PHP

(11 minutes of reading time) PHP is a programming language originally aimed at developing websites and web applications. As it is open source and easy to learn, it is one of the most popular languages in the world. In this text you will learn more about it, its main advantages and how it works

PHP

(11 minutes of reading time)


PHP is a recursive acronym for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, originally called Personal Home Page. It is a programming language used by programmers to build dynamic websites, application integration extensions and streamline systems development. This language is world-renowned and one of the most used for its ease of learning and handling, in addition to being compatible with almost all operating systems that exist, which makes the cost of using it in projects quite attractive.

It is among the first languages that can be inserted into HTML documents avoiding, in many cases, the use of external files for eventual data processing. The code is interpreted on the server side by the PHP module, which also generates the web page to be viewed on the client side. The language evolved, started to offer command-line functionality, in addition, it gained additional features, which allowed additional uses of PHP, not related to web sites.

PHP is a scripting programming language (like JavaScript and Python), that is, it is interpreted by the Browser or the Server. The PHP script is interpreted on the server side, thus generating dynamic web pages, and can easily be added to the HTML code or simply generate an entire page from it.

The main difference between PHP, JavaScript and Python is that PHP is mostly used for server-side (back-end) communication, whereas JavaScript can be used for both the front-end and the back-end and Python is only for the server side (back-end).

Before we talk about PHP, it is necessary to understand a little bit about scripting languages because, only after that, you will we be able to delve a little deeper into PHP.


SCRIPTING LANGUAGE

A scripting language is a programming language that performs tasks in a runtime environment by an interpreter rather than a compiler. Programs are usually short, fast, and interpreted from source code or bytecode.

Environments include apps, web pages, and even software embedded in operating system and game shells. Most modern frameworks support these languages, which gives them broad support while being developed through an open-source process.

For example, you can use a script to validate a way to ensure that all fields on a form have been filled-in before they are sent back to the server. The script would then run and check all fields when a user submits the form. If one of them is empty, an alert would be displayed to inform the user of this.

Other common uses of scripting languages include showing a drop-down menu effect when the mouse cursor hovers over the main menu, displaying scroll buttons and animations, opening dialog boxes, and so on.


PHP – WHEN IT STARTED AND HOW IT WORKS

PHP was created in 1995 by Rasmus Lerdorf, initially being a CGI package, an element that makes the physical or logical connection between two systems or servers.

The initial idea was to track the traffic of the creator's personal website. Years passed and Lerdorf developed scripts, which increased the features on their site. The success of this language was so great that Rasmus Lerdof transformed the CGI code cluster into a programming language. As a result, many websites and applications started to use PHP as their main language. And today, PHP is one of the most used programming languages in the world.


VERSIONS

In 1997, PHP 3 (a reworked version of the PHP code) was released, changing the name from Personal Home Page to PHP Hypertext Preprocessor. This version featured the first form of object-oriented features. Starting with this update, programmers could implement methods and code.

In the 2000s, the PHP 4 version was released, giving more features to the language, however, in this version there was the problem of creating copies of objects, because the language did not work with handlers or pointers. This problem was fixed in PHP version 5.0 which was the most used version by programmers.

PHP is in version 8.1 which has brought many new features, performance improvements, and performance changes.


BACK-END AND FRONT-END

Scripting languages can run both server-side (back-end) and client-side (front-end).

Front-end are handled by browsers. When your browser, also known as the client, requests a page containing client-side scripts, the server responds by sending the source code that is executed by the browser.

Back-end scripting languages mean that these scripts are executed on the servers before being sent to the browser, so instead of sending the source code, the web servers process the code first by transforming it into pure HTML format.


PHP - HOW IT WORKS

As a scripting language, PHP is almost always used in conjunction with HTML. HTML is another computing (not programming) language. And it is used for marking blocks of static texts to compose web pages.

The connection between PHP and HTML happens when the developer inserts PHP code inside an HTML script. The magic happens when these codes are executed.

When a user wants to access a web page, PHP code runs on a server which then generates the HTML code it is embedded in and sends the response with the page loaded to the user's browser.

In other words, the server receives the request to access a page. PHP processes this information and then returns the result of this interpretation to the user's browser, displaying content in HTML format.

The same process happens if the user is working with PHP together with other tools and languages, such as CSS (Cascade Style Sheets) or JavaScript.

In a website or web application, PHP code is delimited by start (  ) processing instructions. Everything between these two tags is executed by the server-side interpreter, like a database query that returns information to be displayed on a page.

The user's browser requests the page from the web server, which is then processed by the PHP interpreter on the server, generating HTML code with the response to be returned to the browser.
Here is an example of a simple page that displays the message: “Hello, I'm a PHP script!”:


 
   
    Exemplo
    
   
  
  



WHY USE PHP?

Here are 6 reasons to use PHP:

1) Easy to Learn: the PHP language is one of the easiest to learn. The syntax (the rules that govern the logic of the settings) have patterns that are easy to remember and understand. And, if you already have some notion of C or Java language, then you will feel in a familiar environment and conducive to the development of your skills

2) High Performance: PHP is capable of handling large amounts of data. With this, the language can perform many functions and consume many resources at the same time and without compromising the performance and speed of the server on which it is hosted

3) Open Source: it's free for any user. In addition, experienced developers with access to the source code make periodic updates and improvements. That means more features, more functionality, more stability and less bugs

4) Cross-platform: it can be used and run on a variety of operating systems, such as: Windows, Linux and MacOS. The same happens with the browsers Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox and Opera, among others, they are all compatible

5) Compatibility with Databases: database is where all the data and information of your project (website, blog, or virtual store) are stored on the internet. The PHP language is compatible with the main types of databases, such as MySQL, SQLite, Firebird, Interbase, PostgreSQL and Oracle

6) Compatibility with Website Hosting: most of the website hosting on the market is compatible with the PHP language. You can create a website in PHP, connect to MySQL databases and change the PHP version at any time to the one you are most used to


WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH PHP?

The PHP language can be used in any application you want to make on the internet, from creating websites to developing applications for services and systems on the web.

Here are some possibilities of what you can create and manage with PHP:

a) Dynamic sites: those are websites where the elements shown are not static. Your pages are managed by an application hosted on a server. With PHP, it is the user who determines how a page will be displayed when it is loaded in a browser. You can do this with dynamic content publishing platforms like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento and OpenCart

b) Applications for the internet: with PHP it is possible to create applications for any purpose on the internet. You can include a contact form on your blog, a discussion forum to get your site visitors to interact with each other or develop and publish a stylized image gallery for your online store. All this is possible using this programming language

c) Plugins for WordPress: these are extensions that add new features and functionality to WordPress, the most used CMS (Content Management System) in the world. The platform is extremely popular, and its users and developer community is so engaged that updates, improvements and new apps are released quite frequently. With PHP, it is possible to create plugins for WordPress and make money from them

d) Systems for the Web: they are sets of data and information that integrate and communicate with each other. In the case of the web, these are services that you can develop with PHP to serve a certain purpose. Think of an online course system with pages of texts, videos, interactive games and screens for logins and passwords.

PHP is one of the most versatile and intuitive programming languages out there. It is highly popular due to its open-source nature and versatile functionality. It's simple enough for novices, but professional programmers can also use it for more advanced features.

Learning and understanding PHP will undoubtedly improve your programming skills and open doors for many opportunities in companies and to make some money through the internet.

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References:
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