Looking to start web development? – Here’s what you need to know about PHP.
So, you’ve made the decision to start learning web development? First off, congratulations! You’ve taken your very first few steps to a very rewarding career or side hobby, maybe even side hustle if you do it well!
If you are anything like us, once you’ve made that initial decision chances are you’ve stumbled upon Google and the many, many search results, coding languages, and generally confusing jargon in the web development world. Where to begin…
Do not worry.
Step 1 : The Basics: How a Web Development Works
In order to understand web development, it’s important to first define it.
Web development itself refers to the development of websites, whether this is design, functionality, or hosting.
In this case, web development will specifically look at both the design and functionality aspect, explicitly through the use of PHP web development – a tool for beginners. This will be discussed in more detail shortly.
Step 2 : Frontend vs. Backend Web Development
If you have little to no experience with web development, you’ll soon need to make the decision between frontend development and backend development. Let us explain.
Frontend development refers to what the user can see and interact with on a page. Think layout, imagery, and design.
An example of this would be the search bar on a website – it’s interactive and allows the user to navigate various pages available on the website.
On the other hand, backend development is essentially a behind the scenes form of development. This is the development that commonly stores, processes and alters data.
Basically, it’s how the website itself functions and works. Without backend development, the website itself would not be able to run.
Also Read, All Things to Know About Software Developers
Once you’ve made your decision the decision between frontend and backend web development, you can begin your journey on the never-ending learning experience that is web development! Oh… did we mention rewarding.
Practice Makes Perfect
Now that you’ve decided between frontend and backend web development, it’s time to start practicing. We recommend practicing for up to an hour every day if possible, as consistently as you can.
You’re probably wondering something along the lines of: “what am I supposed to practice on?” Well, as a beginner we recommend using PHP
- Practice PHP every day for up to 60-minutes
- Be as consistent as possible
- Make use of as many resources you can access
Also Read, 8 Best PHP Frameworks for Web Projects
Step 3 : What is this ever so famous PHP?
PHP was first introduced by Rasmus Lerdorf, developed as an open-sourced scripting language that has more recently become the coding standard in the web development industry/sector.
One of the main benefits of utilizing PHP is that it can be learned easily, even with little to no experience with web development or PHP in the past. If, however, you do have experience coding in the past, you’ll learn PHP web development with ease, almost as if it’s second nature and or language.
Step 4 : Benefits of Using PHP Web Development
- Low development and maintenance cost
- Quick and simple to learn
- Large amounts of databases are supported
- PHP is open-source and extendable
Before we begin to use PHP, we first need to install it.
Step 5 : How to Install PHP
Before starting web development with PHP, you will first need a web host with PHP and MYSQL. You should also install a web server such as Apache – a very user-friendly option.
If you are looking to practice PHP locally, you can also download XAMPP onto your PC – this is the most popular web development environment.
- Find a web host with PHP and MYSQL
- Install a web server such as Apache
- Alternatively, you can practice PHP locally by downloading XAMPP
Step 6 : Learning the Basics of PHP
Now that we’ve established which coding language to use and whether or not you wish to work on either frontend or backend development, it’s time to start learning the basics.
To begin, we must first define key terms used within PHP web development itself.
Starting and Ending Tags
Tags are both the starting and endpoints for a specific code snippet.
As with other coding languages, PHP also starts with these tags.
Here’s an example of a very basic PHP code you can yourself:
<?PHP echo "PHP ! Look I made some code."; ?>
Echo helps us display any combination of string and variables on a given page. However, everything that you’d like to include and display on a page must be contained within double quotes or single quotes. PHP allows for both of these.
We recommend heading over to codeacademy and making use of their free interactive PHP tutorial – a great resource for beginners.
Variables are great, these should be considered your friend within the PHP coding world. Whenever you have something to store temporarily on a page these variables will keep this for you.
For example, let’s say we wanted to save the message ‘Hello World’ in memory and then first display ‘PHP tutorial’ and afterward the message once stored, it would look something like this:
<?php $message = "Hello world"; echo "PHP Tutorial"; echo $message; ?>
Step 7 : The Bottom Line
The decision to begin coding is arguably the most difficult part of the process. PHP is a relatively simple coding program/language to learn, with thousands picking it up each and every day.
When beginning, we recommend practicing every day. Whether this is for 30-minutes or 60-minutes, consistent practice of PHP or any coding for that matter will see great progress in very little time.
PHP itself is used mainly for backend development, how websites function and work effectively. We recommend making use of codeacademy’s free interactive PHP tutorial to start – a great stepping stone into PHP for beginners.