How to Enhance Your PHP Learning Experience

Created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, PHP is a server-side scripting language that’s used primarily for web development. It can be embedded directly into HTML, used with web templates, content management systems (CMS) and even frameworks. The code itself is typically processed by an interpreter  as a module on a server.

PHP is arguably one of the most important programming languages for web development, which is why so many newcomers are interested in learning it. So if you’re thinking about taking the plunge into PHP, the check out the following tips to further enhance your learning experience.

Enable Error Reporting

Let’s first cover one of the most important tips to enhance PHP learning: error reporting. By enabling error reporting, you can identify bugs and erroneous code that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. PHP supports several different levels of error reporting, although the most commonly used is E_ALL. Identifying problems early will allow you to fix them before they snowball into bigger, more complex problems later down the road.

POST vs GET

Should you use POST or GET in PHP? As explained in this StackOverflow article, POST should be used for creating, editing, deleting and performing other “destructive actions,” whereas GET should be used when it’s safe to allow a user to call a PHP action. Also, GET responses can be cached, whereas POST responses cannot be cached.

Read the Manual

Of course, another simple way to enhance your PHP learning experience is to read the manual. Available at http://www.php.net/manual/en/index.php, this comprehensive manual covers everything from installation and syntax to security, features and more. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking a hand-on approach to PHP, familiarizing yourself with the manual will give you a better understanding of the mechanics behind this programming language.

Comment

Although they serve no purpose in terms of function, comments are still beneficial. Comments separate code, breaking it up into smaller sections so you can reference it later — and they also serve as reminders.

Try a Framework

Some programmers may turn their head at the thought of using a framework with PHP. After all, wouldn’t this hinder your ability to learn the language in its natural state? Well, frameworks can either help or hurt your ability to learn. If you’re a newcomer, however, you may struggle with natural PHP, in which case a framework like CakePHP or CodeIgniter can help. They minimize the technical barriers of PHP, making coding easier and less stressful for newcomers.

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