Tag Archives: PHP

Why PHP?

A gentleman in my PHP study group posed this question in our first meeting, and it set off a really great discussion.

Why use PHP?  There are other similar languages out there, so what’s the advantage?

First of all, what is PHP?  It’s a server-side scripting language.  Thus far, I’ve been most comfortable working on stuff that’s client-side or browser-based.  In layman’s terms — all of the cool stuff is done by a viewer’s browser.

But there are times when you want a bit more power, like if you need to access a database or create dynamic web pages.  There are actually a number of options out there, including JSP pages (run with Java) and ASP (Miscrosoft).

PHP has been around for a while (15 years, according to the study group leader) but there are tons of users, and as a result, they are asking for more functionality from the language, so it’s continuing to be developed.

Also, some pretty big names are using PHP — WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Facebook, just to name a few.

PHP is open-source and non-proprietary. It’s also flexible, and, according to the study group leaders, it’s the easiest language to get up to speed on.   Plus, they say there’s a lot of PHP work being done in Austin, so learning could lead to more professional opportunities.

I’m sold.  I mean, I liked learning ASP.NET at ACC, but it’s not free.  I just happen to have married a Microsoft guy.  Plus, I don’t have clients asking for ASP sites — they want sites in WordPress, Drupal and Joomla.  PHP is now — for me.

If you’re interested in learning more about PHP, check out the Wikipedia page.

Future PHP pro — who me?

I mentioned my my last post that I signed up for a PHP study group through geekAustin.  Last night was the first meeting.

It’s going to be a little different than I thought.  It’s every week — not just once every two weeks.  And we agreed to a small fee per class in order to pay for the space (we’re meeting at a place called Cospace).  It’s a nominal fee, so that doesn’t bother me.

I was VERY intimidated.  I DON’T own a laptop.  It’s not something I can justify as an expense right now, and, as a result, I was almost the only person there without a laptop.  For the next meeting — this is so embarrassing — I have to borrow Luke’s laptop.  Yes, you read that right — Luke’s.  It was a gift from his uncle.

The first session was mainly a planning/getting-to-know-what-you-need sort of session.  We reviewed a little HTML, which I thought was weird, but there’s nothing wrong in refining and reviewing your skills. Then we talked a little about PHP, its history and other similar programming languages (which I’ll go into in a future post).

The people there seem really into Drupal and WordPress.  No one bad-mouthed Joomla, but I got the feeling there might have been some odd looks if I told them I was there because I’m working with Joomla.  I don’t know — it was a feeling.

Despite the rough start, I’m kind of excited.  It feels informal enough to be interesting and challenging without being a pressure-cooker.  Bear with me, because I may share some of what I learn here.  Teaching is the best way to internalize information.

Filling my brain: Study group and required reading

I know and use XHTML and CSS really well.  I’m using Javascript pretty well with the help of jQuery.  What I don’t know very well is PHP.

Why should this matter?  Well, for one, I’m the type of person that needs constant challenge, both mentally and physically, and learning new stuff falls right into that.  Secondly, I’m starting to develop a site that will be served by Joomla!

The open-source content management system is really not that hard to use, but I want to develop a custom template for this client, and I see myself doing so down the line for future clients, and I’m not satisfied with taking a read-made template and hacking at it.  The templates use PHP, and I want to understand what I’m doing.

That’s why I signed up for a PHP study group through geekAustin.  It’s geared for beginners, and I could really use some peer motivation.  I mean, I could read a book, but this way I can meet some new people and get out of the house.  The first meeting is Monday evening.

I’ve been doing some Joomla tutorials online, but I really like having books I can pull off the shelf anytime and read anywhere.  I picked up Joomla! 1.5: A User’s Guide by Barrie M. North.  So far, so good.  I’ll keep you up-to-date on my progress.  So far, everything makes sense.  It’s just putting these new ideas into practice — that will be the hard part.