What is PHP, and How Is It Used in Web Development
PHP, or Hypertext Preprocessor, is a coding language that is helpful in website development. It is used by lots of well-known companies, such as Facebook, Wikipedia, and Harvard University. It is trusted by these major entities, so you can feel comfortable giving PHP your own green flag.
The acronym originally stood for Personal Home Page. However, when the coding language was created in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf, its new meaning took off. Since its genesis, the language has been improved and updated. Today, it looks very different than it did the first time it was used in the mid-90s.
The following article is going to teach you all about what PHP is, as well as why it is still used in 2022 despite all of the other amazing coding options out there. It will also review the pros and cons of utilizing the language in your custom web development. Finally, it will cover AppKong’s experience with PHP and what we can do for you regarding your development. By the end of this article, you will be an expert on the subject.
PHP and HTML
You now know what PHP stands for and what it is generally—a coding language. Now, it’s time to review the specifics. One of the key things that helps the language stand out amongst the crowd is that it can be directly embedded into HTML (hypertext markup language). This means that you can write them at the same time side by side and they will work together perfectly.
Integrating HTML and PHP is done using the keyword “include.” By putting “include” in your PHP coding in the proper manner, the word will instruct the program to use whatever HTML data file you want it to in conjunction with what is already written. For example, you may want to write HTML for side banners on your site, and then include these in your PHP code. Fortunately, this is possible.
Website development is not as complicated as it may seem. Basically, programs such as Safari and Google Chrome are interpreters of code. If you were to click the button “see source code” in your browser, you would be able to see all of the code that went into creating the web page you are viewing. Much of this would likely be PHP code! Browsers just translate code like PHP to make it visually appealing and understandable to the average layperson.
Getting Started with PHP
There are a bunch of different places you can download the necessary tools to begin programming with PHP. And, they are nearly all free due to the fact that PHP is an open-source language. But, more on this later. For now, know that you just have to download a few files, and then you can get started using it.
Once you download the necessary files, you will want to choose a text editor. This is the space where you will actually be typing in your code and will allow you to save a .php file. Then, once you have a place to code, you can begin working on your site development. PHP allows coders to use many of the techniques they are already familiar with. For example, if statements, loops, checkboxes, and arrays can all be worked into PHP. You do not need to have a coding background or technology degree to learn how to use PHP, though it would be extremely helpful.
Why PHP Is Still Popular in 2022
Though this particular coding language is not amongst the ones that are raved about today, it flies popularly under the radar. Just about 80% of sites that are live today utilize PHP, with its most popular version being the 7.3 version. This means that millions of sites are relying on PHP on their hidden back-ends. The language is what professionals refer to as server-side language. Server-side languages aid in making languages more powerful and facilitating user interactions so that it goes more smoothly.
There are a plethora of reasons that PHP is so popular today. The primary reasons are as follows:
- PHP is an open-source coding language;
- It is easy for beginners to pick up;
- The language is incredibly versatile and compatible with HTML;
- PHP was designed for website development; and
This section will unpack the above reasons, explaining why they make modern-day development a breeze.
Open-source is also sometimes referred to as OSS (open-source software) and means that it is publicly accessible software. Anyone who has access to a computer, or even a smartphone or tablet can start using PHP. Individuals can use it as is, or they can modify it if they would like to. All you need to get started is the proper software to begin coding.
There are many places you can download the free necessary coding tools to begin putting PHP to work. Some of the most popular options include:
- WordPress; and
Of course, any free software you find will do. The one you choose will be based on your individual preference. Because it is free to obtain and use, PHP is the preference of many developers. Some examples of private languages include Gravity and Imba. While these languages are not necessarily less effective than PHP, they are less popular due to the barriers to access.
Easy and Quick to Learn
Do not worry if you have not had formal training in software development. Professional training or years of experience are not prerequisites to mastering PHP! There are a ton of super helpful guides that you can find online for free in either text or video format. Many famous YouTubers actually have entire courses online that will teach you everything there is to know about PHP from start to finish. And, they will walk you through how to use the language while coding your websites for personal or work purposes.
Most of these available courses do not extend beyond 5-10 hours. This is really all it takes to learn the basics. It is so easy to learn that many people teach themselves PHP just for fun! Its ease of use is just one of the reasons and the limited time dedication it takes to learn it contributes to why the language is so popular.
Designed Specifically for Site Development
PHP Version 1.0 was born when Rasmus Lerdorf was writing codes to maintain his own personal homepage. He wanted his code to be compatible with website forms and databases. He initially called his finished product “Personal Home Page/Forms Interpreter.” Rasmus wanted to recruit others to assist in identifying the language’s bugs and accelerate the improvement of the language, so he posted it online. From then on, early adopters took to using PHP to manage their own personal homepages. And then, they began using it in all types of website development.
Because PHP was specifically designed for website development, it has grown over time to master the task. It has just about every tool you could ever need to develop a full site. Think about it in terms of tradesmen.
