What is php?

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Trajectus 5 Minute read
PHP (recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) is a widely used open source general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML.
The first version of PHP was launched 26 years ago. Now it's on version 8, released in November 2020, but version 7 remains the most widely used.
PHP runs on the Zend engine, which is the most popular implementation. There are some other implementations as well, like parrot, HPVM (Hip Hop Virtual Machine), and Hip Hop, created by Facebook.
PHP is mostly used for making web servers. It runs on the browser and is also capable of running in the command line. So, if you don't feel like showing your code output in the browser, you can show it in the terminal.

Why PHP?

PHP has some advantages that have made it so popular, and it's been the go-to language for web servers for more than 15 years now. Here are some of PHP's benefits:
  • Cross-Platform: PHP is platform-independent. You don't have to have a particular OS to use it because it runs on every platform, whether it's Mac, Windows, or Linux.
  • Open Source: PHP is open source. The original code is made available to everyone who wants to build upon it. This is one of the reasons why one of its frameworks, Laravel, is so popular.
  • Easy to learn: PHP is not hard to learn for absolute beginners. You can pick it up pretty if you already have programming knowledge.
  • PHP syncs with all Databases: You can easily connect PHP to all Databases, relational and non-relational. So, it can connect in no time to MySQL, Postgress, MongoDB, or any other database.
  • PHP is pleasingly zippy in its execution, especially when compiled as an Apache module on the Unix side. The MySQL server, once started, executes even very complex queries with huge result sets in record-setting time.
  • PHP supports many major protocols such as POP3, IMAP, and LDAP. PHP4 added support for Java and distributed object architectures (COM and CORBA), making n-tier development a possibility for the first time.
  • PHP Syntax is C-Like.
  • Server-side scripting – PHP is well-suited for developing dynamic websites and web applications.
  • Command-line scripting – like Python and Perl, you can run PHP script from the command line to perform administrative tasks like sending emails and generating PDF files.
  • Supportive Community: PHP has a very supportive online community. The official documentation provides guides on how to use the features and you can easily get your problem fixed while stuck.

Who Uses PHP

Several established companies and tech giants use PHP to run their servers and make a lot of incredible things.
  • Facebook: Facebook uses PHP to power its site. In turn, the company contributed to the community by creating an implementation known as Hip Hop for PHP.
  • Wikipedia: one of the world's largest sources of information on any topic, Wikipedia is built in PHP.
  • Content Management Systems (CMSs): the world's most popular content management system, WordPress, is built in PHP. Other content management systems such as Drupal, Joomla, and Magento are also built in PHP. Shopify runs on PHP too.
  • Web Hosting Platforms: a lot of Web Hosting Platforms such as BlueHost, Site ground, and Whogohost run their hosting servers using PHP.

What Can PHP Do?

  • PHP can generate dynamic page content
  • PHP can create, open, read, write, delete, and close files on the server
  • PHP can collect form data
  • PHP can send and receive cookies
  • PHP can add, delete, modify data in your database
  • PHP can be used to control user-access
  • PHP can encrypt data
  • With PHP you are not limited to output HTML. You can output images, PDF files, and even Flash movies. You can also output any text, such as XHTML and XML.

What is PHP framework?

In programming, frameworks extend the supporting structure for building a generic software application. They streamline the software development process by plugging the foundational functionality of a program into your application before you even start coding. Using a PHP framework means less code to write overall and fewer discrepancies about how to start your project. There is also risk mitigation as opposed to coding your applications from scratch.

