Sepia-toned photograph of apartment letterboxes, taken on an angle

One of the reasons behind the continued popularity of is its strong support for handling data of all kinds, including forms, eMails, and file uploads. The belief that & JavaScript have somehow magically replaced any need for server-side technologies in these areas is a common misunderstanding: broadly speaking, JavaScript and HTML5 accessorize and enhance these processes, rather than replacing them.

Macro photograph of the interior jewelled workings of a pocketwatch

Even if you only pepper your site with snippets of PHP for its sheer utility, you still need to know the basics, which includes variables, arrays, the date() function, and includes.

Goals: Create an include() that adds the current date to a web page using concatenation; make and use a simple variable, array, and a basic function.

Total time for practice: 4 hours

Prerequisites: Introduction to PHP

Photograph of a young girl dressed as a maid

I often compare PHP to the scullery maids living below stairs in an upper-class Victorian household: rarely given the acknowledgement they deserve, but indispensable to order and productivity.

PHP is the server-side technology you’re most likely to encounter in web development today, although there are many other alternatives. PHP works to assemble pages, validate form inputs, and a thousand other tasks, delivering web content for consumption.

Like other web tech, the role of PHP in your sites will change as your workflow develops. At the very least, you should understand how PHP is used to generate page templates with include(), together with basic form handling, variables, and file I/O. This PHP reading list is designed to fulfill those requirements.