If it’s good enough for the biggest websites out there (like Facebook, Wikipedia, WordPress and millions of others) it’s good enough for you! PHP is server-side scripting language perfect for making dynamic websites and web applications, as well for general purpose programming.
So, how difficult is PHP?
PHP is far from difficult. In fact, it’s so easy to pick up that plenty of non-programmers end up using it without ever learning the language (but we wouldn’t recommend going down that route). PHP was designed to make web development simpler and more efficient, so it tends to be naturally suited to beginners.
PHP is a dynamically typed language. That means it has plenty of flexibility and that there are numerous ways to find solutions to problems. There are no strict rules on how you should build features either, so PHP is equally suited to professionals looking to get creative with their coding.
You should be aware that PHP has evolved considerably in recent years. The latest version (PHP7) has eradicated tons of little niggling bugs, so it’s now smoother than ever. That’s obviously a very positive thing, but it does have one minor downside; there are a lot of outdated tutorials floating around the web. If you’re just starting out, always double check that your learning materials are relevant to the latest version.
What about Community Support?
All programming languages have a developer community that has grown up around them as the language has gained popularity, so there’s always plenty of ways to give and receive advice. The larger a community, the more exciting and interesting ways you’ll see the language being used and developed, so it’s a vital component.
PHP is a ‘veteran’ programming language and is used by 80% of the top 10 million websites in the world, so needless to say it has significant community support.
StackOverflow is where to go if you need an answer to a programming question that you can’t figure out for yourself. It’s an incredible useful resource – especially for beginners – and PHP has the 3rd largest community on this network.
If you’d rather learn from someone face-to-face, Meetup is the place to be. You can network and learn from fellow developers and maybe even find a mentor. There are over 1500 PHP groups on this networking site, with a total of 541,000 members. It’s their 5th largest programming community.
Over 500 PHP projects have earned 500+ stars on GitHub, so there’s no shortage of inspiration, ideas and solutions for your project.
How will it benefit my career?
Other programming languages may be set to eclipse PHP in the not so distant future (depending on who you believe), but PHP developers are still in consistent demand since it remains the primary language of the web. It’s especially popular in e-commerce – a rapidly expanding area – and since it’s largely understood by non-technical minded people, PHP freelancers are also in high demand.
Where is PHP headed?
The answer to that question is so far unclear – but that doesn’t mean it’s bad news. There’s no denying that PHP has fallen in popularity in recent years; this was due to the emergence of newer, arguably more dynamic frameworks like Ruby on Rails and Node.js, as well as the many bugs in PHP that frustrated developers.
However, PHP7 has fixed the vast majority of these bugs, and web giant Facebook has invested heavily in the language. Plus with e-commerce booming and PHP’s strong association with the area, there’s certain to be a boost in its popularity. PHP isn’t going away just yet.