Saurabh Gandhe I bring your ideas to life!

No, PHP is not obsolete, BUT..


A lot of people come up with this statement that PHP is dying or obsolete.

Is it? What exactly it means? Let’s get to the bottom.

Among other languages(C#/Java/Ruby), I have been using PHP for about 15 years and it certainly is my best bet for building something rapidly. It always worked. Whether it’s building a quick Reporting System or a full-blown CMS for a Media Company to cater millions of users. And to feel good about it, Facebook, WordPress, Magento, and many more enterprise-class applications are based on PHP. But today you are not talking about just the websites. In terms of technology and software built around the world, it is one part of the pie, 15 years ago, it was the pie. And that’s what is changing. It’s the technology paradigm. When people put up charts that X% of the internet is built on PHP, they are talking about the websites. What you build today isn’t just the web application.

I found an interesting post and comments on LinkedIn.

While reading through comments, I started looking around for claims and stats.

PHP Trends over time as per Stack Over Flow.
Stackoverflow Trend of PHP

PHP Trend Overtime

PHP Trend over time in last 5 years
PHP Intrest Trend over last 5 years as per Google Trends.
Wordpress Trend over time as per google.
WordPress Trend Overtime:
Magento Trend over time
Magento Trend over time.

Looks like these charts say that the interest in PHP, WordPress, and Magento is going down. Does that mean PHP is dying? Probably Not. How?

Look at the other side:

What if the number of people building something else is going up? More and more people are building Mobile apps. Many applications only reside on phones and wearable devices. More and more people are going away from laptop and desktop computers. The need for building a web application is going down. Do you not need Server-side language for mobile apps? Sure you do, but the latest technologies have more choices, so even though people use PHP, the number splits up. Magento is built on PHP, but how many PHP developers they have in the development team? It sure is not 100%. That’s the point.

In terms of programming languages, if you compare[1] it to Ruby, C# or Java the winner still will be PHP. 

But that’s not the point, the question is, are you making a website today? What do your business objectives and requirement say? That’s what would decide the future of PHP.

Recently I built an app with a combination of (Angular, Python, Node). Was it possible in PHP using Laravel? Yes, Sure. Would it scale to a couple of million users? Sure. But, it wouldn’t have served all my business requirements. The primary reason to choose PHP has moved on, today you have so many options to choose from, even though you may like, the requirement may thin down. Do I not get a requirement that would be served best with PHP, Yes I do, so no doubt PHP still has got the thrill and will be.

PHP may not be dying, the technology focus is shifting and so the kind of web applications/application softwares you are building. 

I think so!

Down the road, you are not looking at Web Applications alone, you are looking at experiences, built to reach customers on different devices. 

13 years ago(Before iPhone World), your goal was to attract customers on a desktop. 

10 years ago, your goal was to attract customers on Mobile and Desktop. 

And now, guess what? 

With the advancement in technology availability, device revolution, your focus is shifting and so are the goals and underlying technology. You are past the shared hosting and dedicated server era. 

You are at the edge of entering into a hybrid cloud era of connected things. It’s not just how technology and information are served, but also how it is consumed.

PHP 7, though a nice upgrade, but it’s not really your first choice to build a web application today. Even if you do, you are going to use additional languages or technology to complete your primary requirement or business objective. That’s the meaning. A business application or a website that could have used just one server-side language to fulfill most of the business objective is not the case today. Down the road, even though PHP knowledge will be required, you probably would not be looking to build a website using PHP.

Can you use Laravel to build a social network? Sure you can. But to build a social network you will need, so many applications, the piece of pie a PHP developer gets, will not be as thick as it used to be. 

For an eCommerce company, are you going to use Magneto? Well, OK, but future technology advancement may thin it enough, you will question yourself, how many PHP developers you need? That’s what people are saying, it’s obsolete.

PHP is not dying any time soon, but the number of PHP Developers required to build/manage on PHP is what probably going down or may not grow in the same order they used to be. But PHP is not yet obsolete and its era isn’t ending anytime soon. I think in a new era along with rapid development, it’s an era of flexible development. You need to be a multidisciplinary programmer and calling someone a PHP developer may go down, but it doesn’t mean PHP itself will become obsolete.

I am comparing the applications/websites built using PHP. Java certainly has it’s own advantage and is required to serve some purpose. And the fact that you still need Java developer is probably a proof, PHP may not die.

Interest over time in Google Trends: Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time. A value of 100 is the peak popularity for the term. A value of 50 means that the term is half as popular. A score of 0 means there was not enough data for this term.

By Saurabh
Saurabh Gandhe I bring your ideas to life!

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