PHP is a programming language used to script websites that are dynamic and interactive. You'll find it in various types of web applications, from e-commerce websites to CRM systems like HubSpot and Salesforce.
The term PHP stands for PHP Hypertext Preprocessor. Originally, the "PHP" within the acronym stood for Personal Home Page. But, as the language evolved and caught on, it ended up being used for more than just personal home pages. So, that acronym, in turn, became just the "P" within PHP.
Below, we'll take a closer look at PHP, how it works, its relationship with HTML, examples of PHP in action, and more.
PHP basic functions
Our PHP courses cover these functions as well as examples of the types of products this code facilitates.
PHP’s relationship to HTML
A big part of PHP's value is its use as a dynamic scripting language that works hand-in-hand with HTML.
A PHP interpreter makes a website dynamic and customizable, allowing a site to respond to user input or information in some expected way. The interpreter is a key link between the user and web server, databases, and the relevant files or responses sent back to that user.
Ease of use
Despite its power and utility, PHP is one of the easiest programming languages to learn. It's simple, has forgiving syntax, and has ample documentation and resources available to those learning the language.
PHP's ease of use has made it a staple for Back-End Engineers and Full-Stack Engineers. It also contains built-in security features like data encryption and access restrictions, removing the need for separate work to ensure the security of websites. Plus, PHP code often powers online forms.
Now that you've got an idea of what PHP is used for, let's explore some examples of PHP in action.
PHP in action: ScienceSoft
ScienceSoft, a Dallas-based IT consulting and software development provider, offers examples of how they've used PHP scripting for clients' projects:
This smart, in-store headphone-check digital signage stand uses PHP to allow users to compare and contrast multiple models. This includes a playlist of test tracks, the ability to tell the stand's app what model a customer wants, and the production of graphs comparing models for a customer.
This European movie theater chain modernized its mobile ticketing app to include seat plans, notifications, and in-depth information about their movies. Using PHP, the app can provide customers with a choice of showtimes, theaters, and seat types.
This manufacturer of digital interactive advertising and entertainment displays for stores and shopping malls needed an administrative panel to create and manage the content for these screens.
So, they turned to ScienceSoft to create an administrative control that would allow either the display maker or the local store or mall user to control the content. PHP also made it possible to control the displays remotely using a web application.
This provider of a database with information on US colleges, admissions, and scholarship details worked solely with imports of information from Excel spreadsheets. They needed a cloud-based information management solution to store their large volumes of data, integrate with other software, and automate data reporting to their clients.
PHP, among other languages and tools, helped build this solution.
PHP in action: Symfony
Symfony, a French PHP framework provider, worked on PHP-based projects for both business and political entities.
In 2020, Symfony participated in hackathons that produced security improvements for open-source software used by the European Commission. In 2016, a volunteer programmer used Symfony PHP caches to power the campaign website for Emmanuel Macron, who went on to win the presidency of France.
Also that year, Liip, a Swiss digital agency, built an API using Symfony PHP for Swiss retailer Migros to organize and manage data about its products so that it could be searched and accessed in real-time to manage the retailer's business.
PHP in action: CakePHP
CakePHP is an open-source project by the Las Vegas-based Cake Software Foundation. CakePHP has worked for a variety of companies in different fields. These include:
- Internet Marketing Ninjas, who used PHP to build its marketing and management tools and a central hub for users.
- World-Architects, who used PHP to build its profiles of architects and their projects, including online visual presentations.
- Child Care Daily App, who used PHP to build an app to serve parents of children in San Diego-based daycare centers.
- Printivo.com, a Nigerian customized printing company, who used PHP for their customer-facing website and internal order management systems.
These examples of PHP in action show how many areas of commerce, society, and everyday life this programming language touches. It often plays a key part in designing websites and operating them on a daily basis.
Getting Started with PHP
As you can see, PHP is a powerful language with a wide range of applications. Still, the best way to learn about its utility is to use it yourself.
If you're ready to start using PHP, check out our Learn PHP course. We'll teach you the basics of the language's syntax along with many other subjects like variables, functions, loops, and more.
If you find yourself stuck while completing the course, we also offer resources like this article on common mistakes made with PHP conditionals.