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Breefield's avatar

Should I be worried about whether or not I'm a good PHP developer?

Asked by Breefield (2723 points ) March 31st, 2008

I recently ran into this article about 40 mistake PHP programmers make, and it generally made me feel lousy about my code and made me doubt my ability.

Just to list a few of the things from the article that I don’t do…

I try and comment my code with well, comments, i.e. // This is a comment. But the article refers to phpDoc?

What’s a programming IED? I’ve never used one…

Not sure what unit testing is, so I don’t think I do that.

I don’t allow intelligent error handling? I’m not sure, if anyone want to elaborate on these things that I’m not sure if I do that’d be great.

Ohkay, I admit I don’t know how to write regular expressions, I’ve never taken the time to learn them. Am I missing out?

The article

I don’t write my PHP in an object oriented way, I mean, it’s all OOP really, but I don’t make classes and such. My code is much more procedural and slim. Is this bad?

Just my personal doubts and such, feel free to comment, and explain those things I don’t get. Thanks!

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14 Answers

Riser's avatar

Are you 45 or 15? That will help me answer your question.

adrianscott's avatar

Should you be worried? No. The fact of the matter is that a good developer knows they have faults and strive to continue to learn and make themselves better coders.

Sounds like the article made you think a little about some things that you may want to look into. It never hurts to check out new ways of doing the same thing, even if only to see the pro’s and con’s of each.

I’d really only be worried about it if you just don’t care that there may be better ways of accomplishing the same tasks (or inspiring new ways for something more advanced) and if you never did anything about it.

Brunty's avatar

Most of those things can be overcome easily, but it depends on what level you’re developing on, most are enterprise level stuff and in companies the dev team will have different ways of doing things, on your own you should do it the best way you can but when working with a team (and you’re simply a code monkey there to write a script) then you follow their conventions and methods.

Breefield's avatar

@Riser, I’m 15

@adrianscott, that’s how I felt, I simply wasn’t sure if I was overestimating my ability as a programmer simply because I wasn’t doing some of the things that he noted in that article. I wasn’t sure how common those things were and such.

@Brunty, that helps, thanks much, I do realize different applications require different code, so I suppose I may never be using some of those things he noted simply because that’s now the kind of development I’m into.

jrpowell's avatar

Don’t worry about it. If you are getting the job done you should be OK. Your main concern needs to be SQL injections. If you don’t know what that is you have problems.

And check your comments here. I sent you a link to something that might help you out.

Breefield's avatar

When I found the article today the first thing I looked into was SQL injections and the next thing I did was go straight to the thing I’m currently building and tried to write some. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make them work so I wasn’t sure how to prevent. I ended up saving the injection into the message I was trying to save and such. I’ll look in my comments, thank you!

Riser's avatar

You’re 15 and you’re concerned about details like this? Not only will you be fine, you’re going to be great! Strong work ethic. Best of luck to you.

paulc's avatar

There’s nothing wrong with improving. The fact that you’re assessing your own abilities shows, to me at least, that you care about what you’re able to do and how well you do it. While you might be able to get certain tasks done now, expanding your knowledge will enable you to do even more. Take a look at object oriented development and unit testing. Both of those practices are not limited to PHP and can be used very effectively in other languages. And yes, you’re young so you have a lot of time to learn.

Brunty's avatar

Yeah, being just 15 and thinking about this will stand you in good stead for the future, make small changes over a period of time and you’ll see a big difference at the time later in life when it matters.

jasonjackson's avatar

Agreeing with the others: yeah, it sounds like you’ve got quite a bit to learn about development in general – but to be where you’re at, at age 15, is a very good sign. So don’t get discouraged or doubt your abilities!

But do understand that there’s a lot to programming besides “making it work”. There are a ton of things to learn, and many different scales on which software can be said to be well written or not (e.g. is its UI usable? is the code maintainable and understandable by others, or yourself a year from now? have you eliminated security holes? does it perform well? .. the list could go on and on). I’ve been developing professionally for 12 years now, and I’m still learning new things all the time.

Don’t believe every single thing you read on what “good programming” is, BTW; people often focus on one or two aspects of good programming, and forget the rest. Also, different types of development call for different “optimizations”: for a PHP site, you should probably care most about security and maintainability, whereas a game developer (for instance) would be wiling to sacrifice on at least maintainability in order to maximize performance. So if you read an article about “good code” from an app developer, you’ll often get advice that seems to contradict advice from a game developer. So remember to keep the author’s background, goals and perspective in mind when you read something like this.

Also, some people think they have better advice than they do, especially in random blog posts. Like this article’s #38 (“don’t allow a table prefix when using database tables”); totally not relevant.

If you can, give yourself a chance to learn from others who are more experienced than you. That’s maybe the best way to learn. That would happen naturally in a programming job; since you’re maybe a bit young for that yet, one way to expose yourself to more experienced developers would be to join an open source project.

Overall, as johnpowell and Riser said, you’re showing very good signs by caring about this stuff. Keep that up, and you’ll be fine. :)

Breefield's avatar

@jasonjackson, I actually worked at a web development firm in my local city of Boise ID for 6 months before I quit because I wasn’t being paid what I was worth.

I realize that you have to constantly learn to maintain your relevance in the industry. I started with Actionscript 2 and then progressed to PHP and MYSQL when I needed to store things for my flash programs. Using XML I’d pull stuff over. Anyhow, that’s how I learned what I know. From there I moved to PHP and XHTML then I was able to learn CSS pretty quick.

I think I always have to take into account that no matter who you talk to, everyone will have their own flare, and everyone will know different things and thus program things different ways. Even if you take classes in school, different teachers will teach you different things.

I learned everything I know about programming through tutorials and programming documentation, running to the IRC for help whenever I hit a large barrier.

Thanks to much for the input everyone!

stephen's avatar

if ya dont know PHP, study it! and if ya are good at javascript then ya ll find PHP is easy to learn cause the both technologies are so similar,
anyway past is past, keep yar confidence ,KEEP MOVING FORWARD!!!

cwilbur's avatar

You should be worried about whether or not you’re a good developer of any sort—realizing where your shortcomings are is the first step to improving them.

SecondGlance's avatar

Dude, you answered yourself with your last comment, lol! First, learn what you need to learn to get the job done – don’t stress over things that don’t apply. Second, with programming, there are different ways to accomplish the same thing. Third, developing small sites vs. big sites vs. enterprise applications vs. games require different things.

Programming isn’t something you learn once and then you’re done, it’s something you’ll be learning for the rest of your life. That’s part of what makes it fun. You’ll be able to learn whatever you need to as you continue to work on different things, I’m sure of that.

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