Ever since I was a teen I’ve always been into computers but I was always more interested in setting up a business of my own. I wasn’t particularly interested in the nits and grits of developing applications and I could already assemble my own computer with parts, so what more did I need to know about computers, right? I just needed to sell them. Which is why I chose to study Marketing instead of Computer Science.
Flashback to 2004. I was eighteen and was running my own computer webshop with proprietory e-commerce software for a year now. During that time, my best friend Alex was studying ‘Graphimediatechnology’, a typical buzzword study where he attended a lot of courses related to developing front-end media applications.
One of these courses was PHP and I had heard about it before. Wasn’t that the thing that made websites dynamic? I was eager not to rely on the proprietory shopping software I was using and I was determined to create a webshop from scratch with Alex.
Turned out Alex wasn’t particularly driven in developing applications either (he later changed direction and he’s now finishing up on his construction studies) so I was basically stuck in using that crappy software.
On a rainy afternoon I took matters in my own hand and started reading PHP tutorials online. Surprisingly I was able to apprehend it quickly and had a basic CRUD website with MySQL running after 2 days.
This was awesome!!
I was finally able to build everything I ever wanted. I felt that the sky had no limits. I was able to transform my (plenty) ideas into something tangible within moments thanks to PHP.
Of course, my code looked horrible. It was quick and dirty and I totally didn’t put any efforts in creating a sustainable code base. I stumbled on every project I did and I gradually improved.
Eventually I dropped out of business school and interviewed for my first fulltime PHP job at MediaMedics. They liked me and my drive, but they were worried about my skills as I had no clue about any of the OO stuff in PHP5. I said: “give me 3 days” and I learned everything I needed to know about OOP that weekend and showed off a OO-based numbers game on Monday. I got the job and it was the beginning of an even steeper learning curve. After 2 years I was running my own startup and now here I am in San Francisco with a funded startup and all.
PHP is awesome for me. It isn’t considered a “real” language by many and it’s full of API inconsistencies (why the hell doesn’t implode() has the same needle haystack order as explode()..??) but you know, I really don’t care. I get shit done in PHP. I guess my lack of interest in general Computer Science is the reason why I’m not really interested in the “Art of Programming” itself, I just use it as a tool to ship, which is ultimately the most important thing for me.
So here’s to the PHP Misfits. The pragmatic ones who would pick up anything – even double-clawed hammers - to build their own future. Often ridiculed and belittled by the hip guys in class who write cool code in ruby or python, but always the ones who just get shit done. They are many. You can’t ignore them, they’re determined to change the world. Even if it means writing in PHP.