What is PHP Used for? Top 8 Real-World Applications

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What is PHP Used for? Top 8 Real-World Applications

Pankaj Bhadwal
Last updated on December 8, 2022

    In the matter of web development, PHP plays a crucial role. It carries out numerous tasks that include creating dynamic web pages, receiving cookies, collecting web forms, connecting to databases, and sending emails. Not only can PHP connect to databases, but it also can store and manage data in databases. Hence, PHP is considered an ideal language for developing content management systems (CMS), gaming applications, online databases, and eCommerce websites.

    The unparalleled speed of PHP makes it a popular choice among developers for creating dynamic websites and web applications. The evidence for the popularity of PHP is the study of W3Tech’s Web technology Surveys , which states that PHP has powered more than 79% of websites as of August 2022.

    PHP powers WordPress, one of the most well-known and robust content management systems. Moreover, many reputed companies and tech giants, including Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, Flickr, MailChimp, and, to name a few, leverage PHP for end-to-end infrastructure computing.

    In today’s web development market, PHP is gaining traction, and organizations are looking for professionals skilled in PHP. Consequently, learning PHP can lead to a wide range of career opportunities. But before starting to learn PHP, first understand what it is used for.

    Through this article, we shall make you familiar with what is PHP used for. Before that, we shall briefly discuss what PHP is, its features, and why you should learn it.

    What is PHP?

    The term " PHP " stands for "Hypertext Preprocessor." It is a server-side scripting language for creating dynamic web applications and websites. Developed by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, PHP is an open-source general-purpose language. It is a multi-paradigm programming language that follows object-oriented , procedural, functional, and imperative programming principles.

    Initially, PHP stood for Personal Home Page. The development of PHP began when Rasmus Lerdorf started developing Common Gateway Interface (CGI) programs in C for maintaining his personal homepage. The latest version of PHP is PHP 8.1, released in November 2021.

    Being a server-side language, the PHP code runs on a web server by leveraging the PHP interpreter. This PHP interpreter is a free-to-use software. In addition, you can even execute the PHP code in the command line. Besides the development of web applications, PHP is capable of developing standalone graphical applications.

    Features of PHP

    The following are the remarkable features of PHP that make it a popular language for web development:

    • Interpreted and object-oriented language
    • Free and open source
    • Simple, flexible, efficient, and high performance
    • Platform independent
    • Loosely typed language
    • Real-time access monitoring
    • Error reporting and handling
    • Memory and CPU usage information

    Why Should You Learn PHP?

    There are a lot of server-side scripting languages available out there that facilitate the development of dynamic web applications. With multiple languages out there, you might be thinking about why to choose and learn PHP. Here are some reasons why you should learn PHP:

    • Versatile: PHP is a versatile language as you can use it on any operating system, including Windows, Linux, variants of UNIX, and macOS. Also, it works well with all the major web servers available today, including Apache, IIS, and Netscape.
    • Fast and Secure: PHP is both a fast and secure language. Because everyone enjoys using applications that are quick and secure with their information, PHP is greatly admired by both businesses and individuals.
    • Strong Community Support : Being an open-source language, PHP has a huge community of developers. Also, there are a lot of resources, such as official documentation, tutorials, videos, and blogs, available to learn PHP.
    • Greater Career Options: After you study and excel in PHP, you will find a lot of career opportunities. The applicability of PHP can be seen in web and desktop application development, command-line and server-side scripting, computer programming, and compiler-based applications.

    What is PHP Used for? Top 8 Real-World Applications

    Now, let us look at some major real-world applications of PHP here.

    1. Web-Based Applications and Web Pages

    We all use web applications and websites every day for one or other reasons, either for online shopping, communicating with others, or any other. People are more likely to use those websites and web applications with interactive user interfaces.

    PHP’s three-tier architecture, consisting of the database tier, middle tier, and client tier, ensures that web applications developed have interactive UI, can seamlessly integrate with databases, and can perform online transactions.

    Moreover, PHP comes with numerous built-in mechanisms, such as routing, user authentication, CSRF protection, and SQL query builder, due to which it stands among the top languages for web development.

    Using PHP, you can create static as well as dynamic websites. In addition, you can modify the PHP code to reuse it in the development of other applications. Yet another reason for the popularity of PHP is its open-source nature and free licensing.

