Why PHP is still the leading web development language

PHP is one of the most widely used programming languages in the world and has been around for years. This of course is not by accident. Developers are a picky bunch, and prefer working with languages which are constantly being improved, have widespread support online, and allow them to achieve fantastic things for their clients with ease.

So where other languages have fallen by the weigh side over the years, how has PHP managed to remain a leading web development language after all this time?

In this article, we’ll list the reasons why PHP is such an attractive option web development agencies and developers, and why you can’t afford to discount PHP for your next web-based project.

1. PHP is easy to learn

Having been in and around the commercial development scene for a long time now, it’s plain to see that there's widespread adoption of PHP. Because PHP is so intuitive to learn, well documented and extremely well supported online, learning PHP as opposed to other languages is a much more enjoyable exercise. For example:

2. PHP hosting and resourcing is significantly cheaper

One of the major differences between PHP and other server-side programming languages is that PHP hosting costs virtually nothing. Seriously, you can pick up a shared account for as little as a few dollars per month and you’re good to go. Contrast this to developers who are looking to learn a Microsoft-based language such as .NET, and you’re generally going to pay more, making it that little bit less attractive of an option to begin with. That’s not to say that Windows hosting is ‘out of this world expensive’, but there is a cost differential, especially when you’re talking about more robust solutions.

However, where you really see a difference between PHP and other languages is in the cost to hire programmers. For example, online research site PayScale.com sites that the median cost to hire a PHP developer in Australia is approximately $66,000 annually. Interestingly enough PyScale sites a .NET developer at the same rate of $66,000 annually, but is this accurate in our local market? In our opinion these figures don’t tell you what the local market is truly dictating. If you search for a .NET programmer on seek.com.au, the base salary range is between $80,000 to a $100,000. Search for a PHP developer, and there's plenty of options around the $70,000 mark. Now that's a major cost differential I'd rather have in my back-pocket.

PHP average salary in Australia

3. PHP frameworks such as Laravel are awesome!

Over the past decade there has been a movement from classic language development to framework-driven programming. If you’re new to programming language and the associated methodologies that surround them, frameworks offer a means of working with pre-built modules that can be customised to achieve common functionality without having to re-invent the wheel; and PHP has some great ones.

At OSE we’re big fans of PHP Laravel. We’ve built a number of projects using Laravel as the basis of our solution, and it’s been very well received internally and by our clients. The key features of PHP Laravel have been the flexibility of the framework, ease of which developers can pick-up the language, and the number of solid modules which are available to be used.

Frameworks are arguably ‘the lazy programmers’ way of getting things done, but in the case of Laravel, it’s well thought out, free, and scales extremely well making it a great option for beginners all the way through to advanced developers.

4. PHP scales up and down with the same ease

One of the really great features of PHP is the ability to scale up or down on-demand when hosted on cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS). PHP as a language is extremely effective at running highly intensive database oriented applications using services such as MySQL and Amazon RedShift, yet can equally handle a small-scale blog or content-driven site using WordPress without issue.

Because scalability is such an issue online these days, finding a language stack that can be with you on the journey and is affordable to work with is very important to organisations these days, and is a major focus of the PHP development community. Not only this, but PHP’s relationship with other wildly popular front-end languages such as JavaScript have made it a choice many developers and organisations are finding a godsend, given the flexibility of this server-side and client-side language combo provide.

5. Extending your application is a fundamental requirement these days

If you’ve ever wanted to connect your website or mobile app to an external service, payment gateway or Software as a Service application (SaaS), one thing for sure is that 99/100 companies who offer an integration will provide a pre-built integration using PHP or something that will work with PHP.

If you’ve ever had to do this, there’s nothing worse than buying a license for a shiny new application only to find out you’re going to have to double handle data or undertake an extensive process to migrate or share data between your applications. What a pain!

With this in mind, PHP has for some time now been a stalwart of the integration stack for most SaaS companies because it's no secret that there's widespread usage of the language globally and they need to support it. Therefore, if you’re building a website or app in PHP, your life is going to be a whole lot easier when it comes to extending your services.

Take some of the more common use cases we see at OSE that may occur for you:

All of these common use cases are so much more difficult without the support of external companies if you’re on a language they don’t recognise. With PHP, this issue largely disappears.

Conclusion

So, if you’re not convinced by now that PHP is here to stay and is a fantastic resource to build your next website, I suggest you read above again!

Simply talk to any group of developers and you’re highly unlikely to hear a bad word about PHP. Most have extensive experience with the language or know of someone who is well versed in PHP, and love learning the new features consistently being pushed out by the owners of PHP.

For me personally, PHP was the first server-side language I learnt many years ago, but certainly not the only one. However, it is the only language in the space that I consistently come back to because it delivers what I need time and time again.

If you’re looking to build a website or application, we recommend giving PHP a go. For more information, feel free to get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.