Necessary to learn PHP?

PenguinManiac

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PHP, together with HTML, CSS and JS is one of the fundamental languages of web development. It's easy to assume that the great majority of webpages are based on .php files, given that it can incorporate HTML code, and it can be extremely flexible and useful to implement otherwise impossible features (such as sending emails straight from a website).
However, PHP is only as necessary as you make it to be. It's entirely possible for someone not to need any of these features, which are situational and only employed with specific kinds of websites.

Should I learn PHP for a personal website? I could focus on improving my HTML/CSS/JS skills instead.
 

tim_cloudcone

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I don't think you'll need PHP for a personal website. But it's a good language to learn.

Some people tend to like front-end development (HTML/CSS and sometimes JS) more than back-end development (mostly dev work with PHP, ASP, JSP etc.) or vice versa. So I think you should give it a try in your free time and see whether you like it. If not you can continue improving your HTML, CSS and JS skills without focusing much on PHP.

In the future, if you want to get a job in the field, front-end developers and back-end developers are most of the time hired separately. So you don't need to know PHP together with HTML, CSS and JS.
 

PenguinManiac

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PenguinManiac
Oh, that's really good to know. Front-end development can be pretty complex on its own, dealing with both the external looks and underlying structure on the website would mean trouble.
I guess having some knowledge of back-end development languages is always added value, right? Or is it irrelevant enough to make it a marginal upside compared to deeper knowledge of other JS libraries or, say, front-end frameworks like Bootstrap or Foundation (apparently, they're way more employed in web design by professional companies than I thought)?
 

tim_cloudcone

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tim_cloudcone
Yeah I think having some basic understanding of back-end technologies is more beneficial than having a deeper knowledge of front-end frameworks. I say this because I think you can always easily learn the rare and deeper things about front-end languages and frameworks on the job if you require to by simple searching for what you need if you're already well familiar with the language or the framework. But having some understanding about back-end technologies already can help you in developing the front-end as you know the limitations or issues (performance, logical problems etc.) you might face when displaying the content on the front-end.
 

PenguinManiac

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PenguinManiac
Yeah, good point. I have often figured out how to use some features for some frameworks (although simple ones) just by googling it, so I get what you're saying. And I do know that some back-end development knowledge, instead, could have saved me quite a few headaches with some projects I worked on.
Thanks for the tip!
 

joed77

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For a static website, it shouldn't be a problem, but for a dynamic one, you have no choice but to chose a language that will handle contacts, databases, emails, etc. You don't have to stick with PHP though, Python is another alternative.
with that being said, if you lean more to the front-end side, you don't need to learn either, Jommla or Wordpress might be the best choice to develop a website hustle free .
 

PenguinManiac

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PenguinManiac
Wait just a second, Python can be used for back-end? That language is just so wonderful. I've learned this just now, thank you!
Yeah, Wordpress seems to have taken for itself the bulk of back-end development. It handles news editor, databases and a lot of features just through plugins, so why even bother with PHP? That's what the majority will think, anyway. However, learning PHP is needed if you'd like to develop said plugins, isn't it?
 

joed77

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Yeah, we have no choice but to learn PHP, I even asked on a thread if one could make out of a PHP script a plugin that we could install later easily, I'm all for any lazy solution. I want to mention that Python is necessary for a lot of other application in the desktop, like automation on Mac.
 

PenguinManiac

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PenguinManiac
So Python is not simply a possible replacement for PHP, but a fully implemented web development language as well, huh? It's incredible how versatile it can be. I presumed everything could be done with the right combination of PHP and JS (which would be nice, given how you would only need a couple of languages for all your needs).
 

Mike001

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I found some really good responses to this question and was impressed with the conversation.

One thing to keep in mind is that PHP is the most popular language for dynamic web development. It is used on many of the most popular websites and is not that difficult to learn.

If you want to do anything that pertains to dynamic pages, PHP is the way to go. Just look around, Facebook, Amazon. eBay, they are all written with PHP dynamic back-ends.

One of the other big advantages is that PHP is free and is supported on all Web Servers that I am aware of. It is an standard implementation on all the big web hosting companies, it is continuing to grow and if implemented correctly is very secure. The key word there being correctly.

