All I want for Christmas…
Note: this post was first published as part of PHP's "24 Days in December" Advent event.
Let's set aside all practical concerns for a moment — it's Christmas, after all. If you could choose — freely choose: what would you change about PHP?
Would you want generics or the pipe operator? Maybe you'd like to see consistent function signatures or get rid of the dollar sign. Type aliases, scalar objects, autoloading for namespaced functions, improved performance, less breaking changes, more breaking changes — the list goes on.
But what if I told you, you had to pick one, and only one. What would it be?
My number one feature isn't in this list. Even worse: my number one wish for PHP will probably never happen. But like I said at the beginning: let's set aside all practical concerns. Let's dream for a moment, not because we believe all dreams come true; but because dreams, in themselves, are valuable and give hope — it is Christmas, after all.
It was a language that — legend says — was written in two weeks. Yet it grew to be the most popular programming language people had ever seen, almost by accident.
Let's talk about PHP. I've been writing it for more than a decade now. I love the PHP community, I love the ecosystem, I love how the language has managed to evolve over the years. At the same time I believe there's room for PHP to grow — lots of room. And so I dream.
But dreams seldom come true.
And that's ok. It means my dream is probably unrealistic, but it also means something much more important.
My realisation recently is that PHP is already awesome. People are already building great things with it. Sure, maybe PHP is boring compared to the latest and greatest programming languages, and sure you might need to use another language if you're building something for those 0.1% of edge cases that need insane performance. My dream of a superset of PHP might be one of many approaches, but it sure isn't the only viable path forward.
Even without that dream of mine: PHP is doing great. It's not because of how its designed, it's not because of its syntax. It's not because of its top-notch performance and it's not because of its incredible type system. It's because people like you are building amazing things with it. Whether you're using PHP 8.2 or not; whether your running it serverless or asynchronous or not; whether you're writing OOP, FP, DDD, ES, CQRS, Serverless or whatever term you want to throw at it — you are building awesome things. It turns out a language is rarely the bottleneck, because it's merely a tool. But "PHP" is so much more than just a language, it's so much more than just a tool. That's because of you.
Thank you for being part of what makes PHP great. Happy holidays.