Interview With Mihail Irintchev Team Leader At SiteGround Web hosting

About This Interview

This is the #39th set of PHP Interview to help aspiring PHP developers and PHP fans alike to get inspired by listening from those PHPeople who are already highly involved into the PHP Ocean and *being there* taming the waves and surfing better than ever to make themselves an Awesome PHP Expert both in their own eyes (for self-accomplishment) and for the PHP Community.

On the other side, this is an opportunity for new PHPers to get to know their “PHP Elders. I hope you will derive as much fun to read my interviews as I’m having by interviewing those awesome PHP people.

Two New Changes

In this 7PHP Reload this year, I’m introducing two new things:

  1. Trying to ask my interviewees to do a short audio or video recording of themselves. I want my readers to get more connected with them.
  2. I’m also introducing a new section called as The Rapid Fire Section.

A Small Intro..

Today I have an immense happiness and great honor to host a fantastic human being & a passionate PHP Community fanboy who’s Mihail, on 7PHP. I was very lucky and humbled that he invited me for PHP Bulgaria back in 2016. There I also got to spend quite some time in the presence of Mihail ( @irintchev).

As someone who is very attentive to details, I have been very impressed by the Bulgarian people. More on them when I’ll post my @bgphpconf review – yes I know I’m so late, but like Mihail always says: “it’s not over, till you blog about it”.

Mihail is in himself a class above in everything. He is so kind, sincere and cheerful. He really inspires me in that attitude that he maintains. It all appears so easy when you are around him, despite all the responsibilities on his shoulders.

While many would say it takes great effort to achieve such a level in yourself and discipline, I would say that Mihail has it intuitively in himself. It’s always a great magical feeling when you meet such a fantastic and awesome human being.

During my stay in Sofia, Mihail has been exceptional with me. Careful in every single detail since DAY 1 to the last day. In Mihail, I have not just found another #PHPc friend, but I’m humbled to say that I have also found a brother.

It was one of those moment when I nearly had tears in my eyes while leaving a country. That’s how awesomely he (and specially the magnificent Ramelina – @RallyBaklayan) more on that on my later blog posts) treated me.

THANK YOU for ALL you did for me Mihail, Ramelina & team! Words will always fall short to thank you guys.

7PHP with Mihail at PHP Bulgaria Conf 2016
7PHP with Mihail at PHP Bulgaria Conf 2016

And Now The Interview..

» Hi Mihail, please introduce yourself to the 7PHP readers..

My name is Mihail Irintchev. I am originally from Sofia, Bulgaria. I organize a PHP UG (Bulgaria PHP – @bgphp) there since 2014. I’ve been working as a software developer for the last 14 years, mostly writing PHP applications.

My current job is being a dev team leader in a hosting company called SiteGround. I am fortunate to have a lovely wife and a wonderful 9-year old daughter. I love traveling with them and trying new things. I enjoy coding with my kid.

Having too many hobbies, I’d say the most favorite of them involve brewing, cooking and riding a motorcycle.

» How you started with PHP – what’s your #elePHPant story

Back in 2003, just out of university, I was working as technical support when three friends from college had the idea of starting a hosting company.

They needed a web site plus all the stuff related with taking orders, and had chosen to do it in PHP. They needed a developer, I hadn’t done anything in PHP at that time but they trusted me because they knew how much I love programming in general.

That’s how I got my first programming job. Funny thing is, I am still working for the same company which happened to grow quite a lot 🙂

» Your L(A)MP stack comprises.. ?

  • Ubuntu distribution
  • Apache 2.2
  • MySQL/Percona
  • PHP 7.1

(although I sometimes use containers to run other setups)

» The relationship between You and The PHP Community comprises..

I enjoy greatly being a part of the PHP community. I believe it is an open-minded and fun bunch of well-intended people. I do my share for enlarging it by organizing UG meetings in my hometown of Sofia, Bulgaria.

» How do you find PHP now as compared to when you first started?

Amazingly mature 🙂

It’s quite fun when you grow up as a developer and your main language of choice grows with you. I have to be honest to admit that from my current point of view PHP then was pretty much a set of tools to get some job done quickly for the web.

Nevertheless, due to amazing people involved in the project and the community it grew to a truly multi-functional modern object-oriented language, yet retaining a lot of the ease and flexibility that helped it become so popular.

The now-and-then comparison pretty much resembles the way we look at our code written 5 or 10 years ago – it evolves from the ‘just-solve-the-problem’ kind of very practical approach to the more elegant ‘think-about-the-future’ and ‘be-nice-to-the-next-developer’ kind of approach.

It’s quite fun when you grow up as a developer and your main language of choice (PHP) grows with you.

— Mihail Irintchev

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» Based on your experience, what are the good and bad parts of PHP

PHP is very easy to pick up. It’d say can be a very good starting language in case you have a good teacher or good books to follow.

