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Do PHP and Drupal have a bright future? - A Tale of Two Blogs

Submitted by devblog on Sun, 18/01/2009 - 02:11

I was going to add Dreamhost, but I will save it for another article (after I set up my promo code).

I have just set up my shiny new blog using Drupal of course, and been over to www.hiveminds.co.uk, the website/blog of my old pal Carl McDade to see how his site had been getting on. I learned how to compile a custom PHP and eaccelerator at Dreamhost from articles on his site. He had recently expressed dissatisfaction with PHP and Drupal, some sentiments I shared, and wound up turning comments into full blown articles.

Not only has he downgraded PHP - PHP is a skill not a profession, but he had also switched from Drupal - Why good open source PHP CMS developers are hard to find to WordPress and dropped Dreamhost.

I think Drupal is better, see clean urls right out of the box, Acquia set them up automaticallly, but it would have been a 10 second job to do it myself. I will test drive their related Mollom system to see if I can enable comments without having to bother about spam.

I will take take the lazy route of repeating my comments there and save myself a lot of typing at this late hour. I will tidy it up or rewrite it in another article later.

PHP
The fact is evolved PHP mainly for web development and also requires a lot of knowledge about the relevant web CMS or whatever.

I have to use PHP and will use a lot of PHP software but the future is definitely with other languages. I am now trying a small project in symfony and something similar with web2py (python). Although symfony is PHP it is strongly object oriented (PHP 5.2+ in its latest version) and to me it will be a good test of how object orientation and a good framework can make PHP tolerable.

I agree that the future in Web Development does not lie with PHP, Java etc. Languages like Ruby, Python, Clojure, Groovy are gaining more traction and the web future probably lies with these languages running on top of the Java and CLR VMs

Java, C, C++ will be around for a while and their libraries and low level objects written in them will form the foundation that the new languages (so called scripting languages build) on, but the scripting languages cannot be beaten for sheer productivity compared with Java, C++ etc.

If you want something recruiters are happy with you won’t go wrong with Java and C#.

Final word, PHP can be a profession if discipline and good frameworks can be brought to bear on it. The documentation of the latest symfony demo application alone, Jobeet, is a joy to read makes PHP worth sticking with just for the demos docs.

The issue with PHP is whether it has built enough of a legacy code base to last around long enough in the 10 years or so it has been around.

By modelling we will practice it? ??

Drupal

I have to share your opinions about PHP CMSs, a number of them are like Topsy, they just grew and evolved along the lines of their original development, just like the other half, MySQL, whose original creators once claimed that ACID was not necessary in a relational database.

Unlike your change to WordPress I have decided to stick with Drupal on account of its large and supportive community for the reasons I have mentioned in my blog’s opening article. Version 5 was its turning point and it has also acquired lot of modules which are truly supportive of developers.
It can’t be beaten for the sheer amount of modules it has, and once its internals are understood, the lack of OO becomes less of a problem.
Although there is a lot of information to help fix its problems, too much of the necessary information is scattered about in its forums and issues, and it lacks a search system to link them all together properly. Hopefully the problem of having to spend weeks waiting for the info to solve problems which take hours to fix once the info is found will go away.
Another problem with Drupal is that many original contributors never really appreciated the fact a lot of end users were only familiar with pointy-clicky interfaces on one hand, and others too were experienced programmers who found it hard to grasp Drupal’s underlying structure and annoying remarks from Drupal coders who lacked their coding background didn’t help.
Drupal contributors could get too touchy and defensive about their baby and community, and didn’t make their case sensitively even if they were in the right. Some of them still are.

Doing Drupal really requires coding, it isn’t really WYSIWYG even at the theming and CSS level and it is only when you delve into those areas that you really get to appreciate it. Once you get into theming CCKs etc, most of it falls into place, and the developer docs and modules for version 6 are really good.

Try Drupal again, you may change your mind.

The only issue that works against Drupal it its dependence on PHP although a lot of other systems are also in the same boat. Drupal has a large dedicated and talented community around it and if they can evolve it into a more object oriented system with PHP, that can be used as a foundation changing to a better language. PHP can be so awkward and verbose at times. That had better be sorted by version 9 or 10. If they don’t they won’t retain the more coding oriented users. The WYSIWYG types will still be around though.

We’ll see if my Drupal blog will be better than yours (time permitting :-))


Update: (sometime early 2010)
Hiveminds is back, and still running WordPress. Someone should tell Carl that using Wordpress to blog about Drupal enhancing modules is uncool!! There, Drupal, the CMS/Blogging package you love to hate.

Update: (Sometime in 2009) The original Hiveminds site is gone, and is now replaced with Carl's CV page. Blogging is hard.

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