PHP as language

There’s an interesting post on Ning Developer Blog on their choice to use PHP as the Ning platform client language.

At Tagged, we don’t roll the way Diego does at Ning, but it’s shocking how similar the thinking is. This post was related to the old dog: PHP templating systems vs. PHP as templating.

It reminds me of my biggest beef with working at Plaxo, which used C++ with clearsilver templating. Whenever I used Clearsilver, I kept thinking, “Well this is obviously designed by a bunch of C coders who think they know better.”

Coding in that joke of a templating system, was like coding with both hands tied behind your back. Having such restrictions did lead to a certain amount of creativity—introducing Ajax to Plaxo about a year before the term was coined, and maybe influencing things like Meebo—but I keep thinking how much the setup got in the way of programmers expressing their creativity. How long did my former company spend looking for C++ John Henrys, when a segmentation (like the way Ning does with Java core and PHP frontend) would have served as the steam-powered hammer?

The John Henrys can focus on what they’re good at instead of dying to prove that they can do HTML templating and everything else also. “Everything you can do I can do better…”

Diego is right, but my emphasis is different: PHP is a programming language.

And language is a vehicle for expression.

6 thoughts on “PHP as language

  1. What’s interesting is if you look at their list of who uses clearsilver you can trace the lineage of almost every product directly back to the eGroups team.

    In other words, Clearsilver really says more about the immense talent and future positions of a certain group of people (eGroups->Plaxo, Bloglines, Google Groups, orkut) than about the superiority of templating system itself. The myopia is self- evident to anyone who has built websites in a scripting web language, even if those people can’t see it for themselves.

    So when people talk about templating systems, I think of Clearsilver. It reminds me that very smart people can be very blinded by their ego, and unwillingness to respect the experiences of others.

    We often forget that all this stuff is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Best is truly the enemy of good.

  2. Simply put, clearsilver is written by C programmers who think they know templating, but don’t. They read it in a book and never really spent any time working with a graphic or UI designer to figure out their real needs.

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