PHP is a server-side language that has been around for more than 25 years.  Developed by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, it has continued to evolve. The latest version, 8.0, was released in November 2020 complete with added features and new capabilities.

These days it is not considered to be the sexiest of programming languages, having been replaced by the likes of Java and Python. Despite this, there are some key benefits that help explain why PHP is still considered to be one of the most popular programming languages in 2021.

This post looks a little closer into those benefits and why PHP is still up there when it comes to web development.

What is PHP?

PHP is a widely-used open source general-purpose scripting language.  It is especially suited for web development and can be embedded into HTML. Its compatibility with HTML makes it easy to add functionality to web pages without needing to call external files for data.

Why is PHP still so highly used?

Statistics reveal that 81% of technology companies worldwide use PHP to create their web applications.  Household names such as Amazon, Facebook, Wikipedia, and WordPress all have their foundations in PHP.

Here’s why.

The benefits of PHP.

PHP is easy to learn and use.

One of the main reasons why PHP is still the main choice for so many tech companies and is so popular amongst the dev community is the fact it is relatively simple to get started with.  Even without a long held knowledge, most people could create a web page with a single PHP file in a relatively short period of time.  The syntax is simple, and the command functions are easy to use. These factors mean that the barriers to entry with PHP are lower than with many other languages.

PHP is open-source.

Opensource languages are free languages, which also helps beginners get started. It can be installed quickly and with zero cost. There is also open access to a wide range of PHP frameworks, such as Laravel and Symfony. Another attractive prospect if you have little budget for web development.

PHP is versatile.

One of PHP’s most valuable assets is that it is platform independent, meaning that it can be used on Mac OS, Windows, Linux and supports most web browsers. Additionally, it can be supported by all the major web servers. It is easy to use on different systems at a low additional cost.

PHP has strong community support.

PHP’s long history has garnered it a loyal following. This breadth of community support means that there is a mass of tutorials, FAQ forums, and tips to help new PHP developers and the wider community to continue pushing the language forward through contributions and updates.

PHP is fast and secure.

Every organisation wants its website to be fast and secure. That is exactly what PHP can offer.  PHP uses its own memory and can compete well on speed, especially if the newer versions are used.

In the past, some have raised concerns over the security of PHP. However, because of its widespread use and community support, there are many tools to help fix vulnerabilities and protect against cyberattacks.

PHP is well connected with databases.

PHP makes it easy to connect securely with virtually any type of database. Therefore developers have more freedoms when selecting a suitable database.

PHP is well tested.

25 years of use has meant that PHP has been well tested in real-life case situations. All the main glitches have been ironed out, so the language is stable and trusted.  On top of this, frameworks and tools have been built over time culminating in a language that is secure, efficient, and effective.

PHP has a legacy.

Not a use benefit per se, but as so many existing websites have already been written in PHP making updates is easier; you are updating in the same language rather than trying to rewrite everything in another.

This legacy helps keep PHP relevant, even when some younger developers may prefer another language.

This history also makes it easier for you to find PHP developers for your project.

PHP is cost-effective.

Budget wise, PHP developers are cheaper to hire than Java Devs, for example. This is an important consideration for organisations of every size and budget. In particular, though, it is of interest to business leaders in a start-up environment who may not have the deep pockets to meet the salaries commanded by devs specialising in other languages.

To put this into perspective, the average salary of a PHP developer in the UK is £47,500 per annum.  In comparison, other backend salaries are greater. Java Devs earn £62,500 on average, for example, while Python devs command £55,000 a year.

Ultimately, though the language you choose will depend on a range of factors that are unique to your organisation, your project, and your budget.

PHP may not be the sexiest of programming languages or the newest, shiniest kid on the block. However, it is undeniable that it has firm roots making it a great choice if you are considering which programming language to use for your next project.

Are you a developer looking for your next opportunity? We have a great range of developer jobs spanning a host of programming languages – PHP among them!

We build digital careers. Let us help you find your next career-defining role.

About the author: As a founder of Ignite Digital Talent, I lead our brilliant team to ensure we deliver time and time again for our clients. I also stay closely networked with industry influencers to ensure we are well placed to understand the issues and challenges our clients face.

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