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Where Can You Go If You Want To Learn PHP?


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by AJ Morris, Managed WordPress Product Manager for Liquid Web

Although WordPress uses several different programming languages – HTML, CSS, MySQL and JavaScript, to name a few – PHP is what primarily drives the platform’s backend. And if you ever plan to get involved with plugin development (or even just tweaking your own site), it’s the first language I would advise you to learn.

Honestly, I think it’s worth knowing at least a bit about PHP even if you don’t plan to become a developer. It will give you a far better understanding of the WordPress backend, and a better grasp on how plugins are created. I will help you get started.

First, Sign Up For Code Academy’s PHP Course.

There exists a nearly overwhelming number of sites that claim to teach you about PHP. The problem is that not all of those sites are created equal.  Many of them are either outdated or entirely inaccurate – trying to learn based on their slapdash information is a sure way to end up confused and discouraged.

In my opinion, the best tutorial for first-timers can be found on Code Academy. Their PHP course teaches you all the fundamentals, and familiarizes you with the basic details of PHP development. As an added benefit, many of the concepts they teach can be applied to other programming languages, as well.

Next, Teach Yourself About PHP Best Practices.

Once you’ve completed Code Academy’s course, my next recommendation is to learn the difference between good and bad PHP code. Navigate to either PHP Best Practices or PHP The Right Way, and start reading. Making it through either of those sites will teach you to better recognize insecure plugins by examining the source code found here.

If you do not plan to do any development work on your own, this is probably all you need. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.

Finally, Check Out A Framework.

When you are confident that you have a handle on general best practices, you can start fiddling with a framework like Symfony, Laravel, or PhalconPHP. Download a virtual server tool and a development environment, and create a directory somewhere on your computer where your practice projects can be stored.

From here, you should have everything you need to create a few ‘test’ projects.

Closing Thoughts.

Like WordPress, PHP is both versatile and surprisingly easy to use. As a designer, it is worthwhile to at least possess some understanding of how the language works. And as a WordPress developer, it is imperative that you know it.

If you run into any problems at any point in the process outlined above, there are plenty of places you can look to for help – Stack Exchange, make.wordpress.org, and The PHP Community, to name a few. Good luck, and happy coding!



AJ Morris is the Managed WordPress Product Manager for Liquid Web, a fully managed hosting company. He has extensive experience both developing WordPress sites and speaking at WordPress events. AJ leads product and go to market strategy for Liquid Web’s Managed WordPress product line. Liquid Web’s Platform as a Service solution for WordPress hosting allows you to seamlessly host multiple sites and access top-quality 24/7 Heroic Support®.