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PHP Succeeding Where Java Has Failed 610

ficken writes "Web browser pioneer Marc Andreessen recently announced his prediction that PHP will be more popular than Java for building web-based applications." From the article: "Wooing programmers is nothing new in the computing industry, where players constantly jockey to establish their products as an essential foundation. Indeed, many credit Microsoft's success to its highly regarded programming tools, which make it easier for developers to write software that run on Windows. PHP has caught on widely. About 22 million Web sites employ it, and useage is steadily increasing. About 450 programmers have privileges to approve changes to the software. Major companies that employ PHP include Yahoo, Lufthansa and Deutsche Telekom's T-Online." Meanwhilie, Piersky writes "Zend has announced its rival to .NET and J2EE, with the Zend PHP Framework. In a press release, they stated that it will be 'A Web application framework which will standardize the way PHP applications are built. The Zend PHP Framework will accelerate and improve the development and deployment of mission-critical PHP Web applications'. This will for part of Zend's PHP Collaboration Project"
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PHP Succeeding Where Java Has Failed

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  • by Fortyseven ( 240736 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:11AM (#13844098) Homepage Journal
    As a PHP coder and Java hater, I am completely in agreement with whatever the hell this article says. :D
    • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <.Satanicpuppy. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:19AM (#13844171) Journal
      Well, as a Java coder who's been coding almost exclusively in php for a year or so, I have to say it makes me feel better about my time spent. Php is definitely easy to work with, though that creates the opportunity for some seriously scary code.

      I have to say, just not working with Tomcat is a plus (though I give major Props to the Fedora team for the option to install Tomcat right off the install disks)...When gcj finally catches up, I'll be a happy puppy.
  • If you are a web "programmer", it's definitely nice to have well-built tools that let you think even less about what you are doing and come up with something useful.

    I suppose that's true in most jobs, though.
    • by rovingeyes ( 575063 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:14AM (#13844130)
      "If you are a web "programmer", it's definitely nice to have well-built tools that let you think even less about what you are doing and come up with something useful."

      Don't know about you, but it sounds dangerous to me.

      • by AVee ( 557523 )
        True, but it also explains why PHP will likely be more populair than Java for web apps. The resulting apps will also likely be of lower quality, but Windows is the most used OS as well...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:18AM (#13844154)
      "Java is much more programmer-friendly than C or C++, or was for a few years there until they made just as complicated. It's become arguably even harder to learn than C++," Andreessen said. And the mantle of simplicity is being passed on: "PHP is such is an easier environment to develop in than Java."

      This is just silly. PHP is far from "simpler" than Java. PHP *is* better suited to basic page generation tasks. Its syntax is easy to learn, and it's quick to get a page running. However, any sort of complexity thrown at the system starts making PHP look difficult and Java look easy. For example, I often write web applications that require that user sessions communicate with each other. Now this is stupidly simple in Java thanks to the use of Singletons or named derivitives. One can easily build a chat room, for example, whereas PHP begins to get a bit more tricky. Now throw really complex needs like PDF generation, Dynamic Excel Spreadsheets, XML/SOAP/XML-RPC/EDI communication, mainframe interfaces, off-brand databases, performance caches, and other large scale features, and suddenly Java doesn't look so hard anymore. PHP, OTOH, begins screaming for mercy.

      One would think that Andreessen would understand how to use the right tool for the right job, but apparently not. He should be kept away from the press. He always manages to sound 50 IQ points dumber than he actually is. (A common problem when dealing with the press.)
      • Not a big fan of Java, slow, bulky, not user friendly. Best part about PHP is extensions, just write some C++ code(or C#/VB.NET on windows *frowns*) and make it a DLL, set it up and use it, not easily available as Java yet because no as many people use it yet. Honestly both preform well compared to ASP.NET and we should stop bashing each other, get a way for JSP and PHP to work together is what we need, simple page rendering stuff goes to the PHP engine, backend proccessing to Java, really, it might work.
        • by Gilmoure ( 18428 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:54AM (#13844457) Journal
          Don't you know that non-partisanship on Slashdork won't be tolerated? If your comment can't be fodder for flamewar, you may be modded down (and cute bunnies won't like you anymore).
        • by coder111 ( 912060 ) <coder@rrmail.CURIEcom minus physicist> on Friday October 21, 2005 @11:02AM (#13844529)
          There's usually no need to integrate PHP with Java and use PHP for page rendering, because there are tools in Java that do page rendering just as well as PHP, if not better. If you need integration anyway, you can integrate Tomcat with Apache- then all your static (images, CSS) and PHP stuff will run on apache, for java stuff tomcat will get called. This will both increase performance (as Apache is better suited for serving static stuff than Tomcat) and allow PHP to be used on same box, same port.

          Java is not slow in server-side, it is just slow on desktop with Swing. Get Tomcat and try benchmarking some JSPs if you don't believe me. Templates with java might be slower than JSP, but anyway, page rendering is something that impacts the performance of web application the least.

          With java you EXTREMELY RARELY need to write extensions, usually you can find java libraries (most of them open source) that do the stuff you need. Or you can just use standart java class libraries, that are enough for 95% of cases. This way you can get a platform-independent solution for no additional cost. While your DLLs (.so's?) will have to be compiled for each architecture, coded to be cross-platform, installed by system administrators, etc.

          If you need to interface with C++/C, there is JNI (Java native interface, It is hairy and unfriendly though). Of you can integrate via some kind of interprocess communication (pipes still work, as will TCP, with java you can write TCP client/server in 10-30 lines of code). This way you can have any language on the other side of IPC. You can use webservices/CORBA/XML RPC if you want to be fancy.

