Creating Effective Web Applications


My case for using plain PHP

30 01 2007, Michiel van Vlaardingen

Nobody likes the way PHP code looks, it just does not feel right if you have ever seen anything else. The libraries are horribly designed, there is no consistent naming, variable ordering and no nice interfaces for database access. So from an objective viewpoint I would never use it, still at Movinglabs we use if for all our projects. Why???

Just get started

In PHP you can just get started, no need to setup anything, just write a line of code and it works. Ok, you need to install a webserver, PHP and a database, but using a (free) hosted environment you could even get around that. This is important because the idea for your new small project might be gone by the time you have found out which framework to use, how to set it up, how to solve all those dependencies, etc.

No framework boundaries

Ever coded a beautifull framework in e.g. Java, everything works, you can build things SO quickly and ellegant. And then... there is this tiny important feature which made you redesign the whole thing again. With PHP there is allways an easy way out, it might not be pretty, but it's allways there. This means every next feature will take approximatly as much time as the size of that feature, never unexpected cost of reworking your strict framework.


What is important is that PHP gives you a choice how you want to do things. You can create a very nice library for the things you are going to use in other projects, while hacking a setup script together which you are only use once. All in the same language. If you are capable off using advanced text search and replace tools you can easily refactor the most horrible application. Stuff can be moved in any way you want, no restrictions. You could put all your code in a single file and get away with it. (You might just have a wonderfull text editor which is very capable of jumping up and down to the right parts of the code)

Instant response

An advantage of all interpreted languages and therefore also PHP is instant response to your changes. Webapplications often have a lot of easy to fix, minor errors, it's horrible to go through the whole build cycle every time you fix (or allmost fix) a bug.

Large support

There is so much development going on with PHP that there is allways a solution to your problem. Anything you can think off has been countered by somebody before. Libraries are available for anything you like and there is allways a way to hack it all together. Even PHP itself includes allmost any function you can think of.

This also holds for hosting, you do not need your own dedicated server. You're application can be deployed allmost anywhere.

No limits

PHP might not be perfect, it might not be the fastest way for all cases, it never looks clean and the compatibility between version 4 and 5 is horrible. In the end, PHP just behaves as it should, as a tool, never limiting our creativity or frustrating the process.

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