Being one of the most favored server languages for web application development, PHP has quickly evolved amongst the community of professional developers. It includes all the important features that are looked out for in a language. These features make it highly flexible, dynamic and a robust language to work with.
There was a time when the older versions of PHP were not compatible with object-oriented programming. However, the latest versions of this language support all the important features and that too in a very intelligent way. The open-source community behind PHP is one of the main reasons for its success.
Out of all the websites developed using a server-side language, 81.2% of them created using PHP. Although, PHP is easy to use, learn and implement it can be very difficult for an inexperienced person to build a project with this language.
In this article, we will introduce some of the best practices that can be used to make the most out of PHP development. More often than not, these practices are overlooked by developers either intentionally or unintentionally. This also results in losing big projects and many high paying jobs. Therefore, in case a developer wants to succeed in his/her career then the awareness and implementation of these practices are extremely important.
In addition to gaining a firm grasp of the fundamentals, the best practices that are mentioned below can be used for modern PHP development. Let’s have a look at these practices one by one:
- KEEPING UP A DETAILED DOCUMENTATION OF YOUR CODE: As a developer, keeping up with detailed documentation of your code is much more important than you can think of. All too often, developers including beginners and experienced ones do not focus on writing meaningful comments on their code because they feel lazy. This is a huge disappointment being a professional developer.
In addition to helping other people understanding the code better, keeping up detailed documentation of the code is a testament to remembering what was written originally. In case a developer writes an important function today, then there are good chances that he/she might remember its functionality for some time. However, this will not be the case a month later.
Therefore, it is best to leave detailed comments while coding as they can be used for future reference when someone or the developer wishes to understand the code.
- WORK WITH AN OPTIMAL CODING STANDARD: It is highly important to keep up with an optimal coding standard as it can turn into a serious problem in case different programmers start coding with different standards. Also, the source code can get completely unmanageable in case all the developers working on it start investing in their own coding standards.
There are many programmers who do not even bother to maintain coding standards while working. This negligence often leads to their code looking like a huge pile of meaningless lines written one after another.
Maintaining an optimal coding standard can make it simple for developers to debug their codes whenever there is a need. Additionally, it is also helpful in making joint projects much more effective.
- DON’T USE SHORT TAGS: Many programmers use shortcuts at the time of declaring PHP. Using the tags “<?” or “<%” is highly discouraged as a bad coding practice. As opposed to the common belief, it does not make the code look professional.
The common reason why developers use short tags is that it saves a few characters. However, this reason is unofficial and discouraged. It is malpractice that can actually cause problems with the XML parses while making the code incompatible in the future.
Therefore, the most professional and advisable best practice is to stick to using <?php?> while coding in PHP next time. It is also guaranteed to be supp-orted in future versions.
- USING MEANINGFUL VARIABLES AND FUNCTION NAMES IN THE CODE: Adhering to proper usage of variables and functions in the code is extremely important. If the programmer does not stick to this practice then it can become difficult for other programmers to understand the code in the future.
Thus, using meaningful and grammatically correct names for the variables and functions is a best practice that must be followed by the programmers. Also, each word should be separated by an underscore.
Writing the entire code with meaningful variables and functions can be big benefit for other programmers to understand the coding convention quickly and easily.
- INDENTATION AND WHITE SPACES: With the importance of right coding being mentioned in the preceding points, there are some other things as well that must be given importance to. They are using the indentation, white spaces, and the right line length.
Always remember to keep an indent of around four spaces while coding. Do not use Tab because different computers have different Tab settings. Additionally, keep the length of the lines less than 80 characters so that it is easy to read the code in the future.
Being mindful of indentation, white spaces and the right line length makes the code look clean and readable. It also helps in easy debugging of errors whenever there is a need.
- USING SINGLE QUOTE AND DOUBLE QUOTES: It is important to understand the main difference between using single quotes and double quotes strings. In case you have a simple string to display then you must go for single quotes.
Also, using single quotes is advisable because the parser does not have to sift the code while looking for any escaped characters in that scenario. However, in case you have variables and special characters like “b”, “g”, then the double quote should be used. This is because they help the string getting parsed by the PHP interpreter.
Therefore, understanding the difference in the functionality of single quotes and double quotes is very important because it helps in the right usage wherever important.
- DON’T USE FUNCTIONS INSIDE LOOPS: Many programmers make the mistake of using functions within the loops. If some developers do this intentionally, then they must be ready to lose out on the performance of the code because of saving just a line of code. This habit is basically far away from being the best practice for PHP development.
The larger the loop, the longer will be the execution time. Therefore, place the function outside the loop to take extra time and line of code out of the loop. In case you take the extra burden of storing the value returned by the function in a different variable before the loop then a considerable amount of execution time will be saved.
If the function is used inside the loop, it will be called and executed each time the loop runs which expands the time complexity of the program for larger loops.
- USE SINGLE QUOTES AROUND ARRAY INDEXES: The programmers must understand the difference $array(‘’) and $array() while using coding. An important feature of PHP is that it uses unquoted strings in the form of array indexes and considers it as constants.
In case the constants have not been defined before then a suitable warning will be raised. This does not stop the code from working but the keep the bug in the code.
- USE OBJECT ORIENTED PROGRAMMING: The entire concept of object-oriented programming was initially introduced in PHP4 but a significant improvement was introduced in it from PHP5. Mostly, there are two types of programming languages;
procedure-oriented programming languages and object-oriented programming languages.
Although the developers are introduced with the procedural oriented programming first, object-oriented programming with PHP offers a high level of flexibility by reducing the coding length to a big extent. The code is much more organized and easy to debug with the object-oriented approach.
The object-oriented programming uses objects to represent parts of the application. In addition to providing a way to break the code into different logical sections, OOP also helps in reducing the code repetition while making it much easier to change in the future.
- USE THE ERROR REPORTING FEATURE: PHP comes with a very useful and efficient function called error_reporting(). This function can be used to spot any problems and rectify errors in PHP application development.
Errors are a normal part of coding. All too often, the developers make errors that decrease the functionality of the code. Although these errors do not stop the application from working they stay in the code unless the error reporting feature is turned on.
Being a professional developer, you will always want to write the code in an error-free way. Hence, turning on the error reporting feature is highly advisable. PHP comes with many types of error reporting functions such as e_notice, e_warning, e_parse, etc. It is best to use e_all to report all kinds of errors at once. Keep in mind to turn error reporting off once you are done with the development process.
These and many other best practices help the professional developers to create exceptional results. Keeping these rules in mind is very important for the PHP web application developer to become successful in their careers.
Orion eSolutions is a well-known web development company that specializes in PHP development. This is because the company has a team of experienced, skilled and certified developers who follow all these best practices while working on their projects. The team knows how to use the functionalities of language to get the best results and that is why they have been delivering successful projects one after another.
In case you wish to get PHP application development then get in touch with the professional team of Orion eSolutions for great results.