        • Best part about PHP is extensions, just write some C++ code(or C#/VB.NET on windows *frowns*) and make it a DLL, set it up and use it.

          That's called a theory. It's much harder to build in reality, and mostly sucks anyway since you still don't get any namespace and have to decorate every damn function like there was no god.

          not easily available as Java yet because no as many people use it yet

          Thing is in Java you can write your extensions in Java (the JIT compiler is running behind so perfs are good anyway),

        • Not a big fan of Java, slow,

          No, especially not server side. Reaches within a few % of C++ speed in well-established benchmarks:
          http://www.shudo.net/jit/perf/ [shudo.net]


          No. It can run within a few 100k on mobile devices. Non-GUI java apps can run in just a few MB.

          not user friendly.

          A vague term, which could mean anything.
      • Fully agreed, here.
        PHP is a great language for small web applications, but doing something complex like an insurance intranet site, and Java is clearly the better option.
      • This is just silly. PHP is far from "simpler" than Java.

        He does not mean simple as in stupid, he means simple as in easy to use. The infrastructure, the language, the libraries are all more accessible in PHP than in Java. It is for these reasons programmers like PHP.

        Your points Re: Tasks that are more sophisticated are right on though.
      • by hoggoth ( 414195 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:35PM (#13845369) Journal
        > One would think that Andreessen would understand how to use the right tool for the right job, but apparently not

        Andreessen knows exactly how to use the right tool for the job, like a surgeon. His tool is the media, and his job, as a new member of the board at Zend, is to promote PHP.

  • J2EE won't fail... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _undan ( 804517 ) <dan@undumb.com> on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:12AM (#13844108)
    ... until companies who need mission critical systems have someone they can phone when something goes wrong, and some form of developer accreditation. Don't kid yourself. J2EE isn't picked because of the language, it's because it's got Sun and IBM (through Websphere) behind it.
    • Swap "J2EE" for "Windows" and you have the same argument as is used against Linux. PHP is supported by Zend and several other companies. As the article says, Oracle and IBM are both showing support for PHP.

      And nobody said J2EE was going to die. It's just that more people are realizing it isn't always the best way to develop a web app. IMO (and some people say I'm wrong sometimes), Java excels where you need to interface with legacy and/or disparate systems. If you don't need to do that, Java and J2EE might
      • by arkanes ( 521690 )
        Java excels where you need to interface with legacy and/or disparate systems.

        This is exactly contrary to my experience. Java *sucks* at playing nice with other systems, unless you build up a "play nice with Java" layer in those other systems first. PHP, shitty as it is, is much better. Python and Perl are both much better (Python more than perl these days, imo) as glue code.

        Java works best when it can run in long running, memory hogging, monolithic processes, where it's development and execution model ca

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:13AM (#13844113)
    Coke succeeding where peanuts fail.

    What? The two do different things.
  • Will be? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bhirsch ( 785803 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:14AM (#13844129) Homepage
    I thought PHP was already more popular. Granted PHP-Nuke, etc aren't exactly banking apps.
  • Help me out here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wren337 ( 182018 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:15AM (#13844138) Homepage
    Doesn't PHP tend to be embedded in the page? I thought it was a more direct comparison to JSP than to Java. And like JSP I expected it violated the seperation of logic and presentation that I love so dearly. I've been avoiding PHP for the same reason I don't do JSP pages, I don't like code in the presentation layer.

    I am prepared to have my mind blown here, can someone enlighten me?

    • Re:Help me out here (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <slashdot AT uberm00 DOT net> on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:20AM (#13844179) Homepage Journal
      You're pretty much correct. PHP is a lot closer to JSP or ASP than Java, and yes, it can violate separation of logic and presentation. However, you can use the Smarty templating library [php.net] to separate code and presentation (and I recommend this to anyone learning PHP, because embedding PHP in HTML makes for very sloppy and nigh unreadable code).
      • Just want to point out that the template library approach is similar to the way JSP works. So even then the comparison PHP <=> JSP is quite apt.
      • Re:Help me out here (Score:4, Informative)

        by __aanonl8035 ( 54911 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @11:08AM (#13844571)
        I find it strange how people recommend Smarty for separation of code from content. Smarty implements its own while loops and if then statements. I have yet to come across a web application using Smarty that was easily readable. I would think if the goal was to separate code from content, one would use a templating engine more akin to QuickTemplates [sourceforge.net]. It does not make you relearn a whole new programming language syntax for while loops and if then statements like Smarty does.
        • by bobdinkel ( 530885 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @11:22AM (#13844680)
          I find it strange how people recommend Smarty for separation of code from content. Smarty implements its own while loops and if then statements. I have yet to come across a web application using Smarty that was easily readable. I would think if the goal was to separate code from content, one would use a templating engine more akin to QuickTemplates. It does not make you relearn a whole new programming language syntax for while loops and if then statements like Smarty does.

          People recommend Smarty because PHP feels pretty incomplete without it. And it's not about separating code from contentit's about separating business logic from display logic. And the syntax is really easy.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        PHP already is a templating language! You don't need the extra overhead of these 'template engines'. PHP is already doing it for you. You wouldn't go and build a templating engine via Smarty now would you?
      • However, you can use the Smarty templating library to separate code and presentation (and I recommend this to anyone learning PHP, because embedding PHP in HTML makes for very sloppy and nigh unreadable code).

        Come again? You're saying that {$value} somehow separates presentation from code more than does <?=$value;?>?
        • by moof1138 ( 215921 )
          It's not about exactly separating presentation from code - the presentation is also code. It's about separating business logic from display logic. Your example overlooks the key piece, where the business logic to determine $value is done.
    • Yeah, the PHP files will have code mixed in with your html, which can only somewhat be mitigated by things like CSS and function imports and such, which is actually a big reason why I'm not completely sold on PHP. The php files end up looking somewhat ugly and sometimes the code is pretty convoluted.

