PHP in 2021 (video)
Back in December, I made this video looking back on PHP in 2021. You can watch it (make sure to like and subscribe if you liked it), or you can read the transcript here if you don't like watching videos.
It’s the end of 2021 and I still hear some people say they think PHP is dead. They are wrong, let’s talk about that.
Let’s start with the language itself. It’s been actively developed for the past decade, with a new release every year. And just to name a few features that have been added recently:
- The match operator
- Named arguments
- Typed and readonly properties
- FFI which stands for foreign function interface and allows cross-language communication
- Property promotion
- Fibers — also known as green threads or coroutines
- Null coalescing
- Array spreading
- The JIT — a just-in-time compiler
- And Attributes — also known as annotations for better meta programming
And these are just my favourites, there’s much more. All of that to say that PHP is a rich language these days. On top of that, static analysis has grown in popularity over the years, allowing for generics, closure definitions and quite a lot more; and we see more and more people and projects adopting static analysis tools like Psalm and PHPStan. It’s quite powerful.
Finally, when it comes to the language itself: just recently the PHP foundation was announced. A non-profit with the goal to support, promote, and advance PHP. They are backed by companies like
- Automattic (that’s the company behind wordpress)
- and Craft;
just to name a few. Their only focus is to be able to pay core developers so that they can work on PHP full time. The foundation was announced less than a month ago, and has raised Two hundred fourteen thousand dollars to date, with a yearly goal of slightly less than three hundred thousand.
Besides the language itself — which I can assure you is stable and very much alive — PHP has a large and active community. Packagist is the most popular package manager, and has a total of almost fifty billion downloads. With around one point five billion new downloads each month.
Next there are the immensely popular web frameworks live Symfony and Laravel, and CMSs like WordPress and Craft.
There’s also the async community — don’t be mistaken: PHP can perfectly run asynchronously like for example you’d do with node. There’s Swoole and RoadRunner which are low-level components that optimize PHP’s runtime for asynchronous programming, but there also are high-level packages that you can plug into any project: packages like Amp and ReactPHP.
Finally, PHP is just a fun language to work with. It’s mature, performant, has a huge community, and is actively developed. I like working with PHP. You might prefer other languages which is totally fine, but there’s absolutely no reason to say that PHP is dead. It’s very much alive.