Friday, September 15, 2006

But, didn't PHP break the Web in the first place?

Rasmus Lerdorf is an opinionated man.

However, so am I, so I have some things to say about these particular opinions. Lerdorf is claiming the web is broken. I do not disagree. Lerdorf is claiming PHP is the cure, and I couldn't disagree more if he had written that statement on a shard of tin and jammed it in my stomach.

That is quite a strong disagreement.

I mean, didn't PHP break the web in the first place?

Right off the bat, I should note that I do believe PHP can be used well. Any language (almost) can be used properly enough that it can be a decent environment to use, so long as you follow strict rules. PHP is a great example of a language that promotes ignoring any rules. Following a good set of policies, one can develop well structured and elegant applications with PHP, but the fact of the matter is that the language does very little to promote anything in the way of good use of itself.

PHP might not promote bad coding, but it simply does so little in the way of promoting good code that it might as well provide facilities for plaintext passwords in querystrings built in at the global level. There are too many aspiring developers finding their way to PHP, being drawn by the crowd, rather than the quality of the language. There is a critical mass of bad information about all the wrong ways we can do things in PHP, and none of them tell you its the wrong way. Are they evil? No, they just don't know any better either.

PHP is not evil. PHP broke the web with nothing but good intentions. PHP still broke the web, and only with a massively backwards-compatibility breaking (and that means no options to enable it back!) revisions to the langauge would anything be remedied. Even in that case, either everyone will migrate to other languages or the language would fork, because the only way to fix PHP is to become like Perl 6 and not exist at all.

I am beginning to sound like a language biggot.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

beginning????


ah, that's ok. i think we all are language bigots anyway. but fighting php is like swimming upstream. unless you care to invent something better. why do you think php is so popular when so many other things are better? 1) it's fast and ubiquitious. 2) it's simple. 3) it has a powerful (in the sense of functionality, not necessarily in terms of quality) standard library
4) the user-annoted documentation REALLY helps, even though a lot of it is stupid or wrong. who cares -- you can solve your problem quickly and easily (albeit wrongly)

basically, php was available and easy. python might be the latter but it's not much of the former.

jamie

eMBee said...

"something better" would be for many people to actually take programming classes and learn how programming is done.

php became popular because it allowed non-programmers access to a programming language.

php is not faster than related languages. it became ubiquitous only because it was accessible to non-programmers.

it is not simple but complex like any programming language. it is easy to embedd into html. but that is a problem in itself.

other languages have powerful libraries too.

yes, the documentation is good.but wrong things are dangerous. and non-programmers do not understand the problems they are creating.

anything better than php would be less easy for the non-programmer or less powerful.

Anonymous said...

and these better solutions exist.
other programming languages,
html templating systems.

they will just never be as popular, because php gets so much attention.

I write here about programming, how to program better, things I think are neat and are related to programming. I might write other things at my personal website.

I am happily employed by the excellent Caktus Group, located in beautiful and friendly Carrboro, NC, where I work with Python, Django, and Javascript.

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