      On the flip side, I've been working with Ruby on Rails [rubyonrails.org] and it's beautiful. Scripts to generate the starting points for your web files, separation of design and implementation, a great framework. Only thing
      • Re:Help me out here (Score:3, Informative)

        by Randolpho ( 628485 )
        Separation of concerns (code in your presentation layer) is a design issue, not a language issue. Calling PHP a bad language because you can put code in your presentation layer is like calling water bad because you can drown in it.
    • Re:Help me out here (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You can separate presentation and logic in PHP just fine, and once you come to doing templates you can use a really powerful templating language - PHP.
    • Don't fool yourself, I've seen much Java code with "real Java" embedded into the pages. I've worked on projects that make use of BroadVision, Weblogic, etc... and there seems to always be a need to have logic on the presentation layer. With PHP, I've been using Smarty, and I've been able to accomplish everything I need to do without the having to put PHP logic on the page. This argument of presentation/logic separation is hypocritical when it comes from Java developers, because they don't practice what t
    • Re:Help me out here (Score:3, Interesting)

      by digidave ( 259925 )
      There is nothing in PHP that discourages you from mixing logic and presentation, but there is also nothing discouraging you from separating them either. This is exactly what makes PHP great for dirty hacks and large web apps alike.

      Templating is part of the solution, but so is good app design. If you don't want to mix your logic, you simply need to code it that way. Zend PHP Framework will help enforce some of the same separation as Java does, but it's not strictly necessary. You can do MVC app design withou
  • PHP Desktop Apps?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by luiss ( 217284 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:17AM (#13844145)
    Java "failed" on the desktop. I didn't know PHP desktop apps were taking over.
  • by MojoSF ( 658720 ) * on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:17AM (#13844151)
    I've resisted specialization for most of my career, giving me breadth but not depth. It's hurt me in job interviews where the hiring managers want specialized expertise instead of intelligence and problem solving skills.

    So I decided that I'd focus on Java for my depth. Now I read that I guessed wrong again!

    Maybe I should have gone C#/.ASP.

    No, Python and Zope are where it's at!

    No way, Ruby is the way to go. Arrrgh!

    • You make a good point. Fortunately PHP, Python, and Ruby are simplistic enough where specialization require a huge investiment in time like Java or C++. I think the hacking world is pretty saturated with languages. It started with Java in 1995, Perl, ASP, PHP, Python, and really ended with Ruby a few years ago. None of these languages has really advanced the state of the art. I am still waiting for Lisp to become fashionable again. We'd all be better off.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      If hiring managers were looking for specialization, you were hiring at the wrong kind of company.. i would kill for developers that could develop and not just plug crap into .net or java
  • The Success of PHP (Score:3, Informative)

    by kihjin ( 866070 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:17AM (#13844153)
    About 22 million Web sites employ it

    Well, of course. PHP works for free.

    Wondering where the '22 million web sites' comes from? http://www.php.net/usage.php [php.net].

  • Caching (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    In asp and asp net there are extensive facilities to cache in to memory.

    I don't know much Php but as far as I can tell there is no way to do this natively. This is one of the reasons I don't use php. You see site like groklaw get overloaded when Slashdot hits them because they pull the freaking article out of the database every time it's requested.

    If somebody could show me some in process caching that'd take me a long way to ditching php. I don't mean caching to disk either. Caching to disk is much slower t
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:19AM (#13844170)
    I've done programming in PHP and in Java.

    PHP is straightforward and easy, and most distributions have their own packages for it. Whereas with Java, the initial set up is overwhelming for beginners.

    I learnt PHP years ago by myself, and it wasn't really that hard. Yet a few months ago when I was finally required to learn Java, the complexity of the Java frameworks (Hibernate, Spring, etc) tortured me for days before I actually knew what was going on. And it doesn't help when all the frameworks gives such a "bulky" feeling.

    The learning curve of Java is definitely much higher than PHP.

    Of course, I do agree that Java is much better suited for large scale web programming than PHP. It's much easier to do things cleanly in Java, and although PHP's loose typing is great for a simple 1 page script, I'd rather have the strict typing of Java when it comes to large scale projects.
  • then it'll be something else.
  • by ChrisRijk ( 1818 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:24AM (#13844207)
    http://www.zend.com/news/zendpr.php?id=107 [zend.com]
    Zend Technologies, Inc., the PHP company and creator of products and services supporting the development, deployment and management of PHP-based applications, today announced Marc Andreessen and Gaurav Dhillon as the newest members of the Zend board of directors.

    Little "full disclosure" for everyone.

    PS There's more to Java on webservers than J2EE. There's also multiple Open Source versions of J2EE.
    • Haha, good stuff. So then the title should read "Zend executive announces Java dead and replaced with Zend PHP".

      Good to hear though since this just seemed a bit too silly to be true. Sure PHP is a way easier way to get the typical website up and running, but the Java stack of libraries and tools is incredibly much more comprehensive. Sure this means that PHP is an excellent pick for 90% of all web applications in the world, whereas Java shoots for the full 100% but is more difficult to deal with. This is

  • lingo... overload (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jkind ( 922585 )
    Is it just me, or is anyone else having "framework" and "standards" overload?
    Seems like every post mentions some form of standards or framework, and everyone wants to standardize everything within a framework. Or perhaps make a framework which will help standardize everything. I can't stop saying standards framework.......standards framework..... I miss the old days when "ware" was the hot term.. webware..awareware..opencourseware..cookware..
    On topic.. Php is just so much more fun then Java... (excep
  • Here we go... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Naikrovek ( 667 )
    PHP just isn't on the same standard in my eyes as Java or C#. Doesn't PHP have something like 3,000 built-in functions? That is not a sign of a well designed language.

