PHP is, no doubt, a popular programming or rather scripting language. It was created by RasmusLerdorf in 1994 and was later developed as an open source software. It is used to create dynamic web pages that HTML alone can’t achieve.
Some cool and creative stuff that you can use PHP to create includes:
Build e-commerce applications
Magento, Zen Cart and CS-Cart are examples of shopping cart solutions that is based on PHP scripts. If you are an advance PHP coder, you can even create your own shopping cart application, either from scratch or by incorporating existing e-commerce source codes in PHP.
A good example of this is a forum. You can use PHP to create forums and allow guests or members to post their comments on it. Another PHP-created software is the surveys that you post to gather information from your readers. Of course, another exmple is the page hit counter widget that you have on your website.
Be it graphics, images or pictures, PHP not only helps you to create them but also to edit them as well. Creating a photo gallery, resizing your thumbnails images, adding watermarks and editing your profile picture as just some of the things that you can easily do with the help of PHP scripts.
Create graphs and charts
If you need to present your data in a more concise manner, you can consider creating graphs and charts like bar graphs and pie charts. Yes, you can do so by using PHP.
Create WordPress Plugins
For WordPress users, you can create your own plugins and share them on WordPress.org.
What do you need to start writing PHP scripts
If you are interested to create a PHP script, you will need to learn PHP scripting commands. But you should also note that PHP is a server-side script. In simple terms, this means that the scripts are executed on a server and that the results are sent to the computer that requested for it. Thus, you will also need a server to write and test your scripts on.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to buy another computer to serve as a server. Here are 2 ways to build a server for free:
- Transforming your computer into a server
- Find a web host that supports PHP
But can’t I test the PHP scripts on the website itself instead of a test server? Well, here’s the deal.
Even though you are an expert, there is a chance that you will still make mistakes. More often than not, these mistakes will only show up when your site is up and running. Therefore, it is advised that you test them on a development server, or at least a test server before uploading it on your live website!
Transforming your computer into a server
Actually, this is easier than it sounds. You just need to download and install one of the following free WAMP software and it will help turn your computer into a server:
Both software are user friendly development tools. They are easy to setup and to use. They do not take up much space on your computer. EasyPHP can even be installed into a portable hard drive, which makes it easy for a developer to bring it along wherever he goes!
I shall not delve in details on how to install and use these software as both of them have easy-to-follow guides on their respective websites. Do check them out if you are interested in learning PHP coding.
Find a free Web Host that supports PHP
I can give you dozens of reasons why you should avoid free web hosting providers – like how they have little to no technical support, high downtime and is slow, unreliable, limited bandwidth and space as well as very limited features. But not all free web hosting providers are like such. We will have a look at some of them shortly.
Meanwhile, despite all these problems, there are times when you can take advantage of free web hosting services. Like when you want to experiment with coding. Since you are not hosting a production website, you wouldn’t be worried about the features they lack or the slow loading. You would, nevertheless, need to ensure that they do support PHP.
There are a few benefits of testing your PHP on a web hosting company’s server compared to testing it locally. First, you can direct other parties to view the scripts online and second, you do not have to “mess up” your computer.
To make things easier for you, here are 5 free web hosting providers that you can consider:
Signing up is fast and quite immediate. Control is easy and user friendly via their specially designed control panel. The best thing about Byethost is that they don’t force pop-ups or ads on your site.
So what do you get from signing up with Byethost? Well, you will get 1GB disk space, 50GB bandwidth per month. You will get tools like MySQL as well as Automatic Script Installer, besides PHP support. You will also get 5 addon domain, 5 parked domains and 5 sub-domains.
Though 0fees offers lesser resources i.e. 300MB of storage space and 10GB of monthly transfer, you probably won’t feel the difference. That’s because you usually won’t need that much resources for your PHP testing and what is being offered is pretty adequate.
They even offer their free web hosting accounts the usage of their cluster of web servers. This means that your website will load faster and that there is always a contingency supply should your website need more resources than already allocated.
This company has been around for 10 years now and is regarded as one of the more reliable free web hosting providers. Not only will you get a better control for your accounts, you also get lots of other features like the multi-language control panel, free templates as well as a 1-click installer.
But the thing that I like most about them is their customer support. Many a time, you will find that other companies only provide very limited technical support for their free users. For 100Webspace, this is not the case as they can be connected via toll free phone, email, live chat and support tickets.
They have been hosting free web hosting sites for a decade now and still going strong.
For your testing purposes, if your scripts 5, you will be glad to know that x10Hosting supports that, as well as almost all the functions of PHP. While there are some functions which are disabled like shell_exec and passthru, chances are you probably won’t need them.
This web hosting provider is quite well known and we have covered them before. Their free account offers you 1500MB disk space and 100GB bandwidth per month as well as 5 add-on domains, 5 sub-domains, 5 email addresses and 2 MySQL databases. Besides PHP, the free account also comes with backups. 000webhost supports a wide range of PHP features including PHP mail and sockets.
If you wanted to experiment with PHP, e.g. create a plugin for your WordPress website, build an e-commerce tool or create a login page with usernames and passwords, you will require a server to test and run your scripts.
There are 2 ways you can do this i.e. local and remote. You can turn your own computer into a server by installing WAMP software or find a remote server that is hosted elsewhere i.e. a free web hosting provider. Both options have their pros and cons and it really depends on your preference and requirements. Whichever way you choose, I hope you will find the above information helpful.