PHP for Beginners: Introduction to Server-Side Scripting

By Chevas Balloun

Last Updated: April 9th 2024

code snippet of a basic PHP script

Too Long; Didn't Read:

PHP is a key server-side scripting language vital for dynamic web development since 1995. PHP's evolution, highlighted by PHP 7, reaffirms its position as a top server-side language, offering ease of use and versatility for popular platforms like WordPress. Discover PHP's strengths and dive into effective web development strategies.

PHP is the OG of server-side coding, been around since '95 and still going strong. It's all about making dynamic websites that can interact with users and databases.

With PHP, you can embed code directly into HTML, making it super easy to create badass web pages that do more than just sit there.

The PHP Manual is like the Bible for this language - it's got everything you need to know.

PHP processes user requests on the server and sends the results back to their browser as HTML. It started as simple scripts, but now it's a full-fledged programming tool with a massive community behind it.

PHP 7 was a game-changer, making it faster and better at handling errors.

It's the #1 server-side language, powering big guns like WordPress and Drupal. As you dive into this tutorial, you'll learn how PHP is crucial for managing dynamic content and interacting with databases like MySQL - a must-have skill for building legit web apps.

We'll break it down so even newbies can master PHP's powers and become web dev wizards. Get ready to unlock the secrets of PHP's functionality and take your coding skills to the next level.

Table of Contents

  • Why Choose PHP for Server-Side Scripting?
  • A Step-by-step Guide to Your First PHP Script
  • Understanding PHP’s Role in Server-Side Scripting
  • Wrap Up: The Future of PHP in Server-Side Scripting
  • Frequently Asked Questions

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Why Choose PHP for Server-Side Scripting?


Let's talk about PHP and why it's such a big deal for coding websites and apps. As an open-source language, PHP is killing it with a whopping 78.1% market share, which means it's super popular among web devs.

Here's why people love it:

  • It's wicked easy for beginners to pick up, with tons of online resources to help you get started.
  • PHP has a massive library of built-in functions for web stuff, thanks to sites like Hostinger tutorials.
  • You can customize PHP to the max with tons of extensions and modern frameworks like Laravel.
  • There's a huge community of devs sharing tips, tricks, and docs to help you out.
  • PHP plays nice with all sorts of databases and hosting services, making it super flexible.

Of course, nothing's perfect.

PHP can be slower than languages like Node.js for certain tasks, according to a comparison by DistantJob.

Plus, since it's open-source, there are security risks if you don't set things up properly. And the syntax can get weird, especially with bigger projects.

It's still ranking in the top 10 of the TIOBE Index for February 2023, so it's definitely got staying power.

Whether PHP is the right move for your project depends on your specific needs, but it's a solid choice for server-side coding if you can work around the downsides.

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A Step-by-step Guide to Your First PHP Script


Buckle up, 'cause we're about to dive into the wild world of PHP. It's the language that powers heavy-hitters like Facebook and Wikipedia, so it's a pretty big deal.

To get started, make sure your local dev environment, like XAMPP, is all set up and ready to rock.

First things first, create a file called 'index.php'.

Remember, PHP scripts gotta start with <?php and end with ?>. Here's a basic script to get you going:

 <?php   echo "Sup, world!"; ?> 

This bad boy uses the echo statement to display some text in your browser.

Just head over to localhost/index.php and you'll see it in action. As you're coding, keep these structure components in mind:

  1. Opening Tag: <?php, letting the server know you're about to drop some PHP heat.
  2. PHP Content: This is where the magic happens, like echo "Sup, world!";.
  3. Closing Tag: ?>, it's like putting a bow on your code.

For you newbies out there, it's a solid move to work on some basic PHP projects like a contact form or a CMS. These projects will help you get a better grip on the basics.

According to recent tutorials, practical projects like these will make learning PHP a breeze.

"Taking on a manageable project is key for getting a solid foundation," says Jennifer Martinez, PHP Developer. By actually building stuff and solving problems, you're not just reading about it—you're putting your skills to the test. Start with simple tasks, and you'll be tackling more complex applications as you become more comfortable with PHP's syntax and operations.

Understanding PHP’s Role in Server-Side Scripting


Let me break it down for you on how PHP keeps the web running like a well-oiled machine. This coding language is the OG when it comes to server-side scripting, powering heavy hitters like Facebook, Wikipedia, WordPress, and even Zoom.

Nearly 80% of websites that use server-side programming are rockin' PHP, which just shows how lit it really is.

PHP code gets embedded into HTML, allowing devs to whip up dynamic content, tap into databases, and handle server-side tasks with ease.

