PHP - the most popular server side scripting language

PHP scripting language for website development

You may already hear the term PHP and many of you use it as part of daily coding ritual, but not all of you aware of the power and popularity of PHP. We feel it’s important that every web developer should have a full understanding of the PHP, it’s core functions, classes, and methods. Through this article, we will help you to know what actually PHP is and how this scripting language operates out there.

So, What is PHP?

Personal Home Page in short PHP is a scripting language and interpreter that is freely available and used primarily on Linux Web servers. PHP originally derived from Personal Home Page Tools. PHP now use as Hypertext Preprocessor, which is powerful and widely-used open source server-side scripting language to write dynamically generated web pages. PHP executes on the server, while a comparable alternative, JavaScript, executes on the client. PHP is an alternative to Microsoft's Active Server Page (ASP) technology. As with ASP, the PHP script is embedded within a Web page along with its HTML. PHP can be integrated with the number of popular databases, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, Sybase, Informix, and Microsoft SQL Server.

Why should a developer use PHP for Web development, not the other once?

With faster turn-around time, enhanced security and affordability, PHP have become the preferred choice of the web developers. It's one of the most admired and popular server-side scripting languages which are widely used for creating websites. Todays' most famous online businesses such as Facebook, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Flickr etc. use PHP scripting language.

PHP is the easiest language for startup

PHP is simple to learn compared to other languages like Java or .Net. It's so easy that anyone can learn PHP coding. You just need proper training and practice and you can master this language in no time. One of the reasons it is always recommended to master PHP is that it is easier to use.

It's Free

PHP is an open source language - FREE and has a stupendous amount of available documentation, which makes it the most cost-effective method of creating robust websites and taking over online real estate space without worrying about legal obligations and subscriptions fees. Furthermore, PHP reduces barriers to entry for new website developers, allowing them to simply leverage their skills and talents for coding to get started.

Community support

If you are stuck with anything related to PHP, though, that would be a very rare instance, then you can find your solution through the great community support of PHP. You can also observe that this kind of fast service is rarely seen in the other languages like Ruby or Java.

Documentation

Head over to PHP Manual and you will be amazed by the excellent documentation.

Works beautifully With CMS

PHP makes websites amoebic, allowing the developers to transform them at their will. All PHP websites are fully customizable and can be transformed to meet the requirements of the customers with ease because Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla and others are primarily based on PHP. Hence, developing or integrating a robust custom-made CMS solution with your website is simple.

Most Securable platform

One of the complaints against PHP is that it's less secure, but the users experienced says differently. PHP also gives all the tools to make your application secure but you have to know to implement them. Actually, security depends upon the programmer,  not on the language.

Extensions and Add-Ons

PHP is one of the most scalable languages for website development. Because of open source, its online developers' community has always involved developing an extension to meet the emerging requirements of the businesses. Allows the developers and businesses to easily develop and add new functionalities and features to their website with the flexible way.

Embed the ability

The latest trend in adaptive content has made a responsive website and fluid grid systems even more pertinent to businesses. In this context, HTML5 is the unquestioned industry standard for developing highly dynamic and responsive websites. And PHP surfaces as the language allows its code to easily embedded into the HTML. Without any problem, developers can also convert existing static website code into a whole new dynamic one by adding their PHP code into HTML.

Huge Standard Library

Libraries play a crucial role in simplifying and speeding the data processing ability of the language. In this fast world, visitors don't want to give more time for per web page while they are surfing spree the site. In this situation, website's loading time plays a crucial role in keeping the visitors engaged on the website. PHP offers extensive support for HTTP fetching, regular expressions, URL parsing, and database drivers, to name but a few.

Delivers better performance

PHP improves in development speed as much as it improves the speed of execution. Operating on a conventional web stack, PHP leverages the Apache web server and allows applications to leverage MySQL databases means allowing developers to create bespoke, one-stop solutions for online presence. PHP also is known for its quick turnaround time which is one of the most important factors that enhance the performance of any website. The large standard library, a diverse range of extensions, cross-platform functionality, seamless integration with and customization of various CMS, and embed-ability allows experienced developers to offer exceptionally fast turnaround times at highly competitive rates. Any websites that are developed by using PHP, perform faster data processing features and compatible with all operating system such as Windows, UNIX and so forth.

Offers diverse frameworks

We already say in the above, PHP is able to deliver fast turnaround times. Because it has a sufficiently large family of PHP-frameworks, these range from the enterprise level Zend and Yii frameworks, all-rounder Laravel and Sympfony, performance optimizers like Phalcon, and PHPixie for speedy application designs or Codeigniter for more robust ones.

What can you do with PHP?

E-Commerce

E-commerce is one of the major uses for PHP. From a small business level to an enterprise level, businesses are always looking to create additional streams of revenue online. This gives you a distinct advantage with your clients. CakePHP has a bakery section with readily available source code for e-commerce applications. And the existing Magento, Zen Cart, and Shopify are for a newbie to PHP.

