What is PHP and How to learn?

In the section on What is HTML?, we have learned that there are two types of websites1. Static and 2. Dynamic.

To create dynamic websites (web pages), you need to use programming languages, and PHP is one of the most popular scripting languages used to create dynamic web pages and web applications.

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely used open-source server-side scripting language that is especially suited for web development.

PHP “can be embedded into HTML”

It means you can write HTML code as well as PHP code in the same file, but the file must be a PHP file means the file extension must be .php

<!DOCTYPE html>
    <title>Example of PHP</title>
    <!-- Getting the name from url -->
    <?php $name = isset($_GET["name"]) ? $_GET["name"] : "World"; ?>
    <!-- Showing the Hello message with the NAME -->
    <h1>Hello <?php echo $name; ?>, How are you?</h1>

Here is the result of the above PHP code:

Result of Example PHP code

“History” of PHP:

PHP was created by Rasmus Lerdorf.

Initially, Lerdorf developed a set of scripts to track visits to his online resume. Over time, these scripts evolved to include more functionality, like form processing and database interaction.

In 1995, he released the Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools), which allowed developers to create dynamic web pages.

As PHP gained popularity, it caught the attention of other developers who began contributing to its development.

In 1997, two Israeli developers, Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutmans, rewrote the PHP parser and formed the basis of PHP version 3. This marked a significant milestone in the language’s development.

Over the years there have been many improvements in PHP and now 2023 is version 8 of PHP which has many features and improvements that make PHP still relevant.

Conclusion: Rasmus Lerdorf’s original vision for PHP was to create a simple tool for tracking website visits, but the contributions of the open-source community turned PHP into a versatile scripting language that powers millions of websites, web applications, and services around the world.

Key features of PHP:

1. Server-Side Scripting:

PHP scripts are executed on the web server before sending the resulting output to the client’s browser. It allows dynamic content creation, database interaction, and other server-side operations.

2. Embedding in HTML:

In the above example, we have seen that PHP code can be embedded directly into HTML files using special delimiters (<?php and ?>), making it easy to mix dynamic and static content within a single file.

3. Extensive Library Support:

PHP comes with a vast collection of built-in functions and libraries that facilitate a wide range of tasks, such as handling forms, interacting with databases, processing files, and more.

4. Database Interaction:

PHP has excellent support for connecting to various databases, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, and more. This enables developers to create database-driven web applications.

5. Cross-Platform Compatibility:

PHP is a cross-platform scripting language, meaning it can run on various operating systems, such as Windows, Linux, macOS, and more.

6. Open Source and Community-Driven:

PHP is an open-source project, which means its source code is freely available and can be modified by developers. The PHP community actively contributes to its development, creating extensions, frameworks, and libraries that expand its capabilities.

7. Easy to Learn:

PHP is relatively easy to learn for beginners, as its syntax is similar to other programming languages like C, Java, and Perl.

8. Integration with Web Servers:

PHP is often used in conjunction with web servers like Apache, and Nginx.

9. Frameworks and CMS:

There are numerous PHP frameworks and content management systems (e.g., Laravel, Symfony, WordPress, Drupal) that provide pre-built components and structures for building web applications and websites more efficiently.

10. Object-oriented programming:

PHP also supports object-oriented programming (OOP) paradigm. PHP’s object-oriented capabilities –

  • Classes and Objects.
  • Inheritance – extends.
  • Encapsulation – public, protected, private.
  • Polymorphism.
  • Abstraction.
  • Interfaces.
  • Constructor and Destructor.
  • Namespaces.

Should you learn PHP in 2023?

It depends on your goals and interests – If you are interested in web development, it is worthwhile to learn PHP in 2023, Because –

PHP is a widely used scripting language for web development. If you’re interested in building dynamic websites and web applications, learning PHP can be valuable. However, PHP is not limited to web development. It can also be used for command-line scripting and other server-side tasks.

Job Opportunities: There is a consistent demand for PHP developers in the job market. Many companies maintain existing PHP projects and create new ones, requiring skilled developers to work on these applications.

In conclusion, I would like to say that PHP can be a good choice if you are interested in building dynamic websites with a language that is popular, can interact with databases, as well as relatively easy to learn.

HTML, CSS, and 🔥 JavaScript are essential languages in web development. So before diving into PHP, you need to learn these languages first.

How to learn PHP?

1. Understand Web Basics:

Before diving into PHP, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of how the web works. Learn about Client-Server, HTTP, URLs, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, as these are the foundational components of web development.

2. Set Up Your Environment:

To practice PHP, you’ll need a development environment. You can set up a local development server using tools like XAMPP, WAMP, and MAMP. Code Editor – Visual Studio Code.

3. PHP Syntax:

Understand PHP’s syntax, including how to open and close PHP tags (<?php and ?>), how to embed PHP code in HTML, and how to echo output to the browser using echo or print.

4. Start with Basics:

Start by learning the basics of PHP. Focus on variables, data types, operators, control structures (if statements, loops), and functions. This will help you build a strong foundation for more complex topics.

5. Learn About Arrays:

Arrays are fundamental data structures in PHP. Learn what an is array, and how to create, manipulate, and loop through arrays.

6. Introduction to Functions:

Explore how to define and use functions in PHP. Functions help you organize your code and make it more reusable.

7. Work with Forms and User Input:

Learn how to handle user input from HTML forms using the $_POST and $_GET superglobals. Understand how to validate and sanitize user data to prevent security vulnerabilities.

8. Working with Databases:

Learn about database interactions using PHP. Understand how to connect to databases (e.g., MySQL), perform queries, and retrieve and manipulate data.

Note: Database is a separate thing, so if you want to work with a database using PHP, you have to learn the database first.

9. Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming (OOP):

Get familiar with the basics of OOP in PHP. Learn about classes, objects, properties, and methods. Object-oriented programming is a powerful paradigm used in modern PHP development.

10. Practice Projects:

The best way to solidify your knowledge is through practice. Start building small projects, like a simple contact form, user registration & login system, etc..

11. Explore PHP Frameworks & libraries:

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, consider exploring PHP frameworks and libraries like Laravel, CodeIgniter, Guzzle, dotenv, etc…

12. Utilize Online Resources:

Take advantage of online tutorials, courses, documentation, and forums. Websites like PHP.net, W3Schools, YouTube, and various coding platforms offer extensive resources for learning PHP.

13. Read and Study Code:

Study open-source PHP projects on platforms like GitHub. This will give you insight into real-world applications, coding standards, and best practices.

14. Stay Curious, Stay Updated, and Practice Regularly:

Web development is a dynamic field. Stay curious, Don’t hesitate to try or adapt new things.

Consistent practice is key to mastering anything. So, dedicate regular time to coding and experimenting with different concepts, techniques, and tools.

Conclusion: Remember that learning PHP is a gradual process. Start with the basics, build a strong foundation, and progressively move on to more advanced topics. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or ask for help from the PHP community when you encounter challenges.