Rediscovering PHP

So last night, armed with my nifty new font, I decided I’d get a move on with the next top-level version of Enthusiast. (Yes, I’ve started working on Enthusiast 4.0.)

(For those of you interested in it, it will probably be slow going, as whatever free time I have needs to be spent juggling between rest/recreation/social/family/other hobbies… and because I’m putting in a lot more effort in the backbone, and in usability.)

One thing I’ve always believed in is that you only get as good as what you actually do. That one might read a lot of tech blogs, a lot of white papers, a lot of those hifalutin framework blueprints… but if you don’t get down and dirty with code, you can’t expect to get better. It’s a given that the first few codes you churn out will be riddled with flaws. That’s normal, but that’s better than never getting over that simply because “I can’t fully understand OOP yet, I need to read more about it”. Ugh, get a grip, and get on with playing with code.

My first PHP project, way back when I was doing self-studying, was actually the precursor to Enthusiast. It was the script that handled my then-fanlisting, Bubblegum Crisis. After it was working, I moved on to the first “system” — an admin tool for handling my directory for NeoPets galleries. I actually put up that site, got a pretty nice following for it, and then when I weaned off NeoPets, I shut it down.

And then I started working on Enthusiast (the single-fanlisting version).

Without these first projects, I’d never have learned PHP. And this time, with PHP4’s End of Life looming in the distance, Enthusiast will be bringing me forward to PHP5. OOP, Exceptions, and many newfangled stuff in PHP isn’t new to me, but it’s been a while since I’ve actually handled PHP code continuously (almost eight months–the same time I’ve been with Yahoo! as a frontend engineer). I will be getting personal with a lot of these new things, in order to do what I need for it to do. And that’s quite exciting.

For anyone who’s thinking of learning PHP, the best way to learn really is by doing something you’re passionate about using PHP. I was passionate about NeoPets galleries; I was passionate about fanlistings. The passion drives you forward, and that’s a great thing to have.

I will probably be blogging here occasionally about new things I find out while working with PHP, or thoughts on development in general — what would you like to hear about?