Why is PHP Highly Preferred for Web App Development?

Why is PHP Highly Preferred for Web App Development?

You know who else still uses PHP? The entire freaking internet!

And yes, your favourite social media platforms. Maybe you didn’t know, but Facebook and Twitter still rely on PHP for their features and functionalities.

Not to forget Wikipedia, which is also built on PHP.

PHP is the world’s most popular server-side programming language. And why wouldn’t it be? It’s easy to learn and use, supports various frameworks, and is extremely flexible.

Whether you want to develop a dynamic ecommerce store or build an interactive website, PHP can do it all. And with tools like Composer, Vagrant, and more available today, developing web applications in PHP has never been easier.

So why do developers love working with PHP? Let’s take a closer look:

A Glimpse of the Past:

PHP is shorthand for “Hypertext Pre-processor”. Hypertext is anything that includes links to other documents, and pre-processing is the process of adding features to a document before it’s served. So, PHP is basically a tool that allows you to add dynamic content to your websites, such as user-generated lists or search results.

But this was just the beginning. Thanks to its open-source nature, the PHP community has created an endless supply of frameworks and tools that make web development much faster, easier, and more fun.

Some of the most popular PHP frameworks include Laravel and Symfony, which help speed up your development by providing ready-made structures for your code. And with platforms like Heroku and Amazon Web Services (AWS) available, deploying your PHP app has never been easier.

As a result, millions of developers worldwide rely on PHP to create all kinds of web applications, from ecommerce stores and blogs to social media platforms and online communities. 

And because it’s so flexible and easy to use, PHP can be used with various tools and technologies. Whether you want to build an API using Node.js or develop mobile apps using PhoneGap, PHP will get you sorted.

History of PHP

PHP started as a small open-source project back in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf.

It was a successor to a product called Personal Home Page Tools (PHP Tools or PHT) that Lerdorf had created in 1994 to manage his resume and track his calendar. 

Lerdorf was inspired by many other open-source programs like Perl, Python, Tcl, PostScript, etc., and decided to create his own scripting language for the web.

Essentially, the program was to help him track the visits to his online resume. 

Over time, more functionality was desired, which prompted Lerdorf to rewrite the program, producing a much larger version with a functional database and richer implementation.

The name PHP was chosen to imply “pre-processor”, a server-side scripting language that would eventually be interpreted on the client side in HTML pages.

Lerdorf released this first version of PHP to his online community as free, open-source software in 1995, which allowed developers to use it as they saw fit.

And the rest, as they say, is history!

Today, PHP has become one of the world’s most popular programming languages – thanks to its ease of use and excellent support for many web technologies.

Understanding the Basics of PHP

PHP Basics

PHP is an open-source programming language for web development. And by that, I mean developers are welcome to make any necessary changes to the code and use it for their projects.

PHP is one of the most popular server-side scripting languages, which means that it executes on a web server and produces HTML output. In other words, it can be embedded directly into HTML code, making it an ideal language for creating dynamic web pages.

And since it’s a server-side scripting language, all of the PHP code is processed by the server before the page is sent to a visitor’s browser. That eliminates the need for a client-side interpreter like JavaScript.

But that’s not all – PHP is also incredibly easy to learn, especially if you have some background in other programming languages like Java or C++. It also comes bundled with many web development frameworks and plugins, which make it even easier to build professional-looking websites.

So whether you’re a complete beginner looking to start your journey into web development or an experienced developer who wants to learn a new tool, PHP is the language for you.

Why Choose PHP for Your Web Development Project?

Reasons abound.

The least we could do is go through some of the reasons one by one.

#1. Open Source

As an open-source language, PHP is free to use and modify. And because a large community of developers maintains it, new features are constantly being added to ensure that it stays updated with the latest technologies.

It also has an endless list of frameworks that you can access for free, making it a great option for building dynamic and responsive web applications.

#2. Ease of Use

In addition to being open-source and available for free, PHP is also incredibly easy to learn. With just a few weeks of training or even self-study, you can quickly become proficient in this versatile programming language.

All you need is some basic knowledge of HTML and CSS, and you’re ready to go.

#3. Platform Independent

Another great thing about PHP is that it’s platform-independent. That means you can run it on any operating system, whether it’s Windows, Mac OS, or Linux.

PHP-based applications are also cross-browser compatible, so they are guaranteed to work no matter what browser or device your users are using.

#4. Simplify Web Application Maintenance

The biggest benefit of using PHP is that it can simplify your web application maintenance tasks. Whether you need to add new features, fix bugs, or update content, you can easily do this without worrying about deeply-embedded code.

The program supports Model View Controller (MVC) architecture, which gives you a clear separation between your business logic and the web interface, allowing for easier development and maintenance.

With this architecture, you can split your application into smaller modules, views, and controllers, making it more manageable and scalable.

#5. Work with Databases More Effectively

Most PHP frameworks also come with built-in database management features, making it easier to work with databases. Whether you’re accessing a local or remote database from your application, you can rest assured that all of the SQL queries will be managed by the framework.

