PHP is one of the programming languages which were developed with built-in web development capabilities. The new language features included in PHP 7 further makes it easier for programmers to enhance the speed of their web application significantly without deploying additional resources. They programmers can switch to the most recent version of the widely used server-side scripting language to improve the load speed of websites without putting extra time and effort. But the web application developers still need focus on the readability and reusability of the PHP code to maintain and update the web applications quickly in future.
12 Tips to Write Clean, Maintainable, and Reusable PHP Code
1) Take Advantage of Native Functions
While writing PHP code, the programmers have option to accomplish the same objective by using either native functions or custom functions. But the developers must take advantage of the built-in functions provided by PHP to accomplish a variety of tasks without writing additional code or custom functions. The native functions will further help the developers to keep the application code clean and readable. They can easily gather information about the native functions and their usage by referring to the PHP user manual.
2) Compare Similar Functions
The developers can use native functions to keep the PHP code readable and clean. But they must remember that the execution speed of individual PHP functions differs. Also, certain PHP functions consume additional resources than others. Hence, the developers must compare similar PHP functions, and choose the one that does not affect the performance of the web application negatively and consume additional resources. For instance, they must determine the length of a string by using isset() instead of strlen(). In addition to being faster than strlen(), isset() also remains valid regardless of the existence of variables.
3) Cache Most PHP Scripts
The PHP programmers must remember that the script execution time differs from one web server to another. For instance, Apache web server serve a HTML page much faster than PHP scripts. Also, it needs to recompile the PHP script each time the page is requested for. The programmers can easily eliminate the script recompilation process by caching most scripts. They also have option to reduce the script compilation time significantly by using a variety of PHP caching tools. For instance, the programmers can use memcache to cache a large number of scripts efficiently, along with reducing database interactions.
4) Execute Conditional Code with Ternary Operators
It is a common practice among PHP developers to execute conditional code with If/Else statements. But the developers have to writing additional code to execute conditional code through If/Else statements. They can easily avoid writing additional code by executing conditional code through ternary operator instead of If/Else statements. The ternary operator helps programmers to keep the code clean and clutter-free by writing conditional code in a single line.
5) Keep the Code Readable and Maintainable
Often programmers find it daunting to understand and modify the code written by others. Hence, they need extra time to maintain and update the PHP applications efficiently. While writing PHP code, the programmers can easily make the application easy to maintain and update by describing the usage and significance of individual code snippets clearly. They can easily make the code readable by adding comments to each code snippet. The comments will make it easier for other developers to make changes to the existing code in future without putting extra time and effort.
6) Use JSON instead of XML
While working with web services, the PHP programmers have option to use both XML and JSON. But they can always take advantage of the native PHP functions like json_encode( ) and json_decode( ) to work with web services in a faster and more efficient way. They still have option to work with XML form of data. The programmers can parse the XML data more efficiently by using regular expression instead of DOM manipulation.
7) Pass References instead of Value to Functions
The experienced PHP programmers never declare new classes and methods only when they become essential. They also explore ways to reuse the classes and methods throughout the code. However, they also understand the fact that a function can be manipulated quickly by passing references instead of values. They can further avoid adding extra overheads by passing references to the function instead of values. However, they still need to ensure that the logic remains unaffected while passing reference to the functions.
8) Turn Error Reporting on in Development Mode
The developers must identify and repair all errors or flaws in the PHP code during the development process. They also have to put additional time and effort to fix the coding errors and issues identified during testing process. The programmers simply set the error reporting to E_ALL to identify both minor and major errors in the PHP code during the development process. However, they must turn the error reporting option off when the application moves from development mode to production mode.
9) Replace Double Quotes with Single Quotes
While writing PHP code, programmers have option to use either single quotes (‘) or double quotes (“). But the developers can easily enhance the performance of the PHP application by using single quotes instead of double quotes. The single code will increase the execution speed of loops drastically. Likewise, the single quote will further enable programmers to print longer lines of information more efficiently. However, the developers have to make changes to the PHP code while using single quotes instead of double quotes.
10) Avoid Using Wildcards in SQL Queries
PHP programmers often use wildcards or * to keep the SQL queries compact and simple. But the use of wildcards may affect the performance of the web application directly if the database has a higher number of columns. The programmers must mention the required columns specifically in the SQL query to keep data secure and reduce resource consumption.
11) Avoid Executing Database Queries in Loop
The PHP programmers can easily enhance the web application’s performance by not executing database queries in loop. They also have a number of options to accomplish the same results without executing database queries in loop. For instance, the developers can use a robust WordPress plug-in like Query Monitor to view the database queries along with the rows affected by them. They can even use the debugging plug-in to identify the slow, duplicate, and erroneous database queries.
12) Never Trust User Input
The smart PHP programmers keep the web application secure by never trusting the input submitted by users. They always check, filter and sanitize all user information to protect the application from varying security threats. They can further prevent users from submitting inappropriate or invalid data by using built-in functions like filter_var(). The function will check for appropriate values while receiving or processing user input.
However, it is also important for the web developers to pick the right PHP framework and development tool. At present, each programmer has option to choose from a wide range of open source PHP frameworks including Laravel, Symfony, CakePHP, Yii, CodeIgniter and Zend. Hence, it becomes essential for programmers to pick a PHP that complements all needs of a project. They also need to combine multiple PHP development tool to reduce the development time significantly and make the web application maintainable.