But developers cannot ignore the fact that PHP has been around for a long time (over 25 years), empowering a significant portion of the web. In fact, according to W3Techs usage statistics, PHP is still used by 77.5% of all websites as of March 2023.
This indicates although the tech industry is still undergoing a paradigm shift in software development with more efficient and scalable languages, PHP continues to be a popular choice because of its ease of use, vast community support, and the availability of an extensive ecosystem.
But let’s come back to the question in concern, what does the future hold for PHP? One can say that the age-old familiarity of PHP keeps it from ebbing away, but in the face of more competent technologies, can it continue to thrive and stay relevant in 2023? And if it’s fated to fail, then how has it managed to go on till now?
Now let’s take up the pressing issues one by one.
Let’s start with how it has managed to come so far!
Hypertext Preprocessor, commonly known as PHP, was created in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf. PHP became a popular choice for developers around the world mainly because of its easy learning curve, its compatibility with evolving technologies, its flexibility, and of course, the vast community support.
But there are other factors too that have helped it make it so far. Let’s have a look at those.
1. Easy-to-Learn Syntax
PHP has a simple and easy-to-learn syntax, which makes it a perfect platform for beginners who are keen on web development. Its syntax is similar to C and Java. So developers familiar with these languages can easily grow into PHP.
Additionally, PHP is a loosely-typed language, so you do not need to specify the data type of a variable when declaring it. This makes it more flexible and easier to use.
2. Cross-Platform Compatibility
One of the biggest advantages of PHP is its cross-platform compatibility. You can run PHP scripts on various operating systems, including Windows, Linux, macOS, and more. This makes it easier for developers to develop web applications on their preferred operating system without worrying about compatibility issues.
3. Database Support
PHP offers extensive support for many databases, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and SQLite. Developers can easily connect to databases and manipulate data. Additionally, PHP has built-in functions that make it easy to perform common database operations like inserting, updating, and deleting data.
4. Web Frameworks
PHP has no shortage of web frameworks. In fact, one of the key reasons for its huge popularity is the availability of resourceful, ready-to-use frameworks like Laravel, Symfony, CodeIgniter, Yii, and many more. These frameworks provide developers with pre-built code and libraries that make it easier and faster to develop web applications.
Additionally, these frameworks provide developers with a consistent and standardized way of organizing their code, which makes it easier to maintain and update web applications.
PHP is a scalable language, which means that apps built with it are capable of handling large amounts of traffic and data. This makes it a popular choice for developing large-scale applications that require high performance and reliability.
Additionally, PHP can be easily integrated with other technologies like caching systems, load balancers, and more, to further improve its scalability.
6. Extensive Ecosystem
PHP houses an impressive and extensive ecosystem including a vast library of pre-built functions, classes, and modules, which makes it easy for developers to add functionalities to their applications without the need to code everything from scratch.
These libraries provide developers with a wide range of features, including string manipulation, file management, encryption, and more.
7. CMS Support
This is another huge reason for PHP’s popularity. We all know that PHP is the epicenter of many functional content management systems (CMS) including WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. These CMS platforms provide developers with a powerful and flexible way of creating and managing websites and web applications.
Additionally, these CMS platforms have extensive communities of developers and users who contribute to their development and improvement.
So we have all these amazing features that have kept PHP going for so many years. Now let’s come to the pressing issue.
Will PHP Stay Relevant?
This one’s a tricky question. On one hand, we have numbers that tell us that PHP is not going anytime anywhere soon, but developers are well aware of the fact that its usage is definitely declining.
PHP might have multiple benefits, but modern programmers are more interested in other technologies like Python, Node.JS, and .NET. These technologies might have tougher learning but offer more robustness and competence in terms of scalability and security.
PHP’s latest version, PHP 8, however, is witnessing increased adoption among developers, courtesy of its new improvements which include named arguments, JIT compilation, fibers, and Constructor Property Promotion.
On Reddit, PHP has almost 150,000 active members who are working towards making the language more dynamic by adding new frameworks, IDEs, libraries, etc.
Significant PHP Projects
In case you still have doubts about this technology, have a look at some of the big names that use PHP as their platform.
– Wikipedia – Surprised? Don’t be because one of the Internet’s widely used info-source runs on PHP 7.
– Facebook – Yes. Facebook is built on PHP and it uses its own PHP-based framework known as Hack.
– Tumblr – You read right. One of the world’s most popular blogging and networking site uses PHP to keep it up and running.
– Mailchimp – Once again, we have PHP powering the digital world’s famous email marketing and marketing automation platform.
– Etsy – The classic website of this classic handmade stuff and vintage items store is powered by PHP.
– Slack – PHP is also the empowering technology behind the proprietary communication and collaborative platform Slack.
The verdict is clear, PHP is very much relevant and is here to stay longer than anyone thought. But, if its active community fails to find a way to make it more proficient, secure, and reliable compared to its counterparts, then it ultimately is going to dwindle down.
The point to be noted is that if investors are willing to go for PHP web development, they can take their chances. After all, WordPress is the world’s most popular blogging platform, and we all know it’s PHP-powered.
So, although PHP shall continue to face increased competition from newer languages and frameworks, it will likely continue to be relevant for many years to come.