50 Essential Terms Associated with PHP

Updated on :June 17, 2024
By :Jason Adams

“Clean code always looks like it was written by someone who cares.”? Robert C. Martin (editor-in-chief of C++ Report magazine)

When it comes to server-side scripting, command-line scripting, and writing exceptional applications, the one name that strikes all developers is PHP. With the capacity to support almost all web servers, and operating systems, a range of databases, a mixture of programming, and unlimited outputs, PHP stands as an exceptional server scripting language packed with numerous benefits and features. Abbreviated from the words - “personal home page,” PHP can empower web developers to create for everything from blogs to websites. PHP 8.2.7 is the latest release of this hypertext preprocessor in 2023, and it comes with improved performance, syntax, and type safety. To gain more insights on PHP language this blog points out the significance of PHP in web development and 50 essential terms associated with PHP.

Co-authored by the Danish-Canadian programmer, Rasmus Lerdorf back in 1995, PHP programming language is dual-licensed.

With a .php extension, PHP developers can easily embed dynamic activities and functionalities in web pages.

Famous platforms using PHP

famous platforms using php


Facebook is a leading social media platform developed primarily on PHP, with over 2.98 billion monthly active users as of March 2023. Facebook also introduced HipHop for PHP, a compiler to translate the source code of one language into another. Later on, the HipHop for PHP was replaced by HipHop Virtual Machine to facilitate easier development and deployment processes.


WordPress is the largest content management system globally, supporting over 43% of total websites on the internet. The platform uses PHP for server-side scripting, template creation, drag-and-drop features, etc. PHP is used to fetch valuable information from databases and display it as static HTML, due to which little to no coding experience is required in using the platform.


Wikipedia is a leading public information portal that uses PHP with MySQL/MariaDB database. Wikipedia is leveraging PHP technology for accessing different types of data and implementing new features. The company has also deployed HHVM to improve its page loading speed for efficiently serving the results to users.


Booking.com is one of the largest travel agencies in Europe. The company is offering its services to consumers through its website and mobile application. PHP is used in the website of Booking.com to handle different tasks associated with reservation, user account management, payment, etc.


Cambridge university is using PHP to power its website. Since, the university website is a critical source of information for the readers, the company ensures error free information management using PHP in their website. Whether it is the management of student accounts or displaying course information, PHP is assisting the university in different ways.


CNBC is a globally recognized business news channel whose content is viewed by over 300 million people monthly. It is using PHP in combination with other key technologies to manage and maintain its CNBC Pro, CNBC.com, voice assistants, mobile apps, high-traffic systems, etc. 


With over 655 million visitors in May 2023, BBC is one of the world’s oldest and most popular broadcasting service providers globally. The company was using PHP language for their website besides Java for handling the vast amount of data and visitors on their websites. The earlier version of the BBC website used PHP-based Laravel Forge. But over time, the company switched to a cloud platform as per their business requirements.


Tesla is also leveraging PHP technology in its processes, websites, and apps. Tesla is using Drupal for content management along with PHP as a server-side scripting language. 


With over 167 million visitors per month, Flipkart is a leading e-commerce platform built mainly in the PHP language. It is significantly improving the buying and selling experiences of its users through PHP. The company is also leveraging PHP for robust payments, review and rating functionalities, return and refund, etc. 


Hulu is a US based internet streaming platform for viewing TV shows and movies. The company is using PHP in its website for various purposes including uploading videos, managing data, video sharing, etc. The company has also built its PHP-based Hulu Embed API through which external websites can play the Hulu videos.

Know the difference between PHP and Java, HTML, Javascript, Python, React, SQL, etc.

difference between php and java html javascript python react sql

Popular PHP Frameworks in 2023

popular php framework in 2023


Laravel is a popular backend framework of PHP used by over 1.7 million websites globally. It allows easy execution of common tasks associated with routing, authentication, caching, etc. It is widely used by developers for a pleasant development process without compromising on the application functionalities. It is often termed as reliable owing to the availability of numerous tools and resources.


This PHP framework uses MVC web architecture for rapid app development. It comes loaded with C and Zephir extensions that offer ready-to-use classes and functions. Apps developed through this framework are faster as they are compiled, not interpreted. Phalcon also provides good customer support using social media, forums, discord, stack, etc.


It is a popular PHP framework used by over 600,000 developers globally. It offers a standard foundation to build best-in-class PHP apps. It allows developers to use 50+ reusable components for rapidly creating and maintaining PHP web apps. It is one of the best PHP frameworks to end repetitive coding tasks bringing more efficiency to the code. 


