(originally posted jun 8, 2010)

I am not very fond of PHP.


PHP is one of the “go to” languages for web development. Actually, I suspect it’s the “go to” language of the same bunch that embraced VB (visual basic) in the ’90s.

You know – the ones that can program well enough to get into REAL trouble, but not well enough to make code that is elegant.

Sure, most PHP code (like older VB code) works, but has almost no ability to handle anything outside the meagre boundaries of the original problem. Give it some weird input, and it crashes like Windows ME.

I’ve been ressurecting an older PHP project this week, and that’s what got me thinking about all this. The code I’ve found (it was buried in a rather non-obvious place on the server) works, but it looks like crap (visually). The logic is a true cobble-together nightmare, with every single thing being a separate source file.

Worse, and this is perhaps the crux of my argument, the code is a mish-mash of programming “stuff”. And it’s 100% “good” PHP. There’s regular expressions right next to weird function calls right next to cryptic command, arguments and stuff that looks like it came out of some horrid bash script.

The real problem with PHP is that it’s a utiltity language, and that means that it’s been cobbled together from bits and pieces of all the other utility languages that came before it… shell scripting, awk, grep, (and other unix ‘stuff’), perl and who-knows what other languages… all thrown together in a washing machine’s spin cycle to tumble around into PHP.

In short – horrid. Certainly in danger of becoming a “write only” language.

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