PHP Web Hosting

A hosting provider that provides support to PHP is generally required for blogs and online businesses that depend on content management systems like WordPress. PHP has many good qualities. First off it is highly versatile. Secondly its open source code makes it a favorite for providers. The installation and further configuration is pretty straightforward. PHP does not add to the cost of fees paid to the hosting provider.

Basics of PHP

PHP is a scripting language. Due to its nature, code written in PHP does not have to be compiled like C or Java code, it is read directly from the source files. This adds to the simple nature of the language. A variety of dynamic web applications can be created using PHP.

Advantages of Using PHP

PHP has some really attractive advantages:

  • Free!! PHP is free, hence hosting providers prefer to include it in their hosting plans.
  • Can be easily used to access content from databases and populate webpages with any content.
  • PHP is compatible with multiple databases like DB2, MySQL, Interbase, Dbase etc. MySQL is the most preferred database.
  • Easy to run on any hosting accounts.
  • Beginners can work with PHP very easily. Tutorials for learning PHP are available in plenty all around the internet.
  • The PHP code cannot be accessed or read by the visitors to the website. Hence applications can be kept secure.
  • Installation is very simple and straightforward.
  • The support and programming community for PHP is huge. As a result it becomes very easy to find a solution to bugs or other issues in the script.
  • PHP has its own garbage collection that can be run as required.
  • Certain bugs can be resolved in safe mode. Also PHP code can be executed in restricted environments.

Growth of PHP

Before the introduction of PHP, raw HTML was the only thing available for creating web content. This put forward a lot of limitations on the job.

After PHP came around it became possible to create more interactive, web content at a faster speed. PHP 5 has become the most popular version. This is mainly because it uses object oriented programming, which allows it to provide more functionality and user friendliness.

No support for earlier versions like PHP 4 is available. The next better version will most probably be PHP 7.

Important Terms

  • PHP – PHP Hypertext Processor
  • PEAR – PHP Extension and Application Repository
  • Foo – Term used as a general placeholder while coding
  • LAMP – Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP
  • Compatible operating systems for PHP

Even though PHP was created to be used with the Linux operating system originally, nowadays it can be installed and used on almost any OS/platform. However, Linux is still the best option for running PHP scripts when compared to Windows server or any other.

An important reason being, finding support. Support for PHP on Linux is easily available but it’s not the same case with Windows. Another minus being the cost. Hosting Windows costs a lot more. All in all, Linux and PHP seem to be the better combination in many ways.

Hosting Plans and Other Technology Choices

There seem to be around 2000+ hosting plans available from many different companies. They differ from each other based on their features, pricing and user experience. Finding the right hosting plan that works for the needs of your website/business/blog is the key.

E-commerce software of some kind will be required for selling products or services on your website. If your website is purely a blog or social awareness platform, this may not be needed. WordPress or Joomla as content management systems are great for simple blogs or even business websites.

The more complicated it gets, better options like ZenCart or Magento should be considered. Traffic on the website also determines the hosting plan and software applications required. SiteGround, HostPapa, JustHost, InMotion Hosting etc. are examples of some companies offering popular hosting plans.

Hosting plans are also further divided into two types: shared hosting and VPS hosting. In shared hosting many users will share an IP address and other resources. This makes it very inexpensive and in turn perfect for private bloggers and social awareness related websites. Especially if the website is not a source of income.

VPS hosting is Virtual Private Server. This will give you your own IP address and large share of computing resources. It is definitely more expensive and is a good option only for large businesses, websites generating a lot of income and traffic.

Disadvantages of PHP

  • The number of debugging tools available are very few when compared to other languages like Ruby and Python.
  • The open source code nature makes its very vulnerable.
  • Some expert programmers still find inconsistencies in the structure and functions of the language.
  • The syntax of PHP is difficult to understand for non-programmers or beginners new to coding.

That being said, the advantages to using PHP greatly outweigh the disadvantages.

Alternatives to PHP

If for some reason you are not able to work with PHP, Ruby and Python are good alternatives. Both have their pros and cons which will have to be dealt with.

