Top 8 Practical Applications of PHP and Steps to Carve a Career in the Field

PHP is a server-side scripting language that is widely used for web development and business application. The open-source tools and high running speed make PHP one of the most preferred languages for creating interactive websites and web applications. Some of the biggest web platforms of today, including Facebook, Flickr, Yahoo, MailChimp, and Wikipedia, to name a few, use PHP in their end-to-end computing infrastructure. 

As the market for PHP increases, businesses are looking for new PHP web development trends to develop a perfect web app. Keep reading to learn more about PHP technology, applications of PHP framework, and how to build a career as a PHP Developer.

Looking forward to becoming a PHP Developer? Then get certified with the Advanced PHP Development Course. Enroll now!

What is PHP and Why Should You Learn It?

In an age of intimidating, large-scaled tech stacks, PHP remains widely used in the web development niche. The use of PHP is nearly everywhere on the web. It is estimated that 79.1% of all websites with a recognized server-side programming language use PHP. 

PHP is an acronym for “Hypertext Processor” and was first released by Danish-Canadian programmer Rasmus Lerdorf in 1995. PHP scripts can be easily embedded into HTML documents that are served at the front end of the server. An interpreter acts as a backend module integrating into the webserver. Thus, PHP is an excellent choice for building full-fledged websites based on static HTML. 

A neat feature of PHP is that it's very flexible and versatile. PHP is almost the same as if it was an object-oriented language, making it a very convenient language to work with. It also has a quite powerful meta-language for developers. 

PHP is typically used to run Web sites, but you can run PHP on your Windows, macOS, and Linux workstations. The easiest way to run PHP is to install Docker and then run a container with PHP included. The container referred to in the link has PHP, MySQL, and NGINX running in a single container. You can be up and running in a few hours.

Top 8 Practical Applications of PHP 

Some common web applications that can be created with PHP include:

  • Web Pages and Web-Based Applications

A web page or web application is required to offer high levels of customization, a very interactive user interface and should be able to perform online transactions and integrate with database systems. PHP ensures all these features are achieved through its three-tiered architecture that works in a linear fashion on browser, server, and database systems. This explains why more than 82% of websites use PHP for server-side programming. Numerous web-based applications and Facebook apps are scripted in PHP too.

PHP can be used to build both static and dynamic web pages and web-based applications. Developers can manipulate the coding to reuse it in other applications too. Built-in mechanisms like support for user authentication, SQL query builder, CSRF protection, and routing make PHP one of the most in-demand programming languages. Besides being an open-source platform with free licensing, PHP enjoys high popularity among programming languages.   

  • Web Content Management Systems

PHP supports various databases like Oracle, MySQL, and MS Access and is designed to interact with other services using protocols such as HTTP, LDAP, POP3, IMAP, NNTP, SNM, and COM. Many PHP frameworks offer templates, libraries through which developers can manage and manipulate the content of a website. Thus, PHP is used to create small static websites as well as large content-based sites. Some of the best Web Content Management Systems (CMS) managed by PHP are WordPress and its plugins, user interface of Drupal, Joomla, Facebook, MediaWiki, Silverstripe, and Digg, among others. 

  • Ecommerce Applications

No matter how small or big a business is, online selling is an indispensable part of any venture today. The use of PHP frameworks like CakePHP and CodeIgniter helps create ecommerce applications quickly and efficiently. Popular ecommerce platforms like Magento, OpenCart, Zen Cart, PrestaShop, AgoraCart, and Ubercart are all practical applications of PHP.    

  • GUI Based Applications

Another important use of PHP can be for creating desktop Graphical User Interface (GUI) based applications. Prominent tools that allow scripting in PHP are PHP-GTK 2 and ZZEE PHP GUI, which compile PHP into.exe that can run on its own. 

  • Create Flash

Many PHP frameworks provide an open-source library like Ming to create Flash in .SWF file format, which contains features like gradients, bitmaps (.png and .jpeg files), morphs, text, shapes, buttons, actions, and animations. Plus, it’s simple to create and incorporate flash elements like login-form and email form into dynamic web pages with the use of PHP.

  • Image Processing and Graphic Design

Also prominent among applications of PHP is its use to manipulate images. Various image processing libraries like Imagine, GD library, and ImageMagick can be integrated with PHP applications to allow a wide range of image processing features, including rotating, cropping, resizing, adding watermarks, creating thumbnail pictures, and generating output images in many formats. The different formats of output images can be jpeg, gif, wbmp, xpm, and png. This is an essential prerequisite for creating robust websites and web applications.

