Learn PHP: 15 Amazing Tips and Tutorials to Get You Started

Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is a server-side programming language that is widely used in web development. According to W3Techs, 79% of all the websites with a known server-side scripting language use PHP.

If you want to be a great web developer, then having strong PHP skills is a must. With so many PHP tutorials available on the Internet, anyone can learn this scripting language and grasp the basics quickly, even without any prior coding experience.

However, it can be challenging to find credible and up-to-date resources. That’s why we’ve created a list of top free and paid PHP courses to help you get started.

Why Learn PHP?

PHP is an open-source scripting language that was created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994. It’s free to download, use, and develop.

Many popular content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal are powered by PHP, resulting in high demand for PHP skills.

PHP can also collect form data and restrict a user from accessing some web pages of a site.

Another great feature of PHP is that its code can be easily embedded in HTML, allowing web developers to create dynamic content, web pages, and web applications quickly and easily.

Here is an example of PHP code that is embedded in HTML with <?php ?> tags to output “Hello, World!”

<html>
<title>Hello World</title>
<body>
<?php
echo ”Hello, World”;
?>
</body>
</html>

Besides that, here are other reasons why many people choose to learn PHP:

  • Simplicity – installing and setting up the PHP package is straightforward.
  • Easy syntax – PHP has easily understandable syntax, making it easy to code with, especially for beginners.
  • Platform diversity – PHP is available for various operating systems (OS), including Windows, Mac, and Linux. Regardless of what OS is used to develop a PHP application, it can be executed in any other OS.
  • Many frameworks – there are a lot of PHP frameworks available to help users develop a website or web application without starting from scratch.
  • Database support – PHP can integrate with many popular databases, such as MySQL, SQLite, and ODBC.
  • Large community – it’s easy to find a helpful PHP community of developers who are ready to help and answer your questions.

PHP Basics and Prerequisites

Learning PHP and using it for web development will be easier if you know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript basics.

There are also two tools needed to get started with PHP: a development environment and a code editor.

A development environment includes all essential components to develop a PHP application, such as a local web server, a SQL database, and other tools like the phpMyAdmin database administration tool.

Some of the widely used open-source packages to choose from are XAMPP, WAMP, and EasyPHP.

A code editor is a tool to write PHP code. Many code editors are available, and some of the free ones are Notepad++, Atom, and Brackets.

10 Free PHP Tutorials to Learn The Basics

After becoming acquainted with the prerequisites of learning PHP, let’s dive into the free resources that will help learn the basics of this language.

1. The Official PHP Manual

The Official PHP Manual documentation page.

The official PHP manual covers all PHP programming language essentials, including its installation, syntax, data types, and functions.

To learn PHP from the official manual, users can start reading the first documentation pages on the list and continue to more advanced subjects. Each documentation page also displays clear navigation on the footer, showing which subject is suggested to read next.

Beginners can ask questions directly to the PHP team through email – they have mailing lists for general users and internals who work on PHP development.

The only downside is that the PHP manual’s interface is a bit plain, and as it’s comprised of documentation pages rather than being a guide, it works better as a reference rather than a tutorial.

2. W3Schools

The W3Schools HTML page.

W3Schools is one of the best free resources for developers. Besides providing a PHP tutorial, it also covers other programming languages like Java, jQuery, and Python.

As a bonus, W3Schools offers HTML, CSS, and JavaScript tutorials for users who want to learn how to build, style, and program web pages. Plus, it has an XML tutorial, teaching how to store and transfer data.

W3Schools’s PHP tutorial provides a code example in each subject, which can be modified using its online editor. It also includes quizzes to test users’ PHP knowledge.

However, W3Schools has no community forum that lets you share progress or ask questions.

3. Free PHP Tutorial by freeCodeCamp

The free PHP tutorial by freeCodeCamp page.

If you’re looking for a site with a community of beginners learning PHP together, then freeCodeCamp is an excellent place for you. This website offers thousands of articles, videos, and interactive coding lessons available at no cost.

There are many PHP tutorials available in freeCodeCamp, such as ones on how to enable error reporting or fix PHP security vulnerabilities.

However, it’s better to have a basic knowledge of PHP before trying any tutorial in freeCodeCamp, as they tend to focus on specific issues rather than teaching you the basics.

4. Codecademy’s PHP Courses

The Codecademy's PHP course page.

