Which has better packages, Python or PHP?

Answered in Quora

Q: Which has better packages, Python or PHP?

It depends on the target utility. In the Python world, the most common package installer is pip; the PHP world didn’t settle on a dominant format/installation for packages until composer, and that was relatively recently (last 4 years).

The reason for this is because PHP is a language almost exclusively designed for websites, and the economy of the open-source world has found that a dedicated application, instead of a framework or library could serve the bulk of most commercial needs. For instance, a single application, WordPress, four years ago (2014) accounted for nearly 20% of all websites and 50% of all blogs. There is little need package management when a single download and install (or a single click during ISP/hosting account creation or visit to site like Bitnami) can set up everything a typical website might need, fully under your control, with its own package infrastructure (plugin and theme ecosystem) where the underlying language (PHP) is pretty much irrelevant to the user.

Other languages like Ruby (with gems) or Go (import) or Javascript (with npm) which matured later and are more general purpose had a more robust package management and installation system. PHP Composer, in fact, is most modeled on npm.

Python, like Perl, predates these languages, but its general purpose demanded package management early in its development. However, because of this, pip takes less advantage of web conventions that npm does. Python has the added headache of version compatibility with its core runtime. Still pip is perfectly workable and relatively seamless and easy to use.

So which has better packages? The answer is it depends on the domain. In nearly any language you can find an adequate package for any of your needs, but overall you will find the packages are higher quality, more up-to-date, and sometimes just better overall in the domain the language seems to target well.

In my opinion, packages for data science/AI/ML applications, Python packages are second to none. As a PHP expert, I wouldn’t even bother looking in Composer for them and would instead find a PHP extension that binded to a dedicated engine optimized for the problem area or write a dedicated solution/web service in Python/flask and call it from PHP. If, for some crazy reason, I needed to do this entirely within PHP, I would search for the best solution in Python and see if someone has a port for that in PHP.

I would expect the same in DevOps for Python, but right now that space, like blogging (WordPress), seems to have dedicated solutions where a domain-specific language has abstracted one from the language-specific package management solution. For instance, in the configuration management space the top four applications are: Puppet, Chef, Ansible, and SaltStack. Of those four, I believe only one (Chef) exposes the underlying language (Ruby), and it does this to the DevOps engineer no more than WordPress exposes PHP to a blogger.

For server-side web-based packages, I feel PHP and Composer are going to have a solution for any problem PHP itself is capable of solving. That is a restricted set, however, as more and more work for web applications is being done on the client-side in Javascript and there is already an adequate toolchain for that (as well as a package management system in npm). Other web-based languages will probably have adequate solutions in this space with decreasing order/quality: Ruby (on Rails), Javascript (NodeJS), Python, Go, Perl, Java… The web problem is now pretty discovered at this point so there is less a need to adopt the bleeding edge in the web problem.

You lost me there, bub

Reading [this blog post ranting on PHP][phphorrors]

> No corporation supports PHP’s growth & maturity like Sun & Google do for Java, Google (Guido van Rossum) for Python (jnc Django framework), Ruby (inc RoR) by 37 signals etc…

37Signals & Ruby? Thank his noodly appendage PHP’s support isn’t as terrible as that company on that language.

You lost me there, bub.

When it comes to engineering choice, programming language is not even in the top 10 of important choices a software architect has to make. If you’re worried about the language, you’re worried about the wrong thing. (I’m also a little amused that the author holds Python as a language with great unicode support.)

[phphorrors]:http://www.theroadtosiliconvalley.com/technology/php-coding-horrors-poor-excuses/ “PHP: coding horrors & poor excuses—The Road to Silicon Valley”

Learning Programming Part 2: Programming Frameworks

A selection of programming language textbooks ...
Image via Wikipedia

(Full disclaimer: I work at Automattic and am a speaker at PHP conferences.)

A couple days ago, Gina Trapani posted an interesting article on learning to program.

This reminds me that some people may take the wrong points away in my last article on the subject, the priority shouldn’t be what language you should learn, but rather, what is going to get you motivated to learn. PHP is a popular language because it naturally invites “immersion” style learning, not because it makes a good teaching language—which it doesn’t. That is, assuming the thing you are immersing in is “building a website”. As I like to say:

PHP is the shortest distance between two points on the web.

