PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a server-side scripting language used by web programmers to create web applications and websites with databases and improved functionality that was installed on more than 240 million websites and 2.1 million web servers in 2013.
There are multiple versions of PHP and there are also big differences between them like between PHP 4 and PHP 5 where a new OOP model appeared together with improved MySQL and SQLite support and other minor features.
PHP can do a lot of useful things such as generating dynamic page content, creating, opening, reading, writing, deleting and closing files on a server, collecting form data, receiving and sending cookies, adding deleting, modifying data in the database, using to control user-access, encrypting data and outputting images, PDF files, Flash movies, XHTML and XML text files.
Even if PHP is the most popular programming language used for creating websites, it has some disadvantages: complex project demands experience, open-source code, lack of debugging tools, package management, productivity, it is constantly changing, inconsistency and syntax.
Complex project demands experience
At big and complex projects, you need experience or help from more experienced PHP programmers, because there are a lot of libraries and a lot of ways to make a feature, but you won’t be able to choose the proper one or to find exactly what you want.
Usually, everything that is on sight, can be stolen, and it is the same for PHP source code that can be stolen by your own clients or other web programmers and to put it in other projects even if you came with the original solution or idea.
Lack of debugging tools
In PHP you need debugging tools to find errors and warnings, but the problem is there are only a few of them available in comparison with other programming languages like Python.
PHP has bad package management in contrast with Python who can write, build and share packages to other programmers so they can make connections between multiple projects through so-called plugins.
In general, you don’t have speed and productivity in the same times and PHP offers speed in exchange of productivity while the web framework Ruby on Rails offers productivity in exchange of speed.
New versions of PHP appear constantly with solutions to bugs and with new features, but in the same time they appear with new bugs which don’t have a solution until a new version is released and this can be really frustrating.
At the beginning, PHP was created especially as a tool for amateurs, so it has a lot of totally random functions, random order of parameters and other random features.
Most of the programming languages allows you to organize your code as you like, making it readable even for people who aren’t programmers, but know English, in PHP you cannot do this, syntax is difficult to understand if you don’t know PHP.
Of course, PHP language has advantages too: quick and easy, large community, high compatibility with databases, garbage collection, cross-platform, safe mode, security, high returns, embedding and cost.
Quick and easy
The implementing language of the PHP script is C with some C++ elements and syntax parts from Java and Perl, so it is easy to learn and to use basic elements, especially if you want to use it for general purpose and web development.
Being so popular, PHP has a great and big community that contains websites, blogs and forums with various solutions to different problems, new ideas for a lot of projects, dedicated resources, information and even PHP jobs.
High compatibility with databases
PHP is extremely compatible with multiple databases versions such dBase, IBM DB2, InterBase, but especially with MySQL that is capable to maintain a big number of multiple connections in the same time. Together with the MySQL, PHP can be used to create scalable and powerful applications and websites.
PHP has garbage collection that runs when you tell it, when the script is ending or when you exist a function.
All PHP applications and websites run on any platform, regardless of it being about a Unix, Windows or Mac operating system and regardless of the type of server used.
In case of some problems, PHP can be used to fix them using the safe mode, this functions is very loved especially by ISP (internet service providers), and on top of that, PHP allows execution of code in a restricted environment.
PHP has high security standards because it is strong, popular and flexible so even in the case of third part libraries, this remains stable and secure.
PHP is free to download and install to servers and because it is so popular, you can easily find cheap programmers so that 10 PHP programmers will cost you like 1 Ruby on Rails programmer, and also most of libraries are free.
Web programmers use PHP to create dynamic websites to ensure the participation of visitors either by subscriptions, either by product sales, either by commenting or by other actions so they are predisposed to return more often than visitors of other websites made in other programming languages.
In the end, you can see that PHP is not perfect,as nothing in this world is, but has way more advantages than disadvantages. So if you were planning to start learning this programming language or wanted to build a website with it, you should not hesitate.