PHP is 20 years old today. What have been your highs & lows using the language?
I’ve loved using PHP for about half of those 20 years coming in around PHP 4. There have been little hiccups over those years but none to really speak of. By far the biggest problem are hosts that are too lazy to upgrade, I have lost count of the number of sites that have either been hacked as a result or that are a dog to update due to old versions not meeting new requirements. Sadly, it is usually those same hosts that have sill restrictions such as safe mode and very tight limits elsewhere causing even more issues. So while the language is superb, many hosts tarnish it.
Well, its shallow learning curve and ubiquity means that its easy for the self-taught to be dangerous. That’s been handy. I first used it in anger to write online surveys because bureaus and off-the-shelf solutions were way too limited or hellishly expensive; self-build was a no brainer. Some would say that’s perfect hunting ground for php - the no-brainer bit - but I’ve never felt limited by the language and its relatively easy to get things done in seemingly sensible ways. My first CMS is still active today and requires a lot less maintenance than the usual monsters; wordpress, drupal, etc. Ok, that’s not a fair comparison given the relative complexity/scope but it’s hard not to miss the control of rolling-your-own.
Hosting has also been problematic here - my main provider started great and went steadily downhill. I tried to stay loyal but in the end the platform was so out-of-date, inconvenient and ultimately, insecure, no matter how well crafted the scripts.
I can’t think of any real lows with php - I’d have to go further back, probably to a terrible balls up with Ashton Tate dBase (yes!) which resulted in a “sub-optimal” mail merge operation on a live customer database. The fix was easy but part of the penance entailed stuffing envelopes over a weekend. Still, even that was fulfilling in its own way.
It pops up in unusual places - my favourite being the m0n0wall firewall (now retired);
… not that I messed with it in that context.
Generally, php isn’t on my radar - it’s just the thing that keeps on working. Other than relatively minor work updating database routines, I’ve not not really been hit by used-to-be-ok, now-deprecated issues. In contrast, new methods in html and css have been far more engaging.
So, php, you’ve served me well, Many Happy return;s