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What Are the Best Tips for Learning PHP?

By Rhonda Rivera
Updated May 16, 2024
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Starting from scratch, viewing source code to see what others did, and joining a PHP forum are some of the best tips for learning PHP. When learning any new programming language, students should start with a clean slate rather than with someone else’s code. If a PHP student sees an interesting website design, the best thing to do is view the source code to learn how to create a similar design. In addition, whenever stuck or discouraged, the users of an active PHP forum might be of help.

When learning PHP from step one, a clean slate allows a student to make his or her own template. Someone else’s template might have errors the student will not recognize or be out of date and misleading. It is also a good idea to start with the basics rather than skipping ahead. In the end, the student will be a more knowledgeable PHP coder for not taking shortcuts. This is similar to a baker-in-training refusing to use a box cake mix; the end product will be entirely the student’s, unhindered by a potentially sub-par template.

The source code of a website can be viewed for inspiration. It is generally considered theft to lift and use a website design in its entirety, however. One thing a student can do is view the source code or even load it into a PHP editor to dissect. A simple line of code can give a website a lot of flavor, and learning PHP tricks like this is fast and potentially fun. In addition, the student can learn plenty of PHP not available in books.

There are hundreds of forums dedicating to learning PHP. An active forum is key to getting fast help when stuck on a complicated aspect of PHP. In addition, communicating with other people can make learning PHP less of a chore. Eventually PHP novices grow into experts or at least people more knowledgeable of PHP than the average person, and then they can then help new users learn PHP too.

A PHP student can learn the programming language in multiple ways, but there is no wrong or better way of learning the language. One popular method is through online tutorials, many of which are free and up-to-date. Another way is to purchase PHP books, which are relatively inexpensive. Some people undergo PHP certification training, which is the most expensive way of learning PHP, and usually meant for people who wish to make a career out of coding. The best method varies depending on the student; some people learn better on their own, while others need a second party to motivate them.

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Discussion Comments
By Logicfest — On Dec 01, 2014

@Markerrag -- It is quite true that you can learn PHP on your own and can do well with it. Technically, you don't need to be certified to be a PHP programmer.

However, the main value of certification is not the courses you have to take to be a certified PHP programmer. That certification tells people that are looking to hire programmers they are dealing with someone who knows what he or she is doing.

Look at it this way. Your company wants to hire a PHP programmer. You are in charge of hiring one. You get 30 resumes from people wanting that job. 29 of those people are self taught, while 1 is PHP certified. Which one are you most likely to hire?

By Markerrag — On Dec 01, 2014

You do not need to be certified in PHP to make a living programming in that language. There are plenty of people out there who learned PHP on their own and are doing just fine making money as programmers. They didn't have to spend a bunch of money on certification, either.

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