Let us say your Toyota car engine is having trouble. If you go to see a general autobody car mechanic, he will be able to fix up your car to an average standard. However, he will not be able to do as good of a job as an engine specialist at a Toyota car dealership service garage. PHP is like a website developer specialist, helping you to do not just a good job on your site, but the best. This is why people choose PHP over the other available languages.
There is no shortage of benefits when it comes to developing online presences with PHP. A few of these benefits have already been mentioned above as the primary reasons that PHP is so popular today despite the recent tech boom making other languages obsolete. The following section will walk through some major benefits of utilizing PHP, as well as why they outweigh the cons.
Continuously Improving Thanks to Being Open-Source
It is amazing that PHP is open-source because this allows lots of people to work on improving the code simultaneously. Remember when Rasmus posted the first version onto an online forum in 1994? This means that since then, thousands of brilliant minds have touched the raw materials of the code.
As a result, the coding language continues to get more and more useful and high-quality as time passes. In contrast, private tools that have to be paid for often stand stagnant where their original creators left them, and fade into history. Not only does this help weed out errors and make the language itself better; it also ensures that the language remains compatible with the other modern options.
Because PHP is continuously being improved alongside other types of site-developing tools, coders are always working on making the tools compatible. PHP’s compatibility with HTML has already been discussed at length. However, this is not the only way in which the language is superiorly compatible. It is also compatible with:
- All types of technology, from laptops and desktops to smartphones and tablets;
- Virtually every browsing program on the market;
- Popular processors like Apple and Windows; and
- Many different types of coding text windows.
The versatility of PHP increases its widespread use since it can be used by anyone anywhere. Even if they do not have technology at home, they likely have access to a public library with free computers and the internet. And, this versatility means that you will not have to worry about replacing technology with a different brand, or switching your web browser and having to learn an entirely new coding language.
Scalable and Easy to Maintain
There is no size limit on the text and development that you perform with PHP. Thus, you can start out with a small, one-paged website, and grow it to as many pages as your heart desires, and your broadband allows. Coding with scalable text is important even when you are maintaining a personal blog. When it comes to coding for professional reasons, though, such as running a site for a business, it is pertinent.
As they say in business, if you are not growing, you are slow. Unfortunately, as businesses grow, sometimes, their websites become unable to handle the increased traffic. With PHP, you can constantly be modifying your site to accommodate new products, services, and information.
You can also increase your site’s ability to handle more daily users and more intense communication. And, it is super easy to go in and edit the coding whenever you would like to. Having scalable and easy-to-maintain coding is essential in website development.
Plus, multiple people can edit the same website code so long as they use the same software and login information. Thus, PHP is great for teamwork! Or, as you will learn, it enables you to hire teams to do your development work for you.
Cons and Alternatives
Like everything in life, PHP does have its cons. Some of the cons include the fact that it is not as secure as some other private languages. The open-source nature of PHP means that people know how it works, and how to hack it. That being said, there are still ways to code securely to minimize this risk.
Another con of PHP is that it is less conducive for sites that are heavy on content such as images and videos. It might load slower than some alternatives, and/or take longer to code. Lastly, PHP has fewer error-identifiers and “debuggers” than some other types of languages. Other types of popular languages include:
- Go; and
These programming languages all have their own pros and cons as well. It is up to you to weigh the benefits and cons of each language against your own unique needs, and choose the option that makes the most sense for you. That being said, PHP is a great first option to experiment with, as it is free and easy to learn. If you do not like it, then you will not have wasted any resources testing it. However, chances are you will love it and continue to use it.
How to Understand if PHP Is Good for Your Project?
Wondering if this coding language is going to be a good option for your upcoming or existing projects? The short answer to this question is that if you are performing website development, then yes—this instrument will be helpful to you! It is used in 80% of sites for a reason. Thanks to its ease, flexibility, and widespread use, there is no limit on the tasks that it will prove helpful for.
If you do not have at least a little bit of previous information technology (IT) experience, then it may be hard for you to pick up PHP overnight. That is why AppKong is here to help! AppKong has a large team of technology experts, many of whom have been taking advantage of PHP since it came out. Whether you already have an online presence that needs a tune-up, or you are starting from scratch, AppKong is here to help.
PHP allows AppKong to give you the biggest bang for your buck since it is fast to write and is extremely compatible with other development techniques and tools.
Now that you know more about what PHP is, as well as the pros and cons of using it, you probably want to try it out. If you are an expert coder, you may as well get on your merry way. However, if you are primarily a business owner, do not waste your valuable time and resources working on your own code. Let AppKong help you!
AppKong can handle all of your PHP coding for you, that way you can focus on improving your business and raking in more revenue. Though hiring AppKong will cost an initial investment, you will save money down the road by utilizing your resources more efficiently and letting experts do your PHP work for you. Fortunately for you, AppKong has packages that work for all sizes of business because it believes that everyone deserves custom webwork.
Reach out to AppKong today to get your PHP site development into motion. Your future self will thank you!