Blog post

PHP: Past, Present and Future

By Mark Driver | December 03, 2009 | 12 Comments

I just published a research note on PHP.  Clients can find it here.

The research note goes into *much* more detail but the overview is below.
Keep in mind that this content is targetted at mainstream IT organizations.


PHP has been a cornerstone technology on the Web for more than a decade. While its adoption among mainstream IT organizations has been limited in the past, many corporate application development (AD) projects are discovering the unique benefits of PHP.

Key Findings

  • The PHP worldwide developer count will grow to as high as 5 million developers by 2013, up from 3 million in 2007 and 4 million in 2009.
  • In the short term, PHP will remain a widely adopted Web development technology.
  • Over the long term, PHP will encounter increased competition from technologies such as Microsoft ASP.NET, Java, Python, Ruby, etc.


  • Consider PHP for projects that require a combination open and nonproprietary technology, on which to build architecturally basic (but not necessarily small) dynamic Web applications.
  • Consider PHP as a supporting technology in a broader portfolio of AD technologies, where it can provide a specialized toolset for building Web graphical user interface (GUI) front ends to service-oriented architecture (SOA) back-end services.
  • Consider adopting and customizing industry-proven Web solutions (e.g., Drupal, MediaWiki, etc.) built on PHP before building solutions from scratch.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

Comments are closed


  • Eran Strod says:

    According to the Black Duck KnowledgeBase of over 230,000 open source projects collected from over 4,000 code sites, about 5% of all open source code is PHP. PHP is also ahead of some of the other well known scripting languages, Perl and Python at about 3% each, and Ruby at under 1% of all open source code.

  • jiny says:

    The fact that PHP is an open source programming language makes a great case against its competitors. It has a cheap, fast, reliable and widely supported environment to run and therefore it is mainly used in standard web deployment.Thanks for sharing your research note.

  • r4i software says:

    PHP is the faster and more powerful language now a days as well as provide the security of the code.

  • Gabor Szabo says:

    I would be interested in similar predictions regarding the other Open Source Dynamic languages such as Ruby, Python and Perl

  • Mark Driver says:

    Definately stay tuned for more on dynamic web languages.
    I plan to do one on Ruby next then Groovy and then Python — all in the jan timeframe is all goes well

  • craft says:

    I wonder what this means for Zend, the commercial company behind PHP – the next big tech IPO??…

  • Scott says:

    They fail to mention the usefulness of PHP in the AS400 world. You can develop apps in a browser-based solution pulling data right from the DB2 data at NO COST. Check my site.

  • Open source ensures that PHP will be around for ages and one of the best languages to program with only better than Perl because of its speed…. I personally am now starting to rewrite all my perl scripts into php

  • Bastien Koert says:

    The summary made some interesting assumptions about the viability of other languages in comparison to PHP for the future. I would like to point out that

    1. .NET technologies / MS is making significant investments into PHP and making PHP run better in the windows environment. They have spent time ensuring that PHP runs well in the .NET environment. So i don’t think that PHP will face challenges from .NET but see more adoption as managers begin to realize that PHP just works better.

    2. Architecturally basic PHP apps? Sure there are lots of those, but that really doesn’t mean that PHP can’t do so much more. SOA / REST architectures, messaging etc means that PHP can be a much more viable competitor with the added benefit of true portability. It does not suffer from excess complexity and steep learning curves like a Java or .NET technology does.

    3. PHP is just starting to make inroads into the enterprise. This is due to several factors. Its cheaper to use (tools and environments are free in many cases, just need to pay for the iron), faster to develop on especially with the use of a framework (and there are many available) written to standards.


  • Another key advantage of PHP is its connective abilities I would say. And the fact there is a huge community which is willing to share their ideas and solutions.

  • Sam says:

    Don’t underestimate the fact that today’s IT decision makers within companies may have been developing their hobby websites in PHP ten years ago.
    The fact that it is still around and them knowing a bit about it may give PHP that little advantage over other technologies for certain (web-based) projects.

  • Gustav says:

    There are critics of PHP who say PHP is a very crude language, getting more complex, with similar and confusing built- functions, but PHP has a big community of PHP developers, a lot of them have low level of knowledge of PHP, yes is true.

    Now with version 6 the language will be more solid, developing serious projects isn’t something impossible with PHP.

    Long life to PHP!