What is PHP?
PHP, developed by Rasmus Lersdorf in 1995, is a server-side programming language used in backend web development. Unlike client-side languages that run in a browser, PHP is executed on a web server, processing code to deliver content to users. PHP is used to create interactive web pages by interacting with databases, enabling functionalities like user profiles, posts, and comments on platforms such as social media sites.
PHP is a popular programming language due to its versatility and community. In fact, it’s the building block of incredibly popular content management systems such as WordPress and Joomla. PHP is also a language that receives fairly regular updates – the most recent version of PHP is PHP 8.2, released on November 24, 2022.
Client-side vs server-side scripting
It’s worth understanding client-side vs server-side scripting so you can see the potential of both. Client-side scripting creates everything a user can see within a web browser. Think animations, buttons, forms – basically anything visual. Responsiveness is key here, as depending on the browser or device you use, a webpage and its functionality may display differently.
But what about server-side? Server-side scripting is about the actions that happen on a server your website is stored in. So when you visit a website, you request information from a server – it then runs scripts to decide what to show you. This could be anything from your social media profiles to making an online purchase.
Say you wanted to create an e-commerce website, server-side scripting knowledge will help, as it’s also responsible for creating a more personalised approach for users when they log into your site. For example, you could use an API to connect the site with your social channels, which can then display your name, photo and bio in the account section.
|Overview||Full-stack language released in 1995||Back-end language released in 1994|
|Extensibility||Combine with HTML, XML, Ajax. many frameworks available||Combine with HTML on wide array of CMSs|
|Universality||Cross-platform, full-stack||Cross-platform, back-end|
|Syntax||Simple and concise||Simple and concise|
|Best for||Full-stack language released in 1995||Back-end language released in 1994|
Performance and speed
From an employability standpoint, learning both languages will land you some serious gigs, and may even help you integrate with communities on GitHub.
Syntax and logic
PHP can be placed anywhere in a script and starts <?php. Below, we have an example of a simple PHP file, with a PHP script that uses a built-in PHP function "echo" to output the text "This is what PHP looks like" on a web page:
echo "This is what PHP looks like";
On the other hand, PHP serves as a robust backbone for the backend requirements of eCommerce platforms, particularly with systems like WordPress, Magento, Drupal and the like, plus database management systems such as MySQL.
Like learning any language (spoken or otherwise), you’ve got to have the right level of motivation and discipline. While one language may be easier to learn in theory, your motives for learning a programming language can make the process of learning it easier.