    2. Web Content Management Systems

    For those who are not familiar with a content management system, it is a software program that lets users create and manage content on websites without requiring any technical knowledge. Also, it assists in creating websites even if you have little to no coding knowledge.

    Since PHP offers great support for database connections, popular content management systems, including Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress, are developed in PHP. There are many PHP frameworks and libraries available out there that make the management and manipulation of website content hassle-free.

    Moreover, the language supports various popular databases, including Oracle, MySQL , and MS Access. In addition, it supports various protocols, such as HTTP, COM, LDAP, POP3, and others, to integrate with other services.

    3. eCommerce Applications

    Another popular application of PHP is the creation of robust eCommerce applications. Since PHP supports creating interactive UI and online transactions, the development of eCommerce applications using PHP is pretty straightforward. Additionally, many PHP frameworks , like CakePHP and CodeIgniter, make it straightforward to create eCommerce applications.

    The popular eCommerce platforms developed using PHP are Alibaba, Rakuten, eBay, Flipkart, Zalando, Magento, PrestaShop, OpenCart, Zen Cart, Ubercart, and AgoraCart.

    4. Graphic Design and Image Processing

    We all are familiar with graphic design, but many of you may not have heard about Image processing. Graphic design is a technique of creating visual content (a combination of text, images, and ideas) to communicate with people. Image processing, on the other hand, is a technique for performing some operations on an image to obtain valuable information.

    PHP is useful in graphic designing as well as image processing. You can flawlessly integrate your PHP application with popular image processing libraries, such as GB Library, ImageMagick, and Imagine. Once done with the integration, you can take advantage of various image processing features, like resizing, cropping, inserting watermarks, creating thumbnail pictures, and others.

    The language is also useful for creating graphic designs that play a vital role in eCommerce applications for specifying the product description.

    5. Creation of PDF Files

    In our daily lives, we find that PDF (Portable Document Format) files are of the utmost importance. PDFs are the most reliable way to share information with the audience in exactly the same way as it was intended to convey.

    PHP is useful in creating PDF files. It has a built-in library named PDFLib that lets you create and manipulate PDF files. Also, this library will assist you in creating an online invoicing system where users can create HTML-driven invoices in PDF files.

    6. Data Representation

    Another popular use of PHP is data representation. By using tools like Image_graph, PHP lets you create an array of data or graphical representations, such as graphs, charts, and plots. You can use this feature across eCommerce platforms, desktop applications, and any other type of application where there you need to present data succinctly.

    7. Flash Creation

    Ming is an example of an open-source library that aids in Flash creation in the .SWT file format. This file format includes a majority of the Flash capabilities, such as gradients, bitmaps (png and jpeg), morphs, shapes, text, buttons, actions, and animations. Additionally, PHP makes it simple to design and add Flash components like login forms and email forms to dynamic web pages.

    8. Desktop GUI-Based Applications

    Along with web applications, PHP is widely used to create GUI-based desktop applications. There are a lot of tools available, such as PHP-GTK 2, DevelStudio, and ZZEE PHP GUI, that lets you write scripts in PHP and compile them into .exe files for execution.


    These were all of the best possible uses of PHP. Being a general-purpose language, it is used to create dynamic and static web applications and websites, content management systems, eCommerce websites, PDF files, Flash elements, and desktop GUI-based applications.

    As PHP powers most of the websites and web applications, including WordPress and Facebook, available on the web today, it continues to gain immense popularity among developers. This immense popularity of PHP opens up numerous job opportunities. So, learning it would be beneficial in terms of professional growth.

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    The primary use of PHP is to create static as well as dynamic web applications and websites.

    Using PHP, you can create web applications, eCommerce applications, desktop GUI-based applications, and content management systems.

    Some renowned websites and companies that leverage PHP are Facebook, Wikipedia, WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Tumblr, Etsy, Slack, and MailChimp.

    Yes, it is definitely worth learning PHP because it is one of the most demanding languages among web developers that power 79% of total websites on the web.

    In the US, a PHP developer can expect to make an average annual pay of $79K. The average annual compensation for PHP developers in India is INR 6 lakhs.

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