Monday, June 8, 2020

PHP at 25

Rasmus Lerdorf, in 1995 (via Reddit):

Announcing the Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools) version 1.0.

These tools are a set of small tight cgi binaries written in C. They perform a number of functions including:

  • Logging accesses to your pages in your own private log files
  • Real-time viewing of log information
  • Providing a nice interface to this log information
  • Displaying last access information right on your pages


The tools also allow you to implement a guestbook or any other form that needs to write information and display it to users later in about 2 minutes.

Like JavaScript, PHP has gotten a lot better over time, though it also retains many old flaws. The biggest surprise for me is that nothing else has come along that’s as easy to use and deploy. There are multiple templating systems for Python and Ruby, but none ever got integrated to the point where you could use it right out of the box.

Tim Anderson:

The PHP system evolved into one that now drives nearly 80 per cent of websites using server-side programming, according to figures from w3techs.


The Danish-Canadian programmer’s original idea was that developers still wrote the bulk of their web application in C but “just use PHP as the templating language.” However nobody wanted to write C, said Lerdorf, and people “wanted to do everything in the stupid little templating language I had written, all their business logic.”


Obsolete versions of PHP are commonplace all over the internet on the basis that as long as it works, nobody touches it. It has become the language that everyone uses but nobody talks about.

See also: What’s new in PHP 8.0.


Update (2020-06-11): See also: This timeline (via Colin Devroe).

1 Comment RSS · Twitter

While there are still a lot of VPS’s out there that run on a traditional LAMP stack, containerization continues to eat market share, and make the underlying technology / programming just a matter of preference for the individual programmer. I think containers are the new “easy to use and deploy”, because they are essentially nothing more than “apps for the server”.

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