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I made a tongue-in-cheek comment in another question thread calling PHP a terrible language and it got down-voted like crazy. Apparently there are lots of people here who love PHP.

So I’m genuinely curious. What am I missing? What makes PHP a good language?

Here are my reasons for disliking it:

  • PHP has inconsistent naming of built-in and library functions. Predictable naming patterns are important in any design.
  • PHP has inconsistent parameter ordering of built-in functions, eg array_map vs. array_filter which is annoying in the simple cases and raises all sorts of unexpected behaviour or worse.
  • The PHP developers constantly deprecate built-in functions and lower-level functionality. A good example is when they deprecated pass-by-reference for functions. This created a nightmare for anyone doing, say, function callbacks.
  • A lack of consideration in redesign. The above deprecation eliminated the ability to, in many cases, provide default keyword values for functions. They fixed this in PHP 5, but they deprecated the pass-by-reference in PHP 4!
  • Poor execution of name spaces (formerly no name spaces at all). Now that name spaces exist, what do we use as the dereference character? Backslash! The character used universally for escaping, even in PHP!
  • Overly-broad implicit type conversion leads to bugs. I have no problem with implicit conversions of, say, float to integer or back again. But PHP (last I checked) will happily attempt to magically convert an array to an integer.
  • Poor recursion performance. Recursion is a fundamentally important tool for writing in any language; it can make complex algorithms far simpler. Poor support is inexcusable.
  • Functions are case insensitive. I have no idea what they were thinking on this one. A programming language is a way to specify behavior to both a computer and a reader of the code without ambiguity. Case insensitivity introduces much ambiguity.
  • PHP encourages (practically requires) a coupling of processing with presentation. Yes, you can write PHP that doesn’t do so, but it’s actually easier to write code in the incorrect (from a sound design perspective) manner.
  • PHP performance is abysmal without caching. Does anyone sell a commercial caching product for PHP? Oh, look, the designers of PHP do.

Worst of all, PHP convinces people that designing web applications is easy. And it does indeed make much of the effort involved much easier. But the fact is, designing a web application that is both secure and efficient is a very difficult task.

By convincing so many to take up programming, PHP has taught an entire subgroup of programmers bad habits and bad design. It’s given them access to capabilities that they lack the understanding to use safely. This has led to PHP’s reputation as being insecure.

(However, I will readily admit that PHP is no more or less secure than any other web programming language.)

What is it that I’m missing about PHP? I’m seeing an organically-grown, poorly-managed mess of a language that’s spawning poor programmers.

So convince me otherwise!

Courtesy: Stackoverflow

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