At work, we make and sell software written in a number of languages; our flagship product is written in PHP. During pre-sales, we’ve always had to handle some questions about our choice of PHP – normally from IT staff with a preference for Java or lately .NET – and we normally manage to convince the potential customer that PHP isn’t the bad choice that they’ve been led to believe.

But one of the unfortunate side-effects of Stefan Esser’s much-publicised (self publicised? :) ) departure from the PHP Security Team has been an increase in the number of IT staff we’re coming across who “believe” both that open-source is inherently insecure, and that PHP in particular has incurable problems. These “beliefs” hurt ISVs trying to sell PHP-based applications into skeptical organisations.

Why isn’t there a central resource containing the answers to “Why PHP?” in a business-oriented way? Something that ISVs can refer their clients to, and it not only promotes the excellent advantages of PHP (and include success stories from vertical markets), but also include substantial rebuttals to the FUD that ISVs have to deal with during the pre-sales process.

I’m not surprised that PHP.net doesn’t contain such a resource (it’s not really the place for it, one could argue), but it’s disappointing to see that Zend doesn’t provide one. What’s good for ISVs should be good for Zend, after all, and this is an area where they could help all the ISVs that they want to sell their products to :)

Is there interest from other folks in having a resource like this? Or maybe working together to build such a resource?

21 Comments

  1. David Goulden says:
    January 17th, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    Simply amazing timing.
    I’ll give you a call tomorrow to talk some more :)
    Cheers,
    David Goulden

  2. David Mytton says:
    January 17th, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    I’d be interested in setting up some kind of resource for this. I’ve just registered the domain name whyphp.net which I’m going to develop into the site as you suggested. Would you be able to get in touch with me (I can’t find an e-mail address on your site!) and see if we can work together on it?

  3. Jeremy Privett says:
    January 18th, 2007 at 1:34 am

    I would love to see a resource like this. We recently had a situation at my job where we went through a .NET Nightmare that I could’ve easily replaced with a PHP Solution, but it was shot down because “nobody would take us seriously” if we used PHP in an enterprise environment. I personally think this is just flat-out ridiculous.

    I’m going to withhold my comment on Stefan Esser, now that I think about it. After the debacle I witnessed on the PHP Internals list, I’m very disappointed with the maturity of him and a handful of other people in the PHP Community.

  4. chris ramsay» Blog Archive » PHP in Business says:
    January 18th, 2007 at 8:38 am

    [...] I read Stu Herbert’s post on his PHP blog this morning, talking about the business case for PHP and also questioning why there was no central resource answering some of those ‘Why PHP?’ questions. I agree with what Stu has to say about that and have often wondered the same. Having been in the position of really having to justify using PHP over other languages for projects, making a business case is often the hardest hill to climb; often this is because you (or me) as a developer are trying to put what is essentially a technical viewpoint/argument to someone who really doesn’t care about the nuts and bolts of the development – they want to know about good old ‘Return on Investment’! [...]

  5. David Goodwin says:
    January 18th, 2007 at 9:11 am

    I’d be interested in helping; drop me a line if I can help – $myfirstname@$mydomain

    thanks
    David.

  6. Regin says:
    January 18th, 2007 at 9:21 am

    Definately a good initiative – not only would such a resource helping us PHP developers out explaining people why this or that should use PHP. But it would also be a help to gain more respect to PHP developers.

  7. Damien Seguy says:
    January 18th, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    I guess the closest version of this document is the PHP White paper, edited originally by AFUP and translated into English at PHP Québec :
    http://www.phpquebec.org/modules/mydownloads/viewcat.php?cid=6
    (look for PHP White paper, toward the bottom).

    That could be the start of such a document.

