This is one of those questions which is inherently hard to answer – simply because the answers are all very subjective. It all depends on what you want to do and how you want to do it. It’s like asking why you should (or should not) drive to work? If you ask 100 people, they’ll all give you their own reasoning as to why you should drive to work. Moreover, this kind of question can only be put in perspective when you compare it to something else – PHP vs Javascript, PHP vs ASP.NET, PHP vs J2EE – the list (and arguments) goes on.

So why use PHP?

Personally, after 8 years in this industry I’m still using PHP, and these are my top 5 reasons why I am:

  1. It’s everywhere! There is not a web-hosting company today that does not offer PHP capability in their hosting packages. This gives me the complete freedom to ‘move’ (should I choose) to any hosting provider without fear that I have to redo my website all over again. Of course the same can be said of other scripting technology, like Perl, ASP etc, but PHP just about blankets all web hosting service providers.
  2. Lots of FREE applications! This is perhaps one of the biggest pull to using PHP. There are lots (and I mean lots) of great open-sourced applications available on the ‘Net for me to download and use – absolutely FREE! Hotscripts is one of my favorite places to go to look through what application is available for PHP. They currently host over 10,000 entries in their directory for PHP Scripts and Programs alone – some are paid applications, but the large majority are freely available. That amount of choice is just staggering.
  3. A large community. The number of free applications is a testament to the large and active PHP community. Many times, when I come across a problem with PHP, chances are, someone somewhere has already found a fix. If not, there’s plenty of people to consult. To me, it’s really just safety-in-numbers.
  4. MySQL database. All web applications needs a place to store its data – and what better place to do that than on the best open-source database platform, MySQL. Why? Because MySQL is an industrial strength database for the price of FREE, and it’s everywhere too. Together PHP and MySQL is a potent combination – almost every available PHP open source application today uses MySQL as the database.
  5. Easy to use, yet powerful. I know, I had formal programming training, so ‘easy to use’ is very subjective, but I am still going to point out that comparing to other scripting languages, PHP is relatively easy to pick up, and powerful enough that you can build almost any kind of web application you can imagine (see point 2!)

Well, there you go, my 5 reasons why I still use PHP after 8 years. I think these are good enough reasons for you to start having a look at it too.