PHP Trends Revealed in Zend Study

PHP is becoming the language of the Cloud. That should surprise no one who’s been paying attention, of course, but Zend actually has proof. Its Zend Developer Pulse study polled more than 3,000 PHP developers on their use of emerging technologies and trends in PHP development practices. The growth of PHP for applications hosted in the Cloud was just one of many interesting findings.

You can read the full Zend study. Among the key findings: well over half of the study’s respondents – 63 percent – stated that they expect at least some of the applications they currently have in development will be deployed in the Cloud. Nearly a fifth expect to deploy between 10 and 50 percent of their applications in the Cloud, while 15 percent figure that more than half of their applications will be deployed in the Cloud. Only a quarter of developers responding to the poll didn’t expect any of their apps to wind up in the Cloud.

According to Zend, developers prefer to use PHP to create cloud-based applications “for its ease of use and their ability to develop quickly using PHP, among other reasons.” Quick application development saves time and gives businesses a competitive advantage. As you might expect (given how long PHP has been around), PHP developers have begun to show quite a bit of professionalism in their use of the language, but Zend found room for improvement.

Just where do PHP developers stand on professional practices? Zend noted that they “are already strong at keeping up with the latest versions of the language. Some core processes and best practices, such as the usage of version control and frameworks, are standard.”

It’s the practices that aren’t standard among PHP developers, and perhaps should be, that worry Zend. “Within a corporate environment, 41 percent of participants answered that their teams do not yet use bug tracking software, a concerning statistic,” Zend reported. “Likewise, application monitoring, now considered a mainstay for corporate application servers in Java and other environments. Has not yet been adopted by 78 percent of PHP development teams.”

Here’s an interesting statistic for those who love the speed with which they can develop PHP applications, even in a team environment: only 14 percent of respondents have implemented agile development tools. And more than half – 62 percent – don’t intend to implement such tools at all.

Participants in the study did apparently care about efficiency, as became clear from the responses to Zend’s final question on that topic. Because so much work is involved in maintaining a full PHP stack (such as patching, supporting and managing updates), more than half of the respondents noted that they had only one PHP stack in production. More than a quarter keep the same stack across development and production, while a similar number have multiple stacks in development, but only one in production.

Sadly, though, Zend also found that “one quarter of development teams struggle with the cost of maintaining multiple stacks in development and production. Seven percent and 6 percent of developers, respectively, admit either to a situation where every developer is different or to complete chaos!”

As PHP becomes the programming language of choice in more corporate and enterprise environments, Zend expressed its hope that its practitioners will adopt more best practices, use more automation, and so on. “Because PHP is being used to develop and deploy business-critical applications, development organizations must proactively fill the gap between pervasive use and professionalism,” Zend stated.

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