How a college extra-credit project became PHP3, still the bedrock of the web

The Stack Overflow Podcast

The home team chats with Andi Gutmans, Google’s GM and VP of Engineering, Databases about the forgotten beauty of Pascal, why so many devs hate PHP, and why companies should prioritize the developer experience.

A high school class on Pascal launched Andi’s interest in programming (starting on an Apple IIc).

Andi was bored with his university studies and took on an extra-credit programming project that turned into PHP3, the version that built a million websites.

PHP gets a lot of hate, and we have two theories about why. First, it’s primarily brownfield development, and we all know that hell is other people’s code. Second, it democratized development—a great thing in many ways - that nevertheless led to a lot of less than professional code making it’s way to production.

Andi cofounded Zend Technologies to oversee PHP advances and served as CEO from 2009 until the company’s acquisition in 2015. After Zend Technology, Andi became one of what he jokes was “five folks in a garage” building a new graph database for Amazon.

Now, at Google, Andi runs the operational database for Google Cloud Platform, including managed third parties and cloud-native databases Spanner, Bigtable, and Firestore.

His background in programming makes Andi sensitive to the importance of prioritizing developer experience: “the number-one person using our services are our developers. And so we need to make [our technology] super-productive and simple and easy and fun for developers to use.”

Connect with Andi on LinkedIn.

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