In an enlightening interview, Cristiano revealed why he is so passionate about PHP and how he deals with criticisms regarding his favorite programming language
Q: Cristiano, thanks for accepting this interview. I would like to start by asking what makes you so passionate about PHP, and what do you value most about it when compared to other languages.
A: Honestly, I am not the best person to compare it to other languages because in fact, most of my working experience was with PHP. Obviously, I do know all the pretty and amazing new languages that appeared along the years, most of them with a dot js at the end, but my experience working with them could not be a fair comparative. So, I prefer to say why I kept with PHP, and if I had to choose only one argument, it would be the community around it.
It is simply huge and fantastic. A few years ago, I read a study that estimated the number of developers around the world to be a little bit more than 20 million, and a fourth of them had a good or advanced experience with PHP. Thanks to that it is so easy to find a solution or the help we need when we are stuck.
I had no trouble learning PHP by myself when I started my first job at a web agency. And since then, I had no difficulties to use many PHP based frameworks and CMS like Drupal, Magento or WordPress. And then I met Laravel and it has been a beautiful and long always growing experience.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same when I had to work with ASP classic for 3 years for example. Or when I had to help my colleagues with Angular or Nodejs. I noticed an enormous gap between PHP online community and other ones, and this can make a difference when you have to solve a problem fast.
Q: In 2021 it’s frequent for those who follow programming and attend development forums to come across articles that devalue PHP learning instead of other languages. As a senior PHP developer, how do you respond to these critics, and what recommendation would you like to give to a person who is starting to learn programming?
A: I do hear that PHP is dead since 2010 or even earlier. Guess what? It’s still here and still releasing new versions.
The problem was that very serious security issues were found with version 4. That and a big lack of performance as the internet and machine speed increased exponentially. Most of those problems just vanished with version 5 and kept improving until version 8 released last year.
So when they call me a dinosaur because I still use PHP, I think that who looks to 2005 in 2021 is the real dinosaur.
I’m not going to say that PHP is the best, because I simply don’t judge anything in those terms. I will say that it is the best to use in many scenarios, and yes, you can do amazing things and big projects with it. And like any other language, it has pros and cons. Universal truth, there is no perfect language for all software projects. Just choose right and stick to it.
For a junior developer I believe it is a very good start, especially if it starts with a framework like Laravel, which I simply love. And then, depending on his career, he can keep on learning and doing amazing things with PHP, or find another language that suits his needs.
However, if he’s worry about the future of his career, then I would tell him that I work with PHP for 16 years now. I have never been unemployed, and the only times I worked with other languages was by imposition. It may not be easy to find any .js language developer with such a long-time experience. Finally, last time I checked, more than 60% of all web-based projects over the internet are PHP based. Most of them are simple websites or e-commerce platforms indeed. But let’s face it, 60% is a lot and it means guaranteed jobs for many people.
Q: As you may know, Cleverti was present at Building the Future sponsored by Microsoft and we had the opportunity to participate in conferences about new software development trends. How do you look at low-code and no-code tools? Do you think it is part of a process of democratizing the technological evolution?
A: I wouldn’t say democratizing, maybe turning it more available. Let me explain my point of view with a well-known web tool: IFTTT (If This Than That) An amazing tool within everyone’s reach to execute actions based on conditions. You don’t need to be a developer to learn and use it very quick. The secret is always an extraordinary UI/UX. Nobody cares about the code behind that, but we know it’s huge and powerful. Most of the non-tech users use the basics of it. But when a good developer put his fingers on the keyboard, suddenly the possibilities seem endless. And we are talking about a very simple concept tool.
Now if we extrapolate that to software development, it’s just mind blowing. Common users can build their small/medium sizes projects without actual coding skills. But when you give that tool to a good developer, you can expect everything. The only thing important to be a success is the code behind and a good UI/UX. Obviously, there will be many “Dinosaurs” saying that you can’t do everything with those tools, that you need to code.
Obviously, and is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. Technological evolution doesn’t have to be code free, but it surely doesn’t have to be all about code either.
Q: Working remotely since the wedding with Cleverti, what aspects about working from home did you enjoy, and which did you find most challenging?
A: Indeed, working from home for the past 3 years has been a challenge. I know that many would say that they love working in jammies and slippers, but it’s not my case. Actually, I don’t do that. I do everything like if I would go to the office. I am lucky to have a room just for my office, so I can completely separate my working time from my personal life. The moment I step in the office in the morning I’m in work mode. What I do really enjoy about working from home is not losing time in the road. Since college that I love to give my time a purpose and the time I spent in traffic in the morning and returning home was simply a waste. So, this is perfect. At the end of the day, I step out the office and I can go play with my dog while there is still day light. Or cook dinner before my wife’s get home… from work.
However, the challenge is big in many ways. We really have to be self-disciplined and focused. It’s not always easy. But the lack of social interactivity is the worst for me.
With the actual pandemic and all colleagues at Cleverti working from home also, I told them a little joke. They shouldn’t be surprised if they started naming the walls. Sometimes, a bit of insanity is the sanest thing to do.