Why Use PHP for Web Development?

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PHP Coding

PHP has seen a lot of bad-mouthing lately. Some say it has no room for innovation and is no more than a fallback option comparing to complex languages like C++ or a few other all-time favorites – Java or Python. On top of that, we all remember Jeff Atwood calling PHP “a random collection of arbitrary stuff”. Was he right?

What Numbers Have to Say


While it might seem that choosing PHP is a controversial option, statistics tell us otherwise pretty firmly.

Being included in the list of top 16 languages to learn by Business Insider, PHP is apparently still a trend when it comes to web design and development.

As PHP is one of the most popular programming language, PHP programmers for hire are in a huge demand. According to Zend website there are 5 million PHP developers around the world.

Out of all the websites whose server-side language we know, 83% are written in PHP, according to W3Techs. The programming language is dominating the market share by huge numbers. It has not been a secret that top websites on the web (apart from worldwide famous Facebook and WordPress) were written in PHP. Here are but a few:

For instance, according to TIOBE Index for September 2018, PHP ended up being 7th most popular programming language worldwide, leaving JavaScript, SQL, and Ruby behind.

  • Twitter.com
  • Huffpost.com
  • Wikipedia.org
  • Tumblr;
  • Flickr;
  • MailChimp

Why Is PHP development calling the shots?


As for a programming language released in 1994, PHP could seem pretty much outdated. What started off as a template language for HTML, has grown out to be a functional language, and one of the most widely used at that.

The rapid development of PHP over the last few decades states its own questions – the main one is “Why is PHP still so popular on the web?”. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular reasons.

Reason #1. Written for the web

When Rasmus Lerdorf has just developed PHP, his initial purpose was to create templates for web pages. The abilities of the language may have grown but the overall purpose remains – to make writing for the web as easy and to-the-point as possible.

Its predisposition towards web pages made PHP so loved among developers. The idea of being able to generate web pages and render them in no time was compelling – and PHP is delivering that better than JS or any other solution. While Node has its own way of rendering pages, it’ll take more time and intelligence to get that done.

Thanks to its dedication to the web, what PHP lacks in complexity, it makes up for in performance with easy maintenance and epic website speed.

Reason #2. Simplicity

While there are multiple technologies that can eventually lead you to one goal – a workable website – the amount of time you spend testing and maintaining your website can be different. Unlike complex solutions (say, C), PHP is a fit for someone with little to no development background. You can set up a fair share of tools in one click and don’t get stuck with maintenance later on.

If you have a small team or running the company alone with no knowledge of Linux or SSH servers, consider choosing PHP over any other solution. If your hosting panels doesn’t offer any advanced applications, it’s still likely you’ll get to work with a PHP-based tool like cPanel. Using PHP, you’ll have the benefit of dozens of manuals and tutorials as well as one-click installation process.

Thanks to its simplicity, PHP is a language with a small web developer salary. You can find a coder for your business with little to no effort.

As the language is beginner-friendly, it makes all kinds of sense to use PHP as a backend. This way, you won’t get lost in complex syntax and semantics. For a beginner, writing backend code on PHP sounds as a win-win idea.

Reason #3. Frameworks and libraries

While you can still find a fair share of developers advocating for writing fully custom code, it is not so reasonable to build a website from scratch these days. Writing in PHP. you’ll have access to dozens of libraries and frameworks.

These tools will present you with a customization solution and save a ton of time. Also, using PHP frameworks makes all the more sense if you want to learn from someone else’s experience.

We’ll be reviewing some of the most promising and widely used PHP frameworks later on in the post, so stay tuned for that.

Reason #4. Huge codebase

In terms of tools and codebase, you can hardly find a language that is half as powerful as PHP. Its tools and applications include some of the most popular website building platforms and CMS – WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.

While you’d still need to have at least the basic coding knowledge and experience, using these tools makes web design and development many times faster and easier. Also, CMS’ are quite famous for their communities where you can find plugins for all purposes, many interface themes as well as be a part of an international community of coders.

