PHP or the Hypertext Preprocessor is an open source server side scripting language that is used by developers all over the world, to create dynamic website pages. The popularity of this language is beyond doubt and the reasons for this are many and varied.
The Upfront Benefits
There are some primary benefits that are so evident that you don’t have to look very hard for them. The first benefit that is right up there is that that it is open source and free to use. So, the cost of website development comes down significantly.
The other benefit that developers swear by is that it speeds up development. The availability of rapid PHP based frameworks, has further cemented its position as a platform that makes for quicker development. These frameworks include the likes of CakePHP, Zend, CodeIgniter, Yii, Qcodo, PEAR, PHPSpec and many others.
The fact that it is an open source platform also gives rise to yet another benefit, which is that all developers know PHP and most know how to use it very well; that’s because it provides a faster access ramp for programmers and it’s very easy to implement.
Now let’s take a closer look at some of the significant benefits of PHP; the one’s that make this development platform stand head and shoulder above others:
1. Amplified Efficiency
You can call a development platform highly efficient if it facilitates quick development; it helps build reliable solutions and all this in quick time. What’s more, efficiency is also measured by the robustness of the software that is built and the kind of functionality that it can deliver. PHP can do all this and more and that too better than anybody else. When used for web development it provides unparalleled efficiency.
When you develop a web solution in PHP, you know it going to work with full functional efficiency on all OS systems like LINUX, UNIX, and Windows. Its cross OS compatibility is also the reason why it’s used so commonly in web development. What’s more, it interfaces effortlessly with MySQL/Apache.
3. Large PHP Community
The PHP community is becoming bigger and bigger, and this means this platform is getting better and better. If you have any problems during development or want a bug fix or want help on writing a particular code, just ask for help from this community; you will have a solution in your hands without in no time.
As they say, there is safety in numbers and this is precisely why PHP is widely used and even newbie developers have no qualms about starting out with PHP.
An unbelievable 20 million indexed domains use PHP and reports suggest that it is the most commonly used open source software in enterprises and more than 75% of the websites that are on the internet use PHP. Also, some of the top sites like Facebook, WordPress, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and Flickr have all been built using PHP.
This gives you an idea of the size of the PHP community out there; and its growing every day.
4. Better Integration
PHP supports not just HTML but the latest version HTML5. This helps integrate many excellent features in the website that make it more engaging and interactive. It can also output PDF files, Flash movies, text like XHTML and XML, and what’s more, these files can be auto generated by PHP. This is the reason why it can be integrated to many web applications.
5. The GZIP advantage
You can enable GZIP using PHP, which ensures quicker scripting execution and rendering of files. As compared to other languages, the execution time of PHP is faster, as PHP scripts can be deployed in executable format, this can be done using the PHP compiler. What’s more the fact that GZIP compression is enabled means the size of the compiled code can be reduced, which in turn reduces the execution time.
6. Easy To Understand
It’s easy to understand and therefore easier to learn. The basic premise of PHP script is server side execution, after which a plain HTML result is sent to the browser. You can place a PHP anywhere in the document and a typical PHP file contains a little PHP scripting code and HTML tags. A basic PHP script starts with <?PHP and ends with?>.
The fact that it is so simple means developers are keener on this language than any other.
The numerous extensions available in PHP make things infinitely simpler for developers. Some of these extensions include SimplePie (Atom/RSS parsing library for PHP), TCPDF (generates PDF documents), Xdebug (debugger and profiler tool) and PHP-GTK (helps write GTK+GUI applications in PHP) and many more; this allows the integration of diverse functionalities for web applications.
We have been talking about the inherent efficiency of PHP, but this efficiency is a result of the many components that it brings to the table, and its various PHP tools. Developers have access to web based tools like Google Maps; debugging tools like webgrind; testing tools like SimpleTest; security tools like securimage; in browser tools like FirePHP (these are Firefox add-ons), and many more. For a more comprehensive list of tools you can check out “50 Extremely Useful PHP tools”, which gives you a detailed look into the tools that you could use while developing a web application in PHP.
9. Wide range of Database Selections
Writing a database enabled web page is simplified to the point where all a developer needs to do is use one of the database specific extensions. If you want, you can also use an abstraction layer like PDO, or also use the Open Database Connection Standard to connect to a database, with the use of ODBX extensions. Other databases might want you to use cURL or sockets like CouchDB to connect with them.
You can talk with other services using protocols like LDAP, SNMP, NNTP, HTTP, and others.
The fact that a mammoth 30% of all vulnerabilities that are listed on the national Vulnerability Database are PHP related means developers are making input validation errors; but as these vulnerabilities are listed, it means advanced protection patches like Suhosin, and Hardening- Patch are being developed to check for errors. What’s more, developers can add software like PHPIDS to protect their PHP web applications from an external third party threat.
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