20 Great Online Resources to Learn PHP

When it comes to learning a programming language, there is a set path to achieve perfection in it. No shortcuts and no ‘7 day’s fast tracks’. PHP used to stand for Personal Home Page, but is now popularly known as Hypertext Preprocessor, is most probably the most widely used language on the web today.

PHP is an interpreted language and it's used to create dynamic web pages. Examples could be website registration systems, forums (PHP Bulletin Board is the most popular), web stores and so on... If you want to get a head start at PHP then we'd recommend you bookmarking the following free online resources.

The list is categorized into:

  • PHP Programming Forums
  • IDEs (Integrated Development environments for PHP)
  • Online tutorials
  • Free PHP books

PHP programming forums:

1. PHP.net


Nothing is more helpful than the official website. This is the place where you can find all the different versions of PHP, code repository and for starters they have a pool of really helpful tutorials. It is maintained by the PHP consortium and it works with the help of donations in terms of technical help from 3rd party applications, which are also mostly developed in PHP. In a sense it's a way of giving back to the community. PHP.net is a useful guide for writing your first very PHP page. Besides the quick starter guide, they also have an extensive FAQ section that will help you accelerate your learning curve and steer you away from making unnecessary rookie mistakes.

2. PHP DN Forums


PHP DN forums is one the most visited places by amateur as well as expert PHP programmers. Forums give quick access to a repository of common errors that programmers face during their initial learning curve. You can utilize PHP Developer Network (DN) forums as a one stop shop for PHP tutorials, design issues, error reporting and resolution and above all, to get work offers from several people hunting for quality PHP developers.

3. Delphi PHP


Delphi is another one of the more popular PHP flavors out there used by thousands of PHP developers. They are a good resource that PHP programmers can take advantage of in almost any scenario. You can interact with other PHP programmers through the Delphi PHP forums, which are membership based, exchange programming help and hunt for PHP related work opportunities. New PHP programmers should register on these forums and get active from the get go.

4. Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is one of the most awesome programming forums out there. It's quite a general programming forum and it does not stick to one specific language but still the quality, and speed, of the replies you get on Stack Overflow often surpasses what you get on dedicated PHP programming forums. It's membership based and the trick to get quick replies to your queries is adding tags to your question. Programmers usually search for tags (for example: #PHP) when looking for new queries and help requests.

5. Daniweb Forums


Daniweb is yet another general programming forum but nevertheless, just like with Stack Overflow, you should put up your programming related queries on it too. Daniweb has a huge number of members, 0.8 million programmers, designers, engineers and counting, so you can expect quick replies. It's also membership based and the key to getting quick replies on Daniweb is to be as specific and concise as possible in your queries.

PHP IDEs (Integrated Development Environments)

An Integrated Development Environment is the software that you use for... Well, your development. It typically has a debugger, compiler, documentation generator (not necessary), code snippets and an integrated web browser. There also are other features found in some of the leading PHP IDEs, such as source control, class view, multiple language support, database navigation and more.

6. Eclipse


Eclipse has two very popular plug-ins for PHP development. One is the official PHP IDE Project which is an Eclipse foundation project. You can download Eclipse right away and try out the several coding examples it provides for PHP. The other popular PHP development plug-in is PHPEclipse which is a 3rd party plug-in. Eclipse is definitely good for beginners as it's very easy to use.

7. Komodo


Komodo has a vast user base and is also a popular IDE for PHP development. Komodo has support for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX. The only obvious downside with Komodo is that it isn't free.

8. PHP Designer

PHP Designer

PHP designer is a PHP IDE which includes built in HTML, CSS and JS editor in addition to the basic PHP editor. It has all the standard features and there is a free version available so you can try it out to see if it works for you. Another great feature is that it can easily integrate FTP/SFTP and TortoiseSVN for source control and versioning. A good thing for all the professional PHP developers.

9. PHPEdit

PHP Edit

PHPEdit is a PHP Editor and IDE with an impressive set of features which includes support for all the popular PHP frameworks, code snippets, source control through Subversion or FTP/SFTP, besides the standard PHP editor, debugger and compiler. It also has a free version which you can try for evaluation purposes. The full version will cost you $89.

