“Computer science education cannot make anybody an expert programmer any more than studying brushes and pigments can make somebody an expert painter.”
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PHP is one of the most important programming languages out there and it certainly plays a huge role in web development. For one thing, while you certainly can use PHP for other applications than web development, it’s primary use is still in this field.
Programmers have a sense of humor that is based on non sequiturs and recursiveness. This is why, like Linux or WINE, PHP is a recursive acronym. While it originally stood for Personal Home Page, now the acronym stands for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.
Why You Should Use PHP in Developing Your Websites
There is a number of arguments to go in favor of PHP. First of all, its popularity serves to attest to its quality and customizableness. You can accomplish pretty much anything you set your mind to with PHP.
But let’s say you’re not convinced by its mass appeal. Good for you, you need stronger arguments than that. Well, there is a number of major selling points that make PHP stand out from other web programming languages.
Firstly, PHP is open source. This means PHP is completely, 100% free. You just install it on your PC and you’re good to go work on your website.
Second, PHP is unrestricted. You can use it in any way you can think of and nobody will come along to tell you you can’t do that. That goes for a lot in a fluid field, like web design is.
Third, PHP will help you cut on your expenses. When using .NET, you need to pay extra for the server. This is not the case with PHP, where you can use Linux or Apache servers for free and cut your overhead expenses while you’re at it.
Fourth, PHP supports many database options, from MSSQL and IBM to DB2 and Oracle OC18.
Fifth, and finally, PHP is easy. Mastery, as is the case with any other programming language, difficult and takes a lot of work. Still, PHP is easy to learn, especially if you’re coming to it from a background like C or C++, as its syntax is very similar to that of these two languages. And even if you have no prior programming experience, this type of syntax is easy to learn.
What’s New With PHP
This summer, the folks over at PHP.net released the latest PHP distribution, PHP 5.5. This introduced a whole lot of new features, of which we will discuss generators, password hashing and the introduction of the finally keyword.
Generators are one of the most anticipated features of PHP 5.5. They provide the programmer to handle iteration without having to write a new class that implements the Iterator interface. They derive this functionality from the new yield keyword. A generator looks very similar to a normal function, but instead of returning a single value, it may yield any number of values.
The new Password Hashing API is another hugely important new feature of PHP 5.5. It finally frees developers from reliance on the confusing & poorly documented crypt() function by introducing a simplified set of functions to handle password hashing.
Finally, PHP 5.5 introduces the finally keyword, that makes exception handling that much easier. It allows developers to specify code to be run at the end of try and catch blocks, regardless of any exceptions those blocks may or may not have thrown out.
15 Great PHP Tutorials
1. Caching Dynamic PHP Pages Easily
This is a great solution for caching heavy pages using input buffering. It provides an elegant response to the caching dilemma by not caching everything on your website. Well, we’ll let you see for yourself.
2. PHP for Beginners: Building Your First Simple CMS
This great tutorial will walk you through the construction of your first simple CMS. Since there will be some minor security issues, this won’t be an official CMS, but it will provide you with a great starting point to CMS construction and PHP development in general.
3. PHP & MySQL Download Counter
This great tutorial will teach you how to build a simple yet robust file download tracker that you can use easily, just by uploading the files you want to track to the files folder and use a special URL to access them.
4. User Membership With PHP
This is a very informative intermediate-level tutorial for PHP that will teach you how to build your own user registration form. It will walk you through the basics of user management and the creation of a simple Member Area that you can easily implement on your own website.
5. How to Create a Photo Gallery Using the Flickr API
Ever wanted to include a smooth looking, Flickr-style photo gallery on your website? Well now you can learn how to do that easily. More so, this great tutorial will teach you how to tap straight into your own Flickr photostream and integrate it into your own website.
6. Build an Awesome Status Board
This great PHP tutorial and screencast will show you how to build a status board similar to the Panic status board. It’s a great tutorial for advanced PHP developers.
7. How to Validate Forms in Both Sides Using PHP & jQuery
This is an intermediate PHP & jQuery tutorial that teaches you how to validate forms in both sides – client side & server side. On the client side, the validation is done with Java and jQuery, while on the server side, it’s done with PHP.
8. Object Oriented PHP for Beginners
This great tutorial for PHP neophytes will teach you how to build and work with PHPs built-in Object Oriented Programming (OOP) capabilities. It’s largely a video-based tutorial, so you get to see every step of the development process, all the while being talked through it.
9. How to Create a PHP / MySQL Powered Forum From Scratch
This great tutorial for advanced PHP developers will teach you how to build your own forum from scratch. It walks you through every important aspect, from the creation of the database tables to the header & footer system, the sign up & sign in menu and everything else that makes a forum. Remember, even though social media is the wave of the future, forums still have a place on the web!
10. Create Instagram Filters with PHP
This is a unique tutorial that teaches you how to create instagram-style image editing filters using nothing but PHP.
11. PHP Tutorial for Beginners
This is the one definitive beginner PHP tutorial. It walks you thorough everything you need to know when starting out with PHP.
12. 15 Wonderfully Creative Uses for PHP
While not a tutorial per se, this is a great resource that exemplifies what you can do with PHP if you’re creative and approach it with the proper mindset.
13. pChart – a PHP Class to Build Charts
This is a wonderful resource for all your chart needs. Master pChart and you’ll have no more issues with creating beautiful charts with ease.
14. Displaying Featured Tweets With PHP & jQuery
This is a great self-explanatory tutorial. Learn how to embed featured tweets easily.
15. Photobooth with PHP, jQuery and CSS3
Yet another great photo gallery PHP tutorial. Be sure to check it out!
That pretty much wraps up our guide of 20 awesome things you can do with PHP and their tutorials. Check them out and let us know what your favorites are!