Some of the frameworks even provide object-relational mapping (ORM) capabilities, allowing you to interact with your database using PHP objects instead of querying SQL.

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In simple terms, instead of having to write long and complex SQL statements, all you have to do is write a few lines of PHP code.

#6. Speed Up Custom Web Development

PHP programmers can leverage open-source tools and libraries to speed up custom web development. Whether you need to build a shopping cart, membership portal, or blog system, there are plenty of PHP frameworks that can help you do it quickly and easily.

And thanks to the growing interest in mobile apps, many companies also choose PHP for their cross-platform app development needs.

#7. Automate Common Web Development Tasks

With PHP, you can also automate many common web development tasks. There are tons of ready-made scripts, modules, and functions that you can use in your own applications to make things like form validation, data encryption, and session management much easier.

PHP frameworks provide functions and helper classes, making automating common tasks even easier. You can use them to quickly build websites, web apps, and APIs without having to worry about writing tons of mundane code yourself.

#8. No Need to Write Additional Code

PHP does require you to express concepts through shorter lines of code. Instead, you must write long and complex codes when adding new features or making changes.

While this can seem like a big limitation, it does have one major advantage: you don’t need to write additional code for every little thing.

Simply put, PHP allows you to express your ideas more clearly and concisely, reducing the amount of time and effort required to implement new functionality or fix bugs in existing code.

#9. Perform Unit Testing

Another great thing about PHP is that it provides native support for unit testing. That means you can quickly build and run automated tests on your codebase to ensure that there are no bugs or errors.

PHP frameworks like Laravel also come with extra tools, such as a built-in command line interface (CLI) to help you manage and run unit tests on your codebase.

You’ve probably heard of PHPUnit, an object-oriented unit testing application that lets you write and run unit tests. Most PHP frameworks come packaged with this app, making it easier to perform unit testing on your codebase.

#10. Protect Websites from Targeted Attacks

PHP is one of the most widely-used programming languages on earth, which means it’s also very popular among hackers. However, many PHP frameworks have built-in security features to protect your website or web apps against attacks. For example:

  • _Auto-escaping functionality prevents XSS attacks by validating all input data_
  • Security-conscious coding practices ensure that all data is sanitized before being saved in your database_
  • _Built-in CSRF tokens prevent hackers from hijacking user sessions or forging requests to perform unauthorized actions on behalf of a logged-in user_

SQL Injections, data tampering, cross-site request forgery, cross-site scripting, and so on are all common security threats facing PHP websites. Thankfully, PHP frameworks like Laravel have built-in security tools that help you protect your website against these attacks.

#11. Less Increase in Web Development Cost

PHP frameworks allow you to do more with less code, which means they take less time and cost less money to develop than custom PHP applications. That’s especially true when working with larger teams on complex projects.

Most seasoned web developers will tell you that PHP is a popular choice for outsourcing because it offers the best ROI of any other programming language.

#12. PHP is Future-Proof

It’s no secret that PHP powers millions of websites and web apps across the globe. It’s a platform that has stood the test of time and continues to be one of the most popular choices for web development projects.

As long as people are using the internet, there will always be a need for websites and web apps. And as long as there is demand for these things, PHP will continue to be the go-to choice for developers looking to solve this problem.

So, if you’re looking to invest in a programming language that will be around for years to come, PHP is your best bet. And with so many remarkable frameworks, like Laravel and Symfony, it’s never been easier to write scalable and robust web applications in PHP.

How to Get Started with PHP

Are you a newbie web developer looking to get started with PHP? Here are some steps you can take to get started with this amazing programming language:

  • You can start by learning HTML and CSS, the two core technologies used to build websites and web apps.
  • Next, learn PHP basics through online tutorials or an introductory course. That will help you understand the fundamentals of programming and get a sense of its syntax and structure.
  • Once you understand the basics well, you can dive into one or more PHP frameworks, such as Laravel or Symfony. These frameworks offer pre-built functionality and tools that make developing robust, scalable web applications in PHP easier.
  • As you gain more experience with PHP, make it a point to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices in web development. That will help you build more efficient and secure websites and web apps and position yourself as an expert in the field.

How Long Does it Take to Learn PHP?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the time it takes to learn any programming language depends on various factors. However, some general tips can help you speed up your learning process and become more proficient in PHP quickly enough: 

  • First and foremost, focus on learning the fundamentals of programming. That includes concepts like data types, variables, loops, and functions, which will form the foundation for your understanding of PHP syntax.
  • Secondly, you want to practice writing code as much as possible. Whether you are working on a project or just experimenting in a sandbox environment, making mistakes and figuring out how to solve them will help you build your skills and confidence as a developer.
  • Additionally, it can be helpful to seek out online resources like tutorials, eBooks, forums, and webinars that provide tips and guidance on using PHP effectively. That will give you access to the advice of more experienced developers and help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends in PHP development.
  • Lastly, staying motivated and passionate about learning PHP is key to your success. That will help you overcome any obstacles or roadblocks likely to come up during your journey as a web developer and ultimately help you become a more skilled and successful programmer overall.
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Ultimately, the key to mastering PHP is to be patient, determined, and willing to put in the time and effort required to learn this complex programming language. With enough practice, dedication, and guidance from experts in the field, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a skilled PHP developer.

