I started my software engineering career as a PHP developer about 15 years ago. Looking back now I understand why PHP had a bad reputation - the language objectively had a lot of problems and the PHP ecosystem in the mid 00s was very immature compared to the battle tested ecosystems of Java and .NET.
But since then, and with the release of PHP 7, the language and ecosystem has matured massively. For one, Laravel is excellent - the framework is well designed, the docs are some of the best I've ever worked with, and the developer tooling is (in my opinion) unrivalled.
I work mostly on Node / Java back ends professionally these days, but I find myself almost exclusively using Laravel for my personal projects. THe reason being I'm so much more productive in PHP & Laravel compared to Java. And don't get me wrong, Java is great for building enterprise software, but for small to medium sized web projects it's overkill.
I also have PHP projects which I built well over a decade ago that run perfectly fine today. Meanwhile in Node land it's not uncommon for projects just a few years old to stop working altogether because some package I was using is no longer maintained and hasn't been updated to support the latest version of node. And even when the project still runs the ecosystem tends to change so much that you have to do significant refactors every few months just to keep everything reasonably up-to-date. I think any JS developer can relate to the fact that a good chunk of your time working on JS projects is spent refactoring code because Gulp is no longer being maintained, or LibSass has been deprecated in favour of Dart, or because the community just decided that you need to use React hooks now...
But another reason I don't use Node is simply because JS sucks, even when compared to PHP < 7. It's a poorly designed language that requires multiple layers of tooling just to make it acceptable for use in larger projects. And again, when the ecosystem is changing so often any tooling you're using needs to be updated constantly.
But this isn't a rant about JS. I'm just wondering why in 2023 I seem to love PHP more than ever and the developer community broadly seems to be migrating more towards Node? Can someone explain why I'm wrong about this because when ever I tell any of my Java / Node colleagues that I love PHP they tend to roll their eyes.
Most people in this industry are either junior devs that have no idea what they're doing, mid level devs that fall for the hype and don't like "boring" tech (battle tested, reliable) and end up using stuff that's not even production ready, and senior devs that overengineer and optimize prematurely.
Just keep on your path and don't pay attention to the dummies. PHP is great and will never die.