Good Practices And Recommendations For Web Development With PHP
PHP is the server language with the most penetration in the web field and is the engine of the most widespread tools, such as WordPress. It has become a popular language, used by all kinds of professionals and hobbyists. But such popularity can also be negative and, in fact, is the root of PHP’s biggest flaw: poor developer practices. In this article, we want to make a summary of the most important and advisable practices to work with PHP . Some of them are really basic and we hope you are putting them into practice. Other of them will surely give you clues about what you can improve in your projects.
As it is an accessible language used by so many people, with more or less training, it is very easy to fall into errors or undesirable practices. In short, PHP has often been accused of producing the so-called spaghetti code , insecure applications, poor performance, etc., however, the developers themselves are responsible in most cases.
Use The Latest Stable Version
We must never forget that PHP is free software and, as such, the vulnerabilities of old versions are known. For this reason, it is essential to stay updated and use the newest versions, which offer us greater security in our server environments. There should never be an excuse not to update PHP!
Just in line with the previous point, we want to recommend the use of versions from PHP 7 onwards, since they practically double or triple the performance of the language.
Composer is the software used to manage the dependencies of PHP applications in an agile way. It allows us to install the libraries that we are going to use, but it also helps us to keep them updated. If you don’t already know Composer, you should pay attention to it. It also offers you things as useful as an auto-load of classes, which allows an easier organization of the code.
The old MySQL extension has been deprecated for many years, yet many outdated projects still use it. This is the main stumbling block for applications to migrate to PHP 7. Be careful when reading old tutorials on the internet and make sure you always learn and use the modern extension, called MySQLi.
Even better than using MySQLi would be programming with PDO, which is a database abstraction layer that allows you to work with a single code, whether you use MySQL or other engines such as SQLite, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, Oracle… This tool ensures that migrating between one database and another is something practically immediate, while at the same time it sets you a programming style with more appropriate practices in working with databases.
To avoid the spaghetti code, make sure you separate it by responsibilities. In PHP, the business rules code is usually mixed, together with the database access code and the HTML code of the presentation. This work scheme is very complicated to maintain and also produces projects that are difficult to scale. The first step to separate the code by responsibilities is to isolate the presentation layer, something that we easily achieve if we use a template system. There are many and it is in principle indifferent which one to use: Plates, Twig, Smarty…
This section is worth treating as an independent topic, since security is one of the most important issues when it comes to proper development. If we take into account the update of the server software, the version of the language and the libraries that we are working with, we will have already done enough, since most attacks take advantage of known vulnerabilities in third-party software. But you also have to pay attention to the PHP configuration, the way we assemble the SQL statements, how the keys are encrypted, etc.
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They are very interesting since they offer us a code base full of good practices. If we use a framework, we will surely be naturally adopting all the previous points explained in this article, and many other important ones as well. There are many recommended frameworks, although currently the two most popular for PHP are Laravel and Symfony.
Own servers or shared hosting?
Using shared hosting saves us many complications when managing a website. In these cases, Arsys staff is responsible for keeping the server and the software installed on it up to date. However, having a VPS , Cloud or Dedicated Server offers us enormous configuration possibilities, something that is essential in larger projects. In case we have to manage our own server, it is important to have detailed knowledge about the platform and take care of keeping it updated. If you have any questions or needs in this regard, remember that you can always ask us for help.
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