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Is PHP dead?

Kevin Kelly

I was speaking to a colleague recently who had been to see a talk by a leader in the field of software engineering; during this talk, the speaker confidently told the audience of attendees that PHP is dead! Knowing that I cover the open source software development market, he came to tell me this information and asked me for my thoughts as this came as a shock to him, and to be honest, it came as a bit of a shock to me!

I took a step back and had a think on why an esteemed speaker would make such an assertion. Could it be:

  • Wordpress making the change from PHP blocks to JavaScript blocks?
  • It’s not the most modern of languages?
  • That the FinTech sector struggle to see use cases for PHP over other languages?
  • PHP isn’t scalable? (common myth)
  • PHP is (allegedly) slow

The above reasons have arguable validity, but a little bit of research from my side showed that articles with the title “Is PHP dead” have been in circulation since 2011. Is there a section of the software development world that truly believes that PHP is a dying language or is there some statistics to back up the fact that PHP is dying? I thought I would take a look for myself.

  • As of 2018, over 79% of all websites on the internet are written in PHP
  • Some of the biggest websites on the internet are powered by PHP – Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Tumblr
  • According to Indeed.com, there were over 1,000 more jobs posted for PHP Developers in 2018 vs 2017
  • 28% of 100,000 software developers surveyed by StackOverflow are proficient in PHP Development
  • Internally within North Starr & Harrington Starr recruitment, we have seen an average rise in PHP salaries across the UK of around 8% from 2017 – 2018 and that is continuing to grow going into this year.

The above statistics are a stark contrast, at least for the present time, to the claims that PHP is dead or a dying language. I wanted to highlight three clients that I am actively working with that are hiring for PHP Developers at both Mid-level and Senior level, and give you my thoughts on why I cannot agree that PHP is a dying language:

  • Luxury holiday business – has been using PHP since their inception 12 years ago – currently turning over £65m annually
  • Senior PHP Developer – London - Up to £70,000
  • Mid-Level PHP Developer – London - Up to £55,000
  • Specialist PropTech business – is a three-year-old business that has been using PHP with their commercially released product that is currently utilised by 50% of the property sector including a number of FTSE250 businesses – turnover of £10m
  • Senior PHP Developer – Manchester – Up to £55,000
  • Mid-Level PHP Developer – Manchester – Up to £40,000
  • ComplianceTech business – this business in less than two years old and is currently developing their fourth platform for commercial release, built in PHP 7.
  • Mid-Level PHP Developer – Manchester – Up to £45,000 

I could list quite a few more businesses I work with similar to the above, but the fact that successful start-up businesses along with more established business are utilising a “Dying language” leads me to believe that there is a long way to go before we see any change in the demand for developers.

I am planning to do a follow-up article to this one looking at CMS based PHP Development, and why a large quantity of the Digital Agency market are still using Drupal, Shopify, Wordpress, Magento and others to power websites for some of the largest blue-chip clients, and why I feel this will not slow down for the foreseeable future. If you have an opinion on this, please do get in touch with me!

I would love to talk to anyone who can give me further insight into the current or future landscape for PHP, so if you have something to add to this article, let me know!

Kevin is an Open-source Recruitment Consultant working for North Starr based in the City of London. If you are looking for a new position, looking to grow your development team, salary surveys, market analysis or anything else related to Software Development in the world outside of FinTech, please get in touch with him on 02038000983 / kevin.kelly@thenorthstarr.com