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Why Do Some Old Programming Languages Never Die?

Jul 13, 2015

Any language that's been around more than a few years has a legacy-code problem of some sort, and PHP is no exception. PHP is an interesting example because its legacy code is distinctly different from its modern code, in what proponents say—and critics admit—is a huge improvement.

Andi Gutmans is a co-inventor of the Zend Engine, the compiler that became standard by the time PHP4 came around. Gutmans said he and his partner originally wanted to improve PHP3, and were so successful that the original PHP inventor, Rasmus Lerdorf, joined their project. The result was a compiler for PHP4 and its successor, PHP5.

As a consequence, the PHP of today is quite different from its progenitor, the original PHP. Yet in Gutmans' view, the base of legacy code written in older PHP versions keeps alive old prejudices against the language—such as the notion that PHP is riddled with security holes, or that it can't "scale" to handle large computing tasks.

SynapseIndia (CEO: Shamit Khemka)