PHP is one of the most widely used programming languages. Unfortunately, many developers continue to use outdated development practices. They don’t bother to learn about the best practices of the languages, let alone follow them.
As PHP is a complex language, you, as a developer, need to keep a track of what works and what doesn’t, in order to get desired results. We know that it’s difficult for you to take out time to collect the required information and go through it to get hold of the best PHP practices. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy-to-understand and a quick reference for you, explaining the best practices of the language.
Below is a set of basic instructions attempted to help you bid adieu to the bad PHP practices and resort to the good ones. Start practicing them right after the moment you finish reading this piece to write a clean and lean PHP code.
1. Maintain a coding standard
‘Each to their own’ philosophy is rejected straight away when it comes to programming. It’s essential to stick to a coding standard, especially when you’re working in a team. In the absence of set standards, each one will have their own good and bad practices, making the code look absolutely nonsensical. Moreover, you won’t be able to spot and fix the errors.
If you maintain a coding standard, you’ll be more productive at work. Additionally, the time taken in developing a project will be substantially reduced.
2. Focus on indentation, white spaces and line length
Imagine reading a document that has no format and spaces. You’ll quickly trash it without even looking at it again. Same thing applies to coding. It’s important to focus on indentation, white spaces and line length to ensure that your code is decipherable. Here are some dos and don’ts that you must follow:
a) Do keep an indent of at least four spaces.
b) Don’t extend the line length more than 80 characters.
c) Do check your tab setting before you begin to code.
d) Do not use tab for spacing because different computers have different tab settings.
3. Don’t use functions inside loops
Both beginners and veterans have this tendency to use functions inside loops just to shorten the code. This certainly is not a good practice. A function inside a loop hampers the performance of a website.
Gone are the ways when browsers would wait for a website to load. Now they will instantly switch to your competitors. You need to reduce the execution time. Using functions inside loops adversely affects your website’s show up time. Adhere to simple coding to reduce execution time.
4. Turn on error reporting when coding
If you were allowed one wish when writing a code, I’m sure it would be to know that you’ve made an error just when you make it. So, PHP fulfills your wish. It has got a very useful function that can spot errors during the development of an application.
It’s error_reporting(). Don’t forget to turn it on just before you begin writing PHP code. Whenever there is a bug or an error, you’re immediately notified. E_ALL is another function that reports all kinds of errors.
5. Use DRY to cut redundancy
As a developer you have always heard that redundancy decreases the quality of a code. But probably you haven’t known about a function that helps to cut repetition. Yes, all programming languages, including PHP allow you to use DRY (Don’t Repeat Yourself) approach to spot and fix the duplication of code.
6. Stick to the PHP manual
The tortoise of the programming world is not only the most preferred but is also very organized. Probably this is why it has managed to stay for such a long time amidst serious competition. PHP offers developers a very well designed and documented manual, offering information that you may need when deploying PHP. Just browse http://php.net.
7. Use quoted strings carefully
Though PHP has been around for decades now but most developers still confuse when it comes to using quoted strings. Single and double quotes work differently. They cannot be used interchangeably. Use double quotes for special characters and variables. Single quotes are appropriate for simple strings.
8. Experiment with objects
Get out of your comfort zone and try object-oriented programming with PHP. You’ll have to upgrade your PHP to be able to do this. You won’t achieve mastery overnight but it’s definitely worth your time. When you use object-oriented programming with PHP, your code is shorter, looks cleaner and is easily debug-able.
Our list of best PHP practices is not an advocate of a particular coding style. Rather it strictly talks about those coding practices that help you deploy the language to its maximum.