Concluding the European WinPHP Challenge

I have just deployed my entry to the competition server. This means configuring the competition server to actually serve the application, and this reminded me again how easy the IIS/PHP combination has become. A couple of clicks, some thinking on how I did things before, some more clicking, and I'm done. I did download the Web Platform Installer to get PHP configured correctly, but that's what it is there for, isn't it?

So now I have my application up and running on the competition server, so it's time to think back a little. How was my experience in the WinPHP Challenge? To make it short: Great.

I joined the European WinPHP Challenge to broaden my horizon. To step out of my comfort zone for a bit, and work on something completely new and different. Having not worked on a Windows machine for a couple of years, but having seen all the developments surrounding Microsoft's enhancements to PHP in Windows, I was curious how well PHP on Windows had progressed. 

What I saw was actually pretty good. I've been working on MediTerra in a Windows virtual machine, and though I've had some situations where I wished things were working differently, most of the times it's actually quite fine now. All the tools are there, configuration of IIS is a breeze, performance (even in a virtual machine) is good. Even working with Git on Windows is so simple thanks to mSysGit.

Having said all that, Windows is still not my number one choice for development. I personally prefer OSX over Windows, but that's just a matter of personal preference. Where two years ago I would have discouraged people to develop on or deploy to Windows, I must admit that at this point, as far as PHP goes, Windows has become a strong player in the PHP market. And this is a good thing for PHP! This will allow PHP to get a stronger foothold in Windows-only enterprises that until now would not consider PHP because of it's bad support for Windows.

And it is also good for many PHP developers around the world. There seems to be a forgotten group of people in the endless "Microsoft good or bad for PHP"-debate, and that is the group of developers that are forced to work on Windows by their employers. I've been in that situation before, and it was a frustrating experience. Right now, not so much anymore. If you're forced to work on Windows for your PHP development, this is not a punishment anymore. Gone are the hours of frustration because something is not working right. Of rebooting because something crashed and won't come up anymore. Well, I can't guarantee the latter won't happen anymore, but I have not had a single OS-related or PHP-related problem in the period that I've been working on MediTerra. 

This experience has made me excited about the possibilities there are for PHP and Windows. It has also made me excited about MediTerra as a project, and working with Windows Azure. Even as the European WinPHP Challenge closes, keep an eye on MediTerra, as I plan to work on many more features for the project.