What Is PHP? How It Works And How To Learn PHP for Beginners

by | Oct 26, 2022 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Computer programming is an invaluable skill with much promise as a modern career choice. People with coding experience can get jobs as software developers, web developers, back-end, front-end, or full-stack developers, and more. This skill is also a viable option for those who wish to start a business or live as a digital nomad.

First, however, you have to choose a programming language. Here’s what you need to know about PHP, how it works, and how to learn for beginners.

What is PHP?

PHP is an open-source programming language commonly used in web development. Even though it’s an older programming language, it’s still commonly used in web development. 

PHP stands for Hypertext Preprocessor. This fan-favorite programming language is easy to learn and easy to use. Its open-source status means it’s available to everyone who wants to use it without penalty or payment. PHP is also compatible across platforms, so it works whether you’re working on Windows, Linux, or Mac. 

Several major tech companies still use this server-side language, including Facebook, Etsy, Slack, and WordPress. Despite its ongoing use, some experts in the tech space surmise that it’s on its way out. While JavaScript and Python have their perks, PHP is around to stay.

How Does PHP Work?

PHP works differently than other programming languages. Browsers can’t directly read PHP, which helps protect the source code on the server side. As such, PHP is typically embedded in HTML. You can also use PHP to measure website security and input redirects (get more info here).

When someone requests a website with PHP coding, the initial request goes to the server. The server then checks for the relevant .php file. If it’s detected, a PHP interpreter will parse the code and send it back to the server as an HTML website, which the viewer then sees. 


If your PHP code is going to be interpreted as HTML, what’s the point of learning it? PHP is more dynamic than HTML. While HTML creates a great framework for a website, it’s limited. Creating an HTML-only website will generate something that would have been commonplace in the early days of the Internet. PHP completes tasks and improves the user experience.

In simplest terms, HTML is a front-end function that impacts the visual components of the site (font, layout, etc.) PHP gets into the grit, adding customization and texture.

Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/code-php-web-development-583795/

PHP vs. JavaScript

JavaScript is a client-side language whereas PHP is a server-side language. In other words, web browsers can interpret JavaScript without additional steps. 

JavaScript is also more scalable than PHP. However, it’s not as stable and more difficult to learn. It also has the disadvantage of not handling databases or both upper and lowercase variables. 

When it comes to PHP vs. Javascript, it’s not about using one over the other as they have different functionalities. Learning how to use them together is key. 

Python vs. PHP

Python is a beautiful coding language that’s more applicable to app development, AI, and machine learning rather than web development. Python is also more procedure-oriented while PHP is object-oriented.

Python is a general-use development language while PHP is more focused on web development. Its ease of use and versatility make Python ideal for longer-term projects. Many developers start with PHP and learn Python as they develop their skills.

Tips for Learning PHP

Start by learning more about HTML and CSS and how they influence a website. This prerequisite will add context to how to use PHP in your code. Taking courses on these subjects and getting into an active learning environment is also beneficial. 

To dive into PHP, you’ll need to install a development environment onto your computer. XAMPP is a cross-platform option that works with Windows, Mac, or Linux. WAMP works on Windows only and is better optimized for that environment.

Take some time to learn the terminology and basics of the program. With time and practice, you’ll master PHP.

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