    J2EE has a very well-respected place in larger organizations. The support is fantastic, the tools are fantastic, and the language is actually very nice, once you truly get to know it.

    I used to think that Java was slow and useless, but when I actually started writing a lot of it, I found that its really not as bad as everyone told me it woul
  • PHP, or Ruby? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tcopeland ( 32225 ) * <tom@thomaslee[ ]eland.com ['cop' in gap]> on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:26AM (#13844227) Homepage
    Seems like Ruby on Rails [rubyonrails.org] is competing for web apps too - lots of comparisons are floating around out there [robbyonrails.com]. Some large sites are converting over, too, like Derek Siver's "CD Baby" - he blogged on the conversion here [oreillynet.com].

    I've certainly found Rails to be a good fit with interfacing with a Jabber PostgreSQL backend [blogs.com]. Good times!
  • by Dekortage ( 697532 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:26AM (#13844230) Homepage
    I work with PHP and Java (and JSP and XML and enough other acroynms to choke a hippo). Andressen's comments seem so clearly aimed at server-side Java. PHP doesn't do client side, though there are projects underway like GTK [php.net] and WinBinder [hypervisual.com]. But still... Java was supposed to kill C, and it didn't. PHP won't kill Java either.
  • Bitter (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cparisi ( 136611 )
    Andreessen sounds bitter about Java and Sun in general. Maybe he attributes Netscape's ultimate "failure" with their misplaced focus on creating a browser written in Java. Netscape placed a lot of faith and resources in Java and perhaps he feels betrayed or disillusioned. Anyway, I agree that PHP is better (or at least easier to use) than Java for some things. But it is not a replacement for Java.
  • by CousinLarry ( 640750 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:29AM (#13844248)
    Yes, both PHP and Java are free - i'm not talking about the monetary cost of either platform.

    I'm talking about the network effects [wikipedia.org] of PHP being available on every shared host in the world.

    Try to find a cheap, reliable tomcat hosting service. Then throw a dart at a google search for "web hosting." You'll find that outside of enterprise, PHP is the lingua franca.

    So if you're a poor student or struggling entrepreneur looking to make an experiment or prototype, you will naturally gravitate toward PHP (same argument works for mySQL/postgre v the world). And guess who will populate the next gen of enterprise?
    • I was a student in 1996, and I learned ASP for a specific project. Some time later, I found PHP, and liked it. I did some stuff with PHP. I really admire Rasmus, I met him when he came to Uruguay, and he is great. I believe PHP is a great idea, and works great.

      But now I use Java, because I think it's much easier to work with, when you have teams of more than two people. PHP gives you too much freedom to be easily managed. It's nice for experimenting, for stuff you want to see right away, for complex stuff
  • by sbma44 ( 694130 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:29AM (#13844253)
    I primarily work in ASP.NET, and have done some work with JSP. Those are nice environments (well... ASP.NET is, anyway) -- but for many, many things, they're overkill. A robust OO model is nice for making programmers feel comfortable, but until recently the web has been an inherently procedural undertaking. ASP.NET and AJAX are putting an end to this, but the underlying technology remains stateless.

    PHP is procedurally oriented, works well, and -- most important -- is free. I can't convince my boss to touch it, of course, but if some names get behind it, it might become a much easier sell.
  • by totallygeek ( 263191 ) <sellis@totallygeek.com> on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:30AM (#13844260) Homepage
    I am an owner of a software development company, and I can tell you that both have their place. All languages (and sadly, operating systems) are tools and it makes sense to use the right tool for the job. Languages we may be using depending on the task include C, Pascal, DataFlex, Java, PHP, Perl, Python, and even bash. Someone might ask why Pascal; which is because we have a well-defined set of libraries for that language which allow us to access many other applications, which in another language would be difficult or expensive to recode.

    All that aside, we typically use PHP for all web-based applications. The ease of coding, and the ability to affect change with zero downtime is a big plus. We can have several programmers affecting changes in one codebase in real time. And, for a program which took us six months to develop in PHP, it would have taken at least fifty percent longer with Java.

    • We can have several programmers affecting changes in one codebase in real time.

      I'm not sure why you think
      a) this is a good idea to do in PHP, and
      b) this can't be done in Java.

      And, for a program which took us six months to develop in PHP, it would have taken at least fifty percent longer with Java.

      And now it will take you at least two hundred percent as much time to maintain.

  • ...the fact that it can be used to push realtime currency and stock data to remote computer networks and devices. As a full-time currency speculator, I can trade realtime just like the guy on the New York trading floor. The last time I did this was when I an on "holiday" in East Africa. All made possible because of java. In this field, PHP is of no use.

    The Zend announcement of a technology to rival .NET and java might change the picture though.

  • by Philodoxx ( 867034 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:33AM (#13844280)
    I'll come straight out and admit that I'm a Java programmer, but I've used PHP and I will admit it is simple to use.

    I find the comparison that the article makes between them is very one dimensional, it's saying that PHP is better than JSP, which I suppose is debatable (I prefer JSP ;) ). The problem is that Java is so much more than just JSP on the server side, it has an entire framework of technologies (some part of J2EE, some not) that make it a complete package. If they want to compare Java and PHP, it should bring in not only ease of development, but scalability, interoperability and security. I would have also liked to see the number of commerical websites running PHP vs the number of commercial websites running Java. For instance my home page has TorrentFlux on it, which is php based. So I guess I fall into that 22 million, although that's not really by design.

