PHP is an open-source programming language that is widely used in web development. It initially stood for Personal Homepage but evolved to be the recursive acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor. It is a general-purpose programming language that can create Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) and a server-side scripting language.   

Like any other programming language, PHP is available in different versions. There are eight PHP versions, with the eighth version launched in November 2020. However, the most popular version of PHP is the seventh one. The launch of the first version of PHP dates back to 26 years ago. 

Some of the standard implementations for PHP include Zend engine, Hip Hop, parrot, Hip Hop Virtual Machine (HPVM), etc. PHP is generally used for creating web servers. It is possible to show it in the terminal when code output is not required in the browser. Hence, PHP runs effectively on both command lines and browsers.

Main Functions Of PHP

It is essential to know about the critical functions of PHP before trying your hand at it. Some of the primary responsibilities that PHP seamlessly performs include:

  • It can perform different functions on the server files, including creating, opening, reading, writing, and terminating files.
  • It can quickly send and receive cookies.
  • It can encrypt sensitive user data.
  • It can generate dynamic page content that can quickly get updated.
  • It can be used to control user access.
  • It can collect the form data.

Why PHP?

PHP has been in the IT industry for more than 25 years and is still used to create responsive and dynamic websites. The secret lies in the long list of its advantages offered over the years of multiple versions that, in turn, include added features. The key advantages of this general-purpose scripting language include:

  • Open-source: PHP can be installed quickly at zero investments. Hence, it is a 100% open-source programming language that allows access to a large section of PHP frameworks, including Symfony, Laravel, etc. It is easy for the developers to control the total costs of web development.
  • Dedicated community support: PHP has strong community support, all thanks to the loyal, large, and experienced developers. Developers can get the best of this programming language as there are large sets of FAQs, tips, and multiple tutorials for quick help at the time of development.
  • Database connection: Developers can quickly connect to the different types of databases. Hence, developers can select the required database according to their needs and project case requirements.
  • Legacy code: There is no need to go for the updates and versions in different languages as PHP has its updates legacy. Hence, all different websites created in PHP over the years can get the benefits of their updates without rewriting the code in some other language. Further, it is easy for the clients to find experienced PHP developers due to its long legacy.
  • Easy to learn and use: PHP is one of the easiest programming languages in the industry. Further, it is easy to use by experienced developers for creating effective websites with interactive user interfaces.
  • Versatile: Coming to versatility, PHP supports all popular web browsers. Further, it allows the developers to choose from different operating systems and offers business scalability and flexibility.
  • Security: Many may feel surprised, but PHP is as secure as any other high-end programming language, irrespective of being a free-source language. Hence, it is possible to keep the websites and web servers protected from cyber security attacks.
  • Tested language: PHP is a tried and tested language, thanks to the broad community of developers. Further, the PHPUnit is the independent framework library used in unit testing of PHP. 

Best Websites That Use PHP

Do you know that around 78.1% of websites whose server-side programming is known to use PHP language only? Coming to the top names of famous and widely used websites that use PHP, the following are the top 15 best websites that choose PHP as their partner:

1. WordPress

WordPress

It is the world’s most extensive content management system that uses PHP to interact with databases and gain information from them. PHP gains key components from the database and reflects output as the static HTML. Hence, many active users can drag or drop the UI components and create or use templates with zero previous coding experience.

2. Etsy

Etsy

It is one of the top ten widely popular retail PHP websites in the US. With the number of active buyers crossing 45 million already, it is one of the largest e-commerce sites created on PHP. The webpage performance is optimized using HHVM implementation for documentation. The introduction of a static analyzer named Phan further automatically recognizes all possible incompatibilities between PHP5/7.

3. MailChimp

MailChimp

It is an email marketing giant and uses PHP. It has sent 400 million emails to 7 million registered users in 2014 only, all thanks to PHP remains as the only language for every production-related concern in the company.

4. Slack

Slack

It is the go-to team communications app established in 2009. Slack is using PHP in its backend development activities. With more than 3 million active users and 4 billion dollars of valuation, Slack is optimizing the benefits of PHP. It helps them minimize the program defects, speeds up the web request time, and maximizes workflow efficiencies.

5. Tumblr

Tumblr

Ideally called the birthplace of memes; the Tumblr community has created more than 555 million monthly visitors and 325 million blogs. Tumblr has used PHP since 2016, helped them with upgraded performance parameters, and introduced new language features. Some key features include return-type declarations, scalar type hints, etc.

6. Wikipedia

The most popular public information site uses PHP as its programming language. PHP is helping them increase the page loading speeds using HVHM implementation and PHP databases.

7. Facebook

Facebook

This social media giant has been using PHP since its inception in 2004. It creates dynamic content using PHP, which created the dominos’ effect for multiple companies using PHP to date. In 2010, Facebook introduced HipHop for PHP or HPHPc that can translate the source code of any language into another one. HVHM then replaced it in 2013.

8. Yahoo

Yahoo

Do you still remember using Yahoo mail, Yahoo News, Yahoo answers, etc.? It started functioning with PHP only but now is in transitional mode owing to its weak usage against search engine Google. PHP has given Yahoo some key benefits, including optimized account security, user-friendly email templates, policy frameworks, and a high-end user interface.

