PHP – a look back, a look forward

The history of PHP is the history of the web. Long-time developers will remember how PHP changed the universe of web development. PHP brought two key innovations to the table when it first launched. First, it was interpreted, which meant you could edit a file in place, then refresh the page and see the result. This quick feedback loop was why so many started with PHP and is still a cornerstone of what makes the language so useful. Second, it was the first widespread templating language which enabled intermixing of HTML and PHP code. Every other major web language and framework since PHP has followed suit.

Over time, PHP became a cornerstone of the “LAMP stack”. The LAMP stack consisted of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP, and helped to define the world of open source we all take for granted today. The ubiquity of open-source software in web development is near-absolute now, but it was the success of these technologies that redefined an industry.

Of course PHP wasn’t perfect and other languages and their frameworks came along to contend with PHP as the years went by. In fact, Heroku’s founders ran a PHP consultancy called Bitscribe which focused on PHP development before founding Heroku. They eventually moved from PHP on to Ruby on Rails, which led to the creation of Heroku when they discovered that the Rails ecosystem lacked good hosting options.

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