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What is PHP programming language and how and where to use it

By Editorial Team on 2018-03-11

PHP is a very popular and easy to learn programming language. It works well with MySQL database and Apache and Linux servers. It is mainly used for handling a website backend requests. This article gives more info on this nice and powerful programming language.


PHP (acronym: Hypertext Pre-processor) is a server-side scripting language. It is used to develop static websites, dynamic website or web applications. PHP is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML. PHP was originally created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, it is open sourced and cross platform with no licensing fee, so the cost of using it is minimal. Many World top websites like Facebook, Google, Wikipedia, YouTube and the likes uses PHP scripts at their backend.

Server-side scripting is the main target field for PHP. PHP is mainly focused on server-side scripting, so you can do anything any other CGI program can do, such as collect form data, generate dynamic page content, or send and receive cookies. But PHP can do much more. There things required; the PHP parser (CGI or Server module), a web server and a web browser. All the PHP program output is accessed using the web browser, viewing the PHP page through the server.

PHP are used for command-line scripting. You can make a PHP script to run it without any server or browser. You only need the PHP parser to use it this way. If you want to use PHP on Linux or task scheduler on Windows, then you don’t really need a web server, but only a PHP Parser. This is called “command line scripting”. These scripts can also be used for simple text processing tasks.

With PHP you can also write desktop GUI applications using the PHP-GTK extension. PHP is probably not the very best language to create a desktop application with a graphical user interface, but if you know PHP very well, and would like to use some advanced PHP features in your client-side applications you can also use PHP-GTK to write such programs. You also have the ability to write cross-platform applications this way. PHP-GTK is an extension to PHP; PHP-GTK is not included in the official PHP distribution.

PHP code may be embedded into HTML code, or it can be used in combination with various web template systems, web content management system and web frameworks. PHP pages contain HTML with embedded code that does "something". The PHP code is enclosed in special start and end processing instructions <? php and ?> that allow you to jump into and out of "PHP mode."

PHP can interact with many different database languages. One of the strongest and most significant features in PHP is its support for a wide range of databases. Writing a database-enabled web page is incredibly simple using one of the database specific extensions (e.g., MySQL), or using an abstraction layer like PDO, or connect to any database supporting the Open Database Connection standard via the ODBC extension. PHP perform operations like read data from database, write data into database, modify the data, update the data, display the data on the frontend and moreover it provides security and prevents from hacking (using hashing technique).

PHP enables you to choose not only the operating system of your choice but also allows you to have choices to use a web server that you are familiar with. Furthermore, you also have the choice of using procedural programming or Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), or a mixture of them both.

PHP can be used on all major operating systems, including Linux, many Unix variants (including HP-UX, Solaris and OpenBSD), Microsoft Windows, macOS, RISC OS, and probably others. PHP also has support for most of the web servers today. This includes Apache, IIS, and many others. And this includes any web server that can utilize the FastCGI PHP binary, like Lighttpd and Nginx. PHP works as either a module or as a CGI processor.

Programming Languages and Resources for Web Developers

Here are a brief survey of coding languages and resources for web designers. HTML, CSS (or HTML5 & CSS3) PHP, MySQL, JavaScript (or JS frameworks like jQuery, Angular, React, Node, or Express) or MongoDB, Apache, Ruby on Rails, and Linux are related to web programming. The most  popular content management systems that use PHP and MySQL are  Wordpress, Joomla, and Drupal. Also, obtaining the following PHP and database certifications are highly rewarding for all custom web developers: Zend Framework 2, Zend Certified PHP Engineer, Oracle Database 11g Administration and Oracle Database 12c SQL Fundamentals. For those interested in learning more about web design and development, here are a list of step-by-step training guide articles: i- Become CMS specialist, ii- Become front-end specialist, iii- Become expert SQL developer, iv- Become expert PHP developer

PHP coding is well suited for those interested in pursuing a career in web design and development; however, other options are mobile App design and development, system admin and software engineering. It is advisable to consult with an IT career counselor to understand what career options best fits your skills. For instance, if you want to be a software engineer, learning HTML and CSS might not fit the bill. Here is an excellent article for learning more on coding and technology career roadmap. Once you know what career path you wish to pursue, you can make a plan on what, when, and how to learn. There are lots of online resources for learning coding and technology in general. For teenagers and high school students, High School Technology Services offers variety of hands-on training. For adults and professionals, Coding Bootcamps and DC Web Makers Companies offer basic to advance project-based programming and technology classes.

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