This post was last updated on January 8th, 2017 at 09:22 pm
Internet has reached more than a billion websites, and it still continues to be the main source of getting the information of our requirement. Websites now have become more dynamic and less static. If you are looking to create dynamic functionality for a web site, there are no shortage of options for the server side programming language. So why use PHP?
According to reports, more than 80% of websites are using PHP as their server side script language, which makes it around 800 million websites. But, how is the PHP is so popular for using as server side script language rather than ASP.NET or Ruby? Let’s talk about why PHP is among the favorites for many professional web developers and newbies that look to create a website.
It’s Old (since 1995), It’s Free
PHP became popular early (1995) since it was designed for web programming. The source for PHP as well as binaries for most operating systems are available free of charge for download either from PHP downloads page or OS specific sites or package managers. There are no license fees to run a PHP install.
PHP is Easy to set up
The various package managers for Linux distributions make a PHP based web server install easy. Common web servers which you will also require such as Apache are freely available. There are also alternatives such as XAMPP & WAMP which can install required components and extras such as MySQL, on Windows and Linux.
Integrated database support
PHP has (mostly) built-in support for the most popular databases like e.g. MySQL, that means it is easy to start using databases, no additional drivers needs to be installed, just to use the MySQL-functions. The easy to use web based admin tool PHPMyAdmin (released 1998) is also important to the PHP’s success in combination with MySQL.
Easy to get coding
Considering the time and effort required for a project, PHP requires a basic understanding to be learned, used, and set up. Compared to most solutions like e.g. Java, PHP doesn’t need to be compiled, so it’s just to write the script and then upload it to the server and then update the browser. Creating and editing PHP code does not require any fancy software. A simple text editor such as Notepad is all you need. The are many free text editors that provide extra functionality such as color coding, auto completion and syntax checking. Full blown integrated development environments (IDE) are also available which can assist with other bells and whistles.
Easy to achieve results
PHP integrates seamlessly with HTML code, and the two can sit side by side in a single code file. A static html page can quickly be made dynamic through PHP conditional statements and looping. There is also a huge amount of existing PHP code (snippets, classes to full frameworks) that can be quickly integrated with new code to produce powerful results in a short time frame. This is also a potential downside of PHP. What is quick and easy today, can be a maintenance nightmare tomorrow.
Excellent support from PHP Manual
The PHP manual which is online and can be downloaded locally (almost 4Mb compressed) is available in English and many other languages, and goes far beyond a simple function reference.
Resources for getting support
PHP developers have wide range of sources available for getting the support required, including eCommerce solutions like WooCommerce, Magento, Zen Cart, CMS like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and many other dedicated forums. Frameworks (CodeIgniter, CakePHP, Symfony Framework, Zend Framework)– These can be used for speeding up the development process of large applications. There are plenty of frameworks available for PHP developers that can help websites with achieving high level of performance and quality.
Have a problem with your PHP code, there are no shortage of forums and groups which you can ask questions at. Many programmers also share their experiences of problems and solutions, so a google search will generally bring back plenty of ideas for solutions. There are plenty of books on PHP from getting started to issues faced by the largest of applications.
Since PHP has existed for long time and works good on both Linux and Windows, and many webservers have support for it. There is no problem to find hosting with PHP pre-installed.