  8. Stu says:
    January 18th, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Hi,
    Many thanks everyone for the feedback and support for this idea. I’d really like to see Zend put their weight behind this, because they’ve got the brand awareness amongst larger companies to add extra credibility.
    If Zend feel that they can’t lead this effort (and I’d understand if they didn’t), then how about we form some form of PHP ISV Consortium to produce the “Why PHP” website? Forming such a group will help with both credibility and media awareness, and help us to provide a united front to influence the large companies that we all want to sell our software into.
    Best regards,
    Stu

  9. Clay Loveless says:
    January 18th, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    Stu,
    I would venture that such a resource published by Zend directly would be construed by some (or many) as a biased account of “why?”.

    Better for this to be a community-driven resource with testimonials from people using PHP in enterprise environments.

    The key to its success is the right group of people driving it (must be designed to appeal to a corporate audience, must be well-written, etc.)

    One thing that concerns me about PHP in general — and perhaps this is because I’m so close to it — but combination of the childlike attitudes and abrasive support responses that permeate much of the “upper eschelon” of the PHP core development community ultimately serve to hurt the language.

    Any enterprise analyzing languages without a bias who takes a look at the PHP core community is likely to be put off by the attitude problems and politics. (Same goes for PEAR, in my opinion, for what it’s worth.)

    You don’t hear about knock-down, drag-out tantrums on the .NET development team very often. ;)

    I applaud the effort, and hope that something useful comes out of it. As a champion of PHP use in two high traffic production environments (Feedster.com, and now Mashery.com), I’d be happy to contribute if I can.

  10. Stu says:
    January 18th, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Hi Clay,

    I can understand the concern some folks might have in the community about Zend being involved in this, but certainly over here in the UK there’s just no getting away from the fact that Zend is *the* brand that larger organisations have heard of. A resource like this will ultimately fail if it’s not considered credible by the larger business community.

    I couldn’t agree more with you on your points about how the core PHP community comes across to those outside it. But equally, when you’re selling a complete product into a company, they often aren’t aware of the core PHP community and aren’t interested in finding out.

    Best regards,
    Stu

  11. Ivo Jansch says:
    January 18th, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    I agree with stu; businesses and ‘the enterprise’ would better accept this coming from a company. It’s how Red Hat made Linux popular in the corporate world.

  12. Raymond Olavides says:
    January 20th, 2007 at 11:48 am

    Why not have this kind of initiative come from both worlds. From a company’s perspective and from a developer/community’s point of view.

    Maybe the problem with this is that most PHP developers think so lowly of themselves and wouldn’t stand up for their ground. afaik, “the corporate world” or “the enterprise” cares less about which technology/language is being used as long as it gets the job done and does it well. Two of the few factors I’ve come across with that affects this business decision are legacy app support and I.T. Heads who are fanatic to the language they’ve learned.

    Developers from other languages are not being restricted to be a bit of “masochist” and “fanatic” to the their PL, why not allow PHP Developers to be so. I believe there are a handful of great “fanatic” PHP Dev around who can provide this resource for the community. Some of the challenge with this though is how to prevent bashings and PL Wars.

    This will also lift and encourage new developers to take PHP and evangelize it. I believe it does not matter wherever this will come from, this’ll serve as a seed for the future of PHP and its developers.

  13. Stu says:
    January 20th, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Raymond,

    With all respect, I don’t understand your comment, and I suspect you’ve misunderstood the kind of resource I’m asking for.

    I don’t understand how you can say that corporates don’t care what language a product is written in, when that’s exactly the problem I’m asking for a resource to help tackle. (As a former manager with a major corporate, I can categorically state from the other side of the fence that corporates really do care, when it comes to major software purchases that runs on its own dedicated hardware, which is the level we sell at work).

    I’m all for a community resource, but the resource I’m after is specifically the business case for PHP. The audience of such a case isn’t developers (although it needs to include them). It isn’t necessarily the IT Department (although, again, it needs to include them). The audience of the business case are the folks who sign the purchase order, or who sit on the boards deciding on the results of their tender process.

    I agree that there needs to be advocacy for PHP the language (and I’m currently planning a blog article about that), but that isn’t the resource I’m talking about in this blog article.

    Best regards,
    Stu

  14. Raymond Olavides says:
    January 20th, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Hi Stu,

    Terribly sorry to have misunderstood your point and went off topic. Thanks for the kind clarification.