On the other hand, its flexibility in terms of free typing and not strictly enforcing OOP (like Java for example) allows for writing a lot of crappy code (as in many other scripting languages, for that matter) if good practices are not known or not followed.

» What would be the Top advice to a PHP beginner

If you haven’t done that yet, learn about software architecture in general, SOLID principles, design patterns – all the important programming concepts (some of them back from the 70s and 80s).

Learning a programming language in terms of syntax and basic libraries is easy and usually is a matter of weeks or months. Writing good code, on the other hand, is something different. It takes longer to get used to.

My advice to PHP Beginners: learn about software architecture in general (incl. the 70s & 80s)

— Mihail Irintchev

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» To someone who wants to become a better PHP developer..?

Go to conferences, participate in user groups, talk to your fellow developers. Being active in the community is the best fuel for getting passionate about learning and trying new things. Try new stuff, even if it turns out it sometimes does not work for you.

Being active in the community is the best fuel for getting passionate about learning and trying new things.

— Mihail Irintchev

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» What are some common PHP mistakes you often see beginners make?

Depends on the person, I’d guess.

What I often see these days in developers who have been doing PHP for couple of years or so is the desire to try to solve everything with the same set of tools.

Say, you love a framework, it’s very popular and a good one in the general case. This does not mean it is the best solution for every problem. Sometimes, if you want to swing, all you need is a rope tied to a tree, not a whole playground 🙂

» The best PHP book you’ve read

The Zend PHP ZCE Official Guide

» A PHP blog or resource you highly recommend

Adam Wathan’s:

» The IDE that you use

Not really an IDE, but I use sublime text (I am actually typing this text in Sublime) with a set of useful plugins.

» How do you debug your PHP code?

Usually xDebug for the really tangled situations and var_dump() for the simple cases 🙂

» How does your typical project workflow look like from start to deployment phase (including toolset you use to achieve your goals).

When I work on a project on my own (being the only developer on the project), I would usually start with some form of a sketch/wireframe of the application.

For the last two months I’ve been using codeception a lot, so (tests first) that would be my second step – getting the acceptance, functional and unit tests prepared.

Then I would get into the iterations cycle of writing code and getting the tests to pass. Finally, I’d get a code review from a fellow developer (and possibly iterate some more) before the code reaches QA phase and production. I use phing as a build tool and phinx for DB migrations.

» The one feature(s) of PHP 7 that you like and dislike?

I like all of the new features, and cannot really think of something to dislike.

» What’s the best way for people to jump onto PHP 7 if they are from a PHP 5.x background

Show them the performance benchmarks 🙂

» A PHP framework you use and would recommend

I like to play with a lot of frameworks, but I’d say my sympathies are with Laravel and Slim.

» A unit test framework you recommend using?

Definitely PHPUnit.

It was around in OOP style before I knew PHP can be written in OOP style 😉 Plus, Sebastian Bergmann ( @s_bergmann) is a great person and very dedicated professional.

» A CMS that you think is worthwhile

It’s been a while since I’ve done anything major with a CMS, but obviously WordPress is still around. A lot of tasks are easiest and fastest to accomplish with it, like it or not, mostly due to its community.

» An E-Commerce cms you recommend

Cannot really express a personal opinion on this one, but I’d say I’ve heard some good feedback from people using Magento.

» Do you recommend using database layers and ORM? If yes, what database “framework” you would recommend?

Abstracting your DB operations is definitely a good thing in most of the cases, and any modern ORM would do, be it Doctrine, Eloquent or something else.

» One PHP library/Project you really appreciate

To paraphrase Isaac Newton, I’d say that we stand on the shoulders of giants every day while we do our day-to-day work.

It’s very hard to list all the wonderful tools that make my life easier. But, then, just to start with: phpunit, composer, xdebug, phpcs, phing, codeception, so many others…

» One function that you like (or which you tend to use frequently)

isset(); // That’s why I like the null coalescing operator (??) in PHP7 so much!

» One PHP person that you admire and what strikes you about him/her

This is a very hard question, because I admire a lot of people in the PHP community.

If I can bend this question just a little bit and name two of them, I’d go with Sebastian Bergmann ( @s_bergmann) and Derick Rethans ( @derickr).

They both share two qualities that I admire a lot:

  • real passion about what they do
  • and shyness about the impact that their creations have upon our world.

TWO TWO #PHP persons that Mihail admires are: Sebastian Bergmann & Derick Rethans!

— Mihail Irintchev

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» What is the one thing or quote or advice that someone said, which made an impact on you – and who was that someone.

Mihail Irintchev
Mihail Irintchev

That would be my late father – Dimitar Irintchev. He always told me: “Winning is easy, it’s hard to learn how to loose!”

