following is a short interview with Succinctly
series author José
Roberto Olivas Mendoza, whose latest book PHP Succinctly
was published on Monday, August 21. You can download the book here.
What should people know about PHP?
Why is it important?
In the past decade, web
development has been helping organizations deliver products or services (as
online software) directly to their customers on mobile and desktop platforms.
These customers don't need to install any software on their devices. All they
need to do is connect to the Internet and use the applications. This makes
those products very reliable, safe, and also cost effective.
We can find several kinds of
technologies behind web development, and PHP is one of the most popular among
them. Certain aspects of PHP have helped its popularity, like the fact it is an
open source and free programming language, which saves huge amounts of money in
development costs. These facts made PHP's development community grow
substantially around the world, so it's easier to find a PHP developer than a
developer for other technologies, such as ASP.NET or Java. PHP was made solely
for web development, so there's no need for an explicit compilation step before
running any application. Also, PHP is platform independent and can run across
all major operating systems and web browsers, and supports all major database
management systems such as MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and PostgreSQL.
I think it's important for people
to know about PHP because, in my opinion, it's the fastest and cheapest way to
enter the web development industry. It has a very small learning curve and widely
accessible support through a large community of developers around the world.
Also, there's no need to buy expensive software to use it.
When did you first become
interested in PHP?
My interest in PHP began when some
of our clients asked us for an online service to browse their e-invoices
produced with the software we provided them. As a Microsoft technologies user,
my first thought was ASP.NET, but at that time my crew was not trained in such
technology. When I went to hire developers for the project, I found that there
were not skilled people for ASP.NET in my town. Instead, a lot of PHP
programmers arrived at my office asking for a position in my company. So, I did
substantial research and found that it would be more effective to build our
online service based on PHP. First, because we had access to many skilled PHP
developers, and second, because there were many hosting providers for PHP with
cheaper costs than those for ASP.NET.
By writing this e-book, did you
learn anything new yourself?
Writing this e-book took me back
to those days when I began my research about PHP. It refreshed me on PHP’s
evolution over the years and taught me how PHP has accumulated more powerful
features, including some we can find in programming languages like C# or Java,
such as exceptions, serialization, or the null coalescing operator. Also, it
inspired me to develop a PHP code generator tool for building new company
How will this subject change over
the next few years?
I expect PHP will be changing
significantly not only over the next few years, but in the current one as well.
PHP 7 represented a huge change for the language from version 5.6.30 in terms
of performance and features. The community took advantage of the HHVM (HipHop
Virtual Machine) created by Facebook and published as open source code and
implemented it directly in PHP 7. The outcome was a PHP 7 faster than PHP 5.6
by 100%, maybe more. New PHP 7 releases have been published throughout 2017.
The latest one, according to the php.net/releases
website, is 7.1.7, released on July 6, 2017.
Do you see the subject as part of
a larger trend in software development?
PHP has become a highly robust and
mature language. Many developers around the world think that PHP 7 will
dominate all aspects of PHP development. This will be possible because of its
improved speed, an issue that made larger companies avoid the language in the
past. So, considering that there is a huge community of PHP developers, the
simplicity of the language, and a small learning curve which allows any
developer to deliver an application in a fraction of time compared to other
technologies, I think PHP will continue being popular for a long time to come.
What other books or resources on
this topic do you recommend?
There's a lot of PHP literature
and guides on the web. But if a developer needs to focus on certain PHP skills
or topics, I suggest the following books:
The Joy of
PHP Programming: A Beginner's Guide
by Alan Forbes
MySQL: Novice to Ninja by Kevin
PHP for the
Web: Visual QuickStart Guide
by Larry Ullman
...among many others that can be
bought online or in bookstores.