In the comments, I wrote:

After [the first] chapter, I’d say [PHP and MySQL Development]offers the most “immersion” gratification (at the least cost) than any other language’s textbook. The chapters are easy and by the end of it you have an eStore written and working from scratch. What do you get at the end of the Learning Python book? And how easy was each subsequent chapter? I’d say much less and much harder.

[Unfortunately,] it’s that first chapter that does the first timer in.

Continue reading about More about learning web programming after the jump.

PHP is a dying language

Friend: http://twitter.com/markscrap/status/1228353533
Me: 10 to 1 whatever kid wrote that is a ruby developer
Friend: haha

I’m just stating the obvious. When the first computer was invented, the legendary Grace Hopper created the first compiled programming language. That language is still around and is still popular today!

Programming languages don’t “die,” they proliferate.

And when a person makes blanket statements like, “PHP is a dying language,” it allows me to a make blanket statement about that person’s programming preferences and maturity.

The difference is, my statement is probably right.

Mr. Hansson doesn’t get to shart on sharding

(A draft of this article appeared on Wednesday because I hit the wrong button on WordPress. I apologize for the confusion it may have caused. What can I say except, “Freedom is messy.”)

This morning Andrei sent me an article from David Heinemeier Hansson titled, “Mr. Moore gets to punt on sharding.”

Since Andrei and I work at pretty well-trafficked websites which couldn’t operate without the very thing David is advocating against, normally I’d just laugh naïveté in his observations—it’s been eight years since the the Internet goldrush and all that’s happened is that a new generation is repeating our mistakes and rationalizing the inevitable fail that ensues.

But there are tons of people who quote David Henemeier Hansson’s words to me at conferences and on the blogs. For every speaking engagement in which I’ve saved someone from a huge architectural misconception, Mr. Hansson has indoctrinated ten more future programmers who will make that same mistake. Like a glacier during global warming, I move forward one inch during the winter and retreat a foot during the summer.

If I don’t do something about this… well someone’s gotta think about the polar bears?

DSC_3589.JPG

Su Lin
San Diego Wild Animal Park, Escondido, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G VR

Okay, this is not a polar bear, but I couldn’t get a good photograph of one. This is a different bear similarly endangered due to habitat destruction.

No, Mr. Hansson doesn’t get to shart on sharding. I’m going to Bush Doctrine it before I see this shitfart come out of the mouths of any of my colleagues.

Continue reading about Defining sharding, dispelling myths, and delivering consequences after the jump

Battle wounds

A lot of people at work were asking me about this bright red cut I had on my nose today. The truth of the matter is, I was showering and the shampoo bottle slipped out of my hand and I cut myself across my nose. But nobody was believing that story.

Battle wounds

Battle wounds
North Beach, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Cosina-Voigtländer NOKTON 35mm F1.2 Aspherical
1/500sec, iso 320, 35mm (47mm)

I thought about it on the way home and I realized they were right—I should tell people that I got into an alley fight with some pissed-off Ruby developers, and one of them nicked me before I was able to fend them off with my mad ninja coding skills.

That’ll be much more believable.

(Now I’m hoping the cut stays visible for a while.)

[My Harrison Ford Scar after the jump]Continue reading

Ruby, Photography, and Women

My second twitterstalk was Andrei at Caffe Trieste in North Beach. Andrei is someone everyone should be nice to for reasons I mentioned before. He’s trying to get me back into photography.

I think it’s because he has a photoblog now…

and probably figures that getting my competitive juices flowing will be the photography equivalent of dollar-nassau. But I hate to compete and the only thing that motivates me is, quite frankly, intense fear. And besides, what chance do I have? As Ed Finkler says, the man’s got scary amounts of kevorka:

This White Russian smiles

This White Russian smiles
CNET Headquarters
SOMA, San Francisco, California

Nikon D200, Tokina 16-50mm AT-X PRO f/2.8 DX. SB-800
1/60sec @ f/2.8, iso 100, 38mm (47mm)

Go subscribe to his blog now (besides the pictures are good, quite unlike mine).

[cats, coffee, photography, ruby, and women after the jump]Continue reading