According to the usage statistics posted on various websites, more than 81% of live websites currently use PHP as a server-side programming language. There are also many developers who use PHP as a general-purpose programming language for building both desktop and web application. The current version 7 of PHP is claimed to be two times faster than PHP 5, while consuming less than 50% memory than PHP 5.6.
PHP 7 further comes with several new language features including option to define return type of methods and functions, and two new operators (i.e., spaceship and null coalesce). But there are many programmers who believe PHP to be a badly designed programming language. They have already highlighted a number of design flaws in the popular web programming language on various online discussion forums.
Understanding Major Flaws in PHP Design
Not Designed as a New Programming Language
PHP was not originally designed as a new programming language. It was designed with simple features like support for web forms, and database communications. The developers subsequently added object-oriented and functional programming features in the server-side programming language. So many programmers believe that the core of PHP was designed in a quick and haphazard way. As the core of the programming language cannot be redesigned completely, the design of PHP remains flawed.
Hugely Inspired by Other Programming Languages
The design and syntax rules of PHP are influenced by several programming languages including C, C++, Perl, Java and TCL. For instance, the object-oriented programming features of PHP are influenced by C++ and Java. But PHP does not implement the features borrowed from other languages in an exact way. Likewise, many programmers believe that PHP has a weaker type system in comparison to other modern programming languages. The first time programmers often find it daunting to perform silent automatic conversion between strings, numbers and other data types.
Does not Promote Object-Oriented Programming
Unlike Java and C#, PHP was not designed from the beginning as an object-oriented programming language. The developers subsequently added many features to the programming language to make it object-oriented. So many programmers believe that PHP does not promote object-oriented programming. There are also a number of PHP developers to prefer procedural style to object-oriented programming. However, the most recent version of PHP comes with several new features to provide a solid basis for OOP. Also, most PHP development frameworks currently support all object-oriented programming concepts.
Several Features are Problematic
Many web developers even find several features of PHP to be problematic and inconsistent. For instance, PHP does not allow developers to create variables without assigning any value. Each time a variable is used for the first time, a null value is assigned to it by default. Also, the errors in PHP do not provide stack traces. So the developers have to install handlers additionally to generate the stack traces. At the same time, PHP also requires developers to memorize and use a wide variety of exceptions. Many developers refer PHP as a language of exceptions due to the large number of exceptions included in it.
Includes Too Many Irrelevant Features
Many PHP web developers also believe that the design of PHP is impacted by a variety of legacy stuff. As developers keep adding new features to the programming language, some of its features become irrelevant. There are also a number of features that programmers do not use at all. However, PHP 7 comes with a number of deprecated features. The current version of the server-side programming language does not include many features that programmers do not use. The deprecated features have contributed towards enhancing the design of PHP 7.
However, the design flaws do not affect the popularity of PHP as a web programming language. Many programmers use open-source frameworks and tools to write robust PHP web applications by overcoming its shortcomings. Likewise, the programmers can also follow a number of PHP coding best practices to overcome the flaws in the design of the popular web programming language.