It connects well to many different types of databases, MySQL being the most popular, but by far not the only.

Another advantage to learning PHP is that it is developed with Object Orientated Programming (OOP) in mind and makes learning other languages, once you get the concepts down, much easier.

Most good web developers, even front end developers, understand the implementation and use of PHP. Even in a front end framework with little PHP code needed, PHP adds the ability to refactor code which can save a tremendous amount of time developing front ends. Instead of changing pages, you can change a small section and implement that section on every page, i.e. think of navigation.

You can write the navigation code one time, and include it on every page. This way if changes are needed, you just change the one file and that change is reflected on every page. What a time save, plus it speeds up your page loads. Just one example of how front end developers use PHP, there are hundreds of examples I could give you.

Great conversation, if you would like more information just ask.

But to your question, should you learn PHP, a better question is do you want to be a successful web developer, if the answer to that is yes, then yes you should learn PHP.
 

PenguinManiac

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PenguinManiac
Thanks for the in-depth answer! I agree, there have been plenty of useful suggestions in here, I'm very thankful for that.
What I didn't know was that PHP could be used to improve navigation and overall structure. Does it work like frames/iframes? Does it offer any major advantages to, say, importing HTML/CSS code and modify the source when needed? (although I guess the HTML bit is done through PHP as well) Such a useful implementation would seriously make me take learning PHP in consideration (or, rather, give me the right push to get started).
 

Mike001

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PenquinManiac,

It offers many advantages to using standard HTML / CSS. It does not work like iFrames or frames and is much quicker and supported in all browsers. There are a lot of advantages to learning PHP other than just dynamic site development.

As mush as I hate to disagree with shrinkme, I have to point out that no real web developer will ever use WordPress. It is a very popular application and has a good market for many individuals that blog and run web sites, but anyone that is truly looking to grow their site, follow Best Practices, has true concerns about security, and follows Best SEO practices just will not use that application. It is far too bloated, and cannot keep up with the ever changing specifications of the web, violates many of the rules of web development, and runs way too slow for most web applications. In fact, many of the college courses that I teach will not even allow us to demonstrate that application because of those facts.

If you really want to learn web development and become a good web developer steer clear of applications like Joomla, WordPress, Expression Engine, SilverStripe, etc. They are good at what they do but will get you into some really development bad habits and will turn off many of your potential customers.
 

PenguinManiac

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PenguinManiac
I personally agree with you, but I'm concerned about the way WP is seen in the market. Tailor-made content management platforms will obviously better suited, but is the time it will take you to develop that worth it when you could use WP? Most of all, would it be worth it to customers who ask for a website to be built quickly and don't care about how better coded it is, as long as it works and it is secure?
As for web applications, though, I get why WP isn't recommended. It's better addressed to other kinds of websites, and there is no need to use such a massive structure for something that won't make use of many (if any) of its features.
Thanks for the very informative comment, as usual!
 

jason223

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For me, I think you need to learn PHP. PHP is the most popular language for dynamic web development. It is used on many of the most popular websites and is not that difficult to learn. Yes, it is easy to learn. So why not try to learn this language while also learning HTML, CSS and JS. It will be a good benefit from you as you own a personal website. You can make your personal website dynamic so you can change/update the content easily. You can easily learn PHP by reading tutorials on the internet or watching tutorials on youtube.
 

jemuelterrado

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Prefer to focus in PHP which is a very popular website nowadays. Most of the website are created using PHP language with the support of other back-end programming languages. PHP comes in with different code combination where in you can create great output on website.
 

Mike001

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I would also be concerned with the way WP is seen in the market. Anyone that has any knowledge of the web, and how security and SEO are structured would never deploy a true business site using WP, period, no discussion.

There are far too many back-end security holes in WP to allow a business to run on that platform. Just read the white papers on the security issues associated with WP on the W3C. Look at all the security violations that were found in the add on modules to WP. Some of them put there intentionally by malicious authors. That is enough to turn off any business. But I will admit I love developers that use WP as a front end. Those sites are eventually driven to people like me or members of my University classes for re-development and trust me, it cost a lot more to restructure a site then to build one from scratch. Much of the work I do now is done restructuring poorly designed sites.

