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Software development

What’s Old is New, and What’s New is Old: PHP

Why You Might Want to Write Your Web Applications in PHP

Hypertext Preprocessor, better known as PHP, is a server-side scripting language for web developers that can also be used for general programming and embedded into HyperText Markup Language “HTML.”

To break the definition down further, PHP combines HTML with embedded code, rather than running high numbers of commands, to create an output. PHP supports a notably more functionality than HTML alone does. It’s different because the code is executed on the server side, rather than the client side. Essentially, the script runs on the server, rather than on your computer, which creates a dynamic web page spontaneously even on devices that would otherwise struggle to handle complex web page generation.

There are a number of reasons why you’d want to use server-side scripting, like PHP, with web development:

  • Plugins, like Java and Flash, don’t have to be downloaded on each user’s device.
  • A single website template can be used for an entire website. As the site creates dynamic web pages spontaneously, it will leverage this template over and over.
  • Content Management System “CMS” usage is possible to support editing, publishing, the creation of web apps, the addition of imagery, etc.
  • Client-side scripting is typically slower.
  • Scripts are invisible to users, even when viewing the source.

There are also a few reasons why you wouldn’t want to use server-side scripting, including the associated security risks in having centralized code, scripting attacks, and the increased need for references. With that being said, security risks exist everywhere. With appropriate updating and firewalls, they can be mitigated. In this profile, we’re going to focus on the advantages of working with the server-side scripting language PHP.

So, what’s a scripting language? First, know that there are two language classes. PHP is a scripting language, rather than a programming language. In a scripting language, commands are part of another language, don’t require compilation, and are interpreted and executed one at a time, after an event occurs. For example, when a form is submitted. In a programming language, language is compiled into an executable program. Events are standalone. For example, a spell checker.

PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page and was created in 1994 by Rasmus Lerdorf. We have a fully detailed history of PHP available on our December 21st blog, if you’d like to learn more about the original development of PHP.Rasmus wanted to track the number of website visitors to his online resume. There’s actually a PHP museum to browse online if you’re interested. Visit it from the comfort of your home!

Since its inception in the early 90s, PHP has evolved from a language used for a single, personal page into one of the most commonly-used languages in the world. It’s primarily used for server-side scripting, command line scripting, and writing desktop applications. One of its greatest strengths is its OS flexibility; it can be used on any major operating system and nearly any web server operating systems.

We shared benefits of server-side scripting above, but here are a few PHP-specific benefits:

  • It’s simple to learn and use.
  • It’s easy to read and understand.
  • It’s free to use.
  • It’s open source, well-maintained, and has a strong user base, which translates to solid support.
  • You have a lot of control, with tight code that can easily be updated.
  • It’s scalable and reliable.
  • It’s platform and server agnostic.
  • It has a fast processing speed because it uses its own language.
  • It’s available everywhere.

PHP is a storied language that’s more than proved its value in the arena of web development.. While some programming languages have come and gone, PHP has never gone out of style, appropriately evolving to keep in pace with the ever-changing frontier that is the web. Don’t dismiss it in your search for the right scripting language!

Beyond the basics, PHP’s evolution has included a number of industry-leading changes:

  • The incorporation of interoperable components (vs. relying on large frameworks)
  • Memory usage optimizations
  • Powerful language features
  • User-friendly developer tools
  • An advanced community of framework developers that keep the code solid

Ultimately, you’ll get high performance that’s trustworthy and reliable if you work with PHP.

As with most things, the task determines the tool. Make sure you do your research and evaluate your language options. While PHP may be one path, there are likely others. Readability, writability, reliability, and cost are all important considerations in the evaluation process.

Does PHP seem right for you? Need assistance determining if it is? The team at are PHP experts. They also handle custom full stack web services, maintenance, hosting, and plenty more. Let evaluate your project, lay out your options, and work with you to get you closer to a better website today. At a minimum, they’ll help you gain an improved understanding of how to move forward and provide you with lots of information on the process.


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