Marco Arment on PHP:
I wrote Tumblr, Instapaper, and Second Crack in PHP. I continue to use it because I know it extremely well, it’s very easy to use and deploy, and it’s nearly maintenance-free on servers. When you’re a programmer forced to also be your own sysadmin, that’s very attractive.
Whichever language I choose to replace PHP will have its own problems that will take me years to master, but by the time I know whether I chose the “right” language, I’ll have invested far too much time in it to practically switch any meaningfully sized project to another language: exactly the situation I’m in now with PHP.
The fear of making the “wrong” choice actually makes the familiar, mastered PHP more attractive. That’s the problem Jeff’s identifying, and it’s very real. If you can get PHP programmers to agree that they need to stop using it, the first question that comes up is what to use instead, and they’re met with a barrage of difficult choices and wildly different opinions and recommendations.
Marco’s a smart guy and has done some impressive things, but this is simply absurd. But yes, I do understand the paradox of choice.
I have a simple solution, but it takes discipline. I do a little research on the options. It does help to set a time budget here. If it’s a life choice, set a high budget. If it’s what sneaker you should buy, set a small budget.
When you’ve run out of time, pick the best option. If you can’t figure out the best option, then pick an option at random. Literally. Flip a coin.
This solution would work beautifully for Marco: Python and Ruby, the choices he considers in his post, are both categorically better than PHP. If he picks wrong, he will have still improved his productivity in the long run.