Today, Heroku makes a huge announcement around its support for PHP. PHP is currently one of the most popular languages driving the web. Although PHP drives the likes of some of the webs giants (e.g. Facebook, Etsy, etc.), PHP has traditionally lacked some qualities (e.g. runtime, management, infrastructure elements) that peers like Ruby on Rails, Python with Django, and Node have delivered for quite some time. On April 30, at Facebook's F8, a new PHP is announced with full Heroku support. On the evening of the announcement, ProgrammableWeb caught up with Heroku's Adam Gross.
First, Gross described the reason for the new support:
"We’re introducing support for PHP as a first class language on Heroku. This support for PHP continues momentum around a renaissance thats occurring with PHP delivering more modern development practices. This new PHP support on Heroku brings modern VMs such as HipHopVM, dependency management, and cloud runtimes."
We then asked: why PHP, why now? PHP has been around for ages (in programming language years), but seems to have less appeal then some of its cloud-born brethren. Gross explained:
"PHP is still one of the most popular languages on the web, it’s the third most popular language on github. At the same time PHP has been heavily used, but not as often talked about because of some of its history. It’s changed and evolved over recent years and the time was now right for us to elevate this to the same level as Ruby, Python, Java on our platform."
Heroku is the PaaS of choice for many developers. As it has expanded its language support over the years, PHP has been noticeably missing from the portfolio. Perhaps PHP was seen as losing ground in the market, or perhaps PHP's lack of web 2.0 necessary features made PHP less attractive to a PaaS provider. However, Heroku user demand was there, and the time was right for Heroku support as Gross explained:
"PHP has long been a requested language on Heroku. With Facebook’s continued push behind it and HHVM and more modern tools such as Composer for dependency management, it is now a great time for us to expand our support to include PHP."
The target audience for PHP support is obvious: PHP developers. However, there is a whole new world of PHP developers that now have the tools needed for large scale, cloud deployments. Gross concluded:
"[W]e are hoping to target PHP developers. There’s a whole world of PHP developers out there that may be less familiar with cloud deployment platforms. We’re looking to make those developers more productive with better tooling just like we focus on doing for all other languages."
Check out PHP support at Heroku, or visit Heroku at F8 this week.