    I won't try and say Java is better (because of my limited PHP experience) but if an author wants to convince me that PHP is better than Java, it's going to have to talk about more than simplicity and hype.
  • Let's see In Java: import some.crap; import some.more.crap; import yet.some.crap; class SomeMailClass { create object 1 create object 2 create object 3 call object 1.somefunction(); call object 2.somefunction.bloated(); call object 3.somefunction.Ihave.lost.interest.already(); blah, blah, blah } now, let's do this in PHP. mail('me@mydomain','Subject',$message,$headers); In Java: For the above code, I'll bill out an hour to my client just for writing and compiling the class. Oh wait, there was a c
    • If you have such problems in Java then write a really small little class that does all this work for you, generically, in one place, so you can access it by saying

      Mailer.mail(to,from,subject,message,header1 ... headerN);

      Many java frameworks are terrible, but that's a matter of API aesthetic. For instance, I hate the Java frameworks' APIs for reflection and dynamic method invocation and such. So I wrap it all in two methods

      public boolean canPerformMethod(String methodSignature);

      public Object performMethod(String methodSignature,Object param1 ... Object paramN);

      (Note: the above is pseudo-code so I don't have to explain how to do variable number of parameters in Java 5 - not all /.ers are Java coders.)
      (Note2: By using aspect-oriented programming, I can insert these methods high-up in the object-hierarchy)

      The point is that now, anywhere in my code I can dynamically invoke methods by:

      Foo result = null;
      if (target.canPerformMethod("processFoo:String:Foo")) {
            result = (Foo)target.performMethod("method:String:Foo","Pro ccessing Foo",aFoo);

      That simple structure replaces about 10-20 lines of exception handling, method lookup, and all sorts of crap, because I (wait for it) encapsulated it.

      I'm not saying it's not convenient to have mail(...). Of course it is. But the point of languages like Java is that if you have a preferred API, you can wrap the complexity of a crappy API with a nicer convenient one in your own code. That's called good programming. No actualy need to whine.

      It's only when the raw functionality is not there, or when the raw langauge/runtime capabilities don't actually allow you to create the functionality you want in a convenient form - that's when whining is necessary. But modern Java, with Java 5 + aspectJ pretty much allows anything to be created in relatively convenient APIs.

      The only remaining issue is to convince someone at Sun to refactor their core APIs into something that provides some of this convenience out-of-the-box. Or go write Objective-C against the Cocoa APIs on MacOSX. They're pretty nice.
  • by Pike ( 52876 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:33AM (#13844286) Homepage Journal
    PHP might well succeed where java has failed, but it will be because:

    - it's used on its merits, not because of hype, or a New Gospel of Platform Independence
    - it's simpler and faster
    - it's not being touted by a huge company such that it shows up on MS's radar as a challenge ...which are also things that Ruby has going for it. Or Python. The point isn't that PHP succeeded, the point is that java failed (at becoming kingathehill) and why it failed.
  • I always thought Sun had a bit of a death wish when it came to Java. It has amazing publicity when the web was booming, and they managed to screw it up bigtime.

    For instance, in order to install Java so that you could use a java app on the web you had to go to their web site and hunt around to find the download, even then you had to choose between whether you wanted to download the Java SQW1.2 or ZXY4.2 - it was as if they didn't really want normal people to be able to use it. Java was an amazing opportunit
  • flamebait! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    There should be an option to moderate a whole article as flamebait!
  • Sorry but I beg to differ on that one. Other than get its OS installed on every new PC, Microsoft does nothing to incent programmers to write for Windows.

    That ended when they stopped including QBasic and started selling VB for $100-$700.
  • Check out the link in my .sig, it's a web-based game based on an old MUD, done up in php.
  • this is sad (Score:4, Informative)

    by namekuseijin ( 604504 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:45AM (#13844372)
    The alternative to extremely bloated and redundant java and .net web technologies is an extremely basic (old)ASP-alike with all functions and variables sharing the same namespace and global variables running wild. Granted, it's easy. Just as easy as notepad and just as featureless and error-prone...

    Hey, i'm just as annoyed at java and .net as everybody else, but i'd point to Python, Ruby, Perl or Tcl technologies rather than this sub-Perl refugee...
  • by Snowhare ( 263311 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:47AM (#13844387)

    PHP is and will be continue to be popular with the masses simply because, like HTML, the entry barrier is very low. It will fail to make deep inroads at the high end for the same reason: The entry barrier is very low.

    Sounds like a contradiction? Not really. The entry barrier for PHP is so low that we are seeing zillions of poorly written, insecure and unscalable PHP apps written by amateur programmers. Resulting in numerous security scares about PHP and contributing more than slightly to the infamous Slashdot Effect where a site that gets a sudden traffic surge craters as it runs out not of datapipe but simple CPU power. This scares the hell out of anyone who considers using PHP in the enterprise.

    Don't get me wrong: It is possible to write good, secure, scalable code in PHP. It just isn't very common.

  • by FedeTXF ( 456407 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:50AM (#13844409)
    I teach PHP in college since 2001 and I use Java/JSP at work and at home since 2003.
    PHP is good for an admin to set up some forum, photo gallery, database administration front end, a CMS, whatever tool you can download form sourceforge and install in a few hours to give users/customers a service.

    When you need to develop a solution with specific needs and there's no tool to download and use right off the shelf, PHP gives you lots of headaches.

    The API changes a lot, very fast. This is not good. From PHP 3.0 to 4.0 things break and new stuff gets added so fast some sites have to keep using PHP 3 in order to avoid spending many hours recoding old code. Now PHP 5 is a new language altogether.

