Top Features of PHP You Must Know

Features of PHP

What kind of internet would it be if the websites designed are just plain information and links? It is hard to imagine this during these days when almost all web pages are interactive and engaging. These web pages are dynamic web pages. A dynamic web page is a web page that displays different content each time it is viewed while retaining the same layout and design.

PHP is one of the back-end languages used as a scripting language. A server-side dynamic web page is a web page whose construction is controlled by an application server processing server-side scripts in the back-end.

PHP is a server-side scripting language that can be easily embedded in HTML code. A scripting language is a programming language for runtime environments that not only automates the execution of tasks but also performs several other tasks such as creating plugins and extensions, system administration. The applications are written on it run on web servers and do not depend on web browsers.

There are certain features of PHP that make it stand out from other scripting languages. We shall explore the features of PHP in this article, and we shall also discuss why PHP is so popular amongst its users.

What is PHP?

PHP

PHP is an acronym for Hypertext Preprocessor. It is an open-source, interpreted scripting language created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994. PHP contains HTML with embedded code that does some tasks. A PHP code starts with <?php and ends with ?>. An example of PHP script:

<! DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<title> EXAMPLE</title>
</head>
<body>
            
            <?php
                      echo  “This is a PHP script!”;
             ?>

</body>
</html>

In the above piece of code, as mentioned earlier, the PHP script is embedded in HTML code. The code will produce the following output:

This is a PHP script!

Being a server-side scripting language (unlike JavaScript, which is a client-side scripting language), it is used to manage the dynamic and interactive content of a website and is executed on the server-side. PHP is fast and easy to learn. It can be embedded in HTML, making it easier to add functionalities without needing to call external files or data as it can be easily connected with a wide range of databases.

PHP has something to offer everybody- it is extremely simple and friendly for beginners, and it has lots of features for professionals. Over the years, the role of PHP has shifted, and it has now become one of the most popular programming languages in the world. 

Why use PHP?

PHP is a very popular language because it is simple and is open-source. There are many convincing reasons for why you should be using PHP, some of them being:

  • It is easy to install and learn.
  • It is open-source and therefore free.
  • Not only that, but it is fast and secure.
  • It runs on various platforms (Windows, Linux, Unix, etc.).
  • PHP can access cookies variable and set cookies.
  • It supports many protocols, such as HTTP, POP3, LDAP, IMAP, SNMP, NNTP, and many more.
  • It is well-connected with databases and supports a wide range of databases. This feature also makes it suitable for handling forms.
  • Many references and learning materials are available for PHP are available over the internet.

Features of PHP

We have learned about PHP and its uses. But what are the features that make PHP popular

Now that we have a basic understanding of PHP, let us see some of the most striking features of PHP.

Features of PHP
Features of PHP

Simplicity

PHP is particularly famous for its simplicity. It is organized and easy to learn. Even beginners won’t face any hard time learning and using PHP. It is a very well-organized programming language, and it comes with a lot of pre-defined functions, which makes the task of the programmer easy. There is no need to include libraries in PHP like C. With a lot of pre-defined functions, PHP is easy to optimize as well.

Flexibility

PHP scripts can run on any device- mobile, tablet, or PC. It is very compatible with various databases. It can be easily embedded and integrated into HTML, XML, and JavaScript. Likewise, it is also compatible with almost all servers used today like Apache, IIS, etc.

Objective oriented

PHP supports object-oriented programming features like data encapsulation, inheritance, abstraction, polymorphism, etc. The Object-oriented programming feature was added in PHP5. This feature helps in building complex reusable web pages and makes PHP comparable to powerful object-oriented languages like Java and Python.

Interpreted language

PHP is an interpreted language, which means there is no need for compilation. Interpreters run through a program line by line and execute the code. Since interpreters execute source code themselves, the code becomes platform-independent. Some other benefits of interpreted language include dynamic typing and short executable program size.

Efficient

PHP is a versatile, reliable, and efficient programming language. The memory management of PHP is very efficient. Great session management, eliminating unnecessary memory allocation, are some of the features that make PHP efficient.