Taking defeat with dignity and most importantly, extracting the best lessons out of it is what makes you progress in life.

— Mihail Irintchev

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» Which was the worst programming mistake you did?

I’ve done thousands, and I’m proud of each single one of them. I love them all! The worst usually involve money 😉

» Things that you’ve learned from being part of The PHP Community

There is always someone out there willing to help you. You just have to reach out!

» If you could change one thing with PHP, that would be…?

The definition of the acronym. This current recursive definition is giving me the feeling that my memory is about to run out soon 🙂

» How do you foresee the next 4yrs for the PHP ecosystem

Dynamic as ever, and as productive as ever 🙂

» Do you believe a PHP dev is better or less paid than any other dev? Why do you think it’s rising or declining?

I’d say a good dev is well paid, regardless of the programming language.

» Do you believe it’s still not too late for someone to make a career as a PHP Dev?

It’s never too late, as long as they are breathing and still have pulse 🙂

» How do you time manage all the stuffs that you do, coupled with your personal life?

It’s not easy, but I hope I’m doing well.

» The day you realised “You’ve made it to the Advanced and/or the Expert level” with the way you code PHP ?

This day has not come for me yet. I hope it never does, because this would be the first day of the end of my career as a developer.

» Why do you think you are successful and what others could learn from you to lead either a better life or a successful PHP career?

I believe I am relatively successful in having a balanced life between my career and personal life.

Never forget there are much more important things than work in life (like family and loved ones). Also, use every opportunity to travel! This enriches your life greatly.

» Do you do freelancing or consultancy?

Rarely, usually just to help friends.

» Is there any pet project that you are working on (or is live) and would like to share a bit with us?

Several. Two of them might be worth mentioning:

  1. I’m working on a WordPress plugin about beer blogging: (it’s been a while) and
  2. A script for drawing random attendees for raffles on PHP UG meetings and conferences:

Both are work in progress and completion date cannot be estimated 🙂

» Your hobbies when you are not coding

Well, I’ve got too many of them: Brewing, motorcycles, cooking, photography, collecting military scale models (1:72 usually), reading books (mostly history), PC gaming, playing the guitar.

» Aside from the wider global one PHP Community, is there any specific user group(s) community that strikes you and would want to give a shoutout to?

The open-source community in general. The people who believe that through giving they would receive more.

» Are you part of any PHP User group? 😀

I love being part of Bulgaria PHP, it’s something that I cherish a lot.

NOTE: Mihail is organizer of @bgphp & also @bgphpconf

» A PHP Usergroup that you appreciate and would highly recommend

I admire a lot of PHP UGs that I’ve had the pleasure of being in contact with. Out of my home usergroup, I’ve had most interaction with people from PHP Serbia ( @PHPSrbija), which is an amazing community. Good job, guys! Special acknowledgements to Milan, Dusan, Aco.

» The best conference you attended would be..

It’s a long list… I’ve had the pleasure of attending many wonderful conferences (I’m truly blessed!). It’s very hard to choose one, so I hope you accept my extended answer including three of the best: SunshinePHP, PHPSerbia, PHPBenelux

» Can you please share the good, and may be not so good moments, of being part of all the conferences you attended

It’s always exciting to meet new people and learn new things. Right after a conference I feel fueled up with ideas and usually get at least some of them done.

» What are the main aspects of conferences that can really help a PHP guy to get better in his progression

Mostly meeting and talking with fellow developers. Never miss the hallway session, as Cal Evans calls it.

» If you have to suggest or improve one thing with conferences, it would be..?

Try to keep the party at the same venue right after the sessions end. This way you don’t loose the momentum.

The Rapid Fire Section

This is a new idea that I’m bringing forward and Mihail is the first to taste it 🙂 I hope you find it fun to read along the quick responses. (As rapid fire as the names suggest, should be quick)

» Symfony or Zendframework


» PSR-2 or your own coding style?


» Use a framework or build yours from scratch (reusing components)?


» Zend Studio or PHPstorm?


» To attend a conference: Europe or US?


» Mac or PC (either linux or windows)?


» Tea or Coffee

Beer 🙂

» PHP 7 or PHP 5.x (if you forget about the performance for a minute)


» Early Riser or Late Sleeper

Early Riser

» Coding or Managing people


» Podcast or video recording – which you like better?


» Photography or Paintings (art)


Closing Out

That’s it folks. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading through, learned some new stuffs, got some inspiration and above all met a another motivational #phpc member that is doing all he can on his side of the world, from beautiful Bulgaria, to help sustain and make The PHP Community better and brighter.

Till then, help me spread the word about this interview. Share it with your network – I have some handy social buttons right below – USE THEM PLEASE 🙂



  • The main featured pic on top of page credit to BG PHP Conf photography
  • Pictures that had only Mihail in it (without me 7PHP), are the copyright of Mihail pictures.

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