What is PHP and where to start?

What is PHP and where to start?

PHP is a widely used, general purpose, open source scripting language for writing web applications, dynamically generated pages, and command line interface scripts.

Why learning PHP?

PHP is one of the de facto languages of the web. You will encounter enormous number of web sites and web applications developed in PHP. More than 80% of business web sites run on PHP. It is also a great language to start learning programming and web development. With PHP you will simultaneusly learn also other technologies and languages, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, HTTP, SQL, regex, Bash, and more.

What does PHP stand for?

PHP is a recursive acronym of PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.

What does PHP stand for?

In the beginning PHP was an acronym of Personal Home Page. Since PHP is now a fully professional language, it was extended into the recursive acronym of PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.

Where to start?

PHP language is located and best described by the official website PHP.net, with an in-depth manual. Reading it is highly recommended to get to know PHP in details. As you read through the manual, your knowledge will progress. You can start with the โ€œSimple PHP Tutorialโ€ to get PHP up and running fast.


First things first, install a text editor of your choice so you will have nice syntax highlighting enabled. You can use any editor that is capable of saving text files. Throw a dice and pick one. You will be able to code and get along in any.

PHP installation

Free video tutorials

Relax, grab a cup of tea or coffee, and learn basics by watching free videos:

Interactive courses

  • Codecademy - Free course for learning to program in PHP; 4 hours.
  • PHP School - Learning PHP through the command line.


To gain more knowledge you can read books about PHP:

What else to learn?

When you start with PHP you will learn also some other technologies and languages.


With learning PHP, it is essential to also learn the HTML. You need to know what is HTML and how to use it. HTML is a standard markup language to create web pages and applications.

Recommended resources for learning HTML:


You will need to know what HTTP is, understand how it works, and where to find further information about it when needed.


SQL is 4GL language used for managing data in relational databases (MySQL/MariaDB, PostgreSQL, MS SQL Server, Oracle, etc). To access databases with PHP you will need to know SQL first.

Computer science

To dig deeper in computer science and programming in general, here are some of quality free resources and information:

Where to go next?

Another important part of being a developer is to constantly learn and stay current about new things. Either with PHP or development and programming in general. Here are some recommended resources to stay up-to-date with PHP and to learn more:

  • Composer - Tool for managing the dependencies of your PHP application.
  • Packagist.org - This is a repository of PHP libraries, components, frameworks, and other open source code.
  • PHP on Reddit - The latest news in the PHP world.
  • PHP Weekly - Free, curated, once-a-week newsletter, featuring great PHP articles, news and blog posts.
  • SitePoint PHP - PHP tutorials and articles.

See also

Recommended, quality and modern guides, videos, and tutorials for starting with development and PHP in particular:

  • OverAPI PHP - PHP cheat sheet.
  • PHP: The Right Way - An easy-to-read, quick reference for PHP best practices, accepted coding standards and links to authoritative tutorials around the web.
  • Devscreencast - Free introduction to programming with PHP Course.
  • List of PHP sites - List of popular sites, blogs, and tutorials for learning PHP.
  • Laracasts - Video tutorials for PHP from beginning and Laravel framework. Suited for getting a grasp of general PHP knowledge.
  • SymfonyCasts - PHP and Symfony tutorials.
  • Coursera - Free online courses.
  • Khan Academy- Learn for free.
  • Lynda - Paid courses.
  • edX - Free online courses.
  • Udemy - Paid and free courses.
  • Codeshool - Paid PHP course.