Fast Performance

PHP scrips are usually faster than other scripting languages. Users can load their web pages faster, and they love it. PHP code runs faster than most of programming languages because it runs in its own memory space. Not only that, but its connection with databases is also fast and efficient.

Free and open-source

PHP is open-source, which means it can be downloaded and used freely. There is absolutely no hassle to acquire a license to use it and no payment is required to use it, so it is kind to your pocket too!

Case-sensitive

PHP is a partially case-sensitive language. Although functions names are not case-sensitive, other things in PHP are case-sensitive. The following things in PHP are case-sensitive:

  • Variable names
  • Constructs (if, if-else, if-elseif, while, do-while)
  • Keywords (such as true and false)
  • User-defined functions and class names

Security

PHP has many pre-defined functions for data encryption. Users can also use third-party applications for security. Security and flexibility are often contrasting features, but PHP somehow manages to offer them both, and that’s great. PHP is designed specifically to be a more secure language for writing CGI (Computer-generated Imagery) programs. Security algorithms such as Sha1 ( secure Hash algorithm 1) and MD5(Message digest 5) are used to encrypt the strings in PHP. Filter_var and strip_tags functions help to keep the environment more secure and safe for users.

Platform independent

We can run PHP on any device and operating system (Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, RISC OS, or Unix). We can easily connect it with various databases and is also compatible with almost all web servers used today (Apache, IIS, and others). It supports a wide range of databases as well. Its cross-platform compatibility makes really popular among its users as it saves a lot of time and energy.

Loosely typed language

PHP supports variable declaration without declaring its data type.

Real-time access monitoring

PHP provides real-time information about users’ access. It provides a summary of recent accesses of the user. PHP offers a secure user management system and prevents unrestricted access. 

Error reporting and handling

PHP has many pre-defined functions and reporting constants that generate errors at runtime.PHP5 allows you to use semantics like try, throw and catch, like Java and C#. There are 16 levels of error in PHP5, representing the category and severity of an error in PHP. Also, error reporting in PHP is super easy with function error_reporting().

Memory and CPU use information

PHP has functions like memory_get_usage() and memory_get_peak_usage(), which provide users with the memory usage information. To get the current memory usage, we can use the memory_get_usage() function, and to get the peak amount of memory used at a point, we can use the memory_get_peak_usage() function. Therefore, by using these functions, you can monitor your memory usage and optimize your code by eliminating the lines of code consuming a lot of memory resources.

Active community support

PHP has got the backing and support of many users and volunteers across the globe. These volunteers contribute to many features and versions of PHP libraries. They also contribute to overcoming the language barrier by translating in different languages to help new programmers. Because of these volunteers, there are a lot of third-party open-source libraries available in the public domain providing basic functionalities as well as complex operations.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the language you are going to choose depends on what you are trying to build and the features you prioritize. Scripting languages are in great demand these days in the era of the World Wide Web to create dynamic web pages. PHP comes with a plethora of outstanding features. There are many more outstanding features that have not been covered. Being an open-source, fast, and reliable server-side scripting language makes it a popular choice of users, among various other scripting languages. That it is one of the most used programming languages and that too, along with languages like Java, Python, C+, is a testament to its popularity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the characteristics of PHP variables?
A. The following are the characteristics of a PHP variable:

  • It starts with the $ sign followed by the name.
  • The name must start with the letter or the underscore character.
  • It cannot start with a number.
  • The name must only contain alpha-numeric characters and underscores (A-Z, 0-9, and _)
  • The variable names are case-sensitive.

Q. What are PHP functions?
A. A PHP function is a piece of code that can be reused as many times as the user wants. It takes input as arguments and returns the output. There are many pre-defined functions in PHP, and users can define their own functions as well.

Here is an example of a PHP function:

function add($a,$b){
                      $sum=$a+$b;
                       echo “Sum of the two numbers= $sum”;
                     }

Q. What are PHP parameters?
A. PHP functions use PHP parameters to accept inputs during runtime. These are the names listed in the function definition. Parameters are initialized to the values of arguments supplied. In the above example, a and b are the parameters of the functions.

Q. How many types of functions are there in PHP?
A. There are two types of functions in PHP:

  • Internal function (built-in functions)
  • User-defined functions (declared by the user)

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