10. Zend Studio

Zend Studio

Zend Studio truly is one of the top PHP IDEs out there. Zend is not just for individual PHP developers, it's also ideal for large development teams working on big PHP projects. A big bonus is that Zend hosts weekly webinars on PHP development and general programming, as well as conducting PHP training and certification for individuals and companies. There is trial version of the Zend Studio available for download.

Online PHP Tutorials

11. IBM PHP Developer Network


IBM has a really comprehensive set of tutorials covering everything from basic to advanced PHP topics. Early stage PHP developers can utilize these tutorials as a quick starting guide on how to do some really everyday things in PHP, such as form authentication, managing file I/O and XML interoperability.

12. PHP Builder

PHP Builder

PHP Builder has a huge database of quick PHP starting guides, tutorials and articles. An example is the tutorial on how to make your own web mailer program in PHP. This is a common feature used by many dynamic websites for contact forms, registration forms etc. They also have accompanying forums that can be utilized for posting problems or questions you have regarding their tutorials.

13. W3Schools


It's impossible not mentioning W3Schools when it comes to tutorials and help guides related to web programming languages and frameworks. They have a quick starters guide, covering the most essential parts of the PHP programming language. Beside the guides, they also have a comprehensive reference manual on the most commonly used PHP functions and once you are ready you can take the PHP certification which definitely adds to your credibility.

14. Tutorialized's PHP Tutorials

PHP Turorials

This resource has a pretty thick set of high quality PHP tutorials freely available. There are more than 600 tutorials categorized into around 50 categories, ranging from how to build ecommerce shopping carts to security. Once you understand the fundamentals, you can start experimenting with the help of these tutorials.

15. DeveloperTutorial's PHP Tutorials

Developer Tutorials

This is a great place to go hunting for tutorials on PHP related topics that you find interesting. They do not have a thick set of tutorials but the ones they do have are of the highest quality. Most of these tutorials have been written by expert PHP developers.

Online PHP Books

16. Web Blazonry's free PHP books

Web Blazonry

Even though learning programming from books is becoming a thing of the past, reading an electronic copy of the same book is something else. Here you can find some of the best PHP books, such as O'Reilly's "Programming PHP", available for free, along with many other excellent titles.

17. TuxRadar's Practical PHP Programming

Tux Radar

TuxRadar is a trusted name when it comes to programming. They have the famous PHP book "Practical PHP programming" available for free. Simply download the entire book and get familiar with the used example code. The book is now available as PHP version 5.2.

18. Free Programming Resources / PHP Books

Free Programming Resources

Free Programming Resources has a list with free PHP books on the web. Some of the books are available with complete chapter lists while others only have sample chapters so that you can get an idea whether it's worth buying them.

19. FreeTechBook's PHP books


This resource does not have a huge list of free PHP books - there are only five titles to choose between. However, the titles that they do provide here are excellent. Click the download link and get your very own free copy.

20. WikiBooks's PHP Books


Wiki Books is a must when it comes to free programming and scripting books. Go through the books and use the code snippet database which you can apply directly within your PHP applications.

One more thing...

We get a lot emails asking what provider that is the best for their PHP website. This can a bit tricky and there is no definitive answer. However, we asked our editors to choose three web hosts, supporting PHP, that they believe would match most peoples' needs. They are:

Written 2010-08-19 (Updated 2016-10-10)

Chad Bean

Share your thoughts

Karthik Prabhu,  1 January, 2011

Nice list! :D For learning PHP, I personally feel that php.net is a great place to start. It has all the info you need about PHP.

Satya Prakash,  3 September, 2010

Just you missed one more site and it is http://www.satya-weblog.com.

Tim F,  2 September, 2010

@SeanJA +1
Netbeans is a terrific IDE for PHP (and several other languages) development. With the plugins and active community it my IDE of choice right now!

alex,  2 September, 2010

Komodo IDE isn't free, butttttttt Komodo Edit is (wich has a few features less, but is nearly as powerful)

SeanJA,  1 September, 2010

It makes me sad that you left off Netbeans in the IDE category

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