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Should I Learn PHP? | Treehouse Blog

Lindsey Rogerson
Published: July 27, 2022

According to Stack Overflow 2022 survey, over 42% of developers love PHP. The number has gone up from 22% since the previous year.

If you’re beginning your learning journey in coding, you may be wondering if PHP is worth learning.

While PHP may not be as popular as some programming languages like JavaScript, HTML, or Python, it is responsible for powering almost 78% of all known websites. This includes websites for well-known organizations like Facebook, Wikipedia, and WordPress. 

So, if you want to become an all-around professional developer, PHP is worth learning. It is an excellent choice for building websites or applications for mobile devices and desktops.

In this article, you’ll find out what PHP is, why it is important, the skills you need to learn, and how it’s used today.

What is PHP?

PHP, a recursive acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor, is an open-source server-side scripting language used to develop dynamic websites and applications.

PHP is a widely-used programming language that is free to download and use. It has long been regarded as having a very low barrier of entry, and because of this, it is often embraced by beginning developers. Also, it is used by many global organizations including Facebook, Wikipedia, MailChimp, and Etsy.

This back-end coding language can be used to develop websites, e-commerce sites, and applications. Also, it is used to manage dynamic content, databases, and session tracking.

PHP supports several major protocols, including SSH and IMAP, and integrates with popular SQL databases, such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and Oracle.

PHP runs on most operating systems and is supported by the most popular web servers including Apache and NGINX. Configuring a web server to support PHP is quite easy, because the web server will recognize PHP-enabled files according to the file extension (.php for example), and subsequently pass that file on to the PHP engine for processing. Once complete, the rendered file will be passed back to the web server for forwarding on to the browser.

Prerequisites for PHP

Learning PHP, like any other programming language, takes time — especially if you’re a beginner coder. 

So, here are some technologies and coding skills you need to learn PHP successfully:

  • HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
  • SQL (Structured Query Language) 
  • AJAX and jQuery
  • Knowledge of how websites work (the server, the database)
  • JavaScript knowledge
  • API (Application Programming Languages) creation
  • MVC (Model-View-Controller) Framework Architecture
  • Critical thinking

Why is PHP Important?

PHP is one of the most widely used programming languages for website and web app development. There are several reasons why you should learn PHP as a developer, here are the top six:

  1. PHP uses its memory efficiently and performs well in terms of speed, especially in the latest versions. This programming language has a plethora of tools, frameworks, and best practices available to assist in identifying vulnerabilities and preventing cyberattacks.
  2. PHP is compatible with almost all operating systems. This makes it an easy choice for creating applications that might be installed on Windows servers or Linux servers which would be a critical capability for organizations creating on-premise web applications.
  3. It has a wide range of functionalities, including database connectivity with MySQL, SQLite, and XML/JSON integration. This makes it an ideal choice for developing complex web applications.
  4. PHP has been around since 1994 and, over time, has gained popularity due to its simplicity, ease of use, and extensibility.
  5. PHP is useful for developing e-commerce applications, content management systems, and other websites that need to store large data on the server side.
  6. Also, it has excellent support from a large community of developers who build frameworks and libraries to make coding easier.

How is PHP Used Today?

PHP is quickly starting to get into the spotlight as core enterprises and Fortune 500 companies are making use of this programming language.

The recent report by W3Techs as cited above revealed that 77.6% of websites with known server-side language make use of PHP. 

Let’s take a glance at how PHP is used today:

Web applications 

Organizations use PHP for the creation of their brand websites and applications. It allows developers to build highly intuitive and responsive sites quickly and easily. Developers can access database-driven web applications. 

You can create websites that provide quick content delivery. Also, you can write cross-platform applications using PHP. 

Command-line scripts

PHP is also used for creating command-line scripts. It supports CLI, that is Command Line Interface. This means that you can use PHP to make your own terminal-based tools. For instance, you can make command-line scripts used for tasks such as text processing. Laravel Zero is a popular package created expressly for this purpose.

What Companies Use PHP

Here is a list of 10 companies that use PHP today:

  1. WordPress: WordPress, a widely-used CMS (content management system) interacts with the database using PHP to fetch data, and then, output it as HTML. 
  2. Facebook: PHP allows Facebook, one of the largest social network services, to maximize its web server by enabling quick content delivery to its over 2.93 billion monthly users.
  3. Wikipedia: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia visited over 4.7 billion times monthly. This site is powered by MediaWiki, which uses PHP that runs on a MySQL database.
  4. Slack: Slack uses PHP coding language for most of its back-end application logic. Slack makes use of PHP because of its consistency and how it makes programmer workflow quick and efficient. The software remains fast even with changes in the application. 
  5. Etsy: Etsy, with over 4.36 million active sellers, is one of the largest e-commerce websites built on the PHP programming language. 
  6. Mailchimp: Mailchimp, a top email marketing platform, uses scalable PHP databases in its back-end. This company that sends over 600 million emails daily relies on PHP as its server-side programming language. 
  7. Tumblr: Tumblr is a micro-blogging platform that receives about 275 million website visits every month. After Tumblr moved to PHP7, there has been a noteworthy increase in the performance of the site. More so, this coding language comes with impressive language features that make development tasks easier.
  8. Magento: Magento, now Adobe commerce, is another popular e-commerce platform that is written in PHP coding language.
  9. Vimeo: Vimeo is a video hosting platform that has been using PHP programming language since 2004. It recently migrated to PHP 7 which makes backend responses faster.
  10. Yahoo: Yahoo is a widely-known search engine — the 6th most visited site worldwide — and it uses PHP. This site relies on its PHP programming language to deliver content to over 7 billion visitors.

Skills Learned from PHP

There are several skills you can acquire by learning the PHP programming language. Some of these skills include:

  1. Creating dynamic web pages
  2. Developing database-driven websites
  3. Using MySQL as a database management system (DBMS)
  4. Understanding object-oriented programming
  5. Knowing the principles of good design and patterns
  6. Writing effective SQL queries 
  7. Building secure, SEO-friendly websites 
  8. Creating websites that can handle traffic spikes
  9. Developing modern web applications easily

How to Learn PHP

PHP is a programming language adopted by many companies for the development of websites and applications.

Various online courses and tutorials are available to teach you how to develop PHP-based websites and applications. While it can be exciting to learn this scripting language, it can be overwhelming to make the best course choice.

At Treehouse, we believe that learning doesn’t have to be a hassle. This is why we’ve designed Tracks to help you learn PHP with ease and speed.

Source: blog.teamtreehouse.com