Interview With Chris Tankersley Founder Of Northwest Ohio PHP Users Group – Any Involvement Is Good Involvement (@Microsoft)

About This Interview

This is the #1st 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.

PHP Interview - Any Involvement Is Good Involvement

A Small Intro..

In this edition, I talked with Chris Tankersley a Zend PHP 5.3 Certified Engineer who has around 8-9 years programming experience in PHP. I’m impressed with his humbleness. He has not even mentioned his blog where he obviously rambles and grumbles about PHP and his projects. Chris has written a nice article on the PHP | Architect blog where he explains How To Exactly Find Where You Are Using The Yahoo PlaceFinder web service. He also shares some of his PHP presentations on slideshare, namely:

  • PHP Security Tips
  • PHP Templating Systems
  • Enterprise Workflows When You Aren’t Enterprise
  • Intro to The PHP SPL

The Interview With Chris Tankersley

1) Please tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Chris Tankersley, and I work for a web design company out of Washington, DC. I’m a remote worker, so I live in Ohio with my wife and two kids, and a dog. I also founded and manage the Northwest Ohio PHP Users Group. Much of my code I end up open sourcing on github (, and you can find me on Twitter (@dragonmantank). I also troll around the #phpc channel on freenode. Other than programming I read and spend time with my family.

2) How you started with PHP

I started using PHP around 2004, but have been interested in web development since well before that. I chose PHP due to not really grasping Perl, and one of my coworkers at the time was well versed in PHP. When I started looking at PHP was the time that PHP4 was just coming out, so it was fun trying to learn things and determine if it was PHP 3 or 4.

3) How do you find PHP now as compared to when you first started

The language has come a long way, but still has many external stigmas. The Object Oriented aspect has gotten much more robust and useful since PHP 4, and with PHP 5.3 many of the pieces necessary for frameworks fell into place that allowed some great advances in PHP frameworks. Many people still view PHP as just a bunch of non-cohesive functions and a language that has no path, but I still see it as a great tool to get the job done, and get the job done quickly.

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

Good Ones:

  • Easy to get set up on almost any platform
  • An awesome and helpful community

Bad Ones:

  • Web hosts stifle adoption by not moving to the newer releases
  • It’s very easy to make unsecured code if one is not careful

5) What would be the Top advice to a PHP beginner

  • Make sure to look into secure coding while learning
  • There is a vibrant and helpful community out there, get involved
  • Try to learn and do concepts you are not comfortable with get better

6) To someone who wants to become a better PHP developer, what is your advice?

It takes work. PHP is an awesome language to get started in due to the low barrier of entry, but to get beyond copy/pasting tutorials you have to work. Join an open source project you are interested in or start your own, and keep at it.

7) The best PHP book you’ve read

‘PHP 5 Objects, Patterns, and Practices‘ by Matt Zandstra

8) A PHP blog or resource you highly recommend

9) The IDE that you use

Netbeans and vim

10) How do you debug your PHP code, do you use something like xdebug or krumo, etc..?

xdebug or var_dump/print_rxdebug is an awesome tool for stepping through your code, and it’s integrated right into Netbeans

11) A CMS that you think is worthwhile

Both WordPress and Drupal are worthwhile, considering the amount of work they can bring in to a developer. I think Habari has a great codebase and a great community around it though, but it lacks the install base of the former two.

12) A PHP framework you use and would recommend

Zend Framework – I cut my teeth on it when getting into frameworks and find it great for large projects. For smaller ones, I like Slim or Silex.

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

This is a tough one, and I can’t pick just one. If I had to, I’d say Michelangelo van Dam. He’s helped me get more involved in the community and is a great resource for how to QA projects.

14) One PHP project you really appreciate

phpunit – It helps making quality code via test driven development incredibly easy.

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

filter_var – which is an unsung hero in PHP

16) One PHP Community that you recommend

The #phpc community on freenode.

17) The never ending debates on PHP would be.. ?

That it sucks compared to other languages. I don’t think it does, but I do see why some people choose something like C# or Python for projects.

18) In the next 5 years, how do you foresee the PHP ecosystem

I see it more cohesive. Right now different frameworks make it hard to share code, and legacy projects like WordPress and Drupal make that even harder. PHP will become easier to share code between major projects, making developer life easier.

19) Recently Microsoft has also started actively to concentrate on PHP, any comments on that?

I think it’s great. I’ve had the chance to run PHP under IIS and it works! Actually, it’s ‘worked’ since Windows 2000. Any involvement is good involvement, and Microsoft is bringing PHP to more developers on more platforms.

20) If you had to go back in time, would you still choose PHP?

Probably. I really like Python, but not so much as a web language.

21) Any other things you would like to add and which you feel will be helpful to my readers?

Get involved in the community! Find a local user group or start your own. You don’t progress as a developer by staying in a vacuum.

22) Last, feel free to talk a bit about any of your PHP project (and how can a beginner benefit from it)

I’m not sure if people can benefit from much of my code other than serving as a bad example *grin*. All of my open source projects are up on github. I try to keep my code easy to read and commented. There are a few projects I get e-mails on so at least a few people find my code helpful.

Now Do Your Part!

1) Help diffuse this interview to the PHP ecosystem – Share, tweet and spread the word to your audience ==> That would be a FREE way to thank me 😉
2) Make a comment below using the comment form – I’m sure you can at least say 1 word about this interview

{I’m thankful to your response(s)!}

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