Is PHP following in Perl’s footsteps?

Reading a post by Ryan Boren about the difficulties WordPress has in moving to PHP5, it strikes me that the PHP4/5 conundrum is similar to what happened with Perl 4/5.

I’m showing my age by confessing I was coding in the Perl 4 days, but I remember that when Perl 5 came along, there was much handwringing about the difficulties of upgrading. The perceived difficulties meant that developers were open to exploring alternatives, and it’s no coincidence that the period of switching from Perl 4 to Perl 5 (roughly 1994 to 1999) coincided with PHP usurping Perl’s position as the premier web scripting language.

The positions were quite similar – there was a huge installed base of Perl 4 applications, but much of the most exciting new web apps were being developed in PHP. Right now there’s a huge installed base of PHP4 apps, but while the hosts are stuck on PHP 4, much of the cool new stuff is being done in Python or Ruby, which both seem to be preferred by early adopters.

In South Africa that certainly seems to be the case. With PHP not being taught in tertiary institutions, and developers tending to explore Ruby/Python on their own rather than PHP, it’s become very difficult to find good PHP developers.

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8 comments

  1. Hi Ian

    Since I am an avid Python (and Ruby) fan I am very happy to hear that our higher education institutes are not teaching PHP. But what are they teaching? (You seem to imply that its not Python or Ruby)
    Hopefully its not Java?

  2. Perl 4/5 change was pretty huge from what I remember. I’d love it if the PHP dev’s would use some c unit test framework to unit test the php c source code as well. And also expand the phpt’s along the way.

  3. Neville, most probably .NET! Yugh.

    What you say is true. Although I’m still developing everything in PHP, I’m also exploring alternatives. Must admit, Python is my preference! With Cherrypy, there is very little limits it seems. Learning still. Long way to go before I’ll venture my first Cherrypy production site!

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