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Is PHP Going to Remain the Preferred Web Development Tool?

It seems that whenever a new technology becomes hot, industry analysts immediately begin declaring older technologies dead. With the rise of popularity of development tools like Ruby on Rails, some people are questioning whether PHP will remain viable as a web platform. This seems utterly ridiculous. PHP has a number of things going for it that will ensure that it will not only remain viable but preferred as a web development tool for a long time.

According to Netcraft, PHP powers over 20 million domains on the web today. That represents a huge pool of development talent that are trained and skilled in PHP. The sheer number of developers working in PHP is one reason that PHP will remain viable as a web technology well into the future. Retraining developers is a time consuming and expensive task. As long as developers continue to prefer PHP, it will remain viable as a web development tool. Remember many business decision makers do not have the technical background to select the development platform. They defer to the developers, who are most likely to chose what they already know.

Beyond the expense of retraining developers is the expense of converting existing applications from PHP to some other development platform. It is unlikely that many of these sites will be reimplemented in a newer language. The sheer volume of sites that are developed in PHP and will required ongoing maintenance into the future will help to ensure that PHP remains viable as a web development tool. Maintaining and adding capabilities to existing sites will require developers that know PHP which further drives its use.

PHP continues to grow as a web development technology. With version 5, PHP’s object oriented capabilities were greatly improved. The new Zend engine also brought a great number of performance improvements. By not becoming a stagnant language, PHP further ensures that it will remain a viable web development tool. PHP adds new capabilities and so far, has managed to keep pace with the needs of developers.

Many of the new competing products are frameworks. Ruby on Rails actually represents a language (Ruby) and a framework for rapid development (Rails). PHP has a number of frameworks with similar capabilities. CakePHP has a number of features that are very similar to Rails. The proliferation of frameworks for PHP seems to suggest that it will continue to remain viable as a web development tool. The emergence of these frameworks suggest that developers are ready to embrace the concepts presented by newer frameworks like Rails but are rejecting learning a new language. Instead, they would prefer to work with a framework in a familiar language, PHP.

Developer preference often has more to do with whether a technology remains viable or not. The emergence of PHP frameworks and the sheer numbers of sites developed in PHP suggest that most web developers continue to favor PHP as a web development tool. PHP’s evolution as a language and ability to keep pace with developer’s needs, also suggests that PHP will remain a viable web development tool for some time.

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