@madpilot rants

Dead-man walking… bar the 11th hour reprieve.

It would be pretty safe to say that PHP is the language of choice for freelance developers and boutique designers. I suppose that this stems from the fact that is freely available, easy to set up and and easy to administer, which results in almost every web host (in Australia at least) running it. In fact, most hosts over here ONLY run PHP.

It would be interesting to see why ASP.NET hasn’t got more market penetration than it has – as much as I hate to say it, I’m putting my money on the fact it costs money.

CGI/PERL scripts are quickly fading away into obscurity – I remember when they were the only choice you had. It’s a security and maintainence thing. RIP mod_perl.

ColdFusion support over here is Oz is virtually non-existent. There are two hosts here in Perth, although it still seems popular in government and places that host their own servers.

New, funky languages such as Python and Ruby are still in their minority. From a configuration stand-point, Python is no better than PERL. It is still effectively a scripting language that has been extended to work with the web. At least PHP was specifically designed as such. Ruby is too new and support intensive. I hope that this changes. It looks cool (Although, I don’t like the syntax – I’m a fan of the curly bracket. So shoot me).

It seems that PHP was in the right place at the right time. When it arrived, dynamic web was still in it’s infancy – you had PERL and that was it. It allowed pretty complex systems to be built easily and cheaply (Sure, Coldfusion and ASP were around then, but were usually out of reach of the tinkerer), now it has so much history, no one wants to let go.

So we are left with old-trusty PHP…

Now, don’t get my wrong – PHP has treated me well. In fact, up until recently, PHP counted for 95% of the coding that I did. But, the lack of some object oriented features urked me – in particular exceptions and interfaces. It is very difficult to implement design patterns properly without the ability to abstract, overload or interface.

Now before any of you point out that PHP 5 has implemented most of this stuff, let me cut you off at the pass. I know PHP 5 supports many of the thinks that I’ve been waiting for, but I’m still stuck using PHP 4 for day-to-day work. Why? BECAUSE YOU CAN’T RUN THEM BOTH AT THE SAME TIME – well, not easily anyway.

I’ve been working with the ASP.NET 2 Beta for the last couple of months and it has no problems co-existing with ASP.Net 1.x, all you do is change a setting in IIS and you are away. Why then, do you have to jump through so many hoops to get PHP 4 and 5 to co-exist? It is for this reason, that most web hosting companies will not support 5 for a long time. From an economic point-of-view, they would be stupid to. Most applications run on 4. Not all of these applications will run of 5.

I have come up with a work-around, which is a pretty neat solution (I’ll present it later on) – it does require two different apache binaries to run and is a bit of a hassle to setup, but it does the job quite well (It would do it even better if I had more than one IP address), but I shouldn’t have to use work arounds.

Perhaps we will be left stifled by the shortcomings of PHP 4, at least in our bread-and-butter jobs, for a while yet. Perhaps one of the “killer” frameworks will eventually hit critical mass and knock it off it podium. Then again. Maybe not…

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