    Lots of changes are for good since PHP was really bad in some areas in early version so the rewrote everything form scratch, that forces developers to relearn and recode.

    The lack of abstraction in the PHP API leaves lots of stuff to the developer. For example, working with HTTP headers. The header function just sends whatever header you send in. You have to account for browser bugs on your code and maitain that. The manual is full of user comments regarding how to use certain function that give different results with different databases, browsers, platforms, Apache configurations, etc. Those things don't belong to API, there are bugs, but you have to work around them in your code.

    If you use a PHP CMS or a PHP forum, you know the people developping it will do the dirty work for you and release a quality product, but for a small organization with a few programers, migrating from PHP3 to PHP5 to get the new cool stuff they implemented is hard, painful and takes a lot of debugging time.

    In contrast Java has managed to keep backwards compatibility while adding new functionality and the API has been quite stable. Of course it has bugs, migration problems and imcompatibilities, but the java developers (SUN, Apache foundation, IBM, etc) make an effort to make developers' life easier. The PHP developers also try, but are less sucessful.

    At the same time in Java you don't have such a wide selection of free tools ready to use in a web site, but you do have tons and tons of libraries ready to be integrated in your java web app, which PHP has but in much smaller quantity.
  • by xtal ( 49134 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:54AM (#13844454)
    Applets, apps.. whatever, Java never seemed to flow as an extension of the browser in the way that PHP did. It always seemed to be a better C++ (flame suits on) with one hell of a standard library built in.

    Unfortunately, the answer to "it's not fast enough" always seemed to involve a very heavy, expensive machine from Sun. Hrmm.

    Microsoft's solutions always seemed inelegant to me.

    PHP always was, and is, about making web applications and database interfaces very efficiently.

    Why is it suprising then, that it would be adopted?
  • by helix_r ( 134185 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:55AM (#13844464)

    Web apps all have the same problem. They use a goddamn BROWSER as the application platform. This sucks.

    I'm looking at a typical jsp right now. Its an awful demoralizing conflation of xml, css, jstl, html, and javascript-- all in one file. As developer, it sucks to work with and it is a major hassle to create a nice user experience with this trash y stuff.

    I have not worked with PHP, but looking at the source from the browser page, I imagine the same problems apply.

    Whatever happened to the "applet" concept? True, there were problems with it initially, but one would think that these problems could have been solved by now. Instead, the industry turned away from nice clean designs to the brutal mess that is today's web app.
  • by pico303 ( 187769 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @10:58AM (#13844499)
    ...I can honestly say I avoid PHP at all costs. PHP feels like it was built by committee: there's no consistency in the language. Even with 5 I still feel like I'm hacking together web pages.

    I feel like there's a lack of standardized libraries for PHP. I've used PearDB, but it's sure not ActiveRecord or Hibernate. Smarty's o.k., but I'm already developing in a template language for HTML pages, why do I need another one? It's like working with JSP tag libraries (which I find equally wasteful).

    Fundamentally, I think the tight coupling between view, controller, and model that PHP naturally engenders is bad. Practically, I've seen where Ruby on Rails has gone in just a single year, and it's further than PHP's gone in the last 5. Things you can do in Rails in a few days take weeks of coding in PHP, even with the help of third-party libraries.

    PHP has a strong foothold with small, inexpensive ISPs, which is the only reason I think that people still use it. Unfortunately, the "war" between 4 and 5 has really hurt the credibility of PHP moving forward. Does any ISP support PHP 5?

    If PHP wants to compete against Ruby on the low end and J2EE and .NET on the high end, it's going to need new development tools--both for writing the code and useful libraries, stronger leadership, and a clear plan for the future. I don't see any of this happening in its current state. I consider myself to be a PHP outsider these days, and looking in it doesn't look so fun in the pool.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @11:01AM (#13844520)
    This article is a crock. PHP is great for your $10 a month hosting service domain on a shared server, but Java has been and continues to be the market leader when it comes to writing web based functionality that integrates across an entire enterprise.

    Try doing this [verosystems.com] in PHP.

    There is a reason that eBay handles 1 billion transactions a day on Java.

  • by lorcha ( 464930 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @11:29AM (#13844764)
    I think Andreessen is operating in a parallel universe that is different from the one in which we live.

    Fact: PHP was released on June 8, 1995 [wikipedia.org].
    Fact: The Java Servlet spec (first server-side Java) was released over 4 years later on October 1, 1999 [sun.com].

    After 5 years, Java as caught up with and far surpassed PHP in terms of usage, tools, maturity, etc. Java is showing no signs of slowing down. I don't know what iPlanet Marc is on, but on my planet, if you want to do any server-side web programming, you better know J2EE or .NET.

    Also funny was this quote from TFA:

    "I think Flash is one of the most exciting technologies out there that's almost on the verge of great success and never quite achieving it," Andreessen said.
    Uh, yeah, Marc. That falls solidly in to the category of "thing we wish were true but aren't." I wish Flash wasn't so popular, but the fact is it's used very heavily.
  • by bigtrike ( 904535 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @11:32AM (#13844788)
    I've used PHP for years and by now I have a love/hate relationship with it. Some of my biggest issues with php are:
    • Lack of binary compatibility even on debug fix releases. My code shouldn't stop working when I upgrade from 4.3.2 to 4.3.3 due to an undocumented addition of a run time warning
    • Error reporting must be turned down well below useful levels in order to use PEAR in PHP 5. Ignoring E_NOTICE level warnings is usually a very bad idea, but necessary until PEAR works in PHP 5
    • Code can't be entirely compatible with PHP 4 and 5 standards (var produces warnings in PHP5, public/private does not work in any PHP 4)
    • Lack of standardization of function naming and argument order. I always have to check whether the function I'm using has an underscore between the words and whether it's needle, haystack or haystack, needle
    • Kitchen sink approach. Again, all functions are in the same namespace. This results in some pretty weird function naming
    • Lack of great debug support. xdebug sort of works, but is still very immature
    • Loose typing. You have to study the documentation very carefully in order to understand how to compare variables and get the expected result. In addition, since type conversion is automatic and performed on numbers when they exceed certain ranges, precision may be lost unless you have a very detailed understanding of how and when type conversions happen and plan out the numerical ranges of your variables accordingly
    • Caveats with unset()/isset/null/arrays

