Computer Programming Languages: PHP


Published August 23, 2023

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PHP programming language allows developers to create visually stunning and reactive websites. Discover the history, function, and online resources regarding PHP. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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PHP, an open-source scripting language, helps developers create web pages and applications. Rasmus Lerdorf created PHP in 1994 to track pageviews for his online resume. Since then, coders have continued developing the language: According to GitHub's PopularitY of Programming Language (PYLP) index, PHP is the sixth most commonly used coding language as of August 2023.

This guide explores PHP, including when to use it and which resources can help you master this language.

What Is PHP in Coding?

PHP programming has multiple functions: it can collect data, access server files, and integrate with other coding languages. Developers often use this server-side language because of its array of uses and existing documentation. We explore several of these usages below:

  • Webpage Development: PHP language's most common usage is for developing user-friendly web pages that interact with databases. The code works well with HTML, another webpage language.
  • Two-Step Authentication: Two-step authentication helps make digital logins more secure. These systems typically send a text message code or require randomly generating security codes through authentication apps. PHP programs can create second-layer authentication systems by generating, sending, and validating private codes.
  • Customer Relation Management Software: Customer relation management (CRM) systems are vital to corporations, as they help organize customer data to optimize sales and find new customers. Multiple existing CRM systems use PHP because of the programming language's versatility.

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Why Use PHP When Programming?

PHP computer programming allows developers to create visually appealing websites with multilayered design. Prospective web developers should consider learning PHP because of its compatibility with various operating systems and databases.

Developers and graduates of computer science bachelor's programs that already understand several coding languages may find PHP easy to learn. PHP users can save time and money by using free PHP code libraries.

Pros and Cons of Using PHP


  • Large libraries of open-source cod
  • Versatile uses for design and functionality
  • Similarities to other popular languages like C++ and Java


  • Lack of security means anybody can view a company's PHP code and potential bugs
  • Poor debugging tools can lead to difficult or subpar maintenance
  • Does not use intuitive, human language-style syntax like other coding languages

Companies That Use PHP

According to W3Techs, a website which tracks programming language usage across the web, over 77% of sites worldwide use PHP. Even large companies, like those listed below, use PHP:

  • Facebook
  • Wikipedia
  • Tumblr
  • Slack
  • Etsy

PHP vs. Python and Java

Like PHP, Python and Java are among the most popular open-source coding languages, according to GitHub's PYLP index. Though they share similarities, each language has its own uses. We contrast these three coding languages in the table below.

PHP vs. Python and Java
Qualities PHP Python Java
Skill Level Easy to learn Easy to learn Easy to learn
Syntax Traditional coding syntax Similar to human languages Traditional coding syntax
Focus Web development General-purpose language General-purpose language
Speed Extremely fast Slower than PHP Fast
Debugging Slow Standard Standard

Where Can You Learn PHP?

Ambitious coders can learn PHP, a relatively simple programming language, in 3-6 months. Though colleges and universities may offer classes or certificates in PHP, the language is not typically included in the main curriculum of programming bachelor's degrees, meaning learners must pursue PHP as an elective if available.

Beyond classroom settings, students can learn PHP from coding bootcamps and self-education online resources. Coding bootcamps have specialized courses that teach skills like web development and PHP. Enrollees spend a few months learning essential skills and languages from technology specialists.

Self-motivated students can study PHP with the vast array of online resources dedicated to the language. Because PHP is open-source and several decades old, there are many free tools and training modules available.

Prospective students should consider cost, time constraints, and the ability to connect with teachers when choosing an appropriate learning method.

Explore your education options:

Computer Programming Degrees

Computer Programming Degrees

Computer Science Degrees

Computer Science Degrees

Best Coding Bootcamps

Best Coding Bootcamps

Online Coding Classes

Online Coding Classes

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Additional PHP Resources

Tutorials and Manuals

Free tutorials and manuals, including one from the official PHP website, cover a variety of topics. Individuals can focus on the tutorial that best suits their learning style.

Online Lessons and Classes

Online asynchronous classes allow attendees to complete lessons at their own pace. These lessons focus on basic syntax, data structures, and PHP functions. Courses can include projects, quizzes, and certificates of completion.

YouTube Videos

YouTube creators provide free resources for individuals to learn PHP. Students can watch short-form lessons and long-form tutorials from small creators and professional enterprises.


The Joy of PHP: A Beginner's Guide to Programming Interactive Web Applications with PHP and mySQL — Alan Forbes gears his book toward PHP novices. Readers start with HTML to set a foundation, learn about PHP basics, and practice their skills with in-book exercises.

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PHP in Action: Objects, Design, Agility — Dagfinn Reiersol, Marcus Baker, and Chris Shiflett first released this book in 2007. It aims to develop readers' PHP skills so they can code intermediate and complex web applications.

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Programming PHP: Creating Dynamic Web Pages — Authors Kevin Tatroe and Peter MacIntyre provide programming tips so readers can understand PHP's uses. They also teach readers to create secure scripts.

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Questions About PHP in Computer Programming

What is PHP?

PHP in coding is an open-source, server-side scripting language with multiple uses. The language ranks among the most popular worldwide coding languages and runs on over 77% of websites.

What is the history of PHP?

The creator of PHP developed the programming language to help him track pageviews for his online resume in 1994. The code has since evolved, appearing on websites across the globe.

Is PHP easy to learn?

Individuals with a coding or technological background should find PHP easy to learn because of its similarities to other programming languages. Students who have never learned a coding language before will find it equally difficult to similar coding languages.

Should I learn PHP?

Prospective web developers in particular can benefit from learning PHP, since it is used widely and has an abundance of website-related functions. Motivated coders can master the language in 3-6 months.

Last reviewed July 27, 2023.

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