Learning PHP as my first programming language good idea or bad idea?

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by jc0481, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. jc0481 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2005
    #1
    Hello everyone.

    I first got interested in PHP from a former co-worker of mine about three years ago. He told me he does some PHP programming on the side for a few companies. He told me it makes some good money. That is a definitive plus but I think of it as more of a good thing to put on my resume and it will give me experience.

    Unfortunately I do not have any experience with any programming languages. Yes including HTML. I do know both go hand in hand with one another.

    In my opinion PHP is a very strong programming language and still being actively developed.

    The money will be very good for my wife and I because we are trying to get ahead of medical bills between the both of us and student loans. I understand I can get a part-time job delivering pizza's but right now going to school online as well. So that is out of the question.

    I would like to devote an hour of my time to studying PHP and HTML or any other programming language I should start with instead.

    Hopefully in a year from now I can utilize my new programming skills.

    Thanks for reading.
     
  2. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2006
    Location:
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    #2
    Personally I hate PHP but I can understand why you would want to learn it. The problem is that everyone programs in it so getting work is harder than when you use other languages. Plus you are competing with Asian developers who can charge $10 an hour and still make a decent wage (in comparison to what they would otherwise get).

    Also getting freelance work when you have no prior references is hard. So make sure you develop your own website to show off your skills.

    If you really want to get into web development you will need to have good to excellent knowledge of a web development language (PHP, Python, Ruby etc etc take your pick), Javascript, SQL (you'll most likely be using MySQL but PostgreSQL is gaining in popularity as well) as well as simple skills such as HTML and CSS.
     
  3. tmagman macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2010
    Location:
    Calgary AB
    #3
    For pure learning purposes- Python is great- it teaches you all of the programming conventions and the basic ideas of programming. It is unlike a lot of other languages as it is very readable. Once you learn one programming language and the conventions and concepts, it is very easy to move to another language because you're not learning the principles, just the syntax and new features of a language. I would definitely consider starting by learning some python and then moving on to something like Java (from there the sky is the limit).

    Of course, build a knowledge and understanding of HTML and CSS as well. They are necessary.
     
  4. CANEHDN, Jan 21, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2011

    CANEHDN macrumors 6502a

    CANEHDN

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2005
    Location:
    Eagle Mountain, UT
    #4
    I think it's a great language to learn. It can be used on any system and the web isn't going anywhere. I love it. Just make sure you learn the object oriented part of PHP. Also, I would learn jQuery to help your development skills and portfolio. I get calls all the time from recruiters looking for PHP developers. There are a lot of jobs out there.

    My first PHP job I knew nothing about PHP. I got a book (The PHP Bible) and learned as I went along. HTML was the same way. HTML isn't hard to learn but you MUST learn CSS. I've now been doing it 5 years and I'm now CTO of a company. I've since slowed down my side work but I charge $80 an hr and there are a ton of people willing to pay this. As long as your committed to learning and getting somewhere with the career, you can easily make some really good money.

    Cromulent is being pessimistic about it. Why would you want to learn PHP? Seriously? If you learn PHP the other languages are similar enough to where you can work with them. MySQL is definitely important though.
     
  5. exabytes18 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Location:
    Suburb of Chicago
    #5
    PHP was the first language that I picked up. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to get into web development. It's ridiculously easy to get started, has excellent documentation, and has an enormous library of functions (heck, there are even functions for getting the sunrise and sunset times for anywhere in the world!).

    The important thing to remember is to simply have fun with it. There's a lot of cool stuff you can do with very little code. As with any other language, don't approach it as "learning;" approach it as "what else can I do?"

    *That said, PHP is a god-awful language with a certain amount of "magic" involved. It encourages bad practices and has terrible performance when misused (the more you do in native functions, the better).*
     
  6. ppc_michael Guest

    ppc_michael

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #6
    I like PHP, I think it's the perfect tool for many tasks I want to accomplish.

    But to be honest, it's not really representative of a solid programming language. If you're looking to learn some programming, I would suggest C. C is a really good example (I think) of a solid, well-defined programming language and will likely teach you a lot of good programming discipline that PHP would not.

    Once you learn C, you'll find PHP extremely easy to pick up, because in many cases it has similar if not exact syntax.
     
  7. exabytes18 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2006
    Location:
    Suburb of Chicago
    #7
    C is certainly fundamental and good to know, but I believe it to be a poor choice for a first language. There's too much "overhead" with C for a beginner (introduce: GNU toolchain, manual memory management (corollary: memory leaks), cryptic error messages, etc). It's very easy to become discouraged with writing C, especially when to takes significantly more time to write in C than the equivalent in another language.

    As always, use the right tool for the job. No single language is good for everything.
     
  8. CANEHDN macrumors 6502a

    CANEHDN

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2005
    Location:
    Eagle Mountain, UT
    #8
    I agree. And considering he wants to do web development, C isn't really a good choice. PHP is that great balance between everything and works for web. Of course no one language is good but learning one will open doors to learning other ones, as you need them.
     
  9. Cabbit macrumors 68020

    Cabbit

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2006
    Location:
    Scotland
    #9
    I would say PHP is a great place to start, though i would add get started with classes right away it will get you into the object oriented mind set when your programming and make the transition to Zend Framework all the easier in the future.
     

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