9. Flickr

Flickr

It is one of the widely used websites by ace photographers. It has used PHP with Nginx as the web server that offered quick page loading for high-traffic websites. Some of the fantastic features of Flickr included profiles, photo streams, albums, galleries, groups, etc.

10. iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto

An international stock content marketplace, iStockPhoto uses PHP in serving its 160,000 global contributors. Some of the key features of its popularity include royalty-free images, searchable online databases, and immediately downloadable images.

11. Baidu

Baidu

The technical marketplace from China, Baidu uses PHP to serve its monthly active users of 665 million. Some of the main features of Baidu include drag/drop functionality, full-page screenshots, opening recently-closed apps, etc.

12. Canva

Canva

It offers professionally design-ready templates for inexperienced graphic designers. It uses PHP to serve its customer segment of more than 10 million global users. 

13. Digg

Digg

The American news aggregator uses PHP while serving its internet audience. It uses the much tested and tried LAMP stack with PHP in its core functionality.

14. Flipkart

Flipkart

is another effective example of e-commerce website design; Flipkart is mainly built on PHP only. It is a popular e-commerce website currently holding the top positions in online marketplaces.

15. Fotolia

Fotolia

This leading stock photography marketplace is now Adobe Stock but still uses PHP in its core development. 

What Are The Advantages Of Using PHP?

The key benefits of using PHP include:

1. Cloud Server Compatibility

It is easy to deploy a PHP application on AWS, AWS Lambda, etc. All the cloud implementations of PHP apps offer an opportunity to the developers to upgrade to modern technology without changing the programming language. Hence, all PHP applications can benefit from scalability and multiple functions.

2. Flexibility

PHP is a cross-platform language that can be used with any operating system. Further, it can effectively combine with any other programming language. Hence, using PHP offers advanced benefits of flexible website development to professional and inexperienced developers.

3. Embedded HTML Programming

PHP offers synergy with HTML as it has embedded HTML programming. Hence, any PHP application doesn’t interfere with the HTM code of the web page but completes it. Further, PHP tags precede the HTML tags as it becomes difficult from the traditional HTML page.

4. Affordable Hosting Services

One of the main benefits of using PHP is its LAMP stack. It is a tried and tested stack that runs a website on an Apache HTTP web server deployed on a Linux system and uses MySQL database. Hence, the development time is significantly reduced.

5. 100% Open-Source

Most development tools in PHP are free, and the link with multiple frameworks ensures end-to-end website development. Some of the key frameworks for PHP include Drupal, CodeIgniter, Laravel, etc. Hence, this free-to-use technology allows the developers to benefit from a 100% open-source programming language.

6. Different Database Options

PHP is compatible with MySQL, MS-SQL, SQLite, PostgreSQL, etc. Further, it can be used with non-relational databases, MongoDB, Redis, ElasticSearch, etc. Hence, developers can choose from different available databases according to their needs.

7. Increased Loading Speed

PHP allows quick webpage loading compared to the other programming languages available in the market. Further, it is three times quicker than the closest competitor, Python. Hence, businesses can improve their SEO ranking by simply investing in the websites created using PHP that is quick to load and hence liked by the customers.

8. A Plethora Of Documentation

The availability of tutorials, manuals, and other learning materials makes it easy for developers to start quickly with PHP development. It is one of the key reasons that learning PHP development is easy.

9. A Large Community Of Developers

PHP developers are available in competitive pricing based on their experiences. Hence, there are options to choose from junior developers or professional developers.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Using PHP?

Like any other programming language, PHP has its set of limitations that needs to be considered by any developer using it. Some of these key concerns include:

  • The popularity of PHP has been declining over the years due to the introduction of more sophisticated and advanced programming languages. The leading programming languages like Python challenge the dominance of PHP. However, the cost of development and expertise remains the deciding factor.
  • The modern needs of advanced website development are not fully satisfied by PHP. It is not fast and effective compared to the current alternatives like Keras, Theano, Scikit-learn, etc. Further, any business looking to introduce the machine learning facility needs to look for something outside PHP.
  • PHP is open-source, and hence it is combating challenging modern security threats. Any unauthorized user can use the vulnerabilities in revealing source code and its fixed code for accessing the database. However, this concern is equal to any other open-source programming language.

Best 5 Alternatives To PHP

The top five PHP alternatives are:

1. Java

Java

It is a disciplined programming language that is highly portable and cross-platform.

2. Nods.js

Nods.js

It is one of the few alternatives to PHP that can compete with PHP in speed. It is inherently asynchronous, non-blocking, and event-driven.

3. Python

Python

It is one of the programming languages that are easy to understand, like English.

4. C#

C#

It is one of the advanced logical development languages closest to the .Net framework.

5. Ruby

Ruby

It is an object-oriented language with a dynamic system that manages memory usage.

Wrapping Up

With more than 78 million websites using PHP currently, there is a lot that this simple but effective programming language offer to the developers and the end-users. Hence, a long list of globally recognized websites uses PHP for advanced developments. It has enormous scope for future website development. The dynamic nature of PHP with the release of upgraded versions ensures that every business can get optimized benefits out of it.

Author

I am an eCommerce consultant, a member of the Forbes technology council with a decade of experience in the ecommerce development segment. My expertise can make your business overcome any obstacles while you are dealing with the Magento ecommerce platform!