If you’ve ever thought about learning a new language, you know that it takes time and discipline.
While you may be inclined to teach yourself Italian, French, or Mandarin, there are others that may spark your interest in the form of coding languages.
If you have recently decided that it’s time to learn to code so you can further educate yourself in the realm of website building, tackling PHP is bound to be on your list of coding languages you’ll want to get familiar with.
Whether you’re a developer, software engineer, or just someone who is interested in dabbling in the world of website building, let’s get started breaking down all of what PHP can do.
Want to learn something specific about PHP? Jump ahead in this article to:
With over 20 million websites and applications on the internet that are developed using PHP, it is one of the most common and frequently used coding languages.
What is PHP?
PHP stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor and is a server-side scripting language used to develop static or dynamic and interactive websites.
PHP is used in conjunction with HTML. While PHP is executed on the server, the plain HTML result is then sent back to the browser for the user to see. In addition to being embedded into HTML, it can also be combined with web template systems, web content management systems, and web frameworks.
Related: PHP once stood for Personal Home Page.
What is PHP used for?
PHP is ideal for creating complex web pages, as this scripting language can collect form data, generate dynamic page content, enhance web pages, create usernames and passwords, and send and receive cookies. There are five main forms of websites that use PHP in its code.
E-commerce websites with heavy amounts of traffic (like Amazon)
Secure websites used for payment (like PayPal)
Email web hosting platforms (like Gmail)
Database management and social platforms (like Facebook and Wikipedia)
When it comes to this server-side scripting language, the possibilities are endless. So no matter what website you're building, or the purpose of your website, it’s in your best interest to learn how to best utilize PHP.
All PHP syntax starts with <?php and ends with ?>. Each individual line is closed out using a semicolon (;). There are many components that go into PHP syntax that are used to code the server side of a website. Below are some common pieces to the line of code.
Variable names are case sensitive and start with the dollar sign ($) followed by the name of the variable. There are six main types of variables:
String: a sequence of characters
Integer: whole numbers without a decimal point
Doubles: numbers with a decimal point
Boolean: a statement that is either true or false
Array: Stores multiple values in one single variable
Null Value: a special type with one value, NULL
Tip: Think of variables as containers for storing data!
When you assign a text value to a variable, use quotes around the name. Since variables are case sensitive, the variables $name and $Name are two different variables.
<?php $name = “Mara”; $Name = “Melissa”; ?>
In PHP, constants are also case sensitive and always begin with an uppercase letter or underscore, not a letter. Constants are written using the define ( ) function.
The above example of an invalid constant is invalid because constants cannot start with a number.
Constants are different than variables in the sense that constants are not defined by a simple assignment, as they must be written and accessed anywhere using define ( ). Once they are defined, they cannot be changed or undefined. Choose wisely.
Like other coding languages, comments are not executed within the program, as they are only meant to be read by others writing the code.
Comments are written using two forward slashes (//).
<?php // these are the names of two different people $name = “Mara”; $Name = “Melissa”; ?>
Related:Learn the difference between PHP and Python - which is better?
Be dynamic and interactive
Take your website to the next level when you execute PHP in with your HTML code. I know it can seem like a lot, but learning PHP and other coding languages will ensure that your website stands out from all the rest. It’s not used in over 20 million websites for nothing!
Mara is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2. In her spare time, she's typically at the gym polishing off a run, reading a book from her overcrowded bookshelf, going on walks with her rescue dog Zeke, or right in the middle of a Netflix binge. Obsessions include the Chicago Cubs, Harry Potter, and all of the Italian food imaginable. (she/her/hers)