Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

As someone who runs a very successful data business on a simple stack (php, cron, redis, mariadb), I definitely agree. We've avoided the latest trends/tools and just keep humming along while outperforming and outdelivering our competitors.

We're also revenue-funded so no outside VC pushing us to be flashy, but I will definitely admit it makes hiring difficult. Candidates see our stack as boring and bland, which we make up for that in comp, but for a lot of people that's not enough.

If you want to run a reliable, simple, and profitable business, keep your tech stack equally simple. If you want to appeal to VCs and have an easy time recruiting, you need to be cargo cult, even if it's not technically necessary.

> Candidates see our stack as boring and bland

I would say that there are probably a lot of developers who would be very happy to work on a non-buzzword stack, but the problem is that as a developer, it's extremely hard to know if your tech stack is the result of directed efforts to keep it simple, or if it's the haphazard result of some guy setting it up ten years ago when these technologies were hot.

I would be happy to work on a stack like that, but I can't deny that it seems somewhat career limiting long term.Especially as I am over 40 now. I will be seen as not keeping up to date.

(I certainly think I design and build better software than most people having done a few years of maintenance programming recently, people just create over complex monstrosities for what should be simple apps)

There is nothing "cargo cult" about realizing that PHP is just way more difficult to work with and maintain in any large or long-term project than basically any of the more modern "culty" languages (especially the functional ones, which focus on determinism/reliability/transparency, unlike, say, PHP which last I heard has flagging tests in its very own test suite, and does the same "complexity hiding" (read: brushing tech debt under the rug) that every OOP language with an ORM does.

That said, good on you for running a successful business well using tried-and-true tech, can't knock that!

Backwards compatibility.

It makes the language a bit of a mishmash between things that were popular 10 years ago, and whatever the new hotness is. And errors once made, will never really leave the language.

But the app that I built in php5 10 years ago is still running on 7.2 with a one character change.

Modern PHP's quite a bit better than the utter mess that was 4.0 or even the half-ugly 5.0. They've deprecated the worst of the misfeatures, especially by default. Now if only they'd adopted the HHVM/Hack Collections instead of the terrible arrays...

Hear hear. I lead a team that builds and manages critical emergency services infrastructure.

Our stack is pretty boring, but then it has to be running 99.999% of the time. Rather than wasting time chasing the latest flavour-of-the-month tool or framework we invest our time in plugging any kind of gap that could ever bring our service down.

We don't need people who are only looking to pad their resume with the hottest buzzwords, we look for people who want to make critical services run all that time, that rarely fail and when they do, they handle failure gracefully.

The number of devops/agile/SaaS style shops I have seen where the product falls over for several hours at a time is astounding, and it can often be attributed to rushed/inexperienced engineering or unnecessary complexity.

Lucky for them it's usually just the shareholders bottom line that is affected. If the services my team provides don't work, ambulances and fire engines are either not arriving fast enough or at all.

Good on you mate. I love this approach.

I'll be doing the same thing my self with a few products I'm developing with my brother.

"Keep it simple, keep it stable" is what I like to say.

I work in the same environment, and hiring is the only downside I see. Resume Driven Development and "Dev Sexy" has made it difficult to find developers who are willing to come on board, despite the sanity provided by simplicity & comp.

It will now, but how many people are going to be interested in my LAMP experience 5 or 10 years down the line? While everyone else has been working with the cloud/kubernetes/aws/gcp/serverless technologies.

I have never seen a VC care about what software stack you use. I did have one particularly geeky one asking me for advice on whether he should invest in MariaDB.

Your point about recruiting is spot-on, however. It's not that all candidates necessarily believe in the cargo cult, but they have their own career and employability to consider.

To me the biggest red flag there is the php. After developing with typed languages, a dynamic language is honestly a pain. Cron is easy to replace if needed.

Like I would feel much better if it was python, golang, java or C#. Javascript I feel like is the new PHP. Another issue is what I call the COBOL syndrome, where your career future isn't as great. You can still be a shop with a relatively good career future tech set that is old, but it has to be the 'right' old things unfortunately.

Do you at least use something like Hack to add types?

PHP has had optionally typed function parameters and return values since the late 5.x releases I think (current release is 7.3). Types are checked at runtime and throw TypeErrors if the declared types are violated. They can also be checked ahead of time by IDEs with code inspection such as PhpStorm.

The 7.4 release is adding typed class properties as well[1].

I maintain a ~75k LOC PHP codebase (using the Laravel framework), and we have almost never encountered type issues. The new style of PHP (and Javascript is heading in a similar direction tbh) is to write it almost like it's Java, but with the option to fall back to dynamic "magic" as needed. If you utilize the dynamic elements sparingly, and following widely understood conventions, the productivity-vs.-reliability tradeoff is highly favorable for many applications compared to languages like Java and C#.

P.S. I like Python, but I would argue PHP actually has a better story to tell about types these days. "While Python 3.6 gives you this syntax for declaring types, there’s absolutely nothing in Python itself yet that does anything with these type declarations..." [2]. Declaring types in a dynamic language only to have them ignored at runtime does not inspire much confidence.

1. https://laravel-news.com/php7-typed-properties

2. https://medium.com/@ageitgey/learn-how-to-use-static-type-ch...

Declaring types in a dynamic language only to have them ignored at runtime does not inspire much confidence.

Funny, I see it the other way; declaring types in a dynamic language yet only having them checked at runtime does not inspire much confidence. With mypy, you actually get static checking, so you're not dependent on your tests hitting the bug.

As an experienced developer I’m finding it harder to find companies who use “boring”, simple and stable solutions. Any chance you’re hiring remotely?

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact