PHP, a little-known open-source scripting language, is becoming dominant on Web sites, according to Netcraft.com, the U.K. surveyor of the Web. And now Sun Microsystems has teamed up with a PHP toolmaker, Zend Technologies Ltd. Netcraft says PHP is found on 52% of the 14.5 million Apache-based Web sites that it inspected, compared with 19.4% using Perl, another open-source language. PHP and Perl are used to get disparate parts of a site to work together. PHP is used particularly in building dynamic pages that are produced in response to specific requests from a visitor, says Shane Caraveo, senior developer with ActiveState, a maker of tools for open-source and Microsoft scripts and a division of anti-spam software firm Sophos plc.
The Netcraft survey didn't include Web sites using Microsoft's Internet Information Server because IIS doesn't respond to an automated Web crawler's inquiry on scripting languages. If Netcraft had, the survey would have shown that PHP has grown to be roughly equal to Microsoft's Active Server Pages (ASP), Caraveo estimates.
PHP is not widely known outside Web-development communities, but the number of PHP developers is probably 400,000 to 500,000, Caraveo says. "It's dominant on Linux, Sun's Solaris, and Unix. The exception is Windows sites using ASP," he says.
Zend sells a $775 Performance Suite to make PHP run faster on the Java platform, says Brad Young, product-marketing manager at Zend. The pairing of PHP with Java will carry the scripting language deeper into enterprises, adds Yvette Montiel, Sun's strategic marketing manager for Web services, because it will perform well on a commercially supported Web server.