Writing PHP

PHP was my first programming language and set the stage for the rest of my career. This is both a good and bad thing. I wish my experience had a bit more compilation involved, but it didn’t. I started with a dynamic language that was special cased for inclusion in HTML.

Once I exited the world of PHP, I really didn’t look back too often. I had a couple scripts I maintained for the band website, but that was pretty much it. Recently though, I found CASH and it got me thinking about adding some code to the band website.

It is interesting coming back to PHP after so long away. I can still read PHP code, but that is a far shot from writing it from scratch. I had to look up basic syntax like how to create a class and loops. The whole public/private/protected paradigm was also rather awkward looking and it seemed best to avoid it. One funny thing is that my yasnippets library didn’t come with any pre-bundled PHP snippets. That was surprising, but probably says more about the recent popularity of the language.

The thing I like most about PHP is how simple it is to deploy. If you want to do something dynamic in a web page (note the use of “page” and not “application”), it is really hard to beat PHP. It is easy to find a host, drop some files on a server and you’re off and running. You don’t import code, you include or require it based on the filesystem. It simplicity all the way and that is really refreshing.

One thing that was kind of a pain was getting MySQL set up. Fortunately there are packages like MAMP that make the whole thing really painless.

It is fun to try and write code in PHP after a long time away writing Python (with a little C# and XSLT thrown in). It makes you realize that much of programming has nothing to do with the tools. Solving the problem ends up trumping everything, especially the language.