AJAXleds the pack
PHP dominates the server side
PHP, meanwhile, has established itself as a dominant server-side language in the scripting realm, powering applications such as the Sugar CRM platform. The language makes no pretenses about being for general-purpose use, Gutmans says. "The reason why we're so popular is because we focus only on Web. We try and do the best thing for the Web," he says.
PHP enables embedding of code within HTML pages, making it the first language to do that, Gutmans says. Presentation logic can be embedded within the actual context of the Web page, he adds. PHP also supports Web services, database access, and image manipulation. "You've got about 40,000 functions that are all Web-oriented," Gutmans says.
Java is PHP's biggest rival, Gutmans says. But PHP offers an edge in time to completion and expense, he says. "Java [has] very long development cycles [and requires] very expensive engineers." Also, Java applications typically require four to 10 times the code of a PHP application, he added.
Work is proceeding on the planned PHP 5.3 upgrade to the platform, featuring support for namespaces to enable better code organization and reuse. An internationalization extension, and performance and memory improvements are eyed as well. The upgrade is expected by the end of the year, Gutmans says.
PHP: a large user base
PHP has been around a long time, and some advocates of newer languages say it's past its prime. PHP adherents disagree. Perl is complex and hard to maintain, Gutmans says. "Perl has pretty much disappeared when it comes to the Web."
But McAdams defended Perl's vitality, citing examples of major users. "I would ask him what Ticketmaster and Amazon use for their back ends," McAdams says. "[Perl] has a very large user base in Web apps but also has a strong presence in the financial industry."