Is PHP dying? Why and how it is used in web development
PHP (Hypertext pre-processor) is a server-side scripting language widely used on the server side to enable the creation and execution of dynamic web pages.
The first version of PHP was introduced in 1994 and since then it has seen constant incremental progress, with new versions released from time to time.
The latest version (at the time of writing this article) is PHP 8.0.1, released January 7, 2021, with earlier versions including PHP 7 slowly becoming obsolete with rapid advancements in new technology.
Each PHP release branch is fully supported for at least two years from its initial stable release. During this period, bugs and security issues are fixed.
PHP works with the web server, which is a web entity that provides web pages to the whole world. It has many features that make it one of the most used scripting languages including:
- Flexible approach
- Simple and easy to use compared to other scripting languages
- Open-source language
- Dynamic behaviors
- Fast and reliable
Outside of all of these features, there is one thing that every developer looks forward to in every language he or she switches to is community.
Community is a criterion that greatly determines the usability of a language and its ability to be sustainable with ever-changing technological scenarios.
PHP has a very diverse and huge community support, which adds to the reasons many choose to use PHP for server-side scripting in web development.
According to W3Techs research data, 79.1% of all websites on the web are powered by PHP. This means that almost 8 out of 10 websites you visit on the internet use PHP in some way or another, which is pretty significant.
WordPress, the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world, uses PHP and this reinforces the credibility of the choice of this scripting language.
Other leading CMS like Drupal and Joomla also use PHP.
Reasons why PHP is so widely used
One of the main reasons PHP has come to the fore since its inception and continued to grow the web globally is that PHP is super easy to learn and run.
Since humans most often respect a person when that person has respect for others in society, this same concept of prescreening comes into play when developers choose a programming language to work with.
This concept of prequalification in psychology explains why, for example, a woman chooses a man based on the extent to which he is desired by other women. It may also explain why the vast majority of developers choose PHP for server-side programming and web development.
The programming language is also chosen by some of the biggest tech companies, building confidence in the language and people instantly rally behind the language.
PHP is widely used by many of the world’s largest social networks and websites, including Facebook and Wikipedia. Other big companies and notable sites that use PHP are:
- Slack (business communication platform)
- Mail Chimp (email marketing services)
- WordPress (the world’s largest content management system)
- Yahoo (US web service provider)
While some people may claim that PHP is dead or dying, the list of websites and applications using PHP is long and growing. But this notion that PHP is dead or dying has yet to be examined.
Is PHP dead?
Most of the new web developments in the world have toned down the shine that PHP used to carry. Now people are speculating on leaving PHP, “Is PHP dying or is it already dead?”
Another reason that can be of concern about the dominance of PHP is the evolution of a general-purpose language like python, which can be used efficiently for server-side computing. The Django framework adds to the feature-rich language called python.
It doesn’t stop there, we also have Java, Ruby on Rails, ASP.NET and many other programming languages queued up that have eroded the old charm of PHP.
But wait, let me ask you a question: how many brands of soap do you see in the supermarket? Probably hundreds and all have their unique consumer base.
Some of the soap brands are old and classic, while others are fresh and new, but they all sell. The same goes for programming languages, and more specifically, server-side scripting languages.
By this soap opera logic, PHP is here to stay longer than a lot of people realize, despite rumors that it is dying.
In fact, I would venture to answer the original question of whether PHP is dying or dead by saying categorically: No, PHP is not dead, dying, or obsolete.
The table above clearly tells the whole story.
PHP is still alive and continuing to prove that it is one of the most robust and flexible scripting languages for backend development available today.
PHP is not only widely used in the majority of websites on the web, but it has also kept the demand for PHP developers high over the years.
How PHP is used in WordPress
As the world’s largest CMS service, WordPress is used by about a third of all websites and web pages. It is easy to install and requires relatively little technical skill to operate and manage.
WordPress also has some great features and excellent customization capability, which can help demonstrate the effectiveness of PHP in web development.
Since we have already mentioned that WordPress is heavily powered by PHP, you might be wondering how this happens?
Well, all PHP files usually have a .php extension. And PHP can easily be embedded in HTML files.
When a user requests a web page containing lines of PHP code, the PHP code is calculated by the PHP module installed on the WordPress site server.
The PHP pre-processor only calculates the code that is inside the PHP opening tag:
php // PHP code ?>
… And the PHP closing tag, you can insert your PHP code inside.
A WordPress user does not need to learn PHP or become a PHP expert as there are many tools and plugins that they can use to embed PHP code into web pages and create user-defined functionality. when traveling.
Let’s take a quick look at each step in detail on how to activate PHP code in your WordPress website from start to finish for a better understanding.
Add PHP to WordPress
There are many plugins available in WordPress to perform pretty much any task that is not officially made available by the WordPress platform.
From optimizing web pages for SEO to compressing uploaded images and preventing web spam, there’s almost always a plugin available to do the job for you.
Plugins are pre-written scripts that extend the functionality of your website. The plugins are mostly free and one of these plugins is “Insert a PHP code snippet“. It is a handy tool for inserting PHP code into your WordPress site.
If you still want to know how to use this plugin or a similar plugin to insert PHP code and extend the capabilities of your WordPress site, here are the easy steps you can follow.
To install a plugin:
- Log into your WordPress dashboard by entering your username and password.
- Now jump to Connect sub-menu on the left and select Add new.
- Now search for the plugin you want to download. In our case it is “Insert a PHP code snippet”, we are therefore going to type this name in the search box and start the search.
- The search results will appear. hurry “Install now” then activate the plugin to make it work on your site.
Working with the PHP plugin:
Now let’s see how to work with PHP using the plugin we just installed and activated:
- First, go to your WordPress dashboard. Find the PHP code XYZ and select this option.
- Now go to PHP Code snippets page.
- Then add your PHP function by clicking on Add new code snippets
- Add the PHP code in the predefined boxes, then add a tracking name to the entire PHP function, which will make it easier for the system to point to a particular piece of code.
- Once you are done adding both, you will receive a confirmation message.
- Now on the PHP code snippet page you will get the list of all the codes you have added and next to it you will also get a feature to see if the code you have embedded is active or not.
- Check each line at the end. A green pause symbol means your code is active. Otherwise, if the symbol is a green tick symbol then probably your php is not yet in action or not.
- You can change the state of your code from active to inactive or vice versa as per your convenience by adjusting this parameter.
- To use the PHP code or function at a particular location on your website, just go to that particular location and type in the shortcode snippet of the function you want to use. It’s that simple.
- Now, every time your page loads on the web, the PHP functionality will be executed if everything has been implemented correctly.
Usually WordPress doesn’t allow you to directly insert php code, but this plugin does the job for you much faster and in a quicker and more convenient way.
Since PHP is one of the biggest building blocks for WordPress and many CMSs, installing a reliable plugin like the one mentioned above can be a very useful tool to work with.
PHP is still alive after three decades because it is powerful, has a very low learning curve to work with when developing web applications, is feature rich, and brings new versions every now and then that keeps it up to date with time.
While some people may want to move away from PHP and look for alternatives, PHP still has many fans across the board. It is here to stay for a long time in the future.