Ewww, You Use PHP?

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One of MailChimp developers strikes back against programming language elitism:

You can imagine the horror and surprise we see when we try to tell a good developer that we use PHP to solve cool and interesting problems.

So here’s my best answer to that.

We’ve built a framework for developing applications in PHP specifically designed to allow for fast innovation in the high-load, high-performance environment we live in every day while still keeping the API extremely simple to deal with. This isn’t your grandfather’s PHP, or even your slightly older brother’s. I can say without doubt that it is the most sophisticated framework for this environment that I’ve heard of except for perhaps what Facebook uses. Our architecture is heavily sharded, fast, and scalable to handle the absurd amount of growth we’ve had in the last few years.

It’s true that the platform wasn’t really designed for what we put it through and it hurts us from time to time, but that is to be expected. Once you get to the scale of computing we’re at, the language you use is much less important than the platform you build on it. A simple language change isn’t going to make these problems less complicated, or less awesome.

Reminds me of this post a couple of weeks ago to the social bookmarking service Pinboard's Twitter account:

this post is a nice example of why we use PHP: http://bit.ly/bz6ACZ Our 'deployment toolchain' is rsync and a can of beer

It's glib, but it's a valid point, and it's a decent symbol for all that's wrong with this kind of language debate. PHP is somewhat harder to use, but it's simple, and if it's ugly at least it's consistently ugly. PHP is the used midsize sedan to Ruby's two-door BMW coupe.