PHP evolves at a rapid pace, both at the language level and at the community level. In fact, it evolves much faster than any other language or web platform.
PHP is used by 81% of all websites of which the server-side programming language is known. WordPress is used by 19.8% of all websites worldwide. If you take a look at the top three content management systems for the websites that use a monitored CMS, Wordpress is first with 58.2%, Joomla is second with 9.6%, and Drupal is third with 5.8%. These three products are all written in PHP.
PHP is also one of the easiest languages to learn for non-technical people. It allows everyone to create dynamic websites quickly and host them inexpensively.
PHP, the Language
The latest PHP release, PHP 5.5, comes with all of the bells and whistles you might dream of in a modern web language: namespaces, closures, and traits. Furthermore, PHP comes with a built-in web server that eases local testing... and it starts in a matter of microseconds.
$ php -S localhost:8888 -t web/
PHP, the Ecosystem
Having a good language is great, but having a great ecosystem is even better. And the PHP ecosystem has evolved a lot over the past few years.
Git is everywhere and PHP embraced Git pretty quickly. Almost all major PHP libraries, frameworks, and products are now using Git, including PHP itself.
PHP now has one of the best dependency managers, Composer. It allows you to declare the dependent libraries your project needs, and it will install them in your project for you. Browse Packagist, the main Composer repository. It already has 1900+ packages. Thanks to Git, Composer, and the PHP built-in web server, it has never been easier to download/install/test a PHP project.
$ composer.phar create-project symfony/framework-standard-edition
There are a lot of different frameworks written in PHP – from lite to feature-loaded. Your project requirements will determine which one will be the best fit for you and how fast your project will be released to production. Symfony, Zend, Yii, Codeigniter, CakePHP, Laravel frameworks and the use of best practices guarantees the stability, maintainability and upgradeability of the applications you develop.
Coding standards vary greatly among developers. PHP FIG (Framework Interoperability Group) attempts to standardize the way people use PHP. More and more of the best PHP frameworks, tools, and libraries are following these standards. This makes working with and integrating between different projects easier and more flexible.
PHP has always been known for its superb community collaboration. Not only between groups and people, but also between PHP projects -- even the very big ones, the ones you would think are large enough to not care about the others. phpBB, Drupal, eZ Publish, Symfony, and many others (phpDocumentor, PHPUnit, Behat, Zikula, Propel, Doctrine, Midgard, etc.) are sharing code. They are "competitors," but they all understand that cross-pollination is a good thing. And composer is a good enabler.
At Devbridge, we believe in being technology agnostic and leveraging the best of various development technologies. We are thrilled to be part of the PHP community and to be able to offer this platform to our clients.
Some of this blog thoughts about the PHP ecosystem are taken from the Fabien Potencier blog. Fabien is creator of the Symfony framework and one of the mens who drives whole PHP community forward.