YII is a component-based PHP framework preferred by developers for developing large-scale apps, CMS, and e-commerce portals. It is highly extensible, which helps developers in reducing the complexities of SQL statements and easy customization in core code. It offers several security measures such as encryption, authorization, authentication, bcrypt password hashing, etc., to protect against cyber attacks.


Zend, now Laminas Project, is a popular PHP framework developed for bringing more smoothness to PHP-based websites. It follows PHP-FIG standards for easy code migration to other frameworks. It is also popularly used in building efficient RESTful APIs. It is used by some of the major global corporations, like BBC, Cisco Webex, BNP PARIBAS, etc., in their projects.


Slim is a user-friendly and easy-to-learn popular framework for beginners. It utilizes minimalist architecture for microservices, small web apps, and RESTful API development. Slim also supports integration with third-party components for better usability. It comes with robust capabilities of dependency injection and PSR-7 support for complete control over the tools.


CodeIgniter is a simple and secure performance-based PHP framework. With a nominal program size of 1.1MB, it comes with minimal configuration and several built-in modules for component reusability, error handling, and caching.

Why is PHP So Critical for Web Development?

The PHP development language is quite popular among developers and businesses owing to its numerous benefits. Some of these are as follows:
reasons why php is popular


PHP is a platform-independent programming language. This means its web content can be used on all major operating systems. No additional plugins or any other technology is needed to view the website developed by PHP. Through PHP, the members can easily access the code while working in teams, eliminating compatibility-related challenges.

Open-source Software

It is also open source and free to use, which saves the development budget of the PHP development companies. In addition, PHP is also a cost-effective tool for building robust websites and apps. as its source is freely available to anyone who wants to customize it as per their business needs.

Supports HTML

PHP also seamlessly works with HTML for simplifying projects and quickly generating dynamic web pages. While HTML builds the structure and layout of the web page, PHP can bring life to these elements so that users can easily interact with them to finish their tasks. 

Huge Variety of Tools

The vast community of PHP developers keeps on developing new extensions and tools, such as integrations, syntax highlighting, code hinting, etc., for eliminating evolving business challenges. These tools and extensions are beneficial in implementing the latest features into the apps and websites for better performance.

Free Downloadable Compilers and Extensions

PHP files are freely downloadable from the web server with the help of file transfer protocol, and so are its compilers and extensions. PHP developers often contribute to the community by uploading their own developed extensions and compilers on the web. The official PHP website also hosts some major extensions associated with the command line, compression, database, etc. Users can freely download the resource and use it to improve the functionalities, security, and performance of PHP code.

Supports Diverse Frameworks

PHP offers numerous frameworks for delivering exceptional fast turnaround times. It supports various frameworks, such as Zend, YII, Laravel, Symfony, etc., for various purposes. For example, the Phalcon framework optimizes performance, PhPixie helps develop speedy application designs, and Code igniter helps create robust applications.

Easy to Learn

PHP is more straightforward, quicker, and easier to learn than its alternatives. In terms of logical expressions, loops, and structure, it is similar to C, Perl, HTML, and Java. Due to this, developers with basic or little programming knowledge can easily use it. Moreover, a vast number of resources are available to the learners whenever any assistance is needed.

Flexible and Scalable

One of the significant benefits of PHP is that a server reboot is not required for updating the code. It allows developers to modify existing functionalities during the development process. In addition, It can work in combination with other languages to introduce new products and features, which shows the level of flexibility and scalability offered by the language. 

Huge Community Support

PHP has been in use for decades, due to which it has a large community of developers and experts for any support and assistance. In addition, it also has a tremendous amount of legacy code for rapidly building projects. 

Major Applications of PHP

PHP is a CGI program extensively used in dynamic page content creation, sending and receiving cookies, collecting form data, etc., for various web-based applications and software. Some of these practical applications of PHP are as follows:
major applications of php

Content Management Systems

The global Content Management Systems Market is anticipated to reach $28.5 billion by 2028. This means a considerable number of websites will use CMS for managing website content. Several PHP frameworks are used for the purpose of developing templates, session management systems, libraries, etc. Through this, the content of both small and large content-based websites can be easily manipulated and managed as per business needs. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc., are popular CMS managed using PHP.

E-commerce Platforms

Online selling is an integral part of any business, irrespective of size and sector. PHP frameworks like CakePHP and CodeIgniter are beneficial in creating quick and efficient e-commerce applications. Major popular e-commerce platforms, such as OpenCart, PrestaShop, Magento, Joomla, etc., use PHP to implement dynamic functionalities. 