PHP Applications

Although the market is brimming with different programming languages and platforms, PHP remains one of the most widely used and highly preferred development technologies. That’s because it is open source and flexible, making it ideal for creating dynamic websites and web apps that are both scalable and robust.

Some of the most popular PHP applications include:

  • Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress and Joomla: These tools make it easy to manage and publish content on your website and add dynamic features like user logins and ecommerce functionality.
  • Ecommerce platforms like Magento and PrestaShop: These platforms offer everything you need to build an online store, including shopping carts, payment gateways, product catalogues, and much more.
  • Integrated development environments (IDEs): These tools help developers work more efficiently by providing a single interface for managing all of their code, searching/fixing bugs, etc.
  • Web Frameworks: PHP frameworks like Laravel and Symfony provide pre-built functionality and tools to help you create scalable web applications.
  • Social networking platforms: Tools like Facebook and Twitter have been built using PHP, making it a popular choice for developing websites focused on user interaction and engagement.

Beginner-friendly Tools to Learn PHP

Many different resources and tools are available to help you learn PHP, regardless of your skill level or experience. Some of the most popular options for beginners include:

  • Codecademy is a great online resource for learning programming languages like PHP. It offers interactive tutorial-based courses that guide you through each step of the learning process.
  • LinkedIn Learning is another helpful resource for beginner PHP developers. It offers video-based courses and tutorials covering everything from basic syntax to more advanced concepts like object-oriented programming and data structures.
  • Udemy is an online learning platform that provides access to various interactive courses on different programming topics, including PHP. With a focus on real-world skills and practical instruction, Udemy is an ideal resource for beginner developers looking to build their programming skills from the ground up.
  • Sololearn is a free online learning platform that offers interactive tutorials and practice exercises to help you master the fundamentals of PHP programming. It also provides access to an active community of developers who can offer helpful guidance and tips as you work through different lessons.

PHP Vs. Others Language

Of course, many different programming languages and technologies can be used for web development, including Python, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, and many others.

So what sets PHP apart from these other options?

Let’s stack it up against a few of the most popular alternatives:

#1. JavaScript Vs. PHP

Like PHP, JavaScript is a dynamic scripting language used to create interactive websites and web applications. However, it tends to be more limited in scope than PHP because it runs on the client side (i.e., in your browser) rather than the server side (i.e., on the web server).

Although with the rise of Node.js, Vue.js, and other JavaScript frameworks, JavaScript is becoming more of a viable option for server-side web development.

PHP and JavaScript can be used for building ecommerce websites, social networking platforms, content management systems (CMS), and more. However, PHP tends to be the preferred choice for these types of projects due to its flexibility and scalability and its wide range of pre-built web development frameworks.

#2. Ruby Vs. PHP

Another dynamic scripting language, Ruby, is often used for web development and software engineering. However, it is less widely used than PHP and requires more advanced skills to use it effectively.

The language has been around since 1990 and is known for its object-oriented design, clear syntax, and large libraries.

While Ruby has several advantages over PHP – such as its more straightforward installation process and faster execution speed – it also tends to be more difficult to learn and use than PHP, making it less popular among beginner web developers.

It also has a framework called Ruby on Rails that allows developers to build websites and web applications faster than they could with Ruby or PHP. 

#3. Python VS. PHP

Although Python shares many of the same characteristics as PHP, including its dynamic nature and user-friendly syntax, and compared to PHP, Python is easier to learn and use, which makes it a popular choice for beginner developers. 

Python is also highly versatile and can be used to create a wide range of applications and services – from web development to data analysis, machine learning, and more.

However, the language does have some limitations in terms of scalability compared to PHP and other server-side scripting languages.

That makes it a better choice for small-scale projects than large or complex web applications.

#4. Node.js Vs. PHP

Based on Google’s JavaScript engine, Node.js is a programming platform that uses an event-driven, non-blocking I/O model to develop scalable network applications in JavaScript. Since its first release back in 2009, the language has gained massive popularity among developers due to its speed and simplicity.

While it is possible to build web applications with PHP and other server-side scripting languages, Node.js offers a more efficient way to develop these types of projects due to its single-threaded, non-blocking I/O model that makes it much faster than other platforms.

#5. Elixir Vs. PHP

Another dynamic and functional programming language, Elixir, is typically used to develop highly scalable web applications. Created by José Valim in 2011, it has quickly become a popular choice for building large-scale projects thanks to its speed, scalability, and ease of use. 

However, Elixir is still a fairly new language compared to PHP and other established options, so it may not be the best choice for projects that require extensive customization or complex functionality.

It is often used with more traditional server-side scripting languages like PHP.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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