Diving into the PHP Pool Head First

PHPdiveTrying PHP for the first time this semester has been intriguing. Having just become comfortable with creating web frameworks and styling them up a bit, venturing into the depths of functionality sparks that coding bug in me that really likes the “puzzle” aspect of it all.

In fact, that aspect is what has fascinated me with all of the languages I’ve been picking up. The less fascinating part is that the more I pick up, the less I feel I know by comparison. Know what I mean? Probably not. It’s one of those lack-of-confidence, self-doubting things. As with a lot of the things I’ve learned so far in my graduate degree program, I find that the best resources for information about the online world is in the online world. Often reading what others have bumbled through themselves makes me feel better and gives me a little encouragement to keep plugging along.

Mashable is one of those resources I get lost in (in a good way) very quickly – especially with all of the SXSW information flowing this week. While playing around, I found three related articles on PHP. While all three were advice from the same 10 experts, each was divided according to PHP experience level – beginner, intermediate/advanced, and pros/cons. Each article provided unexpectedly useful tips, most of which amounted to “DIVE IN!”

For beginners, the panel of experts recommended doing at least as much homework as to avoid the lazy label. Google before asking, read code of seasoned developers, read up on data storage, and learn security. The next step is to find a mentor and/or community and try out open-source projects. And the best tip of all: Just do it.

The most stressed word for intermediate and advanced PHP coders is “community”. Most experts recommended joining a specific community or the online PHP community as a whole by asking questions, staying current, looking at other developers’ codes, helping noobs, and giving back. Next on the priority suggestion list is coder responsibility like keeping code simple and clean, finding and using better tools, and maintaining your existing code.

The third and final article touted the strengths and limitations of PHP, which most agreed were the same list, meaning the strengths were flexibility, ease of use, low entry barrier, and volume of resources and the limitations were flexibility, ease of use, low entry barrier, and volume of resources. The biggest takeaway from this is PHP comes with responsibilities to keep it clean, keep it simple, and make it secure. Otherwise, go for it. Play, explore, use, and have fun with that puzzle.


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