Twenty Years of PHP

I know I am a day late, but PHP turned 20 yesterday! Congratulations!

Ben Ramsey wrote about his 20 years of PHP yesterday, and invited others to do the same. So here I go.

Back in 1999 during university, a few friends and I got annoyed by Schumacher's antics, and started the "Anti Schumacher Club". In order to have a membership part of our site (which thankfully can no longer be found on the Internet), we used PHP. Oh yeah, we also used it to scrape websites to find e-mail addresses to send our propaganda to.

My first patch to PHP was in June 2000 when I added support for Flash objects to getimagesize(). After an idiotic idea to implement MySQL subselects in PHP itself, I continued with my PHP career by starting to maintain the mcrypt extension later in 2000. It needed support for a new API version. Both getimagesize() and mcrypt support is something that I needed while working at the company that I started with the same guys as the Anti Schumacher Club. Throughout 2000 and later, I started to contribute little bits and bobs to PHP. These included committing Ilia's first extension, adding the 'u' modifier to printf/sprintf which prints unsigned longs, etc.

In April 2002, I started working on Xdebug. First by adding the max_nesting_level feature and functions to provide memory usage, and then later I added stack traces and support for the remote debugging. First by mimicking the PHP 3 handler, and then later by adding a GDB like debug handler, and DBGp. The PHP 3 and GDB handlers are of course a distant memory, but the DBGp protocol is still being used by IDEs to interact with Xdebug. Ilia implemented a basic profiler as well during 2002. I also "release mastered" PHP 4.1.1, various 4.2 releases during this time, and all the 4.4.x releases later.

The DBGp protocol is something that I developed with the guys from ActiveState in late 2003. Their Komodo editor still implements DBGp in the most comprehensive way, although other IDEs seem to be much more popular now. I implemented the same protocol for Maguma Workbench, and during my time there, eZ Systems approached me to come and work for them. I had previously spoken at an eZ summer camp, which provided a nice introduction to start a 5+ year employment relationship.

I started speaking a while earlier though, mostly on Xdebug, but also on SRM — some sort of application server for PHP. That never really got off the ground though, as it doesn't really fit the shared-nothing architecture of PHP. Since these first few speaking engagements, I have now given 326 talks at 201 conferences and user group meet-ups in 92 different locations.

After eZ Systems, and due to my work on Xdebug I decided to work for myself for a while. I started writing PHP extensions as a job, and due to that, I ended up contributing a little to the MongoDB driver. And that turned later into becoming an employee of MongoDB, where I now work on both the PHP and HHVM drivers.

Without PHP, none of this would have happened. I would not have moved to London without the persuasiveness of Johanna, whom I met at php[tek] in Chicago. She managed to convince me to give up the boringness of Norway and move into the "PHP House" in London. With her, Helgi, and Arpad (and on the weekends Scott), we wrote a lot of code, and threw a few parties as well. I wouldn't have met my wonderful wife Morag, met countless friends at various conferences and online, and I would certainly not have had a few dozen colourful pachyderms in my house! And it all started with Michael Schumacher, and some Danish guy that wrote some counters for his website.

Here's to another twenty years! Skål!


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