About the Author

Chris Shiflett

Hi, I’m Chris: web craftsman, community leader, husband, father, and partner at Fictive Kin.

Delicious PHP

Much ado was made of Derek Sivers's choice to migrate CDBaby from Ruby to PHP. Although I think CDBaby itself is noteworthy, this particular decision isn't. A similar decision was made when Friendster migrated from Java to PHP. Derek's motivation seems to be more about maintainability than performance, but both represent a shift from heavyweight frameworks to a lean, mean, fat-grilling web machine. Language devotion and hype are the only things that make such decisions seem surprising or even noteworthy.

I was interested to learn recently (via James McGlinn) that del.icio.us is switching to PHP (and the Symfony framework). It represents yet another migration to PHP, but this time it's from a mature, lightweight solution to a framework. Perhaps the fact that Yahoo Bookmarks uses the same framework has a lot to do with the decision, but regardless, a migration to a framework seems more noteworthy than a migration from a framework.

With this migration, PHP now powers most of the darlings of Web 2.0:

At The Future of Web Apps, I gave a workshop on web application security. I was pleased to learn that the vast majority of attendees were using PHP. Not because I cared whether the future belonged to PHP, but because all of my examples were written in it. :-)

About this post

Delicious PHP was posted on Thu, 18 Oct 2007. If you liked it, follow me on Twitter or share:


1.Cody Romano said:

Hi Chris,

I'm a filmmaker / PHP programmer living in Boston, MA. I'm making a documentary about computer crimes, and I can see that you've worked as a security specialist for many years. I would appreciate your feedback. Please email me if you think you would be able to contribute.


Cody Romano

Thu, 18 Oct 2007 at 19:16:09 GMT Link

2.Adnan Ali said:

It unbelievable that I still hear "PHP doesn't scale" from my co-works. And when the list above is presented to them, the comeback is "well, PHP doesn't run any 'Enterprise' or financial websites"


Thu, 18 Oct 2007 at 22:43:27 GMT Link

3.Les Orchard said:

Actually, for what it's worth: del.icio.us is using a framework already, called Mason. (It's not just bare mod_perl.) Also, PHP at Yahoo! is not a new thing. So, consider that delicious is getting a major overhaul, and it's not too surprising.

Sat, 20 Oct 2007 at 00:44:18 GMT Link

4.David said:

Wow, I didn't know that so many of the top sites used PHP. That kind of gives me hope that I didn't make the wrong choice learning PHP instead of the many other options. ;)

Plus, I would definitely agree that PHP is fast! I am building a "CMS turned Light Plugin Framework" and I have the time to render a complete page down to about 3/100ths of a second and a cached page to about 7/1000th of a second!

Sat, 20 Oct 2007 at 03:06:08 GMT Link

5.Onur said:

Do we have a chance to learn anything about server informations (# of servers, hardware configurations, used php frameworks/extensions, etc.) of these "darlings of Web 2.0"?

Sat, 20 Oct 2007 at 10:37:35 GMT Link

6.Satya Prakash said:

Wow! I am feeling great of myself. I am a Web Developer (php platform).

Thu, 25 Oct 2007 at 14:06:03 GMT Link

7.Terry Chay said:


Hmm putting Shiflett's stuff quotes huh? Well let's take Facebook as an example:

Server #: 2000-3000 on the front end.

PHP frameworks used: home grown

PHP extensions: APC certainly, :-D

Pages served: tens of billions of dynamic pages/month.

How about the company I work for?

Server #: 100-200 on the front end

PHP frameworks used: home grown, a tiny bit of PEAR

PHP extensions: Zend Platform currently + the default stuff in PHP 5.1

Pages served: a billion of dynamic pages/month

Digg? Go see Eli's talk.

Flickr? Go see Cal's talk.

wikipedia? del.icio.us? I never asked, but I can do some good dead reckoning. Wikipedia uses Wikimedia framework, btw. ;-)

When SmugMug (written in PHP, a Flickr style photo sharing site for professionals) switched to using Amazon S3 last year, they accounted for half of the objects stored in the entire S3.

Here's a hint: Reserve the quote marks for the ones that have no servers, no traffic, use Ruby on Rails, and actually call themselves "Web 2.0."

(P.S. I think the del.icio.us switch to Symfony is stupid. But I guess I'm in the minority. Then again, I was in the minority thinking Friendster's switch to PHP was dumb. So I guess being wrong is just mean reversion.)

Tue, 30 Oct 2007 at 23:03:52 GMT Link

8.Kostya said:


I currently work with Telefonos Celulares

I like the PHP style and don't understand the people who want to migrate their projects from PHP to other language. Even any migration from language to language are the wrong solutions. The better solution is to improve your level as a programmer in the language you currently working, and (possible) rewrite the code in the better style.

Thu, 08 Nov 2007 at 16:13:17 GMT Link

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