Examples of Popular Web Applications Using PHP

As we already know the use of PHP has become very widespread in recent times. Popular content management systems like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are written using PHP. Along with those MediaWiki and SugarCRM are also PHP applications.

Application Development Frameworks For PHP

There are many that can be used. The most popular ones are:

  • Zend
  • Laravel
  • Codeigniter

PHP Frequently Asked Questions

What is PHP? What does it stand for?
PHP is a server-side and general purpose scripting language. The acronym PHP stands for ‘PHP Hypertext Preprocessor’. It was originally an acronym for Personal Home Page tools.

What do you mean by a scripting language?
A scripting language is a programming language that uses scripts or code written for a run-time environment that automate the execution of tasks that could have been executed one at a time by a human operator. Also, a program/script written in a scripting language is not compiled; it is interpreted at real-time from the source files.

What are the important details of PHP and web hosting?
Currently, a large number of web applications like content management systems and blogging platforms use PHP. If the user requires any such applications, he/she needs to make sure that the web hosting account includes a PHP interpreter. Also, if there are any specific PHP modules that the web application needs for its use, the user will have to make sure they are supported by the web host.

Is PHP just as powerful as other programming languages?
It depends on what you need to use the language for. PHP is good enough and in many cases the ideal solution for building web applications. However, as it cannot make any changes to the machine it is running on, it cannot be used to build an operating system.

What applications use PHP?
Nowadays PHP is used very widely for building web applications. As of early 2013, PHP was used in more than 200 million websites and was installed on 2.1 million web servers. Hence, putting together a complete list of PHP web applications will be a tough task. The most popular web applications built using PHP include MediaWiki, eZ Publish, eZ Platform, SilverStripe, Drupal, Joomla!, WordPress etc. The user facing portion of Facebook is also built using PHP.

Why is PHP considered a good language for new web developers to learn?
PHP is a good option for new web developers to learn mainly because it is very straightforward in general. As a large number of web applications have already been written using PHP, there are many opportunities to learn using them as reference. Also, the user community of PHP is very large. This makes it easy to get resources to solve user queries and issues. Lots of learning material like user guides is also available online.

What are the enhancements made in PHP 5 when compared to PHP 4?
The latest version of PHP, PHP 5 was released in 2004. With this version, many new features were introduced into the language. Support for Object Oriented Programming, database abstraction and late static bonding are some of them. After these additions, PHP is now considered a full-fledged programming language.

What are the alternatives to using PHP?
There are several alternatives available today to use instead of PHP. The most popular open source alternatives to PHP are Ruby and Python.

When compared to Ruby, is PHP the better option?
Both Ruby and PHP are equally good scripting languages. The right option depends on what the programmer wants to use the language for. If it is a web design project and the programmer has prior experience in HTML and CSS, PHP is the better choice. This generally applies when the programmer wants to write plugins or themes for existing applications. Currently, almost all of the content management systems are written in PHP.

When compared to Python, is PHP the better option?
Both PHP and Python have their plus and minus points. Many programmers find Python harder to use when compared to PHP. However, it is a cleaner language with more power and high-level programming abstraction. Also, it requires some additional modules to use it for building web applications. PHP on the other hand has less power but is easy-to-use and is built for the internet.

What are the disadvantages of using PHP?
In spite of all the plus points, PHP also has some disadvantages. The number of tools available for debugging PHP are very few when compared to those for other languages like Python and Ruby. It is vulnerable due to its open sourced nature. Some programmers still find inconsistencies in the structure and functions of PHP. Lastly, sometimes the syntax of PHP is a little difficult to understand for those new to programming.

Are there any application development frameworks for PHP?
There are many application development frameworks currently available for PHP. The most popular one is Zend. Zend has been developed by the same company that underwrites the development of PHP. After Zend, Laravel and CodeIgniter are the preferred options. CakePHP, Symfony, Yii, Phalcon and Aura are a few of the others.

PHP Resources For Beginners

Many PHP tutorials are available all over the internet. Some of the good reliable websites are: