Advanced PHP Programming Tricks that Ease the Life of Developers

Tips for PHP DevelopersPHP has gained immense popularity since its inception. Today we have PHP 7.0 version with several advancements and contemporary coding standards. However, being an open source project, PHP has a vast pool of websites and web application running with previous versions despite some compatibility issues.

Moreover, PHP programmers have to work with previous versions of PHP while coding for redesigning projects in particular. Therefore, we had an open plethora of code anomaly of PHP and offered advanced PHP programming tricks that PHP developers should accustom to it.

Recommended Read: Benefits of Custom PHP Development

Instead of making general suggestions, we favor exhibition of real world examples with code to pinpoint the pain points of start-up and intermediate levels of coders who are eager to hit seasoned PHP developer milestone with some more code practices.

Essential 15 Advanced PHP Programming Tips for Developers:

Boolean Data Type

By default, PHP allows the use of uppercase or lowercase characters while writing Boolean data type. In most of the cases, True & False are using in conditional statements with ‘if’ & ‘else’ containing sentences to define Boolean value.

If you are intended to bring fast performance with your PHP coding, it is advisable to use lower cases for Boolean data like ‘True’ & ‘False’ words instead of ‘TRUE’ & ‘FALSE’ words.

Moreover, PHP developers can use more shortcuts for defining Boolean values, and those are using ‘1’ instead of ‘True’ and ‘0’ for ‘False’ values. If you adopt this smart practice, results would faster.

Let’s see code example:

<?php

if ($var == TRUE) {

}

//this is more faster

if ($var == true) {

}

?>

As well as:

<?php

if ($var == true) {

}

//this is more faster

if ($var == 1) {

}

?>

Using Space in Code

Technically, PHP code is going to execute with each request (From client device/browser) and consume processing power as well as RAM of the server. It is said that every space () is consuming 1 byte and every tab (\t) gulp 1 byte.

When a PHP programmer is going to think of code optimization, she surely uses a tab instead of four spaces because the use of the tab (\t) is less frequent compared to space () in the coding process.

Eliminating spaces in PHP code also reduce the risks of security-related vulnerabilities and unexpected behavior of code while parsing HTML or XML code out of it.

Print & Echo Outputs

Getting print output into the browser is the norm in PHP and another coding. In due course, PHP developers are using primarily two string functions: print() & echo()

The behavior of both functions is somewhat different. For example:

  • Print() function return value integer 1. Just like other functions do
  • Echo() returns no value but accept more than one parameters at a time

Due to the behavior of the print() function, it is likely used more in more complex expressions. Therefore, echo() function string is executing more faster than print(), as print() function has to expose return status (integer) process.

The following code example can clarify it properly:

<?php

print ‘string 1’;

echo ‘string 1’;

// using some parameters

echo ‘string 1’, “string 2”, ‘…’;

?>

Ternary Operator

By definition, ternary operator consists of three arguments, the condition, result if true, and result if false. In short, it does that you can do with ‘if … else’ logic. Since it makes three line code as one line by eliminating if-else statement at all.

At first glance, it looks good to end up with a single line code and improved readability, but it behaves abnormally when you use nested code. In such conditions, you must format ternary operator properly, as we have depicted below otherwise, prefer to use if-else statement instead.

Ternary Operator – Poorly Formatted

<?php

//is this year a leap year? – Ternary (bad formatting)

$isLeapYear =

(($year % 400) == 0)

? 1

: ((($year % 100) == 0)

? 0

: ((($year % 4) == 0)

? 1

: 0));

?>

Ternary Operator – Properly Formatted 

<?php

//is this year a leap year?

//————–test expression—–result

$isLeapYear = (($year % 400) == 0) ? 1 :

((($year % 100) == 0)? 0 :

((($year % 4) == 0) ? 1 :

0));//default result

?>

Auto Loading Classes

Many times, PHP developer collect a number of classes during programming a project and memorizing all becomes tough. If the developer is including those classes in a common header file, PHP has a function that helps them to auto-load it.

You can use auto-load function, as:

“spl_autoload_register()”

<?php

spl_autoload_register(function ($class){

echo ‘We are loading class.’ . $class;

include_once(‘classes/’ . $class . ‘.inc.php’);

echo ‘Class loaded.’;

});

?>

If you are using the latest PHP versions, like PHP 5 and above, you can use one more magic function, instead of given an auto-load function, and it is:

“_autoload()”

<?php

_autoload(function ($class){

echo ‘We are loading class.’ . $class;

include_once(‘classes/’ . $class . ‘.inc.php’);

echo ‘Class loaded.’;

});

?>

Using References

When you want the function to alter the original variable with no expectations of return or you want to define it as global function, you can pass variable by reference into function by using an ampersand sign (&).

<?php

function lowercase(&$string){

$string = strtolower($string);

}

$name = ‘STEPHEN’;

lowercase($name);

echo $name; // returns Stephen

?>

Single & Double Quotes

Most of the developers consider using single or double quote mark makes no difference in PHP programming. However, it can cause errors that may prove daunting to trace. Moreover, right usage of quote mark improve readability of code and avoid misunderstanding up front.

For instance, the given code below is producing the same result, but double quote takes more time to process and it may cost you when you are going to loop, which is iterating thousand times, the single quote may prove a feasible choice here.

