Becoming a WordPress developer goes hand-in-hand with learning PHP, the popular server-side scripting language WordPress is built on.
Originally created in 1994, PHP is a powerful and free open source tool for creating dynamic and interactive websites.
This is the second post in our five-part series for beginners, teaching you the fundamental concepts of WordPress development so you can take the leap from tinkerer to developer. By the end of the series, you will be able to create your own rudimentary themes and plugins, and flesh them out with your own features.
In this tutorial, you’ll learn the basic syntax of PHP, the logic behind how it works, and I’ll walk you through coding examples.
Note: For this series, it’s important that you already have a thorough understanding of HTML and CSS as both of these languages are essential building blocks when working with WordPress.
Let’s get started.
What is PHP?
PHP is a server-side scripting language. To understand what that means, let’s compare it to HTML.
When you visit a simple HTML page, your browser makes a request to the server that contains it. The server figures out which file you need and sends it to you as-is. Your browser interprets the HTML code and displays it.
In comparison, when you visit a PHP page there is an additional step. Your browser sends a request and the server finds the file(s) you need. Before sending anything back, the server processes the PHP files, resulting in a final HTML output. This is sent back to your browser, which displays it as usual.
This is why you can look at any website’s source code and never see any PHP code, only HTML, even if the site is written in PHP.
So why would the server need to do the processing? What’s the point of all this? It allows us to create dynamic websites and code much more efficiently.
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