The Benefits of PHP for Web Applications - dummies

By Richard Blum

PHP can be a helpful addition to your web pages. One question you may be asking is, “Why do I need a server-side programming language, too?” This information examines what your web applications will gain by adding PHP to the mix and what you can do when you incorporate PHP code in your applications.

A centralized programming language

One of the downsides to using a client-side programming language is that your code is dependent on how each individual browser runs it. Great strides have been made in the standardization of JavaScript, but each browser still has its own set of quirks when running JavaScript code, as well as its own set of libraries that offers different features, making it impossible to know just how your JavaScript code will run in all situations.

Unlike that environment, server-side PHP programs run on the same server that hosts your web pages, so every site visitor who accesses your web pages runs the PHP code on the same server, using the same set of library features. You know exactly how your application code will run and exactly what it will produce for all your website visitors.

Another added benefit of using PHP code in your web pages is the ability to control the actual PHP server itself. Because all the PHP code in your web pages runs from the same location, you can customize the feature settings in the PHP server to your specific environment. This allows you to utilize just the libraries you need or set memory usage just how you want, giving you some control over the performance of your web applications.

Centralized data management

These days, data rules the world. Just about every web application requires some type of data to run. Whether it’s displaying news stories, posting blog entries, or just tracking your bowling team scores, you need some type of data to use in your dynamic web application.

When you use data, you need some method for storing it. A content management system (CMS) provides an interface to track data in a single repository, allowing you to create, read, update, and delete data records freely. The CMS package is often installed as part of the web server environment and often utilizes a database server that specializes in quickly storing and retrieving data records.

By using PHP, you can access the data in your CMS package directly from the server. That usually means faster response times, as opposed to your individual site visitors accessing the CMS server from their locations. It also means more control over how your application accesses and displays the data. The only data your site visitors can see is what your application presents to them. All your CMS access information stays hidden on the server — none of the code to access the data is downloaded to the client browsers. This is a also huge benefit for security reasons.