What is PHP and Why to Use It

PHP is a recursive acronym referring to Hypertext Preprocessor. But does this really provide a solution as to what PHP really means? Well, PHP was derived from the earliest version of this program, referred to as the Personal Home Page Tools. PHP is an open source general-purpose scripting language that is widely used for web development. PHP is used by a myriad of web developers to enhance webpages, create usernames and password login pages, create forums, surveys and picture galleries, and check form details and much more. In case you have across any webpage which ends in PHP, it implies that the author has actually written up a programming code to make live the old and plain HTML.

From inception, PHP has always been a language sided with the server because it is normally executed from the computer you have requested it from; not necessarily your own computer. Results of the request are then handed over to you and thereafter displayed on the browser in your computer. Some of the other popular scripting languages in use include Perl, Python and ASP. But the good thing is all these are not required for you to make use of PHP. And with the increasing number of programmers on the web who have great knowledge in PHP and other complementary scripting languages, you don’t need any programming knowledge or experience at all.

In case you are a businessman who wants to build your website for fast and efficient use and experience by customers then PHP is the solution. If you are an ambitious person who is looking for a career in the web scripting and web design industry then PHP is the right destination. With several free and paid tutorials available on the web, you can easily make a good living out of this.

http://image.slidesharecdn.com/php-140811084934-phpapp01/95/php-comprehensive-overview-3-638.jpg?cb=1407765028Since inception in 1994, PHP has been released in five major versions along with many other improvements. Implementation of PHP is normally powered by the Zend Engine which compiles PHP source code to create an internal format that it can execute. Therefore, it ends up working as aim interpreter. Alternative forms of implementation include the HipHop Virtual Machine, Parrot, Phalanger and HipHop.

Why Use PHP

PHP so far forms the best technology to use whether you are starting a small business and want to scale or you have a plan to build a very large business. PHP can be used for writing desktop applications, command line scripting and server side scripting. Every online business owner needs to know what is PHP and why to use it. PHP enables you make several variations and adjustments that make your business better and more efficient for use by your customers. Therefore, you can easily create more streams of revenue as you progress further. These are some of the reasons why you should use PHP:

  1. E-commerce Building and Integration

Whether you are an advanced coder or a beginner, PHP easily takes care of your needs. Advanced coders can use PHP to build their own shopping cart applications or code a new framework from scratch. Beginners or programmers who simply know some basic PHP skills can make use of Shoppify, Magento and Zen Cart.

  • Graphical User Interface (GUI)

You can also use PHP installations to create wonderful desktop applications. Some of the PHP extensions you can use to create GUI applications include PHP GTK and ZZEE PHP GUI. PHP GTK is a popular open source extension which implements the GIMP toolkit whereas, on the other hand, ZZEE PHP GUI is a paid solution which enables you to turn PHP scripts into applications for Windows.

  • Project Management Tools

Project management is not an option for web development firms and freelancers. Clients require a good resource in order for them to check work progress and then provide the necessary feedback. Clients become much more pleased with the end result when there is a good project management system in place. Instead of spending a lot of money on subscription based project management tools available online, you can build your own project management tool that meets the specifics of your business and those of your customers through PHP.

  • Developing Social Media Applications

Facebook is the leading social media website and application in the world at the moment. You can create a Facebook application for your business by making use of the PHP client library and taking instructions on how to install and make use of the files that are installed in the library. Applications for other social media platforms can also be customized through PHP technologies.

  • Building an Active Online Community

Irrespective of the nature of business that you are dealing in, your users will need to feel closely connected to the message and or product you have. If you develop a web application then a good idea would be a forum where your esteemed customers would discuss issues. In case you want to build your own online community from scratch then we would recommend that you make use of the PHP Framework. Some of the PHP building tools at your disposal include Pun BB, vBulletin and php BB.

  • Parsing Files in XML Format

PHP makes it possible for you to parse all your XML files because PHP has this feature. This feature takes care of all users because not all browsers are able to display the elements of XML files. XML is very good for any RSS feeds, data storage and data accessibility on different forms of devices. The procedure for parsing XML files simply involves creating the XML parser, setting up the functions to handle both opening and closing the XML tags, opening the reading file, file reading and closing thereafter.

  • Generating Files in PDF Format

PDF has become a popular format for sending and receiving heavy documents online in a safe and secure way. With the help of a PDF library known as PDFLib, you can easily generate PDF files through PHP. This will make it easier for you to generate reports or files such as printing out an invoice in PDF format.

  • Processing and Generating Images

With the help of the GD library in PHP, you can easily do more than merely generating output to the browser of the HTML. You can present output in different types of files such as png, jpeg and even gif. This feature enables you to create many thumbnail pictures, crop and resize images, come up with a photo gallery and add watermarks.

  • Mailing Lists

With PHP you can easily write your own script and then send some email newsletters to a client. This is a good way to keep your clients updated about the latest products and services you have on offer with respect to products and services, vacations, holidays and other general announcements. You can include anything else in the automated newsletter.

  1. Content Management System (CMS)

All actively used responsive websites require a sound Content Management System (CMS) and you can use PHP to create one. Some of the PHP enabled commercial or free resources you can use to enable you create a good CMS include Joomla, WordPress and Drupal.

  1. Creating Charts and Graphs

Would you need to create some visual representation of figures in your site? PHP is the answer as it will enable you to create charts and graphs through its feature the Image Graph. Up to 14,000 different bar graphs, pie charts, dot/scatter, candlestick, impulse, radar and box and whiskers are available. This will prove invaluable if you have an ecommerce website and you need to create graphical presentations concisely.

  1. Creating Different Website Templates

Through PHP you can easily add elements and pages to your business websites. First, you need to create a HTML page then add the PHP extension to subsequent pages. PHP also makes it easy to create top navigation sections and dynamic sidebars.

  1. Creating a Photo Gallery

You may want to create a photo gallery for your own use or on your business website. PHP has the exif function which enables you to get header information concerning the photos and the output as well as a thumbnail version of the same.

  1. Creating a Flash

Depending on the requirements of your business website, you can create Flash elements using the Ming library.

  1. Creating WordPress Plugins

WordPress is undoubtedly the leading Content Management System in use at the moment. Through WordPress Codex, you can use PHP to create plugins to suit your website requirements. In case you simply want to create ideas then you can also make use of the plugin ideas availed by PHP.

PHP is simply the future of web development. For more information about PHP please click here!

About the Author: Rasmus Lerdorf is a Canadian Greelandic programmer. He holds a degree in Bachelor of Applied Science in Systems Design Engineering. He has worked with Yahoo! Inc., WePay, Etsy and as an independent consultant for Information Technology firms. He is a regular speaker in various Open Source conferences held in various parts of the world. Having bagged numerous awards for his candid work, he helped WePay a great deal by assisting them to develop their application programming interface. He was the first person to create the PHP scripting language along with the first two versions. He has written several keynote speeches and addresses with regard to PHP.