Codecademy is a learning platform that offers free coding courses on various subjects, from web development to web design. This website also has a quiz that helps beginners pinpoint where they should start learning.

The beginning of the PHP course is focused on explaining how the language is used in web development to build dynamic web pages. Then it continues to introduce PHP variables, data types, and functions to show users how to start creating functional and reusable blocks of code.

A fantastic feature of Codecademy is that users will get to know ahead how much time they’ll need to finish all the tutorials, which is 25 hours.

To understand most of Codecademy’s instructions, however, users must have basic HTML knowledge. The platform also requires you to purchase its premium plan before allowing you to take quizzes and create projects.

5. TutorialsPoint’s Extensive Tutorial

The TutorialsPoint’s extensive PHP tutorial  page.

TutorialsPoint’s PHP tutorial is aimed at programmers who have a basic understanding of computer programming but are unaware of PHP concepts.

This PHP tutorial includes subjects like syntax, data types, and functions. What’s more, TutorialsPoint provides many advanced topics, like using PHP with Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) to develop interactive web applications.

Introducing many examples throughout the course, TutorialsPoint makes the technical subjects easy to understand. The content is also clear and to-the-point, helping users to memorize the concepts efficiently.

However, this PHP tutorial only gives a brief overview of each of the PHP subjects, so you’re going to have to look for more resources in order to dive deeper into any specific concepts you want to know about.

6. PHP: The Right Way

The PHP The Right Way page.

PHP: The Right Way is an easy-to-digest PHP resource, aiming to introduce insights into topics that new developers may have not fully explored yet. It teaches popular PHP coding standards and some of the best and latest practices.

Before getting started with this PHP tutorial, it suggests you get the current release of PHP 8. However, you can still use PHP 7 since most of its documentation is written for the use of this version.

PHP: The Right Way is regularly updated with helpful information and examples. Plus, it’s translated into many different languages, making it accessible for everyone around the world.

It’s important to keep in mind that this website will bring more value to people with existing computer programming knowledge.

7. Learn PHP with GeeksforGeeks

The GeeksforGeeks PHP tutorial page.

GeeksforGeeks offers a wide selection of well-written programming documents, all of which are useful resources for PHP students who are preparing for technical exams or interviews.

The resources include various PHP subjects, such as array functions, filesystem functions, and types of errors. GeeksforGeeks also covers some other topics like loading XML data using PHP and converting an XML file into an array in PHP.

If you prefer to learn PHP with a guided and interactive tutorial, consider using GeeksforGeeks as a reference later on rather than a place to get started.

8. SoloLearn PHP Lessons

The SoloLearn PHP tutorial page.

SoloLearn is a free online resource for professionals who want to learn a new programming language from scratch. It offers 17 languages, including PHP, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

It packs nine PHP lessons, including syntax, arrays, functions, and control structures. All topics also include quizzes and interactive exercises.

As SoloLearn has a mobile app, users can finish these PHP lessons using their phone or tablet. This platform will also give points and badges for users who complete its short lessons and quizzes.

However, the questions in SoloLearn’s PHP lessons offer multiple choice answers, so beginners don’t get to write out their solutions.

9. PHP Apprentice’s Online Book for Learning PHP

The PHP Apprentice’s online book for learning PHP.

Another great platform to learn PHP comes in the form of an online book called PHP Apprentice. It’s an excellent resource for absolute beginners who want to build dynamic content and web applications.

Designed to be easy-to-read, PHP Apprentice has a clean interface and includes easy, clear navigation. It also features a table of contents, displaying all of the subjects you’re going to learn. Plus, there’s a feature to enable dark mode to improve visibility.

Unfortunately, the author doesn’t specify the PHP version used in this book. Also, some basic concepts are not covered in detail, unlike other resources in this list.

10. Learn-php.org PHP Tutorial

The Learn-PHP's tutorial page.

If you’re on the lookout for an interactive tutorial to learn PHP basics, then Learn-PHP is for you.

This PHP tutorial only consists of 11 parts, but comes with coding exercises, allowing users to understand PHP features through practice.

Since Learn-PHP only focuses on basic PHP knowledge, however, it doesn’t provide knowledge on any advanced topics like AJAX and XML.

5 Paid Courses for Advanced PHP Users

After learning the basics of PHP and gaining some coding experience, challenge yourself by joining courses that cover more difficult topics.

