Why Learn PHP?

All data used in this article is as of January 6, 2016

80% of the top 10 million websites use PHP. PHP is particularly popular for freelance work, since many small businesses or non-technical people would want to use WordPress, Wix, or other popular content management systems to set up their websites or shopping carts.

PHP was designed for the web, and it does the job well. Facebook has made serious investments into PHP.

Beginner Friendliness

Easy to Get Started With

PHP was designed to make web development easier, and many beginners find it effortless to pick up and get started with. In fact, PHP code was so easy to pick up, many non-programmers end up being able to hack PHP code together without truly understanding the code. While good programmers will never copy and paste code they don't understand, this speaks volumes about how easy it is to pick up PHP.

The latest version of PHP (PHP7) has fixed a lot of inconsistencies and fatal errors as well. PHP has a wealth of learning resources, but you should make sure to avoid outdated tutorials.


PHP is a dynamically typed language. This means there are no hard rules on how to build features, and you'll have more flexibility solving problems using different methods. Furthermore, PHP is also more forgiving of errors, so you'll still be able to compile and run your program until you hit the problematic part.


Not easy to Maintain

PHP is a dynamically typed language, which means the same thing can easily mean something different depending on the context. As a PHP app grows larger and more complex, this may get difficult to maintain as errors will become difficult to track down and fix, so it will take experience and insight to know how to design your code or write unit tests to ease maintainability. However, you can learn how to design code better by working with an experienced PHP mentor.

Not Fast

As a dynamically typed language, PHP is too flexible and the machine would need to do a lot of referencing to make sure what the definition of something is, and this slows PHP performance down. Nonetheless, PHP7 has made changes to improve PHP's speed.

What's more, Facebook has made some serious investment into PHP and it is possible to improve your PHP app's speed by compiling your code through Facebook's HipHop Virtual Machine. It's not going to be as fast as statically typed languages such as Java, for example, but it's still a great improvement.


First of all, community size is important, because the larger a programming language community is, the more support you'd be likely to get. As you step into the programming world, you'll soon understand how vital support is, as the developer community is all about giving and receiving help. Moreover, the larger a community, the more people will be building useful tools to ease the process of development in that particular language. As of now, there are over 600 notable programming languages world-wide.

So, with that context in mind, let's get into the details of the PHP community size.

3rd Largest StackOverflow Community

StackOverflow is a programming Q&A site you will no doubt become intimate with as a coding beginner.

5th Largest Meetup Community

At meetups, you can generally network and learn from fellow developers. Meetups often offer mentorship to those who want it as well. There are 1500+ PHP groups at Meetup.com, totaling over 541k members - in terms of programming languages, PHP has the 5th largest Meetup community.

5th Most Popular language at GitHub

The more useful projects there are, the more likely someone has already built a function you need and built it well, which will greatly speed up your development process. There are over 500 PHP projects that have over 500 stars on GitHub.

Career Opportunities

Salary information from gooroo.io

If you plan to work as a freelancer, PHP is likely a good skill to learn, since WordPress and other content management systems are popular with non-technical people. Overall, PHP is still widely used by the majority of the web, so there should still be a consistent demand for PHP developers. Many shopping cart tools have also been built with PHP, so it is a popular choice for online businesses as well.


PHP has fallen in popularity due to several issues with the language's design as well as the rise of Ruby on Rails as well as Node.js frameworks, though PHP 7 was recently released to fix most of the problems it has been accused of (inconsistency, slowness, etc). Facebook has made a huge investment in PHP which will likely keep it relevant, so it would be interesting to see how all this works out for PHP's adoption rate in the future. Laravel, a PHP framework, seems to be maintain a healthy adoption rate.

TIOBE popularity rank: #6

A programming language's ability to stay relevant also depends on whether the language is getting new blood. Interest in learning PHP is still steady, and PHP is still the 6th most popular language according to the TIOBE index. Thus, PHP will still survive.

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