Project management tools

For both freelancers and web development firms alike, project management is an important aspect of your business. Your clients need a resource to be able to check the progress of the work and provide feedback. With a good project management system in place, your clients will be thoroughly pleased with the end result.

Graphical interface

You can extend your PHP installation to create desktop applications. This one is a challenge because it requires some extensive knowledge of PHP and it might also be easier to create desktop applications in other programming languages. You can use some of the PHP extensions such as PHP GTK and ZZEE PHP GUI to get you started creating GUI applications.

Build an online community

Whether your website is about business, entertainment, or products and services, internet users need to feel connected to the product or message. You can build your own PHP-driven online community, or choose from widely available scripts that you can implement into your website. With an online community, your visitors can help solve each other's product-related issues and even answer technical questions. You still have to provide some level of after-sales support, even, a community can effectively decrease your workload and provide useful feedback. You can use several different forum building tools such as phpBB, vBulletin, and Pun BB.

Generate PDF Files

The PDF format is Adobe's proprietary file type for document exchange. Using a library called PDFLib, you can generate PDF files with PHP. This library is already included with PHP5. To access it, you need to uncomment the appropriate lines in your PHP configuration file. If you were building an online invoicing application and you wanted to output an HTML-generated invoice in PDF format. You can then send the invoice via email or print a copy of it to your client.

Parse XML Files

PHP allows you to parse XML files. Parsing XML is an important feature of PHP 5 because not all browsers can output the contents of an XML file, so, you can create a parser in PHP to facilitate this process. Using XML is important for RSS feeds, and also for data storage and rendering data on different devices. Working with XML files in PHP is similar to handling the opening, closing, and reading of a file. The steps involved are creating an XML parser, setting functions to handle your opening and closing XML tags, opening the file for reading, reading the file incrementally and then closing it.

Mailing Lists

You can write your own script to send email newsletters to your client, or use a ready-made script. PHP mailing lists are an excellent way to keep your clients informed about your services and products, holidays, vacations, and general announcements. Anything your clients need to know can be included in your automated newsletter. The PHP online documentation explains PHP mailing functions in more detail. There are also scripts you can download and install on your website that is PHP list.

Image Processing

Using the GD library with PHP, you can do more than just output HTML to the browser. You can output images in different file types including jpeg, png, and gif. This feature of PHP is useful because it allows you to create thumbnail pictures, add watermarks, resize and crop images, and even create a photo gallery.

Create Charts and Graphs

PHP can create graphs and charts too. Using Image_Graph, you can create up to fourteen different types of charts including pie charts, bar graphs, impulse, dot/scatter, step, candlestick, box & whisker, radar. This is incredibly useful for e-commerce websites or websites where you need to present graphical data in a concise manner.

Create photo gallery

By simply using PHP's file handling functions, you can create your own photo gallery. You begin by placing your photos in a single directory, then use PHP's Exif function to get header information about the photo and output a thumbnail version of it. The process is as straightforward and it's also a great way to present your photos.

Create templates

Using PHP, you can make it easier to add pages and elements to your websites dynamically. You begin by creating the HTML page and splitting it into the header, main content, and footer sections. Add the .php extension to your subsequent pages and use server-side Includes for the header and footer for each new page. You can also have dynamic sidebars and top navigation sections. As a matter of fact, the more "templated" your site is, the easier it is to update the content.

Creating Flash

The use of Flash in websites is a contentious issue, to say the least. But there is nothing wrong with having Flash elements in certain places on your website. PHP can help with this. You would use the Ming library to create Flash files in .swf format. With this library, you can generate movies, text, and even animations in Flash.

Magic Method

PHP has built-in methods starts with __ (double underscore). These methods can’t be called directly. Rather, it will be called on the event basis. For example, __clone() will be called, when the clone keyword is used.

Memory usage information

To get the current memory usage, you can use the memory_get_usage() function, and to get the highest amount of memory used at any point, we can use the memory_get_peak_usage() function.

Generating unique IDs

There may be situations where you need to generate a unique string. Many people use the md5() function for this, even though it's not exactly meant for this purpose. There is actually a PHP function named uniqid() that is meant to be used for this. To reduce the chances of getting a duplicate, you can pass a prefix, or the second parameter to increase entropy. This function will generate shorter strings than md5() which will also save you some space.

Serialization

You do not have to come up with a fancy solution to convert your arrays or objects into formatted strings, as PHP has functions for this purpose. There are two popular methods of serializing variables. These are serialize() and unserialize().

Compressing strings

When talking about compression, usually think about files, such as ZIP archives. It is possible to compress long strings in PHP, without involving any archive files. By using the gzcompress() and gzuncompress() functions, it can possible to reduce achieve almost 50% size. Also, the functions gzencode() and gzdecode() achieve similar results, by using a different compression algorithm.

Register Shutdown Function

There is a function called register_shutdown_function(), which will let you execute some code right before the script finishes running.


To help you to learn PHP and improve your skill we enlist best online resources in our previous post. Please fill free to check all the resources and comment your opinion. Thank you!

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