PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, or PHP for short, is an open-source, general-purpose language. Despite being nearly three decades old, most organizations hire PHP developers to build websites and webpages of all shapes and sizes – content management systems, eCommerce stores, web applications; you name it.
So much so that this server-side scripting language powers nearly 77.5% of websites! Not just any random websites, PHP is one of the building blocks for leading websites like Facebook, Etsy, WordPress, and Spotify, to name a few.
Whether you are looking to get into PHP programming or considering hiring a PHP developer for your next project, here is a complete breakdown of the pros and cons of PHP.
In This Article
Noteworthy Features of PHP
Before getting into the advantages and disadvantages of PHP, here is a quick roundup of some of its primary features:
PHP is licensed under the Open Source Initiative (OSI), which means that it is open-source and publicly accessible. You can program using PHP, use its frameworks, run codes, etc., without having to pay anything for it. Simply download PHP and get started with it to create websites and applications of your choice.
PHP is platform-independent, which makes it suitable for any and every operating system – Unix, Linux, Windows, and Mac. You can even develop your website or application in one environment and run it in another without any hitch. Apart from cross-platform compatibility, PHP is also technology and browser-agnostic.
Since PHP supports object-oriented programming, it emulates the OOP principles of data encapsulation, abstraction, inheritance, polymorphism, etc. It lends some amount of modularity and reusability to the code. However, note that object-oriented programming became a feature of PHP from version 5 and beyond.
PHP is an interpreted language, which means that it does not require compilation into a machine language. The interpreter runs through the program line by line to execute each command. As a result, PHP allows dynamic typing, shorter executable codes, etc.
Loosely Typed Language
PHP is a loosely typed programming language. This means that developers do not have to define the variable type while declaring it. The data type is attributed or converted during program run time, which makes this type of language less strict.
Advantages of PHP
The advantages of PHP are as below.
Free to Use
As mentioned previously, PHP is an open-source language. As a result, you can use the programming language and associated syntax, frameworks, databases, libraries, and every other functionality at no additional cost.
Ease and Simplicity
PHP is analogous to C, which is one of the most popular programming languages ever to exist. Resultantly, programmers who are well-versed in C programming can effortlessly transition to PHP programming (and vice versa). Even if you weren’t familiar with either of the languages, the simple and straightforward nature paired with relaxed typing rules makes the learning curve of PHP fairly easy.
PHP enjoys immense popularity, as evident from its various thriving community. Such communities offer immense support to developers from all walks of life in resolving issues or improving their skills and abilities. The community is also highly active in the betterment of the programming language by suggesting or releasing useful features, contributory libraries, and other such assets.
With PHP, you get access to its extensive and powerful library that contains an assortment of optimized and pre-written codes. With such fundamentally strong building blocks readily available and accessible, you can get started with tried and tested modules rather than writing everything from scratch.
While you can borrow codes from the libraries, you can also use PHP to curate a personalized library of composable, modular, and reusable elements. In doing so, you can use and reuse different yet repeatable components to build more complex applications.
The lightning-fast performance of PHP has always been a key highlight of this server-side programming language. Developers can use PHP to improve code responsiveness. Such advantages stem from the fact that PHP utilizes its own memory space while also establishing faster connections with databases.
Limitations of PHP
The drawbacks of using PHP surround the following topics.
Even though the scope of PHP has widened in the past few years, it continues to remain the scripting language for building websites or web applications. However, if you are looking to develop solutions that leverage modern-day, cutting-edge technology like Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, etc., then PHP might fall short of your expectations.
Debugging and Error Tracking
One of the greatest criticisms of PHP is that it offers limited debugging tools. Not only that, but these debugging tools are also notorious for glossing over errors during search and track operations. As a result, it is easy for the errors to slip by unnoticed, which can be a pain to get rid of in the later stages.
PHP is a flexible and scalable language, sure. However, it has a rigid core. Due to this feature, you cannot introduce any changes or modifications to the basic functioning or framework of the application. So, once an application is developed with a specific function in mind, its scope will remain restricted to that particular task.
The open-source nature of PHP makes it less secure. Its ASCII text file is accessible to all, and anybody can make changes to it. So, the codes you write in PHP will be visible to anyone with basic technical know-how, and they can use it to analyze any bugs or loose ends in your code, which they can exploit.
Although PHP has managed to stay relevant even after 30 years, it cannot truly compete with the more recent programming languages. Programming languages like Python offer greater ease, simplicity, and flexibility while following a syntax that is similar to English!
PHP has its fair share of highs and lows.
It is one of the oldest server-side programming languages, and this legacy programming simply makes it common as ever. PHP is fast and highly responsive, which continues to remain a primary performance metric. Community support also tips the scales in favor of PHP.
On the other hand, the programming language is plagued with rigid and inconsistent syntax paired with a half-baked debugging tool. At the same time, better and more attractive alternatives are now available, which is further highlighting the obsolescence of PHP.
Eventually, it all boils down to the skills and competencies of the developer. So, hire a reliable developer to realize your vision.