GUI-based Apps

PHP is also used to create graphical user interface-based applications for desktops. Several tools, such as PHP-GTK 2 and ZZEE PHP GUI, are used for scripting client-side GUI-based apps. These tools allow developers to compile PHP files into a .exe file that can run independently on a desktop. 

Data Representation

The developers often use PHP for data representation purposes. Charts, scatter-dot plots, graphs, etc., can be created using specific tools such as Image-Graph. This is beneficial to use in client-side websites and desktop applications where data should be presented graphically.

Image Processing and Graphic Design

PHP is also popularly used in the processing of graphics and images. Certain image processing libraries such as Imagine, ImageMagick, and GD library can be integrated with PHP for various purposes ranging from resizing and rotating to cropping and thumbnail creation. The supporting formats of output images are gif, jpeg, xpm, png, etc. Image processing and graphics designing capabilities play a pivotal role in creating robust applications and websites.

50 Essential Terms to Remember in PHP

Here are the top keywords related to PHP development.


Also known as Hyper Text Markup Language is a set of detailed instructions concerned with the type, style, format, and structure of a web page. It helps structure sections, paragraphs, headings, navigation bars, etc., for attractive web page rendering. Owing to these benefits, HTML is used by around 3.7 million websites globally. Amazon, Apple, Walmart are some of the popular sites using HTML.

2) CSS

CSS is a design language for ensuring presentable and attractive web pages. CSS improves the physical appearance of web pages. 

3) JavaScript

According to the latest study, Java Script is the preferred front-end development language for 75.6% of respondents. It helps to incorporate complex features on web pages. It enables JavaScript development companies to control multimedia, animate graphics, create dynamically updated content, etc. Whenever a webpage displays static information to the users, it means JavaScript is probably in action.

4) API Development

API, or application programming interface, refers to the application developed for integrating multiple software. Two popular frameworks for API development are Laravel and Slim.

5) Arrays

In PHP, arrays are data structures which are capable of holding multiple values. These values can be numbers, objects, strings, etc. Usually, there are three main types of arrays in PHP which are indexed, associative, and multidimensional arrays. Arrays are created using the array() function.

6) Authentication and Authorization

PHP also offers user authentication and authorization functionalities to developers for verifying user identity and credentials. This is achieved through HTTP authentication, role-based access control, login systems, etc., which can be implemented using functions like password_hash() and password_verify().

7) Bytecode Cache

Bytecode cache in PHP is an interpreter that allows developers to store the output of PHP compilation into RAM for eliminating any repetitive compilation of scripts. It is beneficial in improving the performance of PHP scripts with lower CPU requirements. 

8) Content Management Systems (CMS)

CMS is designed to create, modify, manage, and publish the content of a website in a user-friendly manner; It is a great tool for building and managing a website from scratch without much coding experience. WordPress is the preferred choice of 64.9% of total CMS users besides Joomla, Drupal, etc. 

9) Caching

Cache refers to the process of storing data at a temporary location to improve the page generation time. PHP offers several functions for caching data, such as ob_start(), file_get_contents(), memcached_*, etc.

10) Command Line Interface (CLI) Scripts

These are similar to web scripts, but they don’t need any web server to perform tasks. In PHP, command-line interface scripts are used to perform workflow automation, report generation, and interaction with other systems of the program.

11) Comparison Operators

Comparison operators allow developers to compare different items or values. It is generally used inside if statements to determine whether a variable has reached a specified value or not. Some common comparison operators are (==), (!=), (>), and (<).

12) Composer

It is a dependency management tool in PHP that allows users to declare and manage the libraries within a development project. It is beneficial in easily reusing the existing code again and again without many issues.

13) Constructors

These are used by the developers for initializing the properties of objects upon object creation. PHP automatically calls the __construct() function whenever a user creates a new object from a class.

14) Content Delivery Network

how cdn works

Also known as CDN, it is a network of global servers used for caching and delivering content to nearby users. Owing to the benefits, the CDN market could grow up to $34.5 billion by 2027. A CDN helps in reducing costs drastically while improving the load times of websites and applications, which will drive growth in upcoming years.

15) Destructors

Destructors are used by developers when a script is exited or stopped. The __destruct() function is automatically called by the PHP whenever a script ends.

16) Error Handling

PHP is also fruitful in the identification and elimination of errors that occur during code execution. Some error handling functions are Error_reporting, display_errors, log_errors, set_error_handler(), etc.

