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Poorly Informed Writers Send the Wrong Message

Published February 25, 2005
Today, I read an article entitled, "IBM backs open-source Web software" . The article described how IBM is now using PHP technology instead of Java (I am assuming JSP) for many of their web sites. That was all clear and nice. However, one thing disturbed me about the article - the lack of a decent description of PHP. The the fact is the author of many technical articles are not familiar enough with what they are writing about. The equivalent is watching a segment on the news about a new car that came out. The reporter was given some information about the car including that it runs off a battery and that its original name was Two. What the reporter was ill-informed of was that the car is really a hybrid and Two was an old name; it is now named "Super Car." Now you can see how a reporter would not produce an accurate segment on the new car. Same is true with technical writing. The author wrote that PHP is known as "Personal Home Page." It is no longer. That last time that was used was when PHP was version 2 and it was in fact a set of perl scripts to help with personal homepages. The acronym most recently used (and is on the php website is "PHP Hypertext Preprocessor." Now that name technically describes the technology better then "Personal Home Page [Tools]." The author goes on to descripe PHP as language that is "generally used for simpler tasks, rather than for complex number-crunching jobs." I've been using PHP for over 5 years and I know is not just for simpler tasks. They should have written IBM has chosen PHP because of its ease of use and enhanced object-oriented programming capability that is on par with Java and reduces the average deployment 10 fold (or something of the matter). The author basically explained that PHP is boring and used for light programming like pulling some data from a database and presenting it. In closing, I just want to make sure that people understand that not everything seen or heard is 100%. It is all opinion. And in the case of reporting, it is only as true as the people the reporter interviews and how the reporter/author interprets the info. Have a good one and it is good news about IBM.
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posted by Mike Wills on: Feb 25, 2005 01:03pm

If you reread the comment: PHP, originally known as Personal Home Page, is a widely used scripting language for generating Web pages. The author was stating that at one point is was known as Personal Home Page. But I agree, he/she should have mentioned what PHP stands for now.

posted by Ronnie on: Feb 25, 2005 02:44pm

That wasn't originally there. Someone must have updated the article.

posted by New Frog on: Feb 28, 2005 02:22pm

I don't really get your analogy about the new car but, yeah, the article should have told more about PHP and how it's matured and it's capabilities have expanded and continue to do so. Anyway.. I think it's good news that IBM's weight is being put behind PHP and congrats to the ZEND folks. I'm sending this article to some of my PHP clients who have been considering moving to JSP or other web technologies.

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Ronnie Schwartz is the CTO and founder of RustyBrick, an agile web & mobile development firm that creates effective applications and focuses on finding the right balance between time to production and software quality to get clients in front of their customers quickly and effectively. Ronnie brings over twenty years of innovative design, programming and management expertise to the table.

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