Interview with Adrian Teasdale, creator of the PHP Weekly newsletter

“A large, worldwide fan base that wants to help others and defends PHP”

Jan Bernecke
© Shutterstock / Eny Setiyowati

The PHP Weekly newsletter is sent out every Thursday, summarizing news, tutorials, and articles from the PHP world for all interested parties. We talked to the creator Adrian Teasdale about the project, which has been running since 2013, the community, and PHP itself.

Newsletters are great and can help us filter important news and information from the vast expanses of the Internet. In addition to the countless newsletters from the fashion, leisure, and travel industries that resemble advertising brochures and hopelessly clog up many inboxes, there are also really useful formats. This is also the case with PHP. PHP Weekly lives up to its name and is sent out once a week to interested developers. We talked to Adrian Teasdale, the creator of the newsletter, about the project, the development of the language, and his view of the PHP community.

For those who have never heard of PHP Weekly: Can you briefly introduce the project?

Adrian Teasdale: But of course! Thanks for the question. Over the course of my time as a PHP developer, I met many people around the world who used PHP and worked with them on a wide variety of projects. I stopped programming at some point (since I’m not very good at it) and focused on business ventures, but PHP always remained the core of what we used as a tool. In 2013 we decided to start PHP Weekly, a weekly roundup of articles, stories, new tools, and many other things related to PHP that we compile. We publish a newsletter every Thursday – and if we ever missed a week, then it was only once or twice in all these years.

What prompted you to start the project back then, and what was the initial feedback like?

Adrian Teasdale: I run a few businesses and some of them are related to PHP. In the beginning, we thought it would be a good idea to create something for the PHP community to learn about us. The initial feedback was very positive, although we haven’t changed anything in all these years. However, we keep getting feedback asking us to modernize our website.

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What do you see as the main function of PHP Weekly?

Adrian Teasdale: Our main mission is to provide useful information in a compact format. There is so much information out there that it can be overwhelming. We hear that people really appreciate receiving the newsletter each week to see the things that really interest them.

Who are the newsletter’s creators? What is the general situation at the moment?

Adrian Teasdale: The idea came from me, Adrian Teasdale. Since 2013, it’s been put together by myself and Katie Eyers, although Katie recently withdrew from the project as she simply could no longer devote the necessary time for the newsletter. For now, I’m running it myself – which is a challenge. On the one hand, enough valuable content has to be found and collected, and on the other hand, the newsletter has to be sent out on time every Thursday.

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What is the incentive for you to lead the project?

Adrian Teasdale: I think I’m happy with the way things are going at the moment. And after all this time, I don’t want to stop either. It doesn’t bring in a lot of money – definitely not enough to cover the costs of running it. However, I have other projects that are going very well. So I consider the PHP newsletter a hobby project.

Do you receive feedback? Is there anything that should be improved in the future?

Adrian Teasdale: The main feedback we currently receive is that the user interface should be modernized, since it’s very outdated and has not been changed since 2013. We’ve designed a new website and a new newsletter, but we haven’t had time to change anything else yet. We get feedback on articles we link to. Sometimes we make mistakes – but who doesn’t! People are very quick to let us know when we’ve published something that they feel is below the quality they’ve come to expect.

The PHP community likes to give feedback quickly. How would you describe the community based on your experience with the newsletter? Is it sufficiently connected?

Adrian Teasdale: Diverse, passionate and sometimes defensive is how I would describe my experience. It is a large, worldwide fan base that wants to help others and defends PHP against newer or established languages like Ruby on Rails or Python. Our language has evolved a lot in the last few years and many of the problems that other programmers have with PHP have been solved, in my opinion. But there is always room for improvement, especially in the area of community communication. I believe that social media has dispersed and fragmented communication in the PHP community. For example, Facebook groups and Reddit are the big platforms – that’s not even counting other forums. When I first started, we used LISTSERV for communication. That’s how I made some of my best friends. If I had an idea, it would be to merge all these different communication channels into one app. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for that, but maybe someone could take that idea and implement it.

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Speaking of the language itself and its evolution, what makes the language so special to you and how do you assess the progress made in recent years?

Adrian Teasdale: I have mixed feelings about the language itself, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without it. I wouldn’t necessarily call it “love” but I’d compare it to a 20+ year marriage. There’s a history together, some great times, and some not so great. If you asked me a few years ago about the evolution of the language, I would have answered: sluggish. But I think lately the situation has improved significantly. Competition isn’t a bad thing and the pressure from other languages like Python has pushed us to develop the language further.

Thank you for the interview!

Jan Bernecke
Jan Bernecke has been an online editor at S&S Media since 2019. The rugby-playing literary scholar previously worked in the field of online marketing.

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