Why use PHP in 2021? Benefits and Real Examples
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Software and application development as an industry is growing at a much faster pace than ever. It is getting progressively more competitive, efficient, and diverse. Understanding everything about a language before you take a dip in the ocean of programming will be for the best. One of those languages that we will talk about today is PHP. PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. Yeah, we know what you are thinking, and the acronym is not even close to matching with the expanded term. But, PHP is a recursive acronym, hence, the name and abbreviation is such. PHP is an open-source scripting language utilized in web development.
Similar to PHP, we have a large stock of programming languages today that are used for a wide array of development purposes on every sort of digital device. Similar to other languages, the PHP language also has a unique set of functions and capabilities. At its core, every programming language is leveraged to write the code for the creation and upgrading programs and applications. These languages are used to write the application and software used on mobiles, computers, watches, and even smart TVs. However, if you ask what is PHP used for, it is used to build server-side functions and features. Let’s get into a deeper set of details and information on this language.
What is PHP?
PHP or Hypertext Preprocessor is an open-source general-purpose scripting language best used for web development. The coding part is embedded into HTML, unlike other languages wherein the programmers have to write a lot of code to generate the required output. Since PHP is a server-side language, the programs and applications built on it will run on web servers. Running on web servers means the applications and software built on PHP are not dependent on the web browser. With time, PHP has become one of the most popular programming languages for web development due to its wide gamut of benefits and capabilities. According to the Programming Language Index (PYPL), PHP is the 6th most popular programming language as of June 2021.
A thing to note is that the PHP programming language has come down one rank from 5th this year. But that is a standard thing in the world of programming languages. In PHP, the code generated is executed on the server and generates HTML, which is then sent to the client-side systems. The journey from the server-side to the client-side is sort of automated in PHP, which makes the process faster.
However, while the client-side system is receiving the results of the script written in PHP, it does not know of the underlying code. As a programmer, you can learn to process all the requests to the client side with PHP without letting it know what lies at the backend.
What is PHP Used For?
PHP is the language you use for web development, and it holds mastery in this area. The journey of using PHP as a programming language started with creating dynamic web pages. Today, the language has evolved to become a better choice for creating server-side web applications. Along with this, if need be, we can also build other desktop-based applications because, among other things, PHP can also work as a general-purpose programming language. With the upgraded PHP versions, the developers get more development options. For instance, with Version 5, it is possible to build object-oriented programming.
Ergo, due to evolving PHP versions, we are getting access to better and advanced programming abilities. When it comes to knowing what is PHP used for, here are a few things that you can do with this language as a PHP developer.
- Performing Calculations: On a basic level, we can use PHP code to perform simple to complex mathematical calculations. This is not only limited to finding a sum or multiply a number, but also finding out which day it is on April 27th, 2051.
- Collect User Information: Working with PHP means that the users will directly interact with the users. As a result, they can collect the user’s information. Things like taking a survey, adding information to address books, etc becomes possible and easier.
- Perform System Functions: With PHP programming, it is easier to create, open, read, write, and close files from a system. You can access and work with files and directories saved on the webserver.
These are the functions you can perform with PHP programming language besides using the same to build server-side applications for the webserver.
What can PHP do?
If we were to go by the official answer to this question, it goes like this, “Anything.” All the PHP versions are focused on server-side scripting. This means that the tasks any other CGI program can perform, we can do the same with PHP code. This ranges from collecting data to building web pages and working with cookies, and much more.
Here are three core areas a PHP developer can work with this programming language:
- Server-Side Scripting: With PHP, server-side scripting is not limited to creating dynamic web pages. To begin with, you need a PHP parser in the form of a CGI or server module, web server, and a browser.
- Command Line Scripting: A command-line script means that you can run a PHP script bereft of a server or browser. This can be done single-handedly with a PHP parser. If you are somewhat of a tech person, you must have explored the task scheduler on Windows. The Task Scheduler is also run on PHP without a web server or browser. Other than this, you can use PHP to write simple task processing scripts.
- Build Desktop Applications: If you want to create a desktop-based application with a GUI (Graphical User Interface), PHP programming language is the right tool to work on it. As you learn more about PHP code and develop your skills as a PHP developer, you can use its advanced features to build advanced applications that include cross-platform development.
Main benefits of using PHP
Here are the major advantages of PHP:
- Large Community: PHP has numerous specialists, contributors, and practitioners bringing their unique additions to the table. As a result, you will observe a progressively increasing community of PHP developers. They use different PHP versions to build the required applications. Furthermore, some of the developers are a part of a PHP agency, or they are working individually. There is a mixed community of PHP working together to create a robust development language and environment.
- Documentation: As a result of the large community, PHP has all sorts of documentation ready for the learners and developers to utilize. This helps in understanding the complex development issues and finding the right solution within the context of the PHP programming language. There are programs built-in written and video form taking you on a learning journey sharing everything about the language progressively.
- Higher Page Loading Speed: PHP facilitates a faster page loading speed when compared to other web development tools. In some cases, we have seen that PHP is almost 3X faster than Python and similar technologies, which certainly gives the websites a competitive edge as it creates better SEO factors.
- Select from a Variety of Databases: One of the best things about PHP programming is that you can integrate it with a wide variety of databases. Mostly, a PHP developer will choose to work with MySQL due to its effectiveness and zero-cost operation. Other than this, the developers can also use mSQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, etc. More options for databases give the developers freedom of choice and work optimally to build the required application.
- Easy to Scale: Developers and businessmen create their applications with a plan to scale it further when required. Using a technology that makes scaling the application easier is crucial. For when websites need to grow, it shouldn’t be hard as the businesses are facing a competitive market. PHP gives you the ability and convenience of scaling the application as and when required. Because PHP supports all sorts of browsers, scaling an application here won’t be a problem.
- Free to Use: PHP is open-source software, which means that anyone can use it for free and build simple to complex applications. Not just the main PHP programming language, but the other additions to PHP are also free. The zero-cost operation reduces the development budget giving the developers freedom to use other tools that add to the application development and extend its functionality.
- Quick Time to Market: PHP allows faster application development, which is useful for businesses looking to gain faster entry into the market. Working with the PHP language gives you a robust development environment. On top of this, PHP uses its memory that reduces the loading time to a great extent, allowing you to quickly build eCommerce applications and other stuff.
- Embedded Programming with HTML: You can create an application with HTML and PHP as the former is embedded into the latter creating a synergetic development ecosystem. If you are thinking that HTML will interfere with PHP, rest assured that it won’t. On the contrary, HTML complements PHP while remaining well in the scope of the PHP language development environment.
Popular PHP projects
With so many benefits, naturally, there will be several organizations leveraging PHP’s potential to build their web applications and dynamic pages. You will be amazed at some of the project names leveraging PHP to build their applications.
- Facebook: Facebook does not use plain PHP programming language, but it has created a new PHP-derived language called Hack. Now Hack has complete compatibility with PHP; the developers at Facebook are using it seamlessly to create, maintain, and update the PHP codebase.
- Yahoo: Yahoo websites are also working on the latest PHP version to manage its large consortium of websites that get over 700 million users per month. You must have used Yahoo at least once, right? Well, you can imagine the kind of results Yahoo provides with PHP giving it more security, better interface, and user-friendliness.
- WordPress: As per the latest reports, 64 million websites are powered by WordPress, and do you know what powers WordPress? It’s PHP. Due to the advantages offered by PHP, WordPress helps run the websites powered by the content management system and facilitates faster processing.
- MailChimp: MailChimp is a popular platform for email marketing and used widely because of its convenience and email creation features. Here again, MailChimp is able to provide all these benefits because it uses PHP language, enabling the users to create newsletters and email campaigns for better outreach and marketing.
- Flickr: Flickr is one of the largest photo-sharing applications that is also written in PHP and helps users share, upload, and download stock-free and licensed images. It offers several effective features that allow the users to use the website for any sort of image-related purpose.
These are the major projects that are built and running with PHP programming languages. There are several more websites that serve a global audience without any sort of lags because they have PHP to support its functions and requirements.
The Main PHP Frameworks
A PHP framework is a platform where you can create PHP-powered web applications. The frameworks have in-built code libraries for the standard features and functions that you can extract and add to your codebase directly. The frameworks help reduce the amount of code required to write from scratch for creating a web application.
Listed below are a few major PHP frameworks;
- Laravel: Referred to as the PHP framework for Web Artisans, Laravel is built to be a better and upgraded version of CodeIgniter. The done-for-you virtual environment provided by Laravel makes it easier to get started with PHP programming right away.
- Symfony: Symfony works as a PHP framework and also has a collection of different PHP components meant to help build high-speed websites. It is a better choice for websites that require frequent scalability.
- Magento: Magento is an eCommerce store builder and manager running on PHP and embedded with smart features to help users with their eCommerce stores.
PHP is a popular development language, one which is already used by a large community of developers. It is good for creating any sort of dynamic web page and web-based application for different types of devices. Due to the presence of a big community and adept documentation, PHP receives a favorable response and qualifies as one of the first choices for building a digital solution.
Among its wide array of frameworks and additional tools, Magento has gathered the best response for its fast development capabilities combined with extensive features. You can use PHP to create simple to complex web pages and make them efficient in terms of performance, speed, functions, and ease of scalability.