In this article, we will talk about the current state of affairs and the most probable near future of the contradictory PHP language.
Among IT specialists, PHP has a far from ideal reputation – this is no secret to anyone. It’s disadvantages include extremely poor organization of the code, which turns out to be unsafe and full of “holes”. Unstable libraries, the lack of rich experience among developers, and much more.
However, PHP is still one of the most popular languages for building web applications. Most of the shortcomings are in the past. So now it can be confidently called a worthy tool. With PHP you can write reliable, manageable and relevant projects.
Before delving into the details, let’s find out how PHP is doing right now. To date, the latest version is 7.4. At the end of 2020, the next one will be PHP 8.
After the 5th version, the creators of the language began to successfully adhere to the sequential cycle of creating updates. They have managed to comply with the annual plan for the past 4 years. All new releases were supported for 2 years. For the third, active support was replaced by “security fixes only”.
Now a group of volunteers is working on PHP. There is a special discussion board open to all comers. There you can see an active discussion on the topic of language development. If interested, be sure to check out and read.
There are two main web development frameworks – Symfony and Laravel. In addition, there are smaller tools like Laminas, Code Igniter, Cake and some others. But for those who want to immerse themselves in modern PHP development, it is better to choose one of the two main ones.
The purpose of these frameworks is to develop. Therefore, if you are exclusively interested in content management, use WordPress, Statamic or CraftCMS. Because they have important advantage as continuous improvement.
The frameworks have a wide ecosystem of packages, as well as fully finished products. This includes admin panels, customer relationship management systems, standalone packages, web socket servers, payment integration, and many other useful things.
To assess the current state of the ecosystem of the PHP language, you need to look at the main repository: approximately 25 million downloads every day.
This is a graph showing how the number of packages and versions increases over time:
You can find Much more statistics on the site: Packagist.
In addition to frameworks and content management systems, there is now an increase in the number of asynchronous frameworks (environment Swool, Amp and library ReactPHP). This softwares are created in languages that allow users to work with asynchronous code, including PHP.
If we talk about the times of the 5th version, PHP performance can be called the maximum average. But in the 7th version, the core was greatly rewritten. Thereby increasing its efficiency several times. The second important reason for increasing productivity was preloading, due to which it became possible to store compiled sections of code in memory.
In PHP 8, the JIT compiler will be another accelerator. Among other things, it should open the door for PHP to areas other than web development.
Apparently, the eighth version will be a decisive step forward. Even at the moment, PHP is a very good tool for developing different websites. You need to keep in mind that it is constantly being updated. Which means that it certainly will not soon lose its relevance.