3 Reasons Why PHP is Still the Place to Be

A year and a half ago we took over a web project for Nokia that was having some difficulty getting finished. Their internal teams had opted to use Java as the web platform. They were building their CMS on top of that. It was slow going. Finding the right talent to finish the job was particularly challenging mainly due to the technology choices made from the beginning. We were brought on at the last minute to change directions, use ExpressionEngine and PHP as the underlying software framework and move the project forward to completion. That software platform decision has made sense for years and it still does. Here are 3 reasons why.

First, PHP as a programming language is widely adopted and widely supported. As has been said many times before, PHP can be found already running on most web hosting platforms. It's already there, you merely need to write code to use it. Because of its wide adoption and wide availability, there are many developers around the world who know it well. You can have a web application developed using PHP, you can come to hate your developer, fire that person, and promptly find someone else that you get along with much better, all with minimal interruption to your workflow. Because of its ubiquity, PHP allows a web application to be quite portable. You can move it from one developer to another and you can move it from one host to another. This means as a client, you are not trapped by the software. You are at liberty to make the business decisions you need to make. You are free to spend the time on the more time consuming and human centered work of developing and maintaining rewarding and fruitful relationships.

Second, PHP stays out of the way. Because it is so widely supported and because so many developers use it, there are many libraries written for it to get the components of your web application up and running quickly and cost effectively. Since you don't need to have your web developer write all of your code from scratch, your time to market is greatly improved as is your stability and scalability. You are once again free to make the business decisions that are right for your organization knowing that someone out there has probably already encountered your situation and has already shared code that can be brought to bear on your web problem.

Third, PHP has become one of the de facto underlying languages for many highly stable, secure and flexible web applications like CMS's, CRM's, etc. In other words, what you are building has probably been built so many times before that there is probably a product you can get for free or buy inexpensively that does most of what you need. Take WordPress, ExpressionEngine or the Craft CMS, these are content management systems that do more out of the box and for an inexpensive price point than most other CMS systems on other software platforms. Whatever web site or web application you want to build is probably already 70% complete through the combination of these platforms plus a handful of plugins. Everything else you need to build can be done by your developer within the CMS's existing extensible plugin architecture. And because PHP is so ubiquitous, these platforms as well have been free to establish their own ubiquity. This, again, frees you to hire and fire as you need to, build and tear down as you need to, and basically move your organization's mission in whatever direction you see fit with minimal friction from the software.

The job of good software is to stay out of the way. The best predictor of its ability to do that is the extent to which it has been adopted across the web. PHP, with its wide adoption and usage, stays well out of the way of the more important work you have to do.