun gone out of PHP?
    Not yet The agility of PHP is still amazing for me. When I can turn around a project from inception to rollout in a few days and satisfy my users needs, there is still a lot of thrill there. I think Ruby, and possibly Rails, have a lot of potential, but for me sitting on top of a lot of legacy data in Oracle database, and knowing PHP fairly well, I have not managed to get out of the inertia of my current PHP development routine. I have control over my servers, so was able to move to PHP5 for new development easily. I have known clients (corporate stageing image) so I don't have to mess around with browser compatability issues. I have the luxury of just being able to focus on delivery a solution that my customers need. And that is fun. And that is done with PHP still.
    Jason Sweat ZCE - jsweat_php@yahoo.com
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict timvw's Avatar
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    I'm starting to like J2EE (jsf/struts+ejb3+ and a bit of customized jsp/scriptlets) more and more than php..

  5. #5
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    Its an good question. I started using PHP in 2000 because programming in it was just plain fun. Programming was simple. It reminded me alot of programming in 80s.

    However, as the field of web development matures, we are entering a time of frameworks instead of "from scratch" systems. Much like the 90s in GUI development.

    The combination of a good framework, Rails, with a nice OO language, Ruby is greater than the sum of its parts.

    I think the success of Ruby/Rails should cause some soul searching in the PHP community. I think the competition will be good for PHP.

  6. #6
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    Soul searching or not you've got to be comfortable and happy using any language, and if not then there is obviously something wrong. I was like this a while back, and I didn't script with PHP for a while as I wasn't happy at that time.

    I wasn't happy cause I was using PHP4 and found it limiting in many ways, mostly to do with object oriented programming methods. I moved back to PHP but only because of PHP5 and nothing more.

    I'm happy again, and it's now a pleasure to script with PHP again as well. If your not happy or if your not having much fun then you do need to move on. Find something more enjoyable, something that may well challenge you, if this is what is missing.

    But continueing to use the same language will only lead to one form of depression, or another. It gets tedious for you, you end up bored, etc and then it starts to effect other parts of your working life.

    I get the feeling, that moving away from PHP for a while actually made me a better developer. A change is a good thing I think

  7. #7
    SitePoint Evangelist jplush76's Avatar
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    PHP5 has givin me life again now that I'm full time PHP5 and won't accept PHP4 projects. The XML features alone make me blush
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    The XML improvements alone make it worth while again. It's about renewed energy, for me in regards to PHP5... It's about the possibilities that are now possible...

    Just so much better now, and guess what? It's going to get better - proberly

  9. #9
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    I'm having more fun with PHP 5 than any other language, period. I haven't played with Ruby/Rails much personally but I've read up on it a lot. It's way cool, but I don't see that it would "change my life forever" if I used it rather than PHP and some good framework-ish bits. I can already do almost anything I can think of in PHP pretty easily in terms of programming, and with the new XML & OOP features in PHP 5, together with some excellent new PEAR classes that have come out, I'm having a blast.

    New toys on the block. Geeks love new toys. But at the end of the day, people will use what they're most comfortable with, and for me, that's PHP.

    Jared

  10. #10
    SitePoint Guru thr's Avatar
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    If we'd been stuck with PHP5, then yes.. the fun would've gone out of PHP... but with PHP5.x being "stable" now and 5.1 well on it's way... I could not be more thrilled about php. The Ruby/Python zealotism will settle, for sure.

  11. #11
    Resident Java Hater
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    Unlike many here, I think the moves that PHP5.x seem to be "wrong" in a Java like sense. PHP is trying to copy Java too much now after being a C-like language for years. Despite all the marketing waffle, Java is not the right solution for business like systems where turn around is quick and flexiblity needs to be at a premium. "Static" languages that use static typing / binding are fine for low level system related things, but it's useless in business like apps. The way forward lies in languages like Python, and dare I say the R-word, even languages like LISP/CLOS seem to be making a bit of a comeback now.

    PHP5 had the potential to be really, good, but now with BC breaks, and the general direction it's going it, Zend have killed it. Even the Zend developers don't even seem to know where they are going. In some of the bug reports them seem to bicker over how PHP should react to certain "bugs".

  12. #12
    throw me a bone ... now bonefry's Avatar
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    MiiJaySung, last time I saw posts of yours you were bi*tching and moaning about Java and you are still doing it

    Come on ! I said it before and I will say it again. Where are those features from Java that PHP is copying ? Optional typing ? That's a very good feature. Interfaces ? Every language had multiple inheritance or mixins or interfaces. Only PHP had only single inheritance without interfaces/mixins. WHAT ELSE ?