  15. Rick says:
    February 3rd, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    I’m not opposed to a “why PHP” document being written. I’m aware that the rest of this comment may not allude to that, however I’m very much in favour of PHP in the development world… when it makes sense. As a matter of fact, I’m not even talking about the “why PHP” document, but what I’m going off on a diatribe about is semi-related, and in some part based on comments to this blog posting.

    There are hundreds of programming languages available. Some of them have been around for years; COBOL, FORTRAN, C, ASM (yes it counts as a programming language), SNOBAL, TRUCK, TRAIN, BASIC, SHORTYELLOWBUS, and all of them have a simple premise (I may or may not have to invent some new programming languages after that last block in the sentence): they provide a set of tools to accomplish a general problem in a hopefully efficient way. The example given in the original blog post was in reference to “Why Java, Why not PHP?”

    Wa’hey! If you have a team of 3-900 Java developers on your development staff, coupled with hundreds of thousands of lines of Java code embedded into a primarily Java based architecture, and you have a consulting firm coming in saying, “HEY USE PHP LOL” then said consulting firm is going to look like a retard. I’ll continue my pointless argument on a lighter note though… even though I suddenly feel like a Bush supporter.

    PHP is incredibly good for rapidly developing web applications, even well architectured applications. Hey, it’s even moderately convenient for CLI-based applications. The biting factors start coming in with (and this could provide a starting point for this pro-PHP document):
    q) “oh but the language is so young.”
    a): so is veal, and so are most other languages. Hey there’s lots of bugs too. Makes life exciting.

    q) The core developers, we hear, bicker a lot and act like school children fighting over who gets to hang upside-down from the monkey bars next; is this true?
    a) Can’t argue with you there, but some of it has to do with language barriers and cultural differences that your sheltered ass has no clue about. The rest has to do with the monkey bars, you’re right.

    q) PHP is insecure
    a) PHP simply joined the club — it’s cool now

    q) There are more Java programmers than PHP programmers
    a) They haven’t finished college yet. We’re all Java programmers at heart. System.out.println(“I can code Java, but PHP = 1337″);

    q) We heard that the general intellectual capacity of PHP programmers extends to the point of general stupidity
    a) Did we mention yet that we have the largest collection of shit code ever developed? We could further mention that a lot of it has seen massive popularity.

    q) So why PHP?
    a) Because I know it.

  16. saumendra says:
    February 8th, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Creating a Resource , is a hectic job indeed.But it is possible if every one of us from the Php Community make an good effort to standardise PHP, and may someone by the name PayGates create a company Names MacroSofts.

  17. Dennis Popel says:
    February 10th, 2007 at 9:54 am

    Hello,

    I will gladly publish business cases and success stories of companies that migrated to PHP5 or develop PHP5 software on http://www.onPHP5.com site. Please submit to news at onphp5 dot com.

  18. Cyril PIERRE de GEYER says:
    February 12th, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    Hi,
    I am one of the French User Group AFUP founder.
    I am the team leader of the “PHP White Paper” :
    http://www.afup.org/docs/livre-blanc-php-en-entreprise-v4.pdf

    We made this document with 4-5 company. Each of them have his name on the white paper.

    So if I can help please ask.

    Cyril PIERRE de GEYER

  19. Dennis Popel says:
    February 16th, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Hello, Cyril,

    Would be helpful if you could have this in English :)

  20. Stu On PHP - » What Does The Business Case For PHP Need To Cover? says:
    April 4th, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    [...] In my last post, I asked whether there was any interest in there being a resource that makes the business case for PHP. Many thanks to everyone who replied, especially David Goulden at Zend. [...]

  21. Key says:
    April 19th, 2007 at 10:52 am

    I have found an older version of “PHP white Paper” on english. It could be found on.

    http://www.phpquebec.org/documents/phpquebec/PHPQuebec-livreblanc.en.0.5.1.pdf

    Im very interested for a new version of this paper.