Previously, I spoke about the implications of Traversy’s ‘roadmap video’ in terms of what it says about the web development genre on YouTube and Traversy’s channel in particular.

Now, I want to talk about what Traversy’s video says about the state of PHP.

For PHP, the Traversy video is a train wreck. A complete and resounding disaster.

If somebody like Chris Hawkes had produced a video that ignored PHP or portrayed PHP in a negative light then it wouldn’t be particularly Earth shattering. That’s because Hawkes is not a PHP developer. He never has been. Traversy, on the other hand, is a different story. Traversy has a history with PHP that dates back for many years. Both on Udemy and on YouTube, Traversy has taught PHP extensively. As a matter of fact, his course on how to build a PHP framework was instrumental in the class loading system for the Trongate framework!

Whilst Traversy insists that Laravel is in his ‘top five favourite frameworks’, I think we can safely say that Traversy has moved on from PHP. That’s something that should be extremely concerning for those of us who use PHP.

What's Wrong With PHP?

The story of my life, for the past three years, has been discussing what’s wrong with PHP and trying to fix it.

  • Rewrite Culture

  • Over-engineering

  • Certification

  • Self-appointed governing bodies

  • The active discouragement of innovation

  • Extensive dependency on third-party libraries

  • Bad practices like PSR-4 autoloading

  • A broken ecosystem (namely, Packagist)

Anyone who is familiar with my content is probably tired of hearing me babbling on about these things!

However, I think there’s a problem with the PHP community that’s even greater than all of the above. Bizarrely, it’s something that I’ve never spoken about before and - all these years - it has been staring us right in the face.

Consider this.

If you look at promotional material (if we may use that phrase) for anything to do with technologies like Golang, Rust or NodeJS, the language used is almost always describing how these things offer a better solution relative to other languages. PHP is different.

Over the years, the figureheads of PHP - both in terms of the core PHP guardians as well as the framework makers - have constantly looked inward. The makers of frameworks like Symfony and Laravel appear to be constantly promoting their assets relative to other PHP alternatives. They do not appear to recognise NodeJS, GoLang and others as their competition and this is a huge mistake.

For frameworks like Symfony and the Zend Framework, the framework guardians have been so busy pushing exams and certificates that they have effectively taken their eyes off the ball. Ask yourself:

When is the last time you saw any PHP framework maker or any PHP guardian discussing why PHP is better than NodeJS?

It never happens.

Instead of taking the fight to NodeJS and others, we of the PHP community have squabbled among ourselves like a bunch of cackling hens. Take the appropriately named PHP Ugly podcast, for example. They’ll happily spend time attacking the Trongate PHP framework. However, can anybody give me a solitary example of an episode where they defended PHP relative to other, non-PHP technologies? The answer, I'm sure, is a resounding 'no'.

On YouTube, PHP gets ridiculed constantly and erroneously. Take the ‘Why Isn’t Functional Programming The Norm?’ video - for instance (there shall be no link!). That video makes a variety of negative claims about PHP that are demonstrably false. It also has over a million views. YouTube appears to be pushing anti-PHP material. Now, if you have a close look at the comments for that video or videos like that, you may find me arguing ferociously in defence of PHP. Do you know who you won’t see? Fabian or Taylor!

The Facebook / Wikipedia Myth

YouTube has certainly had an overall negative impact on the popularity of PHP. One of the biggest problems is a lack of honest research from lazy YouTubers who have nothing interesting to say nor any time to do an hour or two of honest research.

For example, just think about the number of times we’ve had YouTubers - like Stef Mischook - say,

“PHP gets used by companies like Wikipedia and Facebook”

Every time I hear that it makes my toes curl.

Is that all they’ve got? After all these years are we STILL falling back on the entirely non-relevant Facebook / Wikipedia examples? Holy moly - PHP powers 80% of the web! Are you seriously telling me that those two non-examples are the only examples that you've got?

By the way, Facebook does not use PHP. Facebook uses an interpreted language that was designed in-house called ‘HHVM’. It has PHP syntax and some of the features of PHP but it’s not PHP. As for Wikipedia, is that even a business?

Last night, during a live stream, I carried out fifteen minutes of honest research in front of a live audience. I was interested in finding out who is using PHP. In just fifteen minutes I discovered that Coca-Cola use PHP. Can you believe it? That’s one of the biggest brands in the world using PHP and nobody is talking about it!

If PHP is ever going to stand any chance of becoming great again, we PHP developers have to stop squabbling among themselves and we have to start taking the fight to the rest of the web development industry. I can assure you, PHP is outstanding. We have a lot to be proud of.

To the self-appointed aficionados and certificate sellers, I'd like to say:

Can you please, take a few minutes break from selling your bullschitt certificates and consider joining me as a defender of PHP?

If the PHP community does not stop looking inwards then PHP will continue to decline. We should never underestimate how quickly things can move in the IT world. Right now, PHP is in a very precarious state. All of us who use PHP - regardless of our choice of framework - must join together as defenders of PHP. If we don't then PHP is done.

How to be a defender of PHP

Being a defender of PHP means speaking up whenever you see somebody attacking PHP. It means setting the record straight when you see somebody posting information about PHP that is negative and false. It means taking the time to do good research and posting good, well-informed thoughtful information about PHP. TOP TIP: The phrase, "Used by Facebook and Wikipedia" isn't working!

For individual PHP developers, I would say to you, TALK ABOUT PHP.

Personally speaking, I know for a fact that PHP gets used by almost every car manufacturer on Earth, including Tesla. I know this because I wrote the code! I also have a friend who has written PHP for one of the biggest cell phone providers on Earth. You’d never know because nobody ever talks about these things. It's time for all commercial PHP developers - including myself - to change this policy. We have to start talking about who has been hiring us and what we've been building.

If you have been hired by a large corporation to write something with PHP, talk about it! Let your experience be recorded in the history books and let people know that PHP matters… and so does your time, by the way!

For my part, I’m willing to declare a truce against other PHP frameworks. If you use PHP then I’m willing to turn a blind eye to what framework you’re using and I’m ready to call you my brother or my sister.

PHP developers have a choice.

We can either stop the petty squabbling and take PHP forward or else we can continue as we are and watch PHP go down.

I say, it's time for the PHP community to come together as defenders of PHP. It's time to make PHP great again.

Are you with me? I hope so. Choose wisely!


Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels