“being productive in php” is a good joke
I don't program PHP anymore myself since many years ago, but I know some PHP shops that make good profit by building Webapps in PHP.
Besides, in my experience, being productive depends quite more on the developer and the team than in the language.
Definitely there's a number of companies running php and are happy about it, question is - how happy developers are. From my experience php programming is way much less about the language and mostly about frameworks.
In fact, language + stdlib is so poor that every other framework defines its own Collection (hi Doctrine). This makes php developer more Symfony or Laravel developer, and the tend to use Bundles distributed along with these frameworks. Just check out php's package manager repository - for every library out there there's "bundle" version which is easy to plug into Symfony. Developers started to forget, how to use libraries.
Funny enough, now Symfony pushes against Bundle distribution system, but it took them this long to decide on that. I dont think this is healthy for both developers and framework, to be that "big" in the whole picture. I like idea of clean architecture and framework being implementation detail, but with php, when you are throwing away framework in an attempt to have clean architecture, you're left with nothing. Believe me, I've been there and abandoned these pointless efforts - amount of boilerplate is overwhelming.
So my point is - php developer's place is being a framework-dependent and producing framework-centric applications. Not something I find particularly exciting.
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