  • Data Representation

PHP can be used to create various means of data representation like charts, graphs, and scatter-dot plots by using tools such as Image_Graph. This feature is commonly used across client-side ecommerce websites, desktop applications, and various other applications where data must be presented succinctly and graphically. 

  • Creating PDF Files

Creating PDF files is another important application of PHP. A built-in library tool called PDFLib can be used to generate and manipulate PDF files using PHP. This helps in creating an online invoicing system where we can create an HTML-driven invoice in PDF (Portable Document Format) file.   

The fact that PHP can be embedded with HTML makes it highly accessible for new programmers. Unlike languages like C or Java, PHP does not require complex processes to generate HTML page. Thus, PHP offers a host of possibilities, from creating simple websites to highly complex systems like virtual stores and online management platforms. 

Where to Learn PHP?

There are a lot of great learning resources for PHP. These include the following:

In many ways, these resources form the foundation for your journey towards mastering PHP. The next step you will want to take is to practice your PHP skills on projects. The following are examples of projects for different skill levels:

  • Newbie Projects 
    • phpMyAdmin - Admin interface for MySQL written in PHP
    • Deployer - A deployment tool is written in PHP with support for popular frameworks out of the box
  • Beginner Projects
    • Matomo - Matomo is the leading Free/Libre open analytics platform
    • OrgManager - Supercharge your GitHub organizations
    • PHP Censor - Open source self-hosted continuous integration server for PHP projects
  • Medium and Advanced PHP Projects
    • Drupal - Leading open-source CMS for ambitious digital experiences that reach your audience across multiple channels
    • Symfony - Symfony is a PHP framework for web applications and a set of reusable PHP components
    • Laravel Newsletters - A package that provides an easy way to integrate MailChimp with Laravel 5

You can also access many PHP user groups to help build your peer community. Some of the top groups include:

Applying training materials, projects, and access to other PHP developers will accelerate your understanding and application of PHP.

How to Build a Career in PHP

If you enjoy coding, and have a keen interest in website development, a career in PHP might be the chosen path for you. A PHP Developer is a software developer who deals with the design, testing and development of websites, applications, and programs using the PHP language. As the market for PHP experiences a boom, so does the demand for PHP developers.

PHP has driven the demand for development languages year over year. Today, PHP is one of the top five in-demand programming languages. There are many reasons for PHP’s growth. Still, strong support for PHP from Microsoft and Apple as part of the integrated development environments (IDE) such as Visual Studio and Xcode is certainly significant. Now, enterprise-ready IDE's provide excellent support for PHP along with C# and Swift. 

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering or programming is preferred for entry into the field of PHP development. Let’s have a look at some skills required to get hired as a PHP developer:

  • Knowledge of PHP, even if it is at the beginner’s level
  • Knowledge of Ajax, jQuery, and MySQL
  • Proficiency in JavaScript, CSS, and HTML  
  • Understanding of the open-source web framework - CakePHP and the unit testing framework - PHPUnit
  • Photoshop or similar design tool
  • Knowledge of Unix/Linux, APIs, and MVC Framework Architecture
  • Good Communication Skills
  • Problem Solving Abilities
  • Knack for Critical Thinking

The PHP Developer job role is a well-paid position and offers great opportunities for career growth. Glassdoor reports that the average salary of a PHP developer in the US is $74,126 annually, while according to Payscale, a PHP developer in India earns an average salary of Rs. 265,507 annually. 

Jumpstart Your Programming Career with a Course in PHP

If you aim to become a web software developer, consider acquiring a complete learning of the top web development languages including PHP as the first step in the journey. One certification to consider is the Simplilearn’s Post Graduate Program in Full Stack Web Development offered in collaboration with Caltech CTME. Designed to help you master In-demand coding languages including PHP, this course should make sure you become an expert full stack web developer. After completing the training, along with the host of skills that you'd master, you’ll know how to design, develop, and implement PHP based applications. Visit Simplilearn to learn more about how to get hired as a PHP developer.

About the Author

Matthew DavidMatthew David

Matt is a Digital Leader at Accenture. His passion is a combination of solving today's problems to run more efficiently, adjusting focus to take advantage of digital tools to improve tomorrow and move organizations to new ways of working that impact the future.

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