    I respect your oppinions, but come on man. Stop bashing Java without knowing it

    business like systems where turn around is quick and flexiblity needs to be at a premium
    If you're talking about forums/blogs/basic shopping carts.
    Last time I checked, companies and pointy haired bosses that decide what's "business like" still want backwards compatibility, stability, scalability, maintainability, and security ... and good tools ... and professional support

    Want to know how the future looks like ?? Here:
    http://groovy.codehaus.org/
    http://nemerle.org/Main_Page
    http://msdn.microsoft.com/vcsharp/future/

    Newsflash: Java and .NET will dominate the future too. Dynamic typing may become optional, but static typing is here to stay. Unless SmallTalk becomes succesfull again. And yeah, one more thing: Java and C# are semi-dynamic (reflection, dynamic proxies, dynamic loading of modules, ...). There's no point in puting them in the same boat as C++.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Guru BerislavLopac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bonefry
    Newsflash: Java and .NET will dominate the future too. Dynamic typing may become optional, but static typing is here to stay.
    .NET is not about static typing at all -- you can happily use it with JScript, which is everything but statically typing.

    And if Java is so great, why did they invent Groovy?

  14. #14
    throw me a bone ... now bonefry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BerislavLopac
    .NET is not about static typing at all -- you can happily use it with JScript, which is everything but statically typing.
    How many projects use JScript and how many projects use C# / VB.NET ? And what is THE .NET language like ? (the one promoted by M$ and the most popular)

    Quote Originally Posted by BerislavLopac
    And if Java is so great, why did they invent Groovy?
    You know that's the dummest question I've heard ? Because *scripting*languages* ARE good, and because they can do it *duh*

    Look, if you guys wanna bash Java, that's fine, just don't use FUDs, OK ?
    Good arguments can proove something. And I would appreciate it if you guys actually worked with Java when talking about the language.
    The "dynamic vs static" argument is getting old and boring.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Guru BerislavLopac's Avatar
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    Hence the smiley, silly!

  16. #16
    throw me a bone ... now bonefry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BerislavLopac
    Hence the smiley, silly!
    Oups, sorry

  17. #17
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy someonewhois's Avatar
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    I don't really look for "new features" in a language, personally. It's always seemed to me that once a language is functional you may as well leave well enough alone. I was working in C the other day (it's been several months since I've used C), and I have to say -- I love it. Sure, it's been known to get me a little ticked off, but it's fun nonetheless.

    You know what I think I liked most about it? The fact that it's different. It's a change. Sure, compared to a language like PHP, it's tedious and irritating. Sure, good portions of it is copy and paste since nobody can possibly remember the parameter input of WndProc (I think it's HWND hwnd, int message, LPARAM lParam, and WPARAM wParam, but I'm not sure) or WinMain. Sure, trivial bugs are irritating to fix.

    But: It's different. It's a change.

    I seriously don't consider PHP "not fun". I will say that when I started PHP, it was really cool to be able to produce an app so quickly. It was fun to play with. The thing is, a few months ago I had actually gone a little over a month without PHP (I had been doing a ton of client work in JS and even C). I came back to it, and sure enough, it was fun again.

    I think the problem is people want a sense of change. A sense of change can come from just taking a break (though not neccessarily possible for full-time-PHPers), or from learning a new language and coming back. I suppose "new features" happens to give this impression as well.

    Just my 2 cents or so.

  18. #18
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    I strongly disagree that the fun has gone out of PHP, or that that is possible.

    First, you mention that PHP is no longer fun, and has become boring 'like C'. In what way is C boring? What perspective are you saying this from?

    How can any language itself be fun? It's new to you? By that logic, any language will be fun when it is new, but will become 'boring' in your eyes once you are familiar with it. That is a rather short sighted attitude in my opinion and it encourages the use of less mature technologies simply because they are different to previous languages.

    It's not what language you use, but what you do with it, that determines whether it is fun or boring. Programming a user contact form in Ruby is going to be less fun than programming a lawn mower in PHP.

    I for one have had plenty of fun programming in C.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by arborint
    But this thing that interested me was that he said he really enjoyed using Ruby -- it was fun.
    Of course, everybody likes to play with new toys (emphasis on new, not on toy).

    Given the long, tiresome threads here about OO vs Procedural, lack of interesting new features, difficulty implementing frameworks cleanly in OO, PHP5 woes, BC breakage complaints, etc
    You'll be seeing comparable disagreements and sentiments (though on other topics) in the Ruby community once it starts growing. Right now everbody that is gravitating towards Ruby and Rails does so by reading 1-2 books that are available and looking a the applications of 2-3 shops. And all new people are "imitating" it and liking it. It wasn't much different when PHP started getting popular.

    Already there are more frameworks for Ruby appearing that promise to be better/faster/more versatile/etc. It's only a matter of time until the Community will diversify (one best way of doing things just doesn't "scale" to a large community). And once there has been a significant investment by people/companies Ruby will have to wrestle with the same tasks, like BC, bug-report handling, ....

    Look at it this way: It's always more fun working at a startup where you know everybody and everybody shares the same vision. But you just can't salvage that over 10 years when the size went from 20 people to 2000 people. And in the same vein in a startup you are building new stuff which is always more exciting that releasing version 7.1.28 which fixes hundreds of obscure bugs noone will ever see.

