dev4rec #1 - The LAMP stack

Welcome to the first of an on-going series. I’ll be walking through the whole gamut of technologies that developers in London, the UK, and around the world are using. It’s a fast-moving collection of languages, tools and techniques that are hard enough to keep up up for highly technical developers and geeks, so it’s not surprising that other people have trouble keeping up.

We’re going to start fairly simply with some major languages, and servers. First, it’s the big man on the block that many expert developers love to hate.

Lamp Stack

Linux, Apache, Mysql, PHP

We’ll come back to each of the parts (and other alternates) in later posts, but here’s the overview - what you need to know in the beginning.

Some things go well together - Bare feet on hot sand, Fish and chips, Wine & cheese. Linux, Apache, Mysql and PHP is something else that works well. It’s also popular. An estimated 80% of websites worldwide are using PHP as the language of choice, and it’s not hard to see, when a simple site can be hosted for just a few ££’s per month. The blogging platform, Wordpress - the same software that you can download and use yourself, is estimated to be running a quarter of that 80% (That’s around 16% of the total web as millions of blogs - and, increasingly, platforms for ecommerce and business).

Like so many other terms, LAMP can actually mean more - there are other programming languages that start with ‘P’, like Python and Perl, and both can be used instead. As we’ll see in later posts, those choices just aren’t as common.

What does a developer do?

The developers you place are writing Javascript, Python, Java, C#, PHP, Ruby, and so more. What’s the difference, and how do you find the good ones?

You don't need to become a developer to find great developers - but knowing more about what the really good developers your clients are seeking, helps you to find the candidates - developers, designers, hackers, ops, and everyone else that make the 21st century work online.

These emails won't teach you to be a developer, but you'll get a hint of the day to day work of those you are looking for.

Other parts can also be swapped out - Dropping Mysql and replacing it with Postgresql gives a LAPP Stack. That’s a simple change some prefer that they consider to be a more ‘robust’ database. There are also variants of Mysql itself - MariaDB and Percona (but they are usually just handled with the generic ’M’).

Even Apache is replaceable here - becoming LEMP. The ‘E’ stands for Nginx (don’t worry, you aren’t going crazy - it is pronounced ‘Engine-X’). We’ll come back to some of the big differences between Apache webserver, and Nginx another time.

And PHP? There are even other versions of that available. Facebook started a project several years ago to write a new version of PHP that would be faster - and now over a billion people a day use it for all things Facebook. That is know as HHVM, or ‘HipHop Virtual Machine’. It’s also being used by Wikipedia to serve pages faster. HHVM allows Facebook and Wikipedia to do more with the existing machines they had - but the core PHP project isn’t standing still, PHP 7.0, due in late 2015 has also been speeding up, a lot, and is giving the Facebook project a run for their money. Either way - developers, and those that use the sites they write, win, with faster pages.

Whatever parts of software make up the software running of the machine though, developers know they have a solid base to work on - and tested by hundreds of previous companies and developers around the world to get the job done.

Next time - a deeper dive into the Apache webserver. Where it came from, and what it can do.

Alister Bulman

P.S. There’s a lot to come yet! I’ve already got a list of more than 20 topics I could cover. If there’s something you are curious about, let me know, and maybe I’ll be able to rite about it sooner!