What surprises me more than anything is how many web developers will rip off customers by deploying these types of sites without telling them the risks. And charge what a good developer would charge for a custom site. The one good thing is many of those developers are not in business long as word of mouth in this industry travels quickly.

Darn, I don't even have time to update my own site because I am so busy teaching and running the development business.

Developing a CMS from scratch, is not near as difficult as people make it out to be. As a perfect example I put together a 17 hour video series that walks a person step by step through the process of building a custom Blog System. Using HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, JavaScript and the BootStrap framework. It will take someone that knows absolutely nothing about web development and when they finish they will have a custom CMS application. And more importantly they will know how it works and everything that is involved in the code. It implements some of the most up to date security features out there, and more importantly it follows all "Best Practices" for SEO. Which on most sites is more important than security unless you are dealing with large amounts of eCommerce.

You have to follow your own path, but with the importance being placed on SEO and the implementation of good SEO, more and more as developers learn about the shortcomings of WP, Joomla, and the rest, those applications will fall where they need to be. In the consumer market, not the business market. For small consumer sites, sites with little traffic, they work great and give individuals an opportunity to get online and express themselves. That's what they designed to do. For business sites where direct access, speed, security and search engines play an important role in their customer driven access, they have no business in that arena.

OK, I am done preaching now. I have this conversation so often with customers, I should just print our brochure and when the question comes up, just hand it to them.

I hope this helps you with our decision. There is a lot of information out there on this topic. Do some reading and make an informed decision. And always do what is best for your customers.
 

Jud

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Css, html and javascript are only for the viewing of the page, what if you will need to save user information where would you like to save it if there is no backend in your website. If you are the only one who created your webiste with just css, html and javascript in it then I think you much better to learn php. Learning php is easy to understand and once you've learned it you can use it as a backend in any website you would like to establish. Happy coding!
 

nesir

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Php is certianly prevalent on the web right now. I think because of word press massive usage ( i believe 25% ) of website , we are always going to see and hear about worpress sites being hacked . The problem is also that WordPress allows very low skilled individuals to create websites and these guys will inevitably have security holes. Hackers know this , and hackers know their chances of finding a website that has security issues on WordPress by a individual who has low level cosing skills is far greater than even joomla , drupal or personal cms just because of numbers alone.

I am not standing up for WordPress , i think anything is hack able , just this happens to be a over abundant target with all the right circumstances.

As for ops question , when i started backend i jumped straight in laravel tutorials ( yeah you heard me correct) while its a framework intended to make things easier for you , a basic understanding of where all the framework functions are derived from and how they work is greatly beneficial to problem solving, thus i went back and learnt pure php. THEN returned to it.

In terms of is a language , it has been around a long time and is seen as many web developers as patchy ( maybe it is ) but it works. Also i dont think its the best language for all backend workings ( probably most ) so youd have to gauge what you are looking to do in the future.

Theres python, ruby , php , node, and many more each wth their own distinct advantages.

What concerns me , is the play it safe mindset , what is the language to learn that will set me as a backend developer type question...

Any good developer will tell you there is none. Why because ironically programming is secondly about language and firstly about you problem solving abilities. I know web developers that have years of experience and still refer to book , what makes them great is not their knowledge of a code base but their ability to understand and fix it if they need to.

Languages are like the internet forever changing, common sense and logical problem solving ability however is not. I would focus on the latter.

A adaptable programmer is worth way more than somebody who could recite an entire language.
 
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Mike001

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Mike001
That statement you made right there is oh so true.

As you stated there is no one way fixes all, and too many people believe that if they learn one language they will be able to solve all of the problems that they run into while developing.

That will not happen, the web is ever evolving and a good web developer will have an understanding of all the tools that are out there to address particular problems and select the right tool for the right job.

No one will ever be a master of all the languages that are available for the web the key is to understand what the different languages bring to the party and knowing how to find the right solution using the right language. many of them overlap, that is for certain, but most, if not all, have advantages and disadvantages. It is a balancing act.

Great response Nesir...
 
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