Is PHP becoming an obsolete programming language?

Is PHP an Obsolete Programming Language?

Is PHP as a back end web development technology slowly becoming obsolete?

Originally developed as a server side scripting language designed for web development and also used as a general purpose programming language, PHP was the biggest name in the web development industry when it came to that purpose.

Ever since the dawn of the internet as a mainstream tool, the back end of dynamic websites had been created using PHP, and although it served its purpose for a long time, todays high-end media-rich environment demands a lot more than what it can offer. Modern technologies and cutting edge tools like Ruby on Rails and Node.JS are becoming major players in the current market.

There are obvious reasons for this. While PHP, being a state of the art technology for its time, has been widely used for years for developing server-side web applications, it has had certain limitations that have always made it difficult to work with.

One of the problems with PHP is that the language and syntax are completely different from the client side programming languages  like JavaScript and mastering it requires one to develop a completely new set of skill.

So if a client side web programmer wanted to go into server side programming, he or she would have to master a completely new language with hardly any common features and similarities and also learn how to use intermediary applications that are required to run PHP.

Ruby on Rails and Node.JS on the other hand uses server-side JavaScript as a programming language that puts less strain on front end web programmers who want to move to back end as there is no difference in terms of language and syntax.

Hence PHP doesn’t offer the same level of flexibility for programmers in terms of switching between front and back end as does JavaScript. Using PHP for back end means using JavaScript for the front end. This way the overall design of the web is tightly coupled into two separate watertight compartments with significanlty different coding structure and architecture and the way tasks are implemented and carried out. Due to this the web has been segmented into two components with no relation to each other.

Furthermore, the library of PHP is limited in functionality or lacks certain features required for web development due to which applications are more difficult to develop. PHP libraries are known to have been developed organically without any rigid rules and conventions. Because of this its functions have been loosely and inconsistently named that makes using PHP not as professional as using Node JS and Ruby on Rails.

Although PHP is also evolving and introducing new versions with updated features intended to overcome some of its drawbacks, the every new version of PHP has brought along with it a myriad of technical issues and problems. There hasn’t been a release of PHP that didn’t have a number of problems, and the only way to get rid of them has been to upgrade, which in turn has brought newer problems as PHP does not have separate and stable development branches. Conventional debugging techniques in PHP don’t give proper feedback and the code often takes a long time to debug. In many cases one has to spend long hours in google doing research to solve problems and this can be true even for experienced programmers as PHP is highly inconsistent between different versions.

Security Ricks of PHP

Although, PHP is known to be a light-weight and highly flexible programming language that is quite easy to learn, has low barriers to entry and has plenty of online documentation guidelines including communities and web forums dedicated to assist PHP programmers in carrying out their tasks and make life easier for them, within its biggest strengths also lies its greatest weaknesses.

Due to being light-weight and flexible, its easy to implement and deploy by anyone with minimal knowledge including hackers and spammers who take advantage of its low barriers to entry. Since anyone with little knowledge and without a professional certification can build applications, there are a lot of cheaply made PHP applications out there that are not developed in a robust manner.

This has led to many security problems as many applications built using PHP are terribly unsafe. Its flexibility also makes it highly inconsistent as there are more than a dozen ways of solving the same problem. Hence code written by one programmer will be difficult to comprehend for another programmer with a different mind set, which is the exactly one of the reasons that it is hard to develop and debug. And although not really a big concern many developers have said that PHP code is usually cluttered and not as clean, clear and structured as server-side JavaScript. Because of all such issues with PHP that is not found in Ruby on Rails and Angular Node.JS, people are slowly moving away from PHP and into these new development frameworks.

The Future of PHP

Many industry experts are claiming that PHP can no longer be used for ambitious projects. As the web traffic in the internet is exponentially increasing with time, it is being said that web sites written in PHP can no longer sustain and support high volumes of traffic. Whatsoever, although new web development frameworks, platforms and programming languages are being introduced that is revolutionizing the industry, a lot of professionals still disregard the fact about PHP becoming obsolete.

Many experts predict that it will survive for a considerable duration of time, and there are many reasons to believe so. A vast majority of the websites in the internet has PHP deeply ingrained into their back end including Facebook that is known to have the biggest footprint on the internet. Huge pools of resources in internet are still based on PHP. While searching for a web hosting service, the services based off of PHP are the ones that are available most of the time. Despite the presence of other frameworks like Ruby on Rails, Angular Node.JS and Python, PHP is the only technology that seems to be available everywhere and completely getting rid of PHP would mean for vast amounts of resources on the internet to get compromised.

Hence, although PHP is slowly being phased out, the question of whether it’s obsolete is still a
mystery and an open ended argument.

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