5 Tips for Amateur PHP Developers & Budding Web Solutions Providers

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PHP is an easy to understand web development language that anyone can master. In addition to that, it is a skill highly demanded and can easily land you a job with good income. Looking at such benefits, there are many, who get allured to learn PHP.

Based on a survey conducted in 2014, there were more than 18.5 million programmers in the world, out of which, 5 million were PHP programmers. With such statistics, it is easy to assume that a lot of people are entering the world of programming through PHP.

There is a considerable gap in the code quality when written by an experienced programmer as compared to an amateur. What’s it actually that differentiates amateurs and experienced PHP programmers? Lets’ take a look at 5 tips that every amateur PHP developer need to know to earn the distinction that experienced programmers have.

Essential Tools

When you begin to learn a programming language, many would guide you to use a simple text editor. However, after learning the core concepts of any programming language, it is advisable to start using an IDE. Not only will it increase your productivity, but also expose you to other tools like version control system, debugger, and more.

Using tools will take your programming skills to the next level. But, which tools to use? There are several tools available such as Eclipse, Adobe Brackets, Dreamweaver, and more. Assess all tools first and then settle on one.

Using More Tools

As a beginner, your only task is to learn the programming language but as you advance in this field, your projects will get more complicated and you will not be the only one working on the project. A practical scenario may consist of client sitting in a different continent and any problem may arise in the software, and require you to sort out the issue. Using version control systems like GIT, SVN, CVS, and Mercurial will make your life simpler by letting you collaborate with your teammates without any complications.

Best Coding Practices

Indentation

Simple projects can become highly complicated when the code is poorly indented. This happens when no style guide is followed. On the other hand, a well indented code will be easier to read, modify, or enhance at a later stage. The following example shows the proper usage of indentation.

function demo (a, b)
{
    echo “Hello, world!”;
}

OR

function demo (a, b) {
    echo “Hello, world!”;
}

Naming Conventions

Naming conventions can beautify the code, helping the programmer in debugging or modifying the code at a later stage. In addition to this, you should pay attention to properly naming the methods or class. It should be named in such a way, that one can easily figure out what a method or class is intended to do. This is a standard practice and should be followed for any object-oriented programming language.

To make the code more readable, naming in PHP can be done in the following two ways:

  1. Camel case

In camel case, the first word has smaller starting alphabet, but the following words have capital starting alphabet, as shown below:

function sample Function Example ()
{
}

  • Underscores

Camel case is the standard naming convention that programmers tend to follow. However, there is another naming convention style, which involves the use of underscores. It is up to you which style you like to pick, but stick to that style for entire project to avoid confusion, as shown below:

function can_user_add_post ()
{
}

  • Comments

Understanding multiple lines of code can become daunting if poorly commented. While writing a piece of code, make sure to explain its internals and usage within comments.

A code with proper comments not only helps team members to collaborate effectively but it will also help that programmer, who has not originally worked on the project and is responsible for adding new features to the code.

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Frameworks

Frameworks are meant to make the life of a programmer easy. Most frameworks utilize Model View Controller (MVC) concept, which breaks the entire code into well-thought smaller modules. In any MVC framework, the model section is about how the data is handled, view section handles the UI, and the controller section handles the logic. This not only helps in writing less code, but also helps in testing of specific modules.

PHP has various MVC frameworks and some of them are as follows:

  • Zend Framework
  • Cake PHP
  • CodeIgniter
  • Symfony

Concepts

Object Oriented Programming – Don’t start writing code as soon as you know the idea. It will result in poor structure of the code and consume a lot more time. The best approach would be to think about design pattern, and visualize the work flow initially. Object oriented approach requires planning. It utilizes concepts like code reusability to decrease the amount of time taken for writing the code and encapsulation to prevent misuse of the code. A well planned project may take long time but it will be easy to maintain and enable you to add more features without extra effort.

Development and Production stages – Software projects undergo a lot of changes in their entire development cycle and it is very easy to lose track of the progress. The result will be loss of productivity for both client and the company. However, you can follow best practices to manage your software project by breaking different phases into different stages of development, as explained:

The three terms associated with stages are:

  • Development stage
  • Staging
  • Production stage

In development stage, you are free to experiment with new features and breaking things in order to create something new. Any member of the team can use this stage for running different tests.

In staging, only minor bugs are left and the code is almost ready for deployment. This stage is suitable for making final changes and for getting the project reviewed by other team members.

After all the necessary changes are made to ensure that the project is bug-free and the functionality is tested, it is only then that the project goes live. This stage is known as production stage.

These three stages dynamically improve the workflow of the project ensuring productivity and thus must be followed religiously.

Programming is a vast field and it is not limited to writing good quality code. You should know about different strategies of managing projects, concepts such as algorithms and data structures, regular expressions, and code patterns. However, there is a lot to learn and the above points will prepare you to start the journey of PHP programmer on a stronger note.

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Comments (6)
Robert Benoit

I really liked this website as well as the post, thank you for sharing this valuable post for Us.

Jade Gardner

Great list for start-up entrepreneurs! In a dynamic field like the software industry,where the demand for language proficiency change every now and then, hiring programmers even from these sites could take some time.