10 of the best PHP frameworks

  1. Laravel: Introduced in 2011, Laravel has become the most popular free, open-source PHP framework in the world. Why? Because it can handle complex web applications securely, at a considerably faster pace than other frameworks. Laravel simplifies the development process by easing common tasks such as routing, sessions, caching, and authentication.
  2. CodeIgniter: Known for its small footprint (it’s only about 2 MB in size, including the documentation) CodeIgniter is a PHP framework suitable for developing dynamic websites. It offers numerous prebuilt modules that help with constructing robust and reusable components.
  3. Symfony: The Symfony framework was launched in 2005, and although it’s been in existence for much longer than other frameworks on this list, it’s a reliable and mature platform. Symfony is an extensive PHP MVC framework and the only framework known to follow PHP and web standards to the core.
  4. CakePHP: If you’re looking for a toolkit that’s simple and elegant, look no further. CakePHP will help you develop visually impressive, feature-loaded websites. In addition, CakePHP is one of the easiest frameworks to learn, especially because of its CRUD (create, read, update, and delete) framework. CakePHP hit the market in the early 2000s, and since then it’s gained better performance and many new components.
  5. Yii: The Yii framework — which stands for Yes, it is! — is, in fact, simple and evolutionary. It’s a high-performance, component-based PHP framework for developing modern web applications. Yii is suitable for all kinds of web apps. For this reason, it’s a universal web programming framework.
  6. Zend Framework: The Zend framework is a complete object-oriented framework, and the fact that it uses features such as interfaces and inheritance makes it extendable. It was built on the agile methodology, which helps you to deliver high-quality applications to enterprise clients. Zend is highly customizable and abides by PHP best practices—an important point for developers who want to add project-specific functionalities.
  7. Phalcon: A full-stack PHP framework that employs the MVC web architecture design pattern, Phalcon was originally written in C and C++ and released in 2012. Since it’s delivered as a C-extension, you don’t have to worry about learning the C programming language.
  8. FuelPHP: FuelPHP is a flexible, full-stack PHP framework first released in 2011. Apart from supporting the MVC design pattern, it has its own version called the hierarchical model view controller (HMVC). With HMVC, unlike with MVC, content doesn’t need to duplicate to show on multiple pages. As a result, it consumes less time and memory.
  9. PHPixie: Introduced in 2012 and just like FuelPHP, PHPixie implements the HMVC design pattern. Its goal was to create a high-performance framework for read-only websites.
  10. Slim: Slim is another popular PHP micro-framework that helps developers quickly create simple but powerful web applications and APIs.

PHP Vs. WordPress

  • Budget Friendly: People think WordPress is cheaper since it is mostly free. While the core development on WordPress is free, organizations often end up paying more for premium plug-ins and themes. Website development on WordPress can be either cheap or very expensive. PHP is more consistent in this regard and can offer premium tools at a comparatively lesser cost than WordPress.
  • Website Type: The type of website you’re building should also influence the platform/tool you use. Are you building an ecommerce website, a personal blog or something else? WordPress is the ideal option for beginners looking to start their own blog or online website. However, PHP is the more suitable option for complex websites with numerous interactivity tools.
  • Programming Knowledge: If you have sufficient prowess in the field of programming, then you should most definitely go for PHP as your favored framework of choice. PHP works perfectly for developers with background programming knowledge. On the flip side, there are some bloggers and startup owners that have no knowledge of programming and are blank when it comes to codes and manually updating tasks. WordPress will significantly meet your needs if you’re a novice in programming and want the CMS to manage the bulk of your tasks.
  • SEO Friendly: Regardless of the platform you use to develop your website, you can make it SEO friendly by using the right tools, meta tags, titles, headings and descriptions. However, WordPress does make SEO a lot easier for users, eventually allowing them to get the results they desire. Users can easily develop SEO friendly websites with appropriate plug-ins.
  • Security: Websites developed through both, WordPress and PHP, are prone to attacks and hacks. Hence, you will lose the content on your website if you don’t take all precautions. That being said, WordPress security is generally better as it provides a full range of plug-ins that makes your website better and securer.
  • Customer Experience: Customer experience is something that everyone keeps in mind while developing their website. WordPress offers a more comprehensive customer experience in comparison to PHP. All themes on WordPress operate to enhance customer experience. PHP offers simplicity and flexibility, but the actual customer experience is based on how the programmer goes about the process. The framework itself does not guarantee you anything.

