From 1998 until 2015, PHP was the tool I used to make the vast majority of my income. I built all sorts of things with the language, and worked my way through my career going from place to place trying to leave things better than when I got there.
I carved out a great niche for myself as “that guy who yells at you about testing your PHP code”.
Then one day I got a message saying “hey, do you want to come and work at Mozilla?” Almost a decade ago while speaking at a web conference in Vancouver I had met Laura Thomson, who had just started working there. Talked to her for several hours while a group of speakers stomped around
Like the happy little networker I am, I stayed in touch with her over the years and asked her to keep me in mind if ever anything came up at Mozilla that would be a good fit. I interviewed there once before and got nowhere. But now was a chance to do something I was very interested in: work for a company where their mission isn’t to “disrupt” something or just to hang on long enough to get aquihired by one of The Four Horseman Of The Internet (Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple).
There was no way I was going to say no.
It didn’t matter that I wasn’t going to be using PHP at the day job any more. The group I work with uses Python to test the various web services that Firefox talks to. So I no longer was going to be using PHP at the day job. But my whole identity had been built up around the community of people using PHP. So now what? Should I speed off towards a new career and leave PHP in the dust? It would’ve been really easy to do so like many many other folks who like to make fun of PHP have done.
Instead, I stay connected with the PHP community so I give back to a group of folks who helped me build the life I have today. This is not a joke or hyperbole. Without the support of people who also believed in my mission of helping people to learn how to test their code, I wouldn’t have built up a skill set that lets me write tests in another programming language.
The community has helped me meet dozens of people and fly all over the world to convince other people that you can test your PHP code and you can build a satisfying career just like I did. Even though I don’t use PHP at the day job, I still work on open source projects that use PHP and will continue to spread the message that you can test your PHP code and continue to willingly write PHP code.
I can’t ever give back more than what I got from all of you.