    ... has the fun gone out of PHP?
    It sounds more like PHP fun went out of YOU. But seriously, I think it's a Good Thing learning a new language once in a while, if you are in a state of mind, that makes it easy for you to try out something else, that's better than when some people are clinging to the only language they know and claiming that no other language is necessary, because everything really can be done with XYZ. Take advantage of it.
    As for the rest of the PHP community - they'll be just fine. There's always fluctuation going on, and I can't remember how many times Language XYZ was declared dead "because all smart programmers are now moving to ABC and abandoning XYZ". I think a little more critical thinking and sense of history is necessary when stumbling across such statements. I think it's funny because it's a little bit like those fancy fashion shows where "every designer" seems to be doing X this year, yet 99% of people that buy cloths don't give a thing about what is declared "hot" at those shows.
    If you're into that kind of stuff, by all means go look at it and have your fun, but keep in mind that even with the most fancy dress, it's still (mostly) the same person wearing it (unless it changes the way you think, in which case it's the new thinking your benefitting from, not the new dress... *er* language).

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard Rick's Avatar
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    I've never really seen a programming or a scripting language as being fun, I tend to see them as a means to an end.

    I've been working with PHP for a while now, and am getting more and more into OOP at the minute. I can see where your comming from when you say its getting boring - PHP is something I consider very safe - I 'click' with it and it very rarely springs any nasty suprises on me.

    What I consider fun about PHP is the community that surrounds it. I love the fact that I can find a help with a problem or find a class to use in an app within a few minutes of searching the web. I love the diversity of people that use it and the way that this keeps it feeling fresh all the time. The community around PHP is easily its biggest asset, something that alot of very powerful languages lack I think.

    I like the way a lot of lower-level languages have settled down - I see C as something that is just there for me - its something I can dive into when I need it and not think about keeping track of changes. However for this obviously would never work with a language like PHP - I just hope that as it changes and develops it retains the ease that attracted me to it in the first place.
    Rick

  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard Young Twig's Avatar
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    I think the fun in any programming language is from exploring it, from writing some weird code, and hoping it works. If you've been doing PHP for years, I guess there's not too much more exploring you can do in PHP (at least, nothing essential).

    So, yeah. Go learn Ruby. Screw around with it and I'm sure it will begin to lose its luster eventually.Then you can have this big cycle of learning languages, hyping them up, then declaring them boring.

  22. #22
    Free your mind Toly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick
    I've never really seen a programming or a scripting language as being fun, I tend to see them as a means to an end.
    My thoughts exactly. I've been using PHP for many years now, and it gets the job done every time. I don't ever remember PHP being fun for me, though, just a simple tool for a job.
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  23. #23
    lean mean coding machine cosmo's Avatar
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    I guess people who do regular scripting for their website would want to use the latest and most 'fun' language in their site.

    From a software developers prespective, every language is a tool. And 'fun' is not really a property of these tools. Rather, it comes down to what tool you see fit for the job at hand. You want to use the language that allows you to put together a solution that is efficient in the given environment.
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  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy dc dalton's Avatar
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    Interesting thread ..... I have to agree with Rick, MMJ & Toly though .... what's to be fun? A language (whichever you use) is a way to solve a set of business problems in the most efficient way possible, one that considers your clients business rules, the demands those rules make on an application and the platform it needs to operate on.

    What I think is really being said here is that maybe PHP has become hard or not so cool any more. Ive heard this from quite a few of my friends who have done PHP for many years and once I get down to the truth of the matter with them the REAL complaint is "Too many rules!" ..... Lets face it, from a standardized language perspective PHP HAS (key word HAS) been more like the wild wild west than just about any other language around .... I know when I first looked at it a few years ago I was horrified at the lack of rules it had. Coming from a strict Java background it just scared the heck out of me!

    What has happened is the developers of PHP have looked at the advantages of a strict, OOP base for their language. A VERY good friend of mine hangs out with some of the "big kids" in the PHP world and he has told me on several occasions that they knew for years now that to really make their mark in the programming world they HAD to move to this "stricter" OO phase. It was the next logical step in PHPs evolution...

    I also listen to my friends who complain about the "new" PHP and I really have to laugh. Their six shooters have been taken away (or exchanged for pop guns) and they just dont get WHY they have to follow all these rules.... One actually said to me "Why cant I just do what I want to do?" ..... because without those rules and the evolution of the language into a more well defined, compliant platform it will never survive! (Can anyone say Perl?)

    Personally I am more interested in PHP than I have EVER Been before because now I see the potential and the "clear vision" of where they want the language to go!

    For those who dont want to be tied to rules and strict platforms Im sure there will be another "wild west" language coming down the pike any day now ... but watch out, cause sooner or later every language must evolve or die!

  25. #25
    Web developer Carl's Avatar
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    I you are tired of php then try php5 instead. php5 is slow in coming because users of php are turining into code potatoes

    Get on the ball start using asking for and advocating php5! It's cleaner! fresher! and more long lasting!


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