What to look for when hiring a Nearshore PHP Developer

Today, it would be fair to say that “PHP is everywhere,” and surveys of the development space indicate that a large number of programmers claim to have experience with, or expertise in, PHP. But buyers beware: just because developers “know” PHP does not mean they have high quality or real experience with the language.

PHP is a community-based language, and much of the expertise surrounding it is not going to be rooted in the raw programming skill a nearshore developer has, but in the way, they interact with that community. So when you’re seeking to work with a nearshore PHP developer, the following is important:

1. Understand why PHP is important, not just that it is.
2. Take time to understand the PHP community so you can get a better sense of how and to what degree your potential hire is a part of (or at least aware of) it themselves.
3. And don’t just hire someone who knows the code; hire someone who is up to date on the most cutting-edge PHP out there.

Why is PHP Everywhere?

Developers might complain that PHP is clumsy; they may say it’s ugly; they may say it lacks the refinement or poetry of other programming languages. They’ll even point out that it’s quite slow, relatively speaking. And yet as a language, it endures. Why? It’s simple: PHP is versatile, and PHP is supported by a vibrant and active community who are dedicated to keeping PHP present—and high quality—wherever it’s used.

Because PHP is based on the C programming language, which itself relies on HTML-like tags to contain its code, PHP was and remains a widely understood programming language. For many nearshore programmers, PHP was the first programming language they learned. In addition, because it can consist of a single file rendered on a single page (almost like a single Word document—and it could literally be this if plain-text was selected!), it’s easy for a beginning programmer to visualize the entirely of the code in one sweep. In other words, the “bar for entry” is low for PHP. Which doesn’t mean it stays easy for long!

It’s also clean and lean, which is why almost every web host—from the most expensive, to the lowest cost (or free)—is optimized to handle PHP. The result is that it can be used everywhere because almost everyone is able to enable their web pages with dynamic PHP code.

If PHP is “everywhere,” should you hire “anyone” to write it?

When asked about his experience using PHP, Jobsity’s in-house PHP expert Brian Debuire warned against assuming just because it’s “everywhere,” that high level PHP writing is also a democratically distributed skill: “We should be careful when saying that ‘popular is good’, because it almost never is, and it also depends on the type of popularity a language might have.”

Debuire points to a clear metric for understanding who to seek out when looking to hire a nearshore PHP partner: are they a part of the community that not only writes PHP, but is actively seeking to make it better?

Unlike other programming languages, PHP has the Symfony Community: “a passionate group of over 600,000 developers from more than 120 countries, all committed to helping PHP surpass the impossible.” Together, this group seeks—through collective work and a dedication to collaboration—to improve the PHP DX (developer experience), documentation, components, best practices, tools, and more. Is your potential nearshore PHP programmer aware of, or part of, this community?

Likewise, don’t be afraid to ask if they’re up to date on other big steps forward the PHP community is taking: are they fluent in new additions to the PHP tool kit like the dependency management tool Composer? Are they using the best practices or the frameworks that founded the PHP FIG community?

Such knowledge and expertise will not only set them apart from the “everyone” of PHP, but will set your project up for success.

Ready to Nearshore Your PHP?

Not only is PHP simple, free, accessible, and versatile, it’s also the most dominant language in the world of web development. As of September 2019, 79% of the internet is built on PHP. Even your favorite and widely used user-friendly website content management systems (i.e. both WordPress and Drupal) use PHP.

Because of this pervasiveness, many PHP developers also have hands-on knowledge of server-side technologies, namely DevOps, so don’t be shy when asking for this invaluable addition to the arsenal of your nearshore PHP partner’s skill set.

Remember: PHP is simple, it’s efficient, and it’s everywhere. But it’s also everywhere. Make sure you hire a nearshore developer to tackle your PHP needs who deeply understand the PHP landscape of today.

And maybe your project will end up on this shortlist of some of the well-known sites that are built on PHP: Facebook, Flickr, Yahoo!, Tumblr, Mailchimp, Wikipedia.

Heard of them?


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