Top PHP Practices to Follow

Being a popular and known programming language across the globe, and highly preferred by millions of websites including some of the biggest brands, PHP is no longer an alienated term. The benefits and advantages offered by PHP technology are many and somehow it can never turn out to be a wrong choice, only under one condition when used in a proper manner. However, do you know what happens when not used properly? You may end up losing a lot! In fact, several programmers vouch for the fact that their highly-paid jobs have suffered only because they forgot to put attention to best practices and strategies while working with this ever-evolving tech stack. And do you really think getting hold of the best practices overnight is possible? Absolutely not!

Well, fret not, the following post focuses on some of the best PHP security practices and strategies to take into account. The following resource comprises a collection of the best tips and tricks in context with PHP and each one of these seems to have a successful proven track record. So without any further ado, let’s get started!

Not to mention in today’s ever-evolving times, web development trends seem to be changing or should I say gearing up more towards server-side scripting programming languages in comparison to client-side scripting languages. And that’s where PHP exactly fits in. However, not just PHP but Java, ASP.Net, and Ruby can also be considered but since we don’t have much time, let us simply focus on PHP for a while.

It may quite interest you to know that most sites are built on PHP (78% +) whereas some are made on, Java, Python, Ruby or just in JavaScript. Clearly, PHP holds the majority so before moving on with the best practices let us take a bit of a detour and know more about the technology. The first and foremost reason behind the insane popularity of PHP is it is built-in with a wide range of web development capabilities. And with the new versions, hitting every now and then, the overall load speed of the PHP-based website definitely increases. Moreover, PHP developers no longer have to put in much effort and time.

You see PHP always seems to have been a complex-looking language, therefore, developers have to compulsorily keep track of what has been working and what has not for ages. And especially speaking about today’s fast-paced world, taking out special time and putting in so much effort and still not getting all the ducks in the row can be pretty daunting, overwhelming and tiresome. Fortunately, further, you will discover some of the best PHP development practices to follow that surely can give you the best possible outcome and quite a competitive edge. I assure you that all the below-mentioned PHP practices are easy to understand and can act as a quick reference for you, etc.

Time to Explore the Best PHP Development Practices

1. Stick to the Proper Coding Standard

Gone are the days when PHP developers were convinced with the significant usage of each its own strategy. Well, nowadays this doesn’t work anymore especially when it comes to programming and development. In fact, today it is really important to stick to the given coding standard. What if you do not do so? Well, in the end, the code will look absolutely nonsense and you won’t be able to spot and fix errors and significant issues. And in the end, it will seem like a huge pile of garbage.

Also, use consistency in regard to the coding style. For example,

// PSR-2 standard example
class MyClass
    const MY_CONSTANT = 'value';
    protected $myProperty;
    public function myMethod($arg1, $arg2)
        if ($arg1 === $arg2) {
            return true;
        } else {
            return false;

And in case, if you do maintain a coding standard, you will be more productive at work. Moreover, the time taken in developing a project shouldn’t be ignored and developers must come up with different ways to reduce the time taken in conducting the entire development project.

2. Use of Twig Template

Twig is one of the most renowned aspects of the PHP engine. Though it is used by Symphony here developers vouch for this practice in particular because the code turns out to be more concise and readable. In addition, Twig works wonders in regard to performance and can be seamlessly compiled with other available PHP-based templates. From the PHP developer’s point of view, Twig is extremely easy to get started with since it doesn’t comprise a wide range of functions and the base code is HTML. So in other words, if you are someone well-acquainted with HTML then, all you have to do is learn a few more functions and you are done with the Twig Template.

It may quite interest you to know that Twig has a clever mechanism of template assembly and can be successfully compiled into simple PHP classes and stores the ultimate result in the cache files. Don’t be confused, twig doesn’t parse templates twice. So it is quite feasible to say that twig is pretty flexible and can be extended in a pretty seamless manner. Moreover, it is possible to edit tags, with no need for curly braces instead use parentheses, redefine classes, add a new filter, and function and test.

foreach ( $options as $option ) {
    <tr class="form-field">
        <th scope="row">
            <label for="<?php echo esc_attr( $option->option_name ); ?>">
                <?php echo esc_html( strtolower( $option->option_name ) ); ?>
} // End foreach

‌{% for option in options %}
    <tr class="form-field">
        <th scope="row">
            <label for="{{ option.option_name }}">
                {{ option.option_name }}
{% endfor %}

3. Using Short PHP Tags is a Big No-no!

The next PHP best practice to take into account is to try to avoid short PHP tags such as (, ). You see these types are pretty easy to use but cannot be trusted all the time. You see these tags can be seamlessly disabled with the help of short_open_tag ini setting. So when the code is written using short tags, there are times it might or might not be portable across different ranges of servers unless you have any access to the ini settings. Moreover, several PHP developers have complained that short tags can often be misinterpreted with notation. So instead what you should be using is <?PHP.

    // My super portable code goes here 

Now if you are using PHP version 5.4.0 or above, it’s completely fine if you use the <?= ?> tag as well. The shortcut syntax for echo is pretty handy to print.


Now  try to avoid using this tag,

    // My code that may not work on all servers 

Apart from this, if the file consists of only PHP code then it is not compulsory to add the closing tag (?>). In fact, veterans or PHP experts highly recommend avoiding closing tags because it prevents unwanted white space or newlines at the end of the files.

4. Avoid using functions in Loops

Another best practice that is highly recommended by veteran developers and PHP experts is to use different functions inside a loop. When you do so, the overall lines of code get shortened successfully. Though, it cannot be called a good practice because there are times when including function in the loop hampers the overall website’s performance but even after this, they are quite recommended by PHP developers across the globe.

Now many of you have this misconception that browsers hold up for a site to load seamlessly. Well, unfortunately, no because if this happens, the users will move towards your competitive site. And in order to not let this happen, PHP developers need to minimize the execution time of the website. So whenever a PHP programmer writes a function within the loop and seamlessly enlarges the execution time. So what to do is focus well on writing simple code and reducing the execution time of the features of the website.

Using Comparison Operators

The next PHP best practice to take into account is to use comparison operators. PHP developers tend to have strict and loose comparison operators. So what’s the difference here? Well, comparison validates values and type and loose ones on the other hand tend to validate value and nothing else. It doesn’t matter which comparison you go with, you can seamlessly avoid unexpected program behavior. Just have enough clarity with what you are doing.

For example, you are validating a POST value and you don’t know in which type it will always come and you only care about the value. Then go for a loose comparison

// Pass if $_POST['user_id'] is an integer 1234 or a string '1234'
if($_POST['user_id'] == '1234'){  
    echo 'Hello Special user';

Apart from this, you can use strpos to compare strings

if (strpos('abcdef', 'a') !== false) {
    echo 'string found'; // Found, thanks to operator !==
} else {
    echo 'string not found'; // Not found, thanks to operator !==

Other than following these aforementioned PHP best practices, one has to be mindful of potential security risks and take steps accordingly. In today’s times, protecting data from malicious attacks is pretty important, especially SQL injection and cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. So try using prepared statements and sanitation libraries to safeguard your online presence from such attacks. And most important of all, always use the latest PHP version.


And we are done for the day! These are some of the best PHP development practices to take into account. I hope you find the following post much insightful. In case, if you have any relevant doubts or queries or even if you would like to add something, feel free to mention that in the comment section below. So this is it for now! Keep watching the space for more information and updates regarding the same. So wish you all the very best in developing a highly secure, maintainable and robust-looking web application.

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