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Why Should You Use PHP and What Does It Mean?

The Hypertext Preprocessor, or PHP, is a robust server-side scripting language with a strong developer community and a lengthy history on the internet. However, because of its early success, it is becoming less used and is being replaced by more recent programming languages that are more suited for the current web. Will PHP be useful in 2021?

PHP: What is it?

Most online apps are built using PHP, an open-source general-purpose scripting language, on their back end. PHP is the scripting language you’ll need to utilize to get these projects off the ground, whether you’re using WordPress to build your webpage, creating a LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) software from scratch, or bootstrapping a website using the well-known web development framework Symfony.

Well-liked PHP functionalities consist of:

cross-platform compatibility with the majority of web servers (e.g., Apache, Microsoft, IIS, Netscape) and all major operating systems, from Windows to macOS.

Support for object-oriented programming and dynamic typing
Relationships between SQL and NoSQL databases

strong frameworks for web development, like as Laravel and Symfony
Compilation with the Zend engine at the right moment

Due to its popularity on the web and ease of learning, PHP is frequently the first programming language that many web developers encounter. Additionally, because it’s a general-purpose programming language, you may use it to create everything from business apps and heavily trafficked e-commerce websites to personal home pages.

What is a scripting language?

Programming languages that don’t need an explicit compilation phase are known as scripting languages. This suggests, traditionally, that scripting languages were not compiled into machine code, but were instead evaluated at runtime. Originally, their purpose was to automate the performance of tasks that were typically completed by humans.

As these higher-level languages got more complicated and capable, scripting languages like Python, JavaScript, and PHP gained popularity because they were simpler to use and more concise than their compiled system-level counterparts.

These days, it’s harder to distinguish between system and scripting languages because of the powerful just-in-time (JIT) compilation engines like the Zend engine, which let you create programs that translate to machine code. If you would want, you can develop a C interpreter and utilize it as a scripting language. If necessary, JavaScript can also be compiled into an executable file for machines. In other words, whether a language qualifies as a “scripting” language or not depends more on the runtime environment and how it is used.

It is reasonable to state that PHP is most frequently used as a server-side scripting language in light of that distinction.

PHP code is executed server-side even when it is embedded within an HTML file for browser interpretation.

Here’s an illustration of PHP integrated in HTML:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
    <head>
        <title>Embedded PHP example</title>
    </head>
    <body>

        <?php
            echo "This is an embedded PHP script";
        ?>

    </body>
</html>

PHP runs on the server side, despite having a similar appearance to embedded JavaScript, which is frequently used as a client-side scripting language.

What benefits does utilizing PHP offer?

Remarkably, PHP’s back-end popularity has endured throughout the years, especially in light of the proliferation of new programming languages. Here are eight benefits of PHP usage:

  1. It’s no cost

Since its official release to the public in 1995, PHP has been available for free. The PHP Group oversees its licensing, which is open source.

  1. A brief learning curve

PHP has capabilities that are pre-built for web development and an intuitive syntax. The PHP Manual, its online documentation, is likewise clear and simple to read.

  1. Frequent updates

The PHP Group oversees and maintains PHP and publishes updates, security patches, bug fixes, and other updates regularly. The most recent major version of PHP is 7.

  1. It makes WordPress work.

PHP powers WordPress, the most widely used content management system (CMS) on the planet. PHP is essential if you need to customize WordPress on your website in ways that its drag-and-drop editor cannot.

  1. The majority of web hosting providers support it.

PHP scripts require an installed PHP server to be interpreted. Fortunately, most site hosting services support it because it is a widely used fundamental web technology.

  1. Velocity

PHP 7 changed the game with its release, as it could execute scripts three times faster than similar languages like Python.

  1. Well-chosen database selection

Relational databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQLite as well as NoSQL databases like MongoDB, ElasticSearch, and Redis are among the many databases that are compatible with PHP.

  1. Compatibility with the web

PHP is compatible with the majority of online technologies, from cloud services to seamless HTML integration. Because of its adaptability and flexibility, it works well with a variety of application development stacks and different programming languages.

  1. The neighborhood

Open-source developers constitute a sizable and vibrant community that supports the PHP development ecosystem. There are a ton of FAQs, libraries, tools, and tutorials available huge help you with your web development projects.

What drawbacks come with using PHP?

There isn’t a perfect programming language. Here are a few of PHP’s more significant shortcomings:

Perceived weaknesses in security

PHP is well known for having security flaws. A large portion of this is perception-related; as C# is an older open-source programming language, hackers have had more time to craft malicious apps, and as a result, their exploits have become well-known.

Declining in popularity

In 2022, PHP is still very much in use. On the Tiobe Index, however, it fell from number 8 to number 12 between 2020 and 2021. As newer languages emerge to address productivity difficulties in programming and add hot features like functional programming—which is challenging to incorporate into an existing language—its popularity has been declining.

Absence of specialist libraries

The dearth of specialized libraries may be contributing to the drop in popularity. Being a generalist is no longer the greatest strategy to get market share because there are so many excellent general-purpose programming languages available nowadays.

Python is a superb language for machine learning applications because of its robust data science libraries. It has just risen to the top of the Tiobe Index. There isn’t an analogous PHP to make it stand out from the others.

Compared to other languages, PHP

After learning about PHP’s advantages and disadvantages, let’s compare it to other well-known programming languages.

Python versus PHP

With its 3x performance gain for the majority of applications, PHP 7 easily defeats Python to become the quickest programming language if you’re in a hurry. However, Python is the best choice if you’re employing AI or working with intricate data searches.

Scala vs. PHP

Scala is a compiled language with many characteristics that current programmers want, like strong and static typing and dual support for both object-oriented and functional programming. With the aid of these features, developers can produce code that is more error- and vulnerability-free. Conversely, PHP is object-oriented, interpreted, and dynamically typed. Scala’s market share in relation to websites is comparatively smaller than that of PHP, which is an industry leader.

JavaScript vs. PHP

JavaScript was once thought of as PHP’s front-end equivalent, but with the release of Node.js in 2009, it became a full-stack scripting language. PHP is limited to server-side usage. Both languages have sizable, vibrant developer communities and were made available to the public in 1995.

Ruby versus PHP

Ruby and PHP are both used for server-side scripting. Perhaps the most significant distinction between the two languages, though, is their design philosophies. PHP programming’s syntax can appear antiquated when compared to more contemporary programming languages because it developed naturally from Lerdorf’s own use case. Ruby’s beautiful and potent grammar demonstrates that its design goal was to make programmers happy.

Why employ PHP?

After discussing PHP’s advantages and disadvantages as well as its role in the software development industry, it’s time to respond to the primary query:

“What makes PHP useful?”


To sum up, frequent justifications for utilizing PHP consist of:

Most of the web is powered by it, and CMSs like WordPress and Drupal are among its many uses.

With a straightforward syntax and understandable code documentation, it is simple to learn.

It has a sizable and vibrant developer community that regularly updates and supports it.

It is adaptable and works with a range of web technologies, hosting companies, and cloud services.

Compared to server-side programming languages like Python, it is faster.
It is open source and free.

In general, PHP is a good option for any technological stack that will build HTML templates for your website’s static and dynamic pages utilizing server-side rendering. It’s also appropriate for developing tools and plugins that will work in tandem with other technologies in a web application, like the WordPress ecosystem.

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