PHP is a back-end language, meaning all script interpretation will be handled on the server side. The main functionality of PHP includes data collection, cookie management, and making a website dynamic.
Furthermore, PHP can utilize many databases to achieve additional functionality.
- You’re looking to become a PHP developer.
- You wish to be a back-end developer, but not exclusively with PHP.
You might want to learn PHP to become a PHP developer. But the other reason you could be interested in this language could be to get proficient in back-end development in general.
On the other hand, PHP remains a relatively beginner-friendly language. Generally speaking, the basics of PHP are easier to learn, and novice programmers will be ready to start using the language sooner.
How to Learn PHP
When you start your journey toward becoming a PHP developer, you’ll need to set up several things:
- Gain sufficient base knowledge
- Create a PHP coding environment
- Master the basics
- Learn PHP loops and functions
We used a small trick in the previous paragraph: It was stated that you wouldn’t need extensive knowledge of other languages. While that’s true, we didn’t mention that you’ll need some understanding of one particular tool – HTML.
It’s an acronym for Hypertext Markup Language and a long-standing standard in web development. However, the full title might be a bit confusing.
HTML isn’t a programming language – it’s a markup language. This means it handles document elements by arranging and formatting them via tags. Unlike a genuine language, HTML isn’t capable of dynamic functionality.
Understanding the basics of HTML shouldn’t take too long. You can find plenty of online resources to help you along the way. But once you get the gist of this markup language, you’ll be able to use it interchangeably with PHP in your documents.
Creating the Environment
PHP is an interpreted language, which means it will rely on an interpreter to run. Online, the role of the PHP interpreter falls to the web server, which can understand and execute the code before sending it to the browser.
For learning purposes, you’ll need to provide the interpreter yourself. More precisely, you’ll need an LDE.
LDE stands for Local Development Environment, a suite of handy software containing all necessary PHP development tools. The essential components of an LDE are:
- PHP interpreter
- Web server
- An SQL database
Your LDE might have additional utilities, but the three listed here will be crucial.
Once the LDE is set up (many free options are available online), you’ll need a code editor to start working on your PHP files. This is essentially a text editor specifically built for coding. Notepad++ is one of the more popular code editors with a familiar, classic notepad look.
PHP Programming Basics
When you have all the tools, you can start learning the basic PHP skills. This includes:
- Beginning and ending codes
- Leaving non-executable comments
- Using echo, print, conditional, and nested statements
- Setting variables
- Using an array
- Using operators and operands
Learning these skills shouldn’t take too much time and will serve as a foundation moving forward.
Learning PHP Loops and Functions
Loops are code pieces that evaluate designated statements as false or true. In the case of true statements, the loop executes a specific code, alters the statement, and re-evaluates it. This repeats until the statement changes to false.
Functions are somewhat less complex than loops in that they perform a single task in repetition. Once you write a function, it will work in the background without the need for additional coding.
Loops and functions are the proverbial bread and butter of competent PHP coding. Once you understand how they work, PHP will become your playground.
Get Started With PHP
And with the advice from this article, you’ll have an excellent starting point.