My Backend is Better than Yours

By Forrest Smith -

For some reason I found myself in a subreddit where someone started the familiar post on why their backend programming language was better than PHP. I see this come up quite a bit with regards to PHP, I even remember responding to someone’s blog post several years ago where they were complaining about PHP — but most of their complaints were actually just with WordPress, so I think they were a little confused. However, I do see enough of these posts, and hear it from colleagues that PHP is an inferior language,, so I guess it’s probably somewhat true.

I’m not really a programmer, at least to the level of those who are actually formally trained in such things, so my opinions on it don’t matter too much. All I know is that I can easily and quickly build stuff with PHP — stuff I think is coded cleanly and simply, and stuff that goes together pretty quickly. I work in an office where C# is the language being used, and I’m sometimes amazed at how much longer it seems to take to do similar tasks. I even find the process of “building” and deploying quite a bit more clumsy. Some of that I’m sure just the way things are done in the office and there are faster and cleaner ways of doing those things. I’m sure it’s also just my ignorance of it all — I am just a designer and front-end person while at work.

Regardless, this isn’t really a post about C# vs PHP vs Ruby, or whatever. It’s a quick post that basically it doesn’t really matter anymore. Javascript is now in charge. As we demand our websites and apps to do away with page refreshes, javascript handles more and more of the website flow, instead of these programming languages or frameworks built for them. Where I used to have much of that done using my PHP framework, javascript is now handling the page flow, and it’s only calling backend code with small, pointed tasks that really only require a simple file to get what is needed. Since it’s the frontend tying it all together, we could even theoretically mix up backend technologies if there were a good reason to do so. Perhaps down the road, if I feel like investigating another programming language, I could see transitioning pieces of my various sites over to them.

For the longest time, I felt like I was behind and a bad web designer and developer for not knowing Flash. The advancement of the web has made that an antiquated technology, so I’m off the hook for learning that. For some reason, I’ve felt bad for not knowing a more advanced backend programming language (even though the one I use seems to work great for my needs), but perhaps the advancement of technology will assist with this as well, since more and more of web development will be handled on the frontend, perhaps the choice on the backend isn’t as critical as it once was.