I first encountered PHP when I did the second implementation of birdwalker.com, my website for birding field notes and photos. I did the first version entirely in XML and XSLT. It was a contrarian choice for building an entire website, but it did force me to learn XSLT well enough to be the go-to guy at work for XSLT questions.
Compared to XSLT, writing birdwalker.com in PHP was a dream — so fluid, so much ongoing feedback. Problem was, I looked up a year or two later and found SQL queries right smack in the middle of my presentation logic. Blech!
Eventually, I jettisoned PHP and started again. Version three of birdwalker.com is in Ruby on Rails, and it’s good enough that I feel comfortable open sourcing it. Jeff calls on us to “build compelling alternatives [to PHP] and make sure these alternatives are equally pervasive, as easy to set up and use as possible.” I’m currently thinking Ruby on Rails is one of those, but ask me again in another year when I’m due to throw the whole thing out and start over again. 🙂