Why Use PHP in 2020? Main Advantages and Disadvantages

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It’s no secret that PHP does not have the best reputation among web developers and programmers in general. Although it is still one of the most used languages for creating PHP web development, it still drags a reputation of insecure code, inexperienced developers, incompatible base library, and whatnot. Despite all this, you can write clean, supported, fast, and reliable PHP applications. But the question is “should you?”

Prejudice aside, let’s take a look at both advantages and disadvantages of PHP to figure out if it is still worth using in 2020.

Advantages of PHP

If you’re struggling to answer the question ”why do people hate for PHP”, It is important to consider all arguments and look at this programming language from different angles. Contrary to all the negativity around PHP, here is a list of benefits that make PHP widely applicable in web development:

  • PHP development opens up a variety of opportunities for SME businesses. With the proper knowledge in hand, you can create not only scripts for web applications but also programs. There are a set of turnkey solutions that allow creating awesome mobile applications in PHP
  • Learning PHP does not require much time. It has a mild learning curve, which means you can faster it quickly. Alternatively, if you are not a tech person, you can find a team of PHP engineers fast compared to other programming languages. 
  • PHP enables you to build cross-platform solution, meaning you can run them on any operating system. 
  • Most web servers support PHP.
  • PHP is open-source as well as other tools for working with it. If you opt for any other alternative, be sure you’ll have to allocate more resources. 
  • Lots of materials for learning PHP available online. If something doesn’t work out for you, you can always look it up – your counterparts must have encountered a similar problem. 
  • Continuous development. PHP team has been trying to maintain a constant annual release cycle and has succeeded in this for the past four years.

Disadvantages of PHP

Albeit PHP is quite popular among small and large businesses, it has certain drawbacks that need to be taken into account when you’re choosing a tech stack for your next application:

  • Limited opportunities. If you have been a PHP developer for a while, you have one way – to the web. And although the possibilities are expanded by various implementations, it is geared for this type of programming only. 
  • Safety. PHP has security features both at the web application level and the system level. But, its widespread use has its consequence: “holes” in PHP appear faster than developers manage to close them. Although PHP 7 has solved many problems, the attacker is always ahead.
  • Contradictions in the code. When the template engine was first created, all software was developed using C programming language, meaning a lot of syntax from it was applied in PHP. At the same time, Java components have been also applied here, which means there is a lot of contradictory that might affect the quality of the end product. 

But the core of all the issues that PHP is associated with is not provoked by the template engine itself, but rather by the surrounding circumstances. The language itself was perfectly integrated into the development of modern web applications. Since the late 90s, PHP chosen in the tech stack in 8 out of 10 cases. There are not many of such “centenarians” in programming: trends change very quickly.

Let’s also remember that PHP was initially tailored to the needs of web developers. And if a junior developer makes mistakes in it, this is not so crucial. Besides, people who have gained experience in learning PHP are much more willing to develop further than those who have lost enthusiasm due to the language being too complex, like Java.

PHP Opportunities in 2020

PHP wouldn’t have been so popular among web developers if it hadn’t developed so rapidly. We are now at version 7.4, and the next version will be PHP 8.0 that will be released in December 2020. The new version is going to bring a set of new features, including the JIT compiler, union types, and attributes.

In general, each new release is actively supported for two years and receives another year of “security fixes”. The goal is to encourage developers to keep a hold of the latest news: small updates every year are easier than, for example, switching from 5.4 to 7.0.

Besides, PHP is so widely used that learning materials rolled out almost synchronously with the new versions. Each year PHP is predicted to be completely replaced with analogs for various reasons. It is believed that the server-side in the language will not be needed, and it will be completely replaced by client-side JavaScript. However, new PHP frameworks still come out, and the number of PHP-supported websites doesn’t go down.

Wrapping Up

With its constant development and the new version on the way, PHP is clearly a language of web-based applications that is still worth learning and using in 2020. For those who have already learned C or similar languages, learning PHP will open new opportunities. And even if you are new to the world of programming, it will not cause much trouble to master PHP due to its short learning curve and extended knowledge base. 

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