The acronym PHP stands for ‘Hypertext Preprocessor’ and has been around for the last 24 years. It is a server-side scripting language, designed for web development. It is also used as a general-purpose programming language. With low barriers for entry in comparison with other coding languages, PHP is known as a great starter tool for developers embarking on their journey into the world of tech. It is simple to grasp the basics with a lot of scope to build more involved scripts and its frameworks functionality allows users to build professional standard products without necessarily investing a great deal of time into learning. PHP perhaps has the lowest barriers to entry for developers to use it than any other scripting code on the market, its vast opensource library makes it easy for beginners to get to grips with the language whilst also developing professional looking services from the start.
PHP has a wide range of frameworks you can use to build your projects; having been around for over 20 years. Some of them are very powerful and can be used to create some beautiful work. We shall be taking a close look at the top two frameworks we feel you can’t afford not to know more about. Laravel & Symfony are so well used that a company will often ask that their PHP Developer has a good working knowledge of one or the other. In a recent survey by Site-point, Laravel was ranked the most popular framework for PHP, this is likely to be due to the huge eco-system of open source tools to aid the development of projects. The official website of Laravel also offer ‘how-to’ videos known as ‘Laracasts’ to add value to the experience of working with Laravel and ensure all its features can be incorporated into the experience of the user.
Symfony is the go to framework for data collection & storage with captcha links authentication ensuring the removal of spam from campaigns. Given the changes made in data protection earlier in the year this data management support has emerged as an invaluable asset to PHP users. Projects such as Drupal and PHPbb, itself an opensource library for PHP software’s, have implemented Symfony into their software to produce their SaaS products. As a library Symfony has been around since 2005 with the goal of speeding up the creation & maintenance of web applications and to replace repetitive coding tasks. As an opensource library Symfony has support available for 8 months, adding to the low barriers to entry of the PHP language as this allows users to gain a helping hand with their projects to ensure they are of the highest quality. Other available frameworks include CakePHP, Zend, iQuery & FuelPHP.
The LAMP stack is a collection of technologies that offer the building blocks of a web service. Linux offers the foundation level of the stack as the operating system. Apache is the hosting layer as the service provider. MySQL holds the database of the service and PHP offers the scripting language for the look & feel of the web programme. This family has grown to include some alternative providers such as Windows in place of Linux (WAMP) and IIS as a replacement for Apache (LIMP), however PHP is an ever-present member of the team. You may be aware that Wikipedia is run through the LAMP stack, hosting its thousands of entries in its multiple languages. An alternative to the LAMP stack is LEMP, which replaces Apache with NginX which is a HTTP proxy application with a much smaller footprint is than Apache allowing it to handle a much higher load of requests. This means that web programmes built on this hosting platform shall faster than those on Apache, however Apache has been around for a considerably longer amount of time, meaning that its functionality & availability of modules to work with the back-end means that it still holds the competitive advantage of NginX, but not by much.
The greatest strength of PHP is that it is Open Source. This means that the barriers to entry for the technology relies upon the capability of the user to develop their knowledge of PHP and not the size of their wallet. This also means that developers can benefit from the community of developers that have built programmes and then uploaded them into libraries which are accessible. This can save a lot of time with menial coding requirements that could have slowed down a project. Another benefit to PHP is that it is ‘platform independent’ allowing the user to run their projects on most platforms available, acting almost as a ‘one size fits all’ scripting language, this is of note to freelance developers that are working on projects for multiple clients operating with different platforms. PHP supports opportunity-oriented programming which powers PHP’s data management benefits. Being focused on the ability to manage data, and then translate the objects into a more digestible format. PHP also has man fantastic IDE’s available to its developers, an IDE is an integrated development environment which acts as an incubator to new coding material during the building process and can simplify tasks for ambitious users that are wanting help with slightly more complicated projects. The network of IDE’s available to PHP are perhaps some of the best in the industry, Eclipse, NetBeans & PHPstorm are widely regarded as the cream of the crop as PHP tools, all three offer instant bug reporting, and access to rich code editor.
The major benefit of it being a completely open source platform for development is also its greatest weakness, due to the vast libraries of PHP frameworks and models there are naturally varying degrees of quality with these assets. Implementing a below par product to your service can have a very negative impact on the impact of that product towards achieving your business goals. Another area we feel PHP is behind the curve is in the need to learn a framework before being able to implement changes to a piece of software. PHP allows users to develop scripts with the use of these frameworks but does not allow users to write additional code without first developing a good understanding of the framework they are needing to use. Another issue to be wary of when using PHP is the security problems users have experience in the past when integrating to a CMS, however this has been well addressed with the recent PHP 7.X update so we look forward to hearing more about their solution.
What do you think is next for PHP?