17) Explode Function

This function is used for breaking a string into an array. In most cases, these strings contain several elements that are separated by a single character and explode functions allow these elements to be placed in an array.

18) File Handling

PHP also provides various functions to read, create, edit, and upload files. These functions include fread(), fclose(), fopen(), fwrite(), etc.

19) The foreach() Loop

The foreach() loop of PHP offers an easier way for array iteration. It is used only for arrays and objects. The system shows an error when it is used on variables.

20) Form Handling

Form handling is a popular feature of PHP for processing forms. $_GET, and $_POST superglobals are used for collecting and validating form data. 

21) Frameworks

Frameworks refer to a platform where users can create PHP-based web applications. Laravel, Symfony, Yii, Phalcon, etc., are popular PHP frameworks for web development. These frameworks offer in-built components and libraries to ensure rapid app development and deployment.

22) Function

It is a piece of code that can be repeatedly used in a program. PHP has over 1000 in-built functions and even offers custom-made functions. It is executed through a call function and does not automatically execute. PHP functions significantly improve the reusability of the code while reducing the lines of code.

23) If-else

If-else is a widely popular conditional statement which performs different actions in different conditions. If a condition is true, it executes some code when a condition is true and other code when the condition is false.

24) Internationalization (i18n) and Localization (l10n)

These features of PHP allow developers to manage the content in multiple languages, allowing it to reach wider audiences. The setlocale() function is used for formatting dates, currency, and numbers in an easy way.

25) Just-in-time

It is a cached version of interpreted code that is generally generated during runtime. JIt compiler hugely improves performance when working on CPU- intensive tasks. 

26) Apache

It is an open-source web server with a market share of 20.75% as of May, 2023. It is widely popular among companies for creating, managing, and deploying software besides HTTP-based website hosting and server-side scripting.

27) Loops

Loops are among the most critical components of PHP, which are used to repeatedly execute a code until the specified condition is met. PHP offers numerous loops such as for, if-else, do-while, etc. Through loops, developers can save the effort and time required to write the same code again and again.

28) MVC Architecture

mvc architecture

The Model-View-Controller architecture is a pattern for implementing user interface on desktops. It segments an application in 3 interconnected parts: model, view, and controller. It is popularly used in frameworks like Laravel to separate internal and external representations of information acceptable by users.

29) Namespaces

In PHP, namespaces are used to summarize certain items of the program. Developers encounter various challenges in creating reusable code elements, which can be resolved using namespaces. Two of these challenges are name collision between code and internal php elements and shortening extra long names to improve the readability of source code.

30) Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)

It is a computer programming model that is focused on the manipulation of data and objects instead of logic and functions. This model is ideal for large and complex programs such as simulation software for manufacturing and designing. OOP offers reusable, efficient, and scalable code besides collaborative development. 

31) Object-Relational Mapping (ORM)

ORM is a programming approach that connects object-oriented programming to the relational database. It creates a bridge through which developers can easily connect the programs and databases for updating, reading, and deleting the data from databases.

32) PEAR

PEAR is a distribution system for PHP extensions, reusable classes, libraries, etc. It provides a structured repository of open-source code that PHP developers can use for package maintenance and code distribution. It also offers mailing lists, a website, and some download mirrors for the PHP community. 

33) MySQL

With over 35,000 daily downloads and 5 million active users, MySQL is a leading and free-to-use database system ideal for both small and large software. It uses standard SQL for storing and managing the data in tables. It is used by businesses to store the data associated with products, employees, customers, orders, etc.

34) phpMyAdmin

php my admin UI

Source: phpMyAdmin

It is a free tool that offers a user interface for handling and managing MySQL over the web. It is used for managing tables, indexes, permissions, databases, columns, etc. It also offers the ability to execute SQL statements, data import and export, multiple server administration, etc. 

35) RESTful API

Representational state transfer RESTful APIare developed based on REST architecture for securely exchanging information between two systems over the internet. Most businesses employ several applications for performing their regular tasks, and communication between these applications is a must. This can be achieved using RESTful APIs.

36) Security

When it comes to security, PHP provides several security measures to safeguard against cyber threats. These include strip tags for protection against cross-site scripting, filter_var for data validation and sanitization, Md5 and sha1 for script encryption, etc. 

37) Session Management

Session management is a PHP extension introduced in PHP4 for handling user-specific session data. Functions such as session_start(), session_register(), session_unregister(), session_destroy(), etc., are used for session management in PHP.