Best PHP eCommerce Platforms for your Business Website

  1. WooCommerce: It is a WordPress plugin for eCommerce development. WooCommerce supports PHP-based programming for developers. It is a free plugin but there are paid plans too. It is very easy to install and instantly helps with PHP scripting.
    Number of Stores: 3,876,748
    Themes: WooCommerce has lots of paid and free themes in the market. Third-party themes are also available.
    Extensions: WooCommerce is itself an extension of WordPress, but many paid/free plugins can extend the WooCommerce.
  2. Shopify: Shopify is a sort of hosted platform for eCommerce development. It is like contracting a single person to build an entire building. You get everything in one place. It is one of the best Software as a Solution (SaaS) platform for eCommerce. It provides several themes and templates for the developers. Shopify stores are known for their third-party apps. There is a huge store of free and paid apps provided by the platform.
  3. Magento: Magento is the most used eCommerce platform after Shopify. The second more rigorous avatar of Magento is powerful. The so-called Magento2 has sound database technology and best for excellent shopping cart applications.
    Number of Stores: 178,334
    Themes: Lots of themes available. Third-Party themes are also available.
    Extensions: Many extensions are present, free, and paid. However, many Magento owners make their extensions.
  4. OpenCart: You may find it that it isn’t super actively maintained – but it’s still there and being utilized by a lot of web developers. You get support for a lot of extensions while having most of the essential features baked right into it. For some, it may not be the best “modern” eCommerce platform but if you want a good open-source PHP-based alternative, it is worth a try.
    Number of stores: 322,395
    Theme: Many official themes and there are third-party apps that makes OpenCart themes
    Extensions: 13000+ extension in the marketplace and more are external
  5. PrestaShop: PrestaShop is an open-source eCommerce solution written in PHP, with lots of features and functionalities. Supported by a hugely active community, PrestaShop is a secure platform that releases regular updates. The open-source software lets you make changes at every level of its structure, and the platform is built to support large online stores. PrestaShop has easy to use interface, and you can sell globally with the platform as it is available in more than 75 languages. The software is also very SEO friendly.
    Number of Stores: 243,011
    Theme: 2671 templates in the Prestashop Market and third-party templates are available
    Extensions: 3500+ Modules in the marketplace, categories as per the function
  6. Drupal: Drupal Commerce is an open source eCommerce platform based on PHP, designed to offer an architecture to build an online store. It is different from the other eCommerce solutions, as it is not a platform but a framework to work on.
    Number of Stores: 553,137
    Themes: Drupal does have themes, and there are third party creators too.
    Extensions: More than 40k Modules
  7. Joomla: Joomla is a PHP based open source Content Management Platform with extensions that can turn it into an eCommerce store. It is similar to WordPress, but as WordPress has WooCommerce, Joomla has its list of eCommerce extensions. Joomla is the world’s second most popular CMS, and there is no limit to its functionalities. However, there are not many extensions and themes to support the platform.
    Number of Stores: 2,500,000+
    Themes: Templates available from third-party sellers
    Extensions: More than 7000 official extensions, then there are unofficial extensions too.
  8. Opencart: Opencart is a popular PHP open-source eCommerce platform that lets you launch your online store, add/manage the products, let the customers use a shopping cart to buy them, and then process the orders. It is entirely free and open-source, and you allowed to make any modifications you like. However, the platform is not a beginner-friendly and requires some web experience.
    Number of stores: 322,395
    Theme: Many official themes and there are third-party apps that makes Opencart themes
    Extensions: 13000+ extension in the marketplace and more are external

Conclusion

PHP remains a relevant and widely used language in web development. Despite the mockery and debate on whether it’s still valuable, PHP developers keep earning good livings from working with the language. So, PHP doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.
THE AUTHOR
Avinash Panchal
Head of Information Technology

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