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PHP is a powerful programming language, which is even more powerful with the release of PHP 7.4.5. The language, once known for being too “easy” and having loose requirements, is now becoming better and more advanced.

A lot of the coding that was in PHP 5 can be reused with the latest iteration.

But beginner and advanced coders alike can create everything from custom medical solutions to large-scale SaaS websites with PHP. Following the best practices allows you to rapidly increase your PHP skills and add security to your app.

1. Follow PHP Standard Recommendations

One of the biggest complaints that developers have with PHP is that developers don’t follow a coding style standard. Without standards, it takes more time to look at someone else’s code, update it, understand it or make changes.

Adopting the PHP Standard Recommendations will allow you to write code that is cleaner and more easily read by other developers.

There’s a benefit to using a standard style of coding, and it’s one of the first best practices recommended to coders.

2. Turn on Error Reporting

Error reporting should be turned on during development and off when in production. When you turn on error reporting, you’ll be able to find:

Errors

Warnings

Critical warnings

You’ll want to put on E_ALL to view the errors in your coding so that you can correct them. Finding bugs without having error reporting on is more difficult and allows many bugs to pass through to production.

3. Remove “*” Database Queries

If you’re connecting to a database, you’re going to have to query the database for data. You can use “*” to collect all fields in a row, but wildcards will collect excess data from columns that doesn’t need to be included in the query.

When you need to query a database, retrieve only the columns that you need to keep resource levels down and add to the security of the application.

4. Clean User Input

You may want your users to input their phone numbers, but they may enter special characters or letters that break your program. If you don’t filter and sanitize all of your user’s input, you’re leaving a gaping security issue in place.

There are a lot of built-in functions that can help you make sure that the user input is:

Validated

Escaped

Sanitized

You can also use the filter_var function to make sure that the proper values have been put in a field.

5. Learn to Use Namespaces

Namespaces were one of the most desired PHP features because they can help reduce errors and conflicts in your coding. If you have classes and functions with the same name, Namespaces will allow you to avoid pesky name collisions.

The PHP manual has a great example of namespaces and sub-namespaces.

You’ll define namespaces with namespace NAME;

Using namespaces can be more complex, but the PHP manual has great examples.

6. Comment on Everything

Commenting is a universal practice among languages, but it is one that a lot of people forget about. Even if you’re the sole programmer, you’ll want to comment your code for:

Future understanding

Future developers

A lot of app builders will not comment their code because they’ll “remember what the code does.” If the code needs to be changed a year or two in the future, it will take them far more time to figure out their code than it would with comments in place.

When it comes to commenting, you should be commenting on any obscure code because it will allow you and anyone that looks at the code in the future to update the code with greater ease.

7. Upgrade to the Latest Version of PHP

Newer versions of PHP are faster and more efficient than older versions are needed. Bugs are fixed, speed is enhanced, and new features make sense for any website owner. If you look at WordPress, you’ll find that 36% of sites are running PHP 5.6.

PHP is on version 7.4 right now and is faster and more secure than in the past.

You should manually update your PHP and learn about the new features and advancements. The newer versions are going to have a lot of features you don’t use, but the new versions are often highly optimized and better able to meet the needs of large-scale websites and apps.

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