Reason #5. Not tricky maintenance

With some persistence and research into the topic, you’ll learn soon enough that PHP is just about the best fit for high traffic websites. While one can argue that the dynamic language is not as strong as compiled ones (Java, C#, and C) come to mind, it’s ease of maintenance is relatively easy to explain.

  • No need for compiling and restarting servers. Unlike a compiled language, PHP is created directly for ground HTTP traffic which makes building and merging in changes easier.
  • With the recent changes and empowering of SQL, the abilities of PHP have grown exponentially as well. While those two are not directly linked, using SQL to create a reliable and easy-to-manage database, will make the maintenance of a PHP-written website easier to tackle.

Most popular PHP frameworks


While PHP gives your website a lot of possibilities regarding maintenance and scalability, it is worth little if you don’t use all the language has to offer – its frameworks and ready-to-go tools.

Here are the least of widely-used PHP -frameworks that’ll boost your website’s performance as well as speed up the coding process.

1. Laravel

Regardless of a web development project you take on, some operations are repetitive – routing, caching, authentication, etc. While a dev can handle those on his own, using a framework will make the workflow smoother and faster.

Laravel framework has earned its fans thanks to dozens of powerful tools the framework offers. Let’s name a few, to prove the point:

  • Extendable core, functional and fast;
  • Integrated with AWS and third-party libraries.
  • Emerging community that can help out with consults and share ideas;
  • Well-developed database layers;
  • Fast and clean routing.

After you’ve learned how to use Laravel, you’ll become a fan of nested routing, Eloquent ORM, and queuing (helps you deal with long-running to-dos) soon enough. The framework is constantly updating and releasing new features.

2. Symfony

Regardless of your experience and the level of interest in coding, you must’ve heard of Symfony. It’s one of the most popular frameworks altogether and the leading one for PHP. Released back in 2005, Symfony has earned its name and proved to be reliable.

The framework has millions of fans worldwide and is extensively used by PHP-developers. Why have people fallen in love with Symfony? Here are the to-go reasons:

  • Super flexible. Due to its structure (bundles and components), Symfony can be used to tackle day-to-day processes as well as to implement fairly complex features on the website (building a blog or a shopping cart). With Symfony, you eliminate dependencies – that pays off fully during website maintenance.
  • Reputation and reliability. As we’ve mentioned before, Symfony has built quite a reputation. Knowing of its reliability, leading brands across multiple industries have embraced the plugin. Here are some you might know:
  • Lasting compatibility. With newer frameworks, a new version could mean the need to update the solution ASAP – otherwise, it’s no longer supported. Symfony gives its users a head start up to three years – the older versions are still well-supported and compatible with updates.
  • Clear documentation. Embracing a framework, a developer can be challenged by reading the outdated, complicated, or badly-structured documentation. To that end, Symfony users have no complaints. The framework updates its documentation with each release, supplies it with examples, and structures it on-demand.

Choosing to learn Symfony, get ready to take your time. Comparing Symfony vs Laravel – the first framework is more challenging, yet rewarding at the end of the day.

3. Zend

If your future project is a web application written in PHP, Zend is just about the most solid fit. While it’s not the mainstream choice, the key advantages of the framework are loud and clear:

  • Reusable code;
  • Supports multiple types of back-ends with a flexible caching sub-system;
  • Has an object-oriented library where you can find the best framework applications;
  • Strong and meaningful URL-database;
  • Model-View-Controller helps create a clean and tight code.

The latest version of the framework was released in 2016. Zend 3.0 has made quite a leap in compatibility, added PHP 7 support, and improved documentation.

Conclusion

  • PHP is a relatively simple yet powerful language when it comes to web development and design. Mostly used to write backend code, it is flexible as well as easy to scale and maintain.
  • Writing a PHP code on its own can be time-consuming – that’s why using frameworks and libraries is a tried-and-true practice among coders. The most popular ones are Laravel, Symfony, and Zend.
  • Hiring a web development company to code in PHP is cost-efficient; the supply of the market is huge. You’ll have no problem finding a specialist for your next big project.

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