Presently, the web development industry is radically different from what it was a few years back. Nowadays, there are lots of different elements that can easily baffle anyone, especially newcomers.
As a consequence, we decided to create a step-by-step guide demonstrating the bigger picture and providing easy-to-follow guidelines for people who want to be in certain roles in the web development industry e.g. PHP backend developer!
For anyone who desires to become a PHP backend developer, a roadmap is a must to have in order to succeed. However, a backend roadmap earlier was merely a recommendation of technologies with no clear indication of their order of priority.
To clear the woes, we are sharing a revised PHP backend roadmap to give you a better idea of how the learning process should be. Let’s start!
The PHP scripting language is ranked first in the list of top programming languages. Most developers use PHP to develop websites, either to add functions that HTML can't support or to interact with MySQL databases. Furthermore, most web servers are running PHP on the server-side. In the past, PHP was considered to be a very "light" and easy-to-deploy solution. That is due to its quick development-to-release cycle. PHP's adaptability has made it one of the most in-demand languages around the globe.
The demand for PHP is high even though there are many rumors that PHP is a dead language. However, this statement isn’t true and the usage statistics of PHP are enough to prove.
The job market or demand for backend PHP developers will remain strong and high for many years to come. Since PHP language has been used everywhere you look for years, it will always be in demand in the future as well.
PHP Basics - Learn PHP basics online before you even install anything on your machine. For e.g. Data Types, Control Structures, Functions, Classes, and Interfaces, Extending and Implementation, Type-hint, HTTP Request Handling, Exceptions, Namespaces, etc.
Set Up A Local Environment - Make your workspaces clutter-free by using only the software you need to get your Mac, Windows, or Linux machine up and running.
In-Depth PHP Knowledge - This easy-to-use, open-source, cross-platform, general-purpose programming language has been designed specifically for site development.
Learn Testing - Testing is fundamental to the work of a back-end developer and automated, repeatable tests can help you find bugs early in the software development process.
Web Servers (Apache; Nginx) - Commonly, Nginx is used as a proxy server, whereas Apache is the back end. It would be a good idea to learn how to orchestrate each tool for optimum results.
Explore Relational Database - It is necessary for a back-end data scientist and a PHP specialist to build a database that stores and processes data fast. There is more than one way to do this; learn one, and others will make sense.
Cache - By providing additional storage for often-used data, cashing makes websites and online stores run faster.
Creation of RESTful APIs - Understand REST APIs and you'll be able to build better and more robust APIs for your users.
Authentication/Authorization Methodologies - For anyone managing a network with multiple servers, it's critical to gain familiarity with authorization, authentication, and accounting.
Usage of Docker - Instead of relying on virtual machines, turn to Docker to deploy applications, and enjoy the multiple benefits Docker offers.
In addition to learning PHP, you should also become familiar with Git, which you will use every day, regardless of the programming language you select. Git is a tool for collaboration between teams, which allows you to save code states.
For the majority of cases, external libraries are a great solution, especially if they have earned the community's trust. However, to use them effectively you should learn Composer - a package manager which greatly facilitates connecting and updating all of your PHP dependencies.
There is such a huge range of database solutions available in the market that it's actually hard to outline each one and not forget any of them. However, there are a few leaders in this field such as PostgreSQL is the best choice for relational databases, and MongoDB is best for NoSQL. PDO will help you to understand PHP's interaction with your databases, and ORMs will help you increase the security and effectiveness of the communication between PHP and the data.
Programmers or coders often consider speed as one of the most important criteria, and debugging speed plays a very major role in determining it.
There are two solutions to remove seeded echo and var_dump from a code, but xDebug is the more common and convenient one. While the process of connecting and configuring it isn't difficult, the benefits it brings are always noteworthy.
However, the quality of the code and its style may seem subjective things, but teamwork requires these aspects quite often. The PSR-12 standard includes a list of recommendations on how to style the code. It is not the only standard that exists, but it is surely the most common. In order to develop a habit of writing clean code, utilize Psalm, Phan, or PHPStan linters.
What About HTML?
As far as PHP is concerned, Full-Stack seems to be becoming less and less mentioned these days. Fields of work have long been divided and PHP holds a prominent position at the backend. Therefore, learning HTML is not a necessity, however, it is rather a way to optimize workflow. Moreover, a key requirement is to clearly understand how to implement interaction with the front-end. In this area, we consider REST and JSON APIs as essential. Web browsing might be replaced by Postman, the ultimate API debugger. Make it a habit to document interfaces with OpenAPI or Blueprint.
Besides the servers, the high response rate of the project is also due to the code quality. In some cases, it's enough to reduce the number of requests to the database or to cache the results of heavy calculations. Caching mechanisms can make this possible. In the PSR-6 and PSR-16 standards, there are interfaces to organize them, and depending on your application you can choose the caching mechanism.
The other way to speed up projects is by doing processing in the background. To do this, 2 categories are available: task schedulers (Crontab) can be used for mailings, recalculating tariffs, and other routine tasks. You can perform heavy operations in the background and monitor their progress without affecting the response time to users.
Testing for the code is not something that all teams do. It is generally based on a number of factors. Knowing how to write testable code is essential. This can be learned through PHPUnit practice. In addition, if you want to try other approaches, you should take a look at Codeception.
Once several tools have been researched, it's time to combine them into a cohesive system. If you want to avoid reinventing the wheel, look for a framework. You can make a choice from Symfony or Laravel as these are the best 2 among all.
Monitoring a project after it has been launched can provide you with the right answers to questions such as: are the servers coping? Is there a DDoS attack? Is there a fatal exception? Monitoring can provide you with all the information you need. It is recommended to start with logging. The PSR-3 standard describes the interface, and Monolog will eliminate the need for you to create your own logging service. By using Sentry you will be informed of errors, Grafana will display beautiful graphs, and Graylog or ELK will make it easier to search logs and investigate incidents. There will be situations in which simple monitoring won’t solve the issue. Therefore, at the beginning of your journey, focus on the crucial things. Though even after mastering the tools listed here, there is still a lot to learn in PHP. So don’t stop exploring and learning.