    PHP may have a bunch of issues, but it's still the best tool for my job.
  • by 5n3ak3rp1mp ( 305814 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @11:47AM (#13844930) Homepage
    I know this is about PHP but as a long-time web developer, I'm sure a lot of other web devs will be reading this, so here are my observations on RoR.

    I've started my first small-scale Ruby on Rails [rubyonrails.com] project, having done work in the past in ASP, .NET and PHP. Here are some thoughts.

    1) RoR may be highly buzz-worthy but it is certainly NOT a panacea. It has a definite and slightly steep learning curve, especially if you are also new to Ruby and/or OOP and/or MVC (I am sort of but not completely new to all of these). You will still have to do the work of developing your application- you just won't have to do the "stupid" kind of work that much (repeating code in views, bubbling new database fields through umpteen app tiers to the surface of your app, hand-validating everything, building a mechanism to bubble errors or notifications to the surface, etc. etc.)

    That said...

    2) I can see that if I can get past the little syntactic things that are currently tripping me up, a lot of the RoR technology (and all the assistance its framework provides, once you get to know it... again, that takes time) helps to make web development a breeze.

    3) MVC [google.com] certainly seems like a pattern to seriously consider for anything other than a small web app. Mixing code in the presentation layer is not the way to go if you want easy unit testing, separation of view from code (so your graphic designers can go in and do their thing separately), arbitrary mixing of controller code with different views, etc.

    4) Ruby itself is a pretty great language to code in and highly readable. It has a few quirks (doesn't every language?) but if you are aware of them then they won't get in your way. Some of the things I like about it were apparently "borrowed" from Perl (as I never really got that into Perl). If you are not a static-typing purist, I'd say check it out on its own.

    5) Installing some Ruby/Rails components that depend on each other is not at ALL as painless as it should be on OS X. For example, I'm currently having issues with RMagick and GraphicsMagick even though I followed a guide [poocs.net] I found online, to the letter. I think the darwinports, fink, and rubygems people should get together and work some shit out, as all the different default paths these packaging/deployment tools install their stuff to causes mutual interdependencies to sometimes fail. I've also seen some MySQL issues that will require good troubleshooting to resolve, for some people- some of it is based on incompatibilities with GCC 4.0, or between the password hashes of different MySQL versions, or... Basically, this is all stuff that as a Rails scripter (as opposed to a C++ programmer) you wouldn't want to focus too much time on. If you want to know what I'm talking about just google "rmagick 'os x'" or "mysql rails 'os x'" and read up. That said, if you can get a good host [textdrive.com] with good Ruby/Rails support, you might not need to worry about such things... Unless you want to develop locally on that shiny Powerbook (grrrr). You better be a good troubleshooter, as Google won't get you out of EVERY bind!

    6) The people on the #rubyonrails IRC channel on freenode are generally helpful, but not at all hours of the day. It also helps if you put up small PayPal rewards to get someone to help you over those time-sensitive humps ;)

    7) Managers at big corporations (such as my employer) who have been out of direct touch with technology for a while will only tend to recommend the "usual big stuff"- in this case Java/EJB/Oracle, or .NET. I suppose this falls under the "Nobody ever got fired for recommending IBM" paradigm, but the si
  • Silly argument (Score:3, Informative)

    by pavera ( 320634 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @11:51AM (#13844971) Homepage Journal
    Ok, I've been developing for 12 years now, and almost purely web development for the last 4. I generally use PHP for what its good for (page generation, presentation layer type stuff), and use xml-rpc or SOAP from php to connect to java, python, perl, or c++ whatever has the best libraries/capabilities/ease of use for what I'm trying to do. I've actually moved almost exclusively to python as my backend/business logic language of choice, but Java worked fine for this purpose 3 years ago too. To me, setting up struts, jsps, all that garbage is a ton of overhead that a simple soap/xml-rpc setup easily replaces (and in my experience php + soap/xml-rpc + languageX is faster than an all java setup). PHP then can do what its best at, my frontends are very lightweight, and load almost as fast as static html, and I use a real language for logic and libraries etc. Now maybe this new PHP Framework will provide some classes and things that would be useable on the backend, I dunno.

    The setup I use is basically the J2EE model, except I get the best of all worlds, because I can access code written in any language seemlessly, use n-tier architecture without even thinking about it, use advanced cacheing libraries available in the higher end/heavier languages, and because the backend code is running as a daemon running a soap or xml-rpc server, I sidestep the whole perl/python interpretter startup bottleneck.

    It's not about which language is "best" its about what tool gets the job done.
  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:11PM (#13845152) Homepage Journal
    I have to wonder about the long run here. When I work with Java, I find it a pain to work with, because of all the required boilerplate and the inflexibility. Things have probably gotten better with Java 5, but Java has been a pain in all the years before it.

    When I work with PHP, I find it a pain to work with, because of its apparent lack of design. It feels like a cobbled-together heap of features and hacks, and so does the code written in it. I tend to write cleaner code than what I've seen from other people, but that doesn't make the final product any less messy when various people have worked on it.

