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At its core, PHP is a general-purpose, server-side scripting language with a focus for web development. PHP can actually be used to perform virtually any server-side tasks from command line, but it’s typically used for web applications.
Due to its forgiving nature and start as a procedural language, its learning curve is much lower than other, more strict languages. This can be a double edged sword, because some say that forgiveness leads to ugly code. That’s up to the developer though because over the years, PHP has become a mature, fully-featured, and object-oriented language with many different class structures, annotations, new expressions, community standards, and many other features for writing beautiful code.
PHP has a number of common web development use cases that range from form handling, data processing, and session management to authentication and content management systems.
PHP, being geared toward web development, is great at form handling and data processing. It has simple super globals ($_GET, $_POST, $_PUT, etc.) for handling form submittals and a vast amount of built in functions (trim(), substr(), str_replace(), etc.) as well as numerous database integrations for processing data.
PHP has built-in session management to make creating stateful applications simple, and many frameworks extend this built-in feature to be even more simple and feature rich. The session differs from cookies in that it is stored server-side, so it’s a better place to store sensitive data during a user’s session in the web application. You should still be careful of what you store there and study any vulnerabilities sessions may innately have.
Basic HTTP authentication can easily be written in PHP by utilizing the built-in super globals like $_SERVER[‘PHP_AUTH_USER’] and $_SERVER[‘PHP_AUTH_PW’]. Most frameworks will have some way of integrating with other authentication services, like OAuth and LDAP.
Due to PHP being one of the most popular server-side languages for Web Development, it has been adopted by many CMS communities. WordPress, Concrete CMS, October CMS, and many others are built using PHP. This may seem like a mundane choice, but keep in mind PHP’s simplicity. Due to its simple syntax and forgiving nature, PHP allows users of these content management systems to extend them and build their own modules for them with relative ease.
There’s a vast amount of front-end frameworks and libraries out there. From bulky and heavy to lightweight and agile, there’s a framework out there for your preferences, and it really does come down to personal preference. A couple of the big players are Angular and Vue.js. They all have their dogma and community standards. They can all get you from a to b, it just depends on the journey you’d like to take.
Angular, backed by Google, has leaned heavily into Typescript. Due to this, the code could be considered cleaner and more elegant. While you can write it however you like, the community standards are sometimes touted as strict and increase the learning curve. With two-way binding and verbose documentation concerning standards, you’ll end up with a powerful and clean code base when using Angular.
At the end of the day, it’s worth it to take a little time, maybe a few weeks, just to toy around with a few frameworks to see which spark your interest and fit your need the most.
Get Support and Services for Your PHP ApplicationFrom migrations to long-term support, Zend can help ensure your PHP is secure and performing its best. Learn more about what we offer via the links below.See LTS Options Explore Our Services
From migrations to long-term support, Zend can help ensure your PHP is secure and performing its best. Learn more about what we offer via the links below.
See LTS Options Explore Our Services
Senior Solutions Architect, Perforce Software
Yeshua Hall is the Senior Solutions Architect at Perforce Software. Yeshua is passionate about helping customers overcome complex technical challenges to achieve their team and business goals.