PHP is a server-side scripting language that was designed and built for the web—one reason it has a clear advantage when developing web-based applications. Other, more lightweight server-side languages have been adapted to the web, but PHP—which was the foundation for sites like WordPress and Facebook—has been web-driven since the start. It’s agile and has great runtime, and with Apache, it can be incredibly affordable to get up and running.
PHP was groundbreaking when it was released, but the language has not lost steam and remains one of the most widely used, mature server-side languages on the web. See why PHP has lasted through the rise of higher-level, interpreted languages like Ruby and Python.
WHY IS PHP SO POPULAR?
If you’re using a WordPress-powered site or employing a good amount of semi-static content on your site, e.g., a blog or a newsfeed, PHP works very well. Other reasons why it’s popular include:
- Easy for beginners
- Open-source and free
- Compatible: can be hosted almost anywhere
- Built for the web: It’s designed and created for the web vs. adapted to the web (like Ruby or Python); it’s excellent for web-related development.
- Scaling with PHP-programmed sites is easy to do.
- Large talent pool: PHP is known worldwide.
- Excellent CMSs: WordPress, Drupal, and more
- Easily integrates with AJAX for speed on the web
- Apache/MySQL interfacing is easy
ADVANTAGES OF USING PHP
- Safe for the server: Thanks to isolated requests in Apache, PHP’s process model means that “bad requests” won’t bring down the whole server. Errors will have a minimal effect.
- Transparency: PHP is less abstract vs. higher-level languages, which have more “magic” running code behind the scenes. With PHP, developers can see in detail how their code is structured, an advantage when dissecting what bits of code are doing, and how.
- Great, modern frameworks
- Easy to install and deploy
- Documentation: User-contributed code, extensions, APIs, as well as tips and tutorials make PHP easy for beginners to master.
Notable PHP websites:
Large-scale sites like WordPress, Flickr, Wikipedia, and Facebook were built on PHP.
PHP has kept its edge thanks to the development of modern frameworks that make developing with it easier and more powerful. Here’s a look at the basics of some top PHP frameworks.
- CodeIgniter—An MVC framework tailored to business, travel, and shopping applications ranging from small to big and complex. It’s flexible, simple to learn, and only requires basic OOP understanding and knowledge of PHP.
- Yii—This heavy-duty framework is great for projects of any size, and it’s easier to learn than Zend or Symfony, requiring knowledge of PHP and OOP. Bringing the best of the Ruby on Rails app, it has unprecedented security options, supports caching, works well with AJAX, and features SQL injection.
- Zend—More difficult to learn, requiring excellent knowledge of PHP5, OOP, and design patterns, this highly literate framework is tailored to industries like shopping, automotive, and business. Like Symfony, this is one framework that will require a lot more up-front work to get running. It works well for apps ranging from medium to large in scope. It’s selling point is its modularity: works with independent libraries rather than the framework as a whole, keeping work streamlined and the project scope narrow.
- CakePHP—With lots of built-in functionality, CakePHP is an MVC and ORM framework well suited for small to medium applications for business, shopping, and entertainment industries. It requires knowledge of PHP and OOP, but it’s simple with compliant code structures.
- Laravel—Speed is Laravel’s selling point. With great, integrated testing support, this MVC framework helps you get clean apps out the door fast on a deadline.
- FuelPHP—A next-generation PHP framework built off the best practices of previous frameworks, FuelPHP is a simple, flexible MVC framework.
- Symfony—Another PHP ORM framework that’s difficult to learn, requiring a complex installation and deep understanding of PHP5, OOP, and ORM. It boasts easy upgrades and excellent maintenance options—and just about anything else a framework could include.
PHP CMS FRAMEWORKS
- Drupal—a CMS written in PHP, which is hefty enough to run as a framework for the back-end of sites
- Joomla—a PHP-driven CMS
- MODx—a free, open-source CMS and web application framework
PHP-DRIVEN OPEN-SOURCE TECHNOLOGIES
- Magento—e-commerce platform
- WordPress—content management system
- Zen Cart—e-commerce platform
HIRING A PHP DEVELOPER
The PHP Developer’s Skill Set
PHP developers can be valuable, flexible members of your IT team with know-how of a site’s moving parts. PHP’s role as a component of the widely used LAMP stack of software that’s used to build a site’s back-end means PHP developers are often involved in database management, server technology, and operating systems. PHP is central to many CMS and e-commerce platforms, so a PHP developer is a good fit if either are requirements for your application.
You’ll want to look for a PHP developer with coding experience for a number of web applications, not just websites. They should have working knowledge of at least one PHP framework, be able to use Amazon Web Services or a similar hosting service, understand APIs, and be able to manage both server and database operations.