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An Introduction to PHP for Beginners

An Introduction to PHP for Beginners

While the journey of a thousand kilometres might begin with a single step, understanding what PHP is, begins with a single sentence – PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor)is a server-side scripting language designed for web development, but it is also used as a general purpose programming language. Even if PHP isn’t the programming language you wish to code in, it is worth having a basic understanding of what it was, what projects it has influenced, and what it has become.

PHP is seen by many as one of the older programming languages, understandably so, but it is worth noting that there is still enormous developmental influence with PHP. Even today it continues to be one of the most widely-used, up-to-date, and developmentally-accessible languages a programmer can code in. Just consider the fact that the PHP language is used by two giants of the internet- the ubiquitous Facebook (no link necessary…), and WordPress, one of the largest, if not the largest, blogging website of modern times.

If you want to improve your basic PHP skills, Code Academy and w3schools, offer an introductory course for the novice coder, although if you wish to take your journey more seriously, more professional options are available to up-and-coming coders.

PHP is often described as being fast, flexible, and pragmatic, which, as a general purpose scripting language, makes it especially suitable for website design. However, as is the case with many of the older programming languages, time catches up, and competitive, more suitably designed, languages demand more attention.
Here’s some of what PHP can offer you-

  • PHP can generate dynamic page content.
  • PHP is a widely available, open-source technology.
  • PHP can facilitate interactive features.
  • PHP can create, open, read, write, delete, and close files on the server.
  • PHP can collect form data.
  • PHP can send and receive cookies.
  • PHP can add, delete, or modify data in your database.
  • PHP can restrict the access of users to specified pages on your website.
  • PHP can encrypt data.
  • PHP can be used on almost every operating system and platform, free of charge.

PHP can be used in collaboration with HTML, as well as being used alongside templating engines or web frameworks. Some languages can be incredibly difficult in how they work together alongside a secondary language, which is why the flexibility of PHP to work with other coding languages, particularly such popular markup languages as HTML, is so valuable.

Not unlike the tower of Babel, today’s programmers code in upwards of a thousand different languages, so there is always the chance of code being lost in translation. Some programming languages simply don’t play well with others, and it inevitably leads to extra effort and stress for the coder. PHP code is generally interpreted by the Zend Engine, which can be imagined as a translator between the inputted back-end code, and the front-end interface. The fact that PHP and HTML can be used interchangeably within the page allows for the smooth interaction between code, which is an attribute valued highly by many coders who use the two languages symbiotically.

Like all things in the world of technology, PHP is constantly evolving and diversifying. In this day and age, this is something we all must do in order to stay competitive, and more importantly, stay relevant to potential employment opportunities. Whether that’s being hired as a back-end developer, or constructing the next giant of the tech industry, that’s up to you.

Learning a new language to code in can be intimidating, so it is worth considering that many of the courses provided by the Code Institute offer an interactive learning environment that is both educational and enjoyable, provided by experts in the field. It’s also important to understand the expectations of modern employers. If you ever see a position advertised for a job you feel under-qualified for, ask yourself: when is it ever a bad time to upskill yourself?
There’s no time like the present.