    Neither language is absolutely horrible; comparing them to others, Java is a language with a relatively clean design, and PHP is a good choice in its niche of writing web applications. However, my pain in working with these languages is a direct result of these languages being poorly designed. I'm into programming languages, and I know many that have better designs than Java and PHP. I wonder if these languages won't take over in the future.

    Some changes are happening already. Various organizations are moving away from Java for web applications, and I know others that would do well to do so as well. Much of the work that went into PHP 5 comes from a realization that earlier versions were flawed (the same can be said of Perl 6). Ruby appears to be on the rise. Paul Graham and others have had good results employing Common Lisp for web applications.

    The only thing I can see standing in the way of better languages taking over the web application sphere is the fact that the decision making process is based more on fame than on qualities. I maintain that Java has become so successful largely because of the enormous hype surrounding it. PHP, Linux and MySQL have also risen largely due to hype. Of course, it's true that you won't overly disadvantage yourself if you use whatever most others use, but it would still be better if decisions were made based on sound knowledge of technical benefits.
  • Programming tools? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mike McTernan ( 260224 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @12:36PM (#13845381) Homepage
    > Indeed, many credit Microsoft's success to its highly
    > regarded programming tools, which make it easier for
    > developers to write software that run on Windows.

    Bleh. Windows doesn't even come with a compiler.

    I think that's probably why a lot of developers like Unix so much - most systems come with a compiler as standard and the man pages give you all the APIs you need. Grab your favourite editor and off you go!
  • PHP-based applications can be great if designed by good programmers.

    For proof, just look at some of the projects using PHP: Mantis Bug Tracker [mantisbt.org], PHPMyAdmin [phpmyadmin.net], MediaWiki (Wikipedia) [mediawiki.org], several top discussion boards, Friendster, reportedly apps by Yahoo, and countless others.

    These are HIGH-QUALITY web applications. Of course, great things can be done with other platforms, but it's nonsense to slam PHP because "it's so easy that non-programmers produce a lot of crap code with it". The proof that it's worthy is in the *best* apps that are produced, not the worst ones!
  • J2EE Sucks (Score:5, Funny)

    by multipartmixed ( 163409 ) on Friday October 21, 2005 @01:32PM (#13845934) Homepage
    I don't write in either Java or PHP -- I'm a Grade-A C-slinger -- but here are my REAL-WORLD experiences with both platforms.

    C Coders perspective:

    PHP - I wrote some objects for PHP5 about eight months ago. The documentation blows, I had to use gdb and a notepad to figure out some of the idiotic details for accessing the symbol table and so forth. The Horrible, horrible dangling-if-macros are terrible. Took 3 days (from "I know nothing" to "I'm done and debugged").

    Java - I wrote some JNI interfaces. Actually, they interfaced to the exact same code as the PHP5 modules! (Making a useful C library, encapsulated in C++ objects usable across Java and PHP platforms). Easy stuff! I used cxxwrap. Took 1 day.

    Manager's Perspective (I wear that hat, too): PHP is pretty cool, as long as you treat it like a programming language and perform proper data abstraction, code layout, blah-de-blah. "Web guys" need to learn awful fast that "Web Programming" had better be treated the same was as system programming, or large applications become difficult to manage. PHP does little to enforce this (hey, just stick some code right in the middle of the style sheet!), but good discipline will solve all of PHP's major problems.

    It's also nice when PHP the guys ask for help, I say "C library function XXXX will solve your problem" or "the underlying OS call behaves this way, that's probably why you're having issues..." and it transliterates directly into PHP. (And I can look at the PHP sources and actually understand them).

    Java, on the other hand -- I can't take my years of experience with the UNIX OS and help anybody coding on Java, because it has absolutely nothing in common with the underlying OS, POSIX, etc. Now, that may not be all that bad, but it's damned frustrating when you plan on doing common, every day operations that work anywhere else BUT Java, and have the platform smacks you in the face.

    For example, say you need to link two different web hierarchies together (say, images from your apache server and the same images in your tomcat container). You'd make a software link, right? OH, NOOOOO, you make a soft link and then you spend the next three hours figuring out why the fuck it doesn't work, because those asshats who designed the platform didn't like them, so you instead have to hunt through cryptic XML configuration files to find out how to turn on some asshat undocumented directive to allow a BASIC FUNCTION OF THE OPERATING SYSTEM.

    For fuck's sake! Now, I suppose the above criticism is more a J2EE criticism than a Java critism, but, if we want to compare apples to apples, .php vs. .jsp seems right on target. So let me enunciate very clearly:


    Essential redux: Each PHP guy gets more done in a day than two Java guys get done in a week.

    Why? How can this be? Java solves everything except world hunger!

    The Java guys spend three days a week debugging shit that's gone wrong with Tomcat on one server or another. It's always some incompatibility here, surprise-bite-you-in-the-ass-there. Two applications on the same server use the same JAR file, so the containers refuse to load. That sort of thing. Sheer idiocy.

    Then they spend one day debugging shit that's gone wrong with Eclipse (or its mangling of the CVS repository, or some ant dependency problem, or)... then they spend half a day each writing code, and another half day synchronizing their changes. And meanwhile they whine that 256 megs of RAM isn't enough to edit a fucking text file (and do NOTHING else at the same time).

    And Lord help you if you want to add another table to the database and want them to do something as silly as retrieve the data from it and put it on a web page. Apparently, this is incredibly difficult, because it involves creating new hibernate objects, which of course fucks everything else in the ass, well, because, something called hotspot didn't get it's monthly fucking hormone shot or som

The road to ruin is always in good repair, and the travellers pay the expense of it. -- Josh Billings