38) Super Globals

These are the predefined variables for accessing data from various sources. $GLOBALS, $_POST, $_SERVER, $_GET, $_FILES, etc. are common superglobals. Superglobals are available in all scopes, but directives can influence their availability.

39) Templating Engines

Developers use templating engines to generate dynamic websites and pages. Templating engines like Twig, Blade, and Smarty are used in conjunction with PHP frameworks for separating PHP logic from HTML output without using PHP syntax and tags.

40) Unit Testing

Software testing is a very crucial aspect of ensuring flawless applications. For software testing purposes, unit testing is used to determine whether the code blocks can produce the expected results or not. One popular framework for unit testing is PHPUnit which offers robust testing capabilities. 

41) Scalar

It is a data type which holds a single value. These values mainly include boolean, Integer, float, and String.

42) CCA - Clean Code Acronyms

Following the SOLID principle is the idea behind CCA. The intention is to write clean and correct code with nominal errors. Some commonly used acronyms are DRY - Don't Repeat Yourself, KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid, YAGNI - You Ain't Gonna Need It, etc.

43) Structural Patterns

These design patterns provide simple ways for component assembling and relationship realization between entities in an application. Through these patterns, developers can easily assemble classes and objects in larger structures without lowering flexibility and efficiency. Some common structural patterns include adapter, bridge, composite, facade, etc.

44) Behavioral Patterns

These patterns deal with the behavior i.e. interaction between the objects. These are widely used to resolve communication related issues in a project. Some major behavioral patterns are Strategy, Template method, Observer, Command, Mediator, and Visitor.

45) Architectural Patterns

As the name suggests, these patterns deal with the architecture of the application. These are used to resolve challenges associated with scalability, performance, and maintainability. The commonly used architectural patterns are performance, and maintainability. Some common architectural patterns include:MVC, MVP, MVVM, Client-Server, and Service-Oriented Architecture.

46) SPL - Standard PHP library

SPL is a collection of classes and interfaces that are meant to solve common development problems associated with PHP. It offers sets of standard data structures, interfaces, standard exceptions, etc. that can be used using functions such as class_implements, class_parents, iterator_apply, spl_autoload, etc.

47) Sylius

Based on the Symfony framework, it is an open-source e-commerce solution offering huge flexibility and customization capabilities. It provides many decoupled components for product cataloging, promotions, shipping engine, etc., which can be used in multiple applications for a faster time to market while ensuring high code quality.

48) Drupal

Drupal is an open-source content management system for developing simple and complex web-based applications. Globally, around 1.7 million websites are using Drupal currently. It comes with high flexibility, modularity, easy content authoring, excellent security, and reliable performance, making it a popular platform to build and structure content with great versatility. It is based on the LAMP stack, through which new features can be added and eliminated by installing and uninstalling certain modules.

49) Constructor Promotion

PHP 8.0 allows the promotion of constructors for assigning and declaring class properties from the constructor itself. This helps in making the code more maintainable and readable while improving the code clarity. PHP does not allow the promotion of static, final, and nullable properties until they are initialized in the constructor.

50) DRY - don’t repeat yourself

It is a popular programming technique for reducing code and pattern repetition in a program. It encourages developers to avoid code duplication which results in reduced code redundancy. This is beneficial in avoiding programming errors and improving performance as multiple codes with the same functionalities are executed at once.

Future Potential of PHP

“There’s no way to design a program until you’re aware of the problems you’re likely to encounter and the limitations of the tools available to you,” says Tom Butler in his book - PHP & MYSQL: NOVICE TO NINJA, 7TH Edition.

In this rapidly evolving requirement of the users, agile development enables the quick creation of software applications. To achieve this, developers should leverage the best practices by balancing the principles defined. PHP is one such simple approach whose market is anticipated to grow with a CAGR of 17.75% in the upcoming years. The number of PHP users is likely to grow further with the increasing functionalities of this programming language, and a strong community of developers.. 

In addition, integration with evolving technologies like AI, ML, IoT, Blockchain, etc., will not only resolve the current prominent challenges but also result in the implementation of new features and functionalities, strengthening the security, flexibility, and scalability of web apps. PHP will evolve with the continuous evolution of software development, and server-side languages. 

Jason Adams
Jason Adams

Jason Adams is a content writer with a keen interest to continue learning and develop his research abilities. An avid reader and an eye toward growth, he is associated with GoodFirms, a frontline and evolving reviews and rating platform.

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