It's like having a sidekick that makes your website come alive. And if you're into content management systems (CMS), PHP plays nice with them, making it a breeze to integrate with MySQL and keep everything running smoothly.

  • Compatibility with major operating systems and web servers? Check! Devs can flex their skills and deploy PHP in all kinds of environments.
  • Thanks to its straightforward architecture, PHP makes data exchange between the server and database a breeze, leading to lightning-fast load times and smooth user experiences.
  • Being open-source means PHP has a massive community backing it up, providing endless resources for troubleshooting and upgrades.
  • PHP's database connectivity game is on point, seamlessly integrating with MySQL, MongoDB, PostgreSQL, and more.

All these perks prove that PHP is here to stay, making it a must-have tool for back-end devs.

"PHP's simplicity, top-notch security features, and ability to serve up dynamic content like a boss make it an invaluable asset,"

according to the latest web dev trends.

As websites get more advanced and personalized, PHP empowers devs to create responsive, reliable, and secure online experiences that'll blow your mind. So, if you're just starting out in web development, learning PHP should be a top priority – it's the language that's shaping the internet as we know it.

Fill this form to download the Bootcamp Syllabus

And learn about Nucamp's Coding Bootcamps and why aspiring developers choose us.

*By checking "I Agree", you are opting-in to receive information, including text messages from Nucamp. You also agree to the following Terms of use, SMS Terms of use & Privacy Policy. Reply STOP to stop receiving text messages.

Wrap Up: The Future of PHP in Server-Side Scripting


This whole PHP thing has got people talking, you know? As of last year, it's still killing it, with like 77% of websites using it where the server language is known.

That's a pretty big deal, right?

And the devs ain't slacking either. They're constantly updating PHP, like with the 8.x series that brought in some sick new features like attributes, union types, and JIT compilation.

It's like they're trying to make PHP faster and more type-safe, which is pretty dope if you ask me.

But that's not all. PHP is straight-up powering some of the biggest names in the game.

WordPress, which is like the king of CMSs, runs on PHP. And let's not forget about e-commerce giants like Magento and WooCommerce – they're also PHP-powered. It's like PHP is the backbone of the internet, you feel me?

And it's not just the old-school websites either.

PHP is killing it in the cloud computing world too. Major PaaS providers are supporting it, which just shows how reliable and legit PHP is. It's like the OG language that's still keeping up with the times.

Even big companies like Facebook are using PHP and their own version called Hack.

That's how versatile and flexible PHP is – it can handle some seriously complex stuff. And let's not forget about the community – it's lit. People are constantly contributing and making sure PHP stays fresh.

So, if you're just starting out in coding, PHP is definitely worth checking out.

It's not some relic from the past – it's constantly evolving and staying relevant. And with frameworks like Laravel and Symfony, it's got some serious firepower.

At Nucamp, we've got a Web Development Fundamentals bootcamp that'll teach you all about PHP and how it's shaping the future of web development. It's like a crash course in the language that's running the internet, you dig?

Frequently Asked Questions


Why Choose PHP for Server-Side Scripting?

PHP is chosen for server-side scripting due to its simplicity for beginners, vast standard library, flexibility through extensions and frameworks, robust community support, compatibility with databases and hosting services.

What are the key elements that demonstrate PHP's relevance in server-side scripting?

PHP's compatibility with major operating systems and web servers, rapid data exchange between server and database, open-source nature with robust community support, and database connectivity prowess showcase PHP's enduring relevance in server-side scripting.

How can beginners embark on their first PHP script?

Beginners can start by creating a file named 'index.php', using tags, writing simple code like 'echo Hello, World!'. Undertaking manageable projects like a contact form or CMS can significantly enhance understanding of PHP basics.

What is PHP's role in server-side scripting?

PHP serves as the foundation for platforms like Facebook, WordPress, and more by enabling dynamic content creation, database interactions, and efficient server-side tasks. Its compatibility, architecture, community support, and database connectivity reinforce its position in server-side scripting.

What is the future outlook for PHP in server-side scripting?

The future of PHP in server-side scripting looks promising with continuous evolution, performance enhancements in PHP 8.x series, and its integration into popular content management systems and e-commerce solutions. PHP remains indispensable in sectors like finance and education, showing adaptability and innovation through community engagement and technological advancements.

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Chevas Balloun

Director of Marketing & Brand

Chevas has spent over 15 years inventing brands, designing interfaces, and driving engagement for companies like Microsoft. He is a practiced writer, a productivity app inventor, board game designer, and has a builder-mentality drives entrepreneurship.