<?php

$example = ‘hello scriptarticle’;

echo ‘$example’; // outcome will be $example

echo “$example”; // outcome will be hello scriptarticle

?>

Using Short Tags

Technically, a short tag in PHP is something, which can disable in ‘php.ini.’ file. However, by default short tags are always enabled and use to produce the same results that you can obtain with the long tags.

Therefore, short tags used more frequently in long coding, and seasoned PHP programmers use it often. The best example is as below.

<?php echo $name; ?>

<?=$name ?>

Comparison Operators

Technically, comparison operators used to compare two values. In PHP coding

  • ‘=’ ‘Is Equal To’ sign is not using in comparison but use in assigning a value
  • ‘==’ sign use for equality and it compares the two values, so it is comparison operator in true sense
  • ‘===’ sign use for identity

Let’s see an example where strops() use to determine whether a substring exists within a string.

<?php

$authors = ‘Chris & Sean’;

if (strpos($authors, ‘Chris’)) {

echo ‘Chris is an author.’;

} else {

echo ‘Chris is not an author.’;

}

?>

Here we found that non-strict comparison causes problems and we need to use a comparison operator to eliminate probable errors.

<?php

$authors = ‘Chris & Sean’;

if (strpos($authors, ‘Chris’) !== FALSE) {

echo ‘Chris is an author.’;

} else {

echo ‘Chris is not an author.’;

}

?>

Now, check the results:

Functions inside Loops

We know loop call function with each iteration and increase overhead that ultimately ends with bad performance. Therefore, it is advisable to use function outside the loop code. In PHP, we use three loop codes in most cases.

  • count()
  • for()
  • foreach()

For the sake of performance, for() is better than count(), and foreach() is better than for(). Check in example given below.

<?php

$max = count( $array );

for( $i = 0; $i < $max; $i++ )

{

// do something here

}

// is better than

for( $i = 0; $i < count( $array ); $i++ )

{

// do something here

}

?>

It’s even faster if you eliminate the call to count()

The explicit use of the counter by using a foreach() loop in place of the for() loop.

<?php

foreach ($array as $i) {

// do something

}

?>

Using isset ()

When a coder treats strings as arrays, the characters in the string behave as elements of an array. Now if you want to determine whether your intended element is existing in it, you may have two codes to do,

  • isset(): It is a language construct and takes a bit more time to process
  • strlen(): It is faster, but it treats 0 as the first element of the number string and return one more in results automatically.

Therefore, PHP coders prefer to use isset() instead of strlen(), so check it in example described below:

<?php

$str = “434e5”;

if (!isset($str{5})) {

echo ‘String must be at least 5 chars<br />’;

}

if (strlen($str) < 5){

echo ‘String must be at least 5 chars’;

}

?>

Auto-optimization of Databases

We used to interact with database tables frequently. In due course, we add, delete, and modify tables. It leaves many unused tables in your database and needs to remove for optimal performance. In short, we used to perform database optimization.

Manually it seems impossible to deal with big database and we have to automate that process using script. The following example may give you a script to accomplish automatic optimization of your databases.

<?php

dbConnect();

$tables = mysql_query(“SHOW TABLES”);

while ($table = mysql_fetch_assoc($tables))

{

foreach ($table as $db => $tablename)

{

mysql_query(“OPTIMIZE TABLE ‘”.$tablename.”‘”)

or die(mysql_error());

}

}

?>

Using Suppression Operators

When PHP developers work in the development environment and need to suppress some unavoidable errors that fill up the log files of websites, they use an operator (@) just before the code.

It means suppression operator (@) is prepend the code that you want to suppress error is it becomes the cause of generating it all.

By practice, it can prepend to variables, function, include calls, constants, and like others. It cannot prepend before definitions for functions or class as well as conditional structure.

However, using suppression operator means it may disable error reporting for some critical or vital errors and eventually it can end the script execution.

Thus, you can observe the termination of important scripts in your code without shooting any error message at all.

Memcached

The database needs to access disk and network frequently. Unfortunately, both my turn slow or proves slower compared to faster memory. Therefore, chances are high of slowing down your website or web service performance when you use distributed network or network of servers distributed across the geographies.

In such condition, a distributed memory object caching system or called ‘Memcached’ is a savior for your performance. Following image can illustrate how Memcached server works.

In simple words, when incidents of high traffic occur, and your website server gets excessive requests that it can handle, it uses a caching mechanism that keeps copies of your web page or data in a temporary memory or a virtual server to bypass the costly/expensive server processes for each request.

Out of many caching mechanisms, Memcached is considering the best for PHP programmers to leverage the performance easily and quickly.

Using Braces

Curly brackets termed as braces while square brackets are true brackets. With this clarification in mind, PHP developers can avoid the use of braces/curly brackets when they have to do a lot of coding and code readability by other developers is not in question. It also saves space and compacts the document.

Unfortunately, without curly brackets or braces, readability and maintainability of code are damaging. Therefore, keep the best practices of coding and improve your reputation in PHP developer community.

Conclusion:

We have seen a few tips and tricks of advanced PHP programming that a PHP developer should know before entering into the PHP developer community. However, there are a lot of code practices prevailing in the market, and only you can learn by practice or under the supervision of a seasoned PHP developer.

Zengo Web Services has an impeccable team of PHP developers, which is fluent in PHP coding and use the best PHP coding practices as well as implement the best PHP programming tricks to make your PHP development project high quality output with desired cost efficiencies.

Try to come into contact with our PHP development team to know further regarding your PHP web development requirements and how we can turn your concept into concrete reality.


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