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Tim Bray compared Java, Ruby and PHP

During his keynote on the International PHP Conference 2006 Bray performed a little comparison between Java, Ruby (mainly Rails) and PHP. While I first thought, this could only be some dumb marketing stuff, the presentation was actually really good. Tim first introduced his comparison basis (Scaling, Dev Tools, Dev Speed and Maintainability) and explained his views on the 4 topics and which keywords he considers under each of them. This introduction was really good and well-founded. After that, he showed and explained a diagram to make the actual comparison:

While I agree on his views on Scaling and Dev Tools, I want to criticize the the other 2 points:

Dev Speed:

Surely Ruby on Rails is a fantastic framework, which allows extremely rapid development of web applications. Pure PHP is definitly slower. But while Rails is a Framework for Ruby, he did not consider frameworks for PHP in his exploration. There are lots of frameworks for PHP out there, which can do a lot for you, to rapidly create PHP applications. I never used Cake, but it seems to be quite far grown as a Rails implementation in PHP. Beside that, you have a lot of libraries and frameworks in PHP which follow a different approach than Rails does, but can also speed up your development drastically. Zend Framework, PEAR and not at last our own enterprise component library eZ components, to just name a few.

I think PHP should (almost?) be on the same level with Ruby here.


There is a huge crowd of crappy PHP applications out there, no doubt here. But anyway, it is quite possible to write well-designed and easily maintainable applications in PHP, too. The reason I think so, is widely covered in the section above. We also have the fitting frameworks and there if you stick to certain paradigms, you can also write well maintainable PHP applications. For the reason that PHP does not force anyone to do this, we might still be behind Rails, but not as much is shown in the chart.

I am of the opinion that PHP and Java are quite equal in this point and are not that far behind Ruby.

But anyway, those maybe just my personal views on the topic and maybe I'm just biased by 6 years of PHP experience. In fact the keynote was really good and I really enjoyed it. Thanks to Tim for being there!

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