Consider choosing any of these best premium resources for advanced users:

1. Coursera’s PHP Courses

Coursera homepage.

Coursera is an open online course provider aimed at students and professionals who look for lessons provided by notable universities around the world.

With Coursera, users can filter all programs by language, level, duration, and current skills. After finishing a course, Coursera will provide an electronic certificate for a fee.

Many PHP courses are available in Coursera. Some of them are free, but the other ones require users to purchase a pro plan that starts at $39/month.

2. Datacamp

Datacamp homepage.

Datacamp is one of the best resources to learn topics related to data science, and it caters to advanced users and developers who want to change their career paths.

Datacamp comes with over 300 tutorials of different programming languages, including SQL – this language works well with PHP, and it’s useful to access and manipulate databases.

The cost to access all chapters and coding challenges of a course in Datacamp starts from $12.42/month.

3. Udacity

Udacity homepage.

Udacity provides high-quality courses for learning digital skills. It comes with many programming and development programs, making it an excellent resource for web developers.

There is no basic PHP tutorial available in Udacity. Instead, it focuses on in-demand skills in the technology field, like front-end web developer and security analyst.

Udacity’s paid programs consist of video courses, tasks, and projects. Each plan takes around two to three months to finish.

To use Udacity, be prepared to pay $399/month.

4. Udemy PHP Courses for Beginners and Advanced Users

Udemy homepage.

Udemy is undoubtedly one of the most popular online learning platforms in the world, boasting a vast collection of tutorials and courses.

With Udemy, PHP learning materials are available for beginners and professionals. Some of the great PHP tutorials on offer include the Build a Social Network from Scratch and Learn Advanced PHP Programming courses.

The prices of Udemy’s paid tutorials range from $19.99 to $94.99.

5. Treehouse’s Advanced PHP Courses

Treehouse homepage.

Treehouse is an online course provider that caters to beginners who want to learn coding skills and have a career in the technology industry.

Though it offers fewer options than other paid resources, Treehouse covers some of the more advanced topics such as integrating PHP with databases and PHP user authentication. Each course also features quizzes and exercises to boost the learning process.

Treehouse’s basic premium plan starts at $19.99/month.

Some Tips for Learning PHP

Now that you have some courses to learn from, it’s time to take a look at some tips to get the most out of all resources above.

Learn the PHP Glossary

You will find some technical terms in most tutorials, such as echo, variables, array, and functions. On that note, getting familiar with the PHP language reference early on will make the learning process easier.

Learn PHP Actively

The most effective way to understand PHP is to learn actively, which requires you to use what you learn and apply it in solving problems or developing a project.

Instead of simply reading or watching the tutorials, try to put everything you learn into practice.

Don’t be Afraid to Mess the Code Up

You should note that making a mistake is part of the learning process. In short, the more mistakes you will make, the better you will get.

Once you start practicing and messing around with PHP code, you’ll see what kind of common mistakes you usually make and how to avoid them in the future.

Try to Keep Your Code Readable

Since web developers are usually working together, you want to make sure that your code is clean and easy to understand.

To make your code readable, remember to use comments – these are text lines ignored by the PHP interpreter. A comment is useful to inform yourself and other developers about what your program does.

Use the Correct PHP Syntax

Before deciding to delete a program that doesn’t work, check if there is a PHP syntax error.

A syntax error occurs if you write a script that PHP doesn’t understand. Thus, it’s crucial to spell a name or variable correctly – even a missing semicolon can result in a syntax error.

Enable Error Reporting in PHP.ini

Remember to enable the error reporting feature in php.ini, your default configuration file, before developing a program. Doing so will help you notice if there’s something wrong with your script.

To display error and warning messages when problems occur, add this code to your php.ini:

ini_set('display_startup_errors', 1); ini_set('display_errors', 1); error_reporting(-1);

Conclusion

Learning PHP can be a great starting point for those looking to become a web developer. Using our 15 best PHP resources and tips above, it won’t take much time before you’ve mastered the essentials of PHP.

Keep in mind, however, that becoming a pro requires time and effort. Remember what your end goal is, and keep your project in mind to stay motivated along the way.

Author
The author

Amanda Belina

Amanda is a Content Writer at Hostinger with an extensive passion for WordPress and digital marketing. She aims to produce content that can help readers further their businesses and careers. In her free time, she loves hiking, reading books, and filling her bullet journal.