What Is PHP Used For?

August 30, 2021

PHP code

If you ever spent time on the web, you have enjoyed the uses of PHP. But if you’ve never had the reason to dig deep behind the scenes of websites that you often use, then you may be wondering how PHP works and why it is used. PHP is an open-source server-side scripting language that is used around the world for millions of web applications.

The PHP scripting programming language has been developed for more than two decades. It was developed as a robust and reliable solution, gaining more supporters and admirers every day.

One of the significant purposes of PHP is to provide a high level of functionalities to web developers that HTML cannot achieve with its functionalities. However, PHP functions occur on the server-side on a web browser.

This means PHP functions are predominately performed on the web side and later passed to the client-side, i.e., the user’s browser. However, by combining HTML with PHP, you can add various features to your client’s project work.

As a programming language, it performs programming instructions at runtime, and the outcome of the instructions will be quite different depending on the data you are processing. Thus, this is what makes PHP frequently used by web developers to create and develop dynamic websites, for example, online stores.

The term PHP comes naturally anytime you are discussing websites developments.

As a scripting language, it executes programming instructions at runtime. The results of the instructions will differ depending on the data being processed. This is often why PHP is used to build dynamic websites such as online stores.

The Basics

PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor and sometimes refers to a server-side language. PHP is a server-side programming language that is open source, and it is widely used for web development. You can use PHP to create statistics and dynamic web applications. In addition, PHP is meant for handling the back-end of a website.

For this reason, it gets executed at the back end, but the user only sees plain HTML on the client server side. However, to work on any PHP program, you need to install its software app on localhost. Only the servers that have PHP installed can edit its scripts.

PHP files contain PHP tags that end with .php extension. However, before learning PHP code, it would be best to learn HTML and CSS first.  

Uses for PHP

PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is majorly used for web development. Developers use PHP to create dynamic web pages, and they also use this scripting language for developing the server-side of web apps.

Nevertheless, PHP is originally a general-purpose scripting language and can also performs implementation. For example, you can create desktop apps using PHP. Furthermore, starting from version 5, PHP supports objected oriented programming providing a new set of features.

The flexibility of this scripting language results from its excellent capability to work with other programming languages. For example, web developers can write extension PHP using the C language, which adds more functionality.

In addition, it has a large number of frameworks and libraries that extend PHP capabilities even further; examples are Zend Framework, Yii, Laravel, and Phalcon. Examples of the two most popular software apps written on PHP are Facebook and WordPress.

PHP in HTML

When you create a complex web page, you will be faced with the need to combine your PHP and HTML project to achieve the desired results. At first, the combination may seem difficult since they are two separate programming languages, but that’s not the case. This scripting language is designed to interact with HTML and PHP scripts to be included in an HTML page without having any problems.

In an HTML page, PHP code is enclosed within the PHP tag.

When a user visits the web page, the server processes the PHP code and then sends the output to the user’s web browser.

However, it is pretty easy to integrate PHP and HTML. 

A PHP script can be treated as an HTML page, with bits of PHP inserted in the page, but anything in a PHP script that is not contained within the PHP tags would be ignored by the PHP compiler and enter directly into the internet browser.

For example, a complete PHP script might look like:

<!DOCTYTPE HTML>

<HTML>

<BODY

<head>Hello World <head>

<body class=”page_bg”>

Hello world, it’s a brand new day<php echo hello world (‘1, F jS, Y’) ; ?>.

</body>

</html>

Web Server

A web server is also referred to as an internet server, and it is a system that delivers content to end-users on the internet. It consists of an OS (operating system), physical server, and software to facilitate HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) communication.

Web servers are both software and hardware that store and deliver service or content to a web browser at a basic level. Web browsers support simple mail transfer protocol (SMTP) and file transfer protocol (FTP).

It’s also used for hosting sites and data for web apps. In addition, a web server can host a single site and multiple sites using virtualization. Web servers are essential because a site depends on its service, functionality, and the efficiency of how the webserver is used to power the website.

This requires an understanding of a web server’s capabilities and limitations.

Server Side Scripting

A server-side scripting language is a programming technique for writing code that can run software on the back end. In other words, any programming or scripting that can run on the webserver can be referred to as server-side scripting.

For example, operations such as customization of a web page, dynamic change, accessing the database, responding to the users’ queries, and more are performed at the server back end. 

In addition, a server-side scripting language is a kind of program that runs directly on the server. The server scripting language constructs a communication channel between a server and a user. Server-side processes user input, displays the requested pages, structures the web apps, gives good interaction to databases, encodes data into HTML, and operates databases such as delete and update.

Why Do We Need PHP Code?

One of the major reason developers use PHP code is because it’s suitable for beginners. Anybody can access it. PHP can be used to create an essential or professional website, and it also saves time.

PHP also has a large community around it that builds and tests new features and functions.

You can get all the necessary information about this scripting language, and it’s available for free. You can also interact with the community and get tips on how to handle PHP.

PHP saves web developers so much time, instead of writing an extended line code, PHP enables the easy function of images, calculations, databases, and files.

The primary purpose of using PHP is to assist in web development through the tasks created by a community of users. PHP is a cross-platform that can deploy your application on several OS (Operating Systems) such as Microsoft Windows, Solaris, Mac OS, and more. PHP supports most web servers which include IIS and Apache.

PHP gives web developers the freedom to pick their operating systems (OS) and web server of their choice. In the PHP programming language, server-side scripting is the central aspect of the operation. It is considered one of the safest programming languages as it comes with built-in security features that protect project websites from viruses, malware, and other security threats.

PHP can be used to create a basic or professional website, and it also saves time.

What is php used for

PHP Pros & Cons

PHP Pros

The popularity of PHP (HyperText Preprocessor) is the logical result of many benefits, making it a more powerful and effective coding language. Below are the top advantages why PHP is an excellent choice for your web development:

Large Choice of Available Professionals

The everyday use of PHP gives rise to the increase of the community of web developers, a fraction of which can be potential to be hired for the project. The higher number of available web developers results in high competitiveness and lower demand for project price, which is beneficial for mitigating development costs. Also, PHP is simple to understand and implement, so inexperienced web developers can usually use the program’s basic functionality effectively.

Enhanced Loading Speed

The functionality of PHP makes web pages load faster as compared to other programming technologies. For example, PHP is faster than python in most scenarios. Also, PHP reduces loading time which is an essential SEO ranking factor that assists to further improve a site by bringing competitive advantages.

Wide Selection of Databases

PHP enables interaction with almost every type of database. For this reason, web developers can choose to use any database considering all essential factors.

The most popular choice is MySQL, majorly because it is free, effective, and commonly used among web developers. Other solid database management systems compatible with PHP are PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQLite, and lots more. PHP can also be used with Redis, MongoDB, ElasticSearch, and some other non-relational databases.

When executed on the server php scripts show hello world

Inexpensive Open-Source Software

PHP is a free technology program that presents considerable savings for development costs. Besides, most development tools typically utilized in combination with PHP are open source software and can be used for free. Therefore, PHP additionally lowers the project cost. In addition, there are many framework technologies such as Laravel and Codelgniter and other CMS like Drupal, for example, that extend PHP’s functionality and make the development process easier and more effective.

Excellent Combination with HTML

PHP provides an embedded HTML coding language, the primary reason for the incredible synergy between the two programming technologies. In most cases, PHP script doesn’t interfere with the HTML code of a web page but instead completes it while remaining in the borders defined by PHP tags.

Cheaper Hosting Service

The most popular operation scenario for PHP sites is the LAMP stack. A site can run on Apache HTTP web browser deployed on a Linux system and uses MySQL as a database. All these features are free, and the LAMP stack is well tested, which implies reducing required time and projects funds for development.  

PHP Cons

There is no doubt that PHP is a helpful technology in web development, but it also has many disadvantages that prevent it from dominating the field. The following are the major drawbacks of PHP: however, to avoid being biased, let’s evaluate these drawbacks and learn how they can be more effective for the future of software development and its business implementation.

Declining Popularity

Even though PHP is a powerful tool that supports a large community with numerous reference documentation, there are more accessible coding languages for web applications. For this reason, inexperienced developers prefer to learn JavaScript or CSS as their first coding language before adding PHP to their skillset. 

Currently, PHP is one of the major coding languages used in the web development field, but this may likely change in the future because the number of professionals will eventually reduce. There will be a lack of inexperienced web developers that offer basic skills at a low budget, which means the cost of web development in PHP will probably rise.

Lack of Dedicated Libraries for Modern Needs

Take, for example, ML (machine learning) ise one of the hottest technologies trending which is likely to continue. While PHP has its set of libraries, it cannot compete with JavaScript or Python libraries in developing software applications empowered by machine learning.

The fact is, PHP cannot equally provide the same fast and effective alternatives just as Python and JavaScript. Thus, if your software application requires machine learning functionality or perhaps in the future when your business scales up, PHP is not the best option for your business application software.

Security Problems

For many years now, the concerns regarding PHP security-based products persist for some reason. One of which is the open-source nature of PHP. This means that the PHP code vulnerabilities have become major knowledge since they’ve been found.

Therefore, at least during the time between their reveal and fixing in the new version of the coding language, those vulnerabilities may be executed by another web developer with malicious intent and adequate expertise. Nevertheless, the setback may be equally attributed to other open source technologies in general, which can be set to the open-source and not the PHP language.

Should You Learn PHP?

You need PHP to create and develop robust and dynamic web applications. PHP is one of the best programming languages that are available for web developers and programmers. It is simple to learn and gives you more power over your websites. However, there are different ways to learn PHP online and offline for free and one of which is PHP documentation. Also, if you are an inexperienced developer, you can start with the minor version of the program to help you become a professional web developer in PHP. 

Final Word

PHP enables developers and programmers to create and develop their websites on free or paid hosting platforms with just a few clicks. This is why the future of PHP looks bright as it will continue to evolve and be used extensively.

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About the author: Joe Silk -

Joseph is a Start-up Consultant, Copywriter & Business Owner with 9 years of PQE. He is extremely client-centric, able to work on a wide range of topics and deliver high-quality standards on projects of all sizes for clients all over the world. View on Linkedin

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