“Is PHP dead?”
This question is thrown around a lot these days. Amateur and aspiring developers often wonder if learning PHP is worth it anymore.
In the 2017 Stack Overflow annual ranking of the most popular web development technologies, PHP held 5th place. In 2021, it slipped to 11th place.
However, statistics and rankings like this often create a skewed understanding of the development landscape.
Although other programming languages are gaining popularity, they haven’t managed to kill the popularity of PHP.
PHP continues to be one of the most widely used programming languages out there, and it powers over 77.8% of all websites whose server-side programming language is publicly known.
As of 2022, PHP has over 30% market share, and it is the second most popular programming language right after CSS.
So, whether you are planning to hire PHP developers or learn the language yourself, there is no reason to doubt that decision.
In fact, you should learn all you can about PHP and what makes it excellent for web development.
What is PHP? A Brief Overview
PHP is a general-purpose, open-source scripting language geared toward web application development. It allows developers to create dynamic and interactive websites and interact with databases.
It was one of the first server-side programming languages that could be embedded into HTML. That made it easier to add features and functionalities to web pages without needing external files for data.
PHP is famous for its speed, simplicity, and flexibility. These features not only make PHP stand out from other programming languages but also help to make it a cornerstone in modern web development.
PHP originally stood for “personal home page,” but today, it is a recursive acronym for “hypertext preprocessor.”
PHP has been around for over 25 years, and it has only evolved with time with regular upgrades adding new features and unlocking new capabilities.
Much like other scripting languages, PHP is essentially a tool that allows you to connect to your database. From there, you get the required information and then deliver that information over to the web server, where it is displayed in HTML.
But several aspects of PHP are unique. Let’s look at some of its most notable characteristics:
Scripting languages are used to automate, customize, and manipulate the facilities of an existing system.
Scripting languages are typically interpreted by another program at runtime rather than compiled. They can be interpreted client-side (in the browser) or server-side.
Object-Oriented Programming or OOP refers to a computer programming model which organizes software design around objects or data rather than logic and functions.
In other words, OOP uses the concept of “object” to contain functions and data to help build complex and reusable web applications. Object-Oriented Programming was added to PHP version 5.
PHP is a server-side scripting language. A PHP interpreter located on a web server processes it and then sends the result (or the output) to the web browser as plain HTML.
PHP is available for download free of cost.
Simple and Fast:
Regardless of whether you are building it from scratch or using existing add-ons or frameworks, the PHP syntax is easy to understand and learn.
PHP can also be over 190% faster than Ruby and 380% faster than Python because it uses its memory, which helps to minimize server workload and increase performance.
The best part about PHP is that it supports all the major databases, including ODBC, SQLite, and MySQL. It is also compatible with most servers, including IIS, Apache, and more.
PHP is portable across all platforms, including Mac OS, Windows, Linux, and so on. And it can be further supported by various PHP frameworks such as Symfony, CodeIgniter, and Laravel, along with many other vetted and well-stocked libraries.
Why Use PHP for Web Development?
More than three-quarters of all websites are powered by PHP, and it has been one of the top choices for creating dynamic and interactive web applications and websites for years.
If you are still debating over whether or not you should use PHP for web development, take a look at the advantages it has to offer:
Easy to Learn and Use:
One of the major reasons behind PHP’s ever-growing popularity is that it is relatively easy to learn and use.
Preferred by both seasoned and amateur developers, PHP allows you to create a web page relatively quickly using a single PHP file.
It does not require extensive knowledge or experience to learn the command functions, and the syntax is also simple. That means PHP has a much lower entry barrier than many other programming languages out there.
Due to the effortless syntax decoding, altering PHP codes is fairly easy. That means PHP allows for rapid web development.
Developers can transform their simple websites into advanced web apps using the many features and functionalities of PHP.
And the best part is that any developer can carry out maintenance in PHP codes even if they were not involved in the initial web development.
Fast and secure:
Speed and security are two major qualities of a good website or web app, and PHP delivers on both.
Because it uses its own memory, PHP competes well with other top programming languages in terms of speed, and the newer versions of PHP are even faster.
And although there have been doubts about its security in the past, it is worth noting that PHP is not inherently more or less secure than its competitors.
A major benefit is that because of the widespread usage of PHP, there is ample community support and many frameworks, tools, and best practices to protect against cyberattacks and fix vulnerabilities.
Being free and open source, PHP provides a cost-effective way for developers to build functional and feature-rich websites and web apps. There are no licensing fees, and the original source code is available for free.
You also get open access to a range of PHP frameworks, such as Symfony and Laravel. Furthermore, the international community of users helps to make advancements in PHP’s functionalities.
Pairs Well with Content Management Systems:
Another reason for using PHP for web development is that it is used in many of the top content management systems.
Renowned content management systems such as Joomla, WordPress, PrestaShop, Magento, Drupal, and more are either powered by a PHP framework or are written in PHP.
That means you can work with different content management systems if you decide to go with PHP for your web development project.
PHP-based content management systems help you create highly customizable websites with ease.
Ultimately, the programming language you want to choose for web development should depend on what you are trying to build and the features you want to prioritize.
Even today, PHP is one of the most sought-after programming languages for web development.
It offers unparalleled development opportunities when it comes to creating a robust digital experience that gives you a competitive edge and helps you strengthen the brand’s customer relationships.
When major brands and renowned websites such as Facebook, Wikipedia, Mailchimp, Yahoo!, Canva, Slack, and many others rely on it, there is no reason why you shouldn’t!