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10 Wonderfully Creative Uses for PHP

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Read Time: 9 min

PHP is easy to use and is supported by almost every web host. Therefore, it makes sense that it has become one of the most popular languages for back-end web development. Developers have been using PHP to do all kinds of things.

Let's see some of the most creative and wonderful uses of PHP.

1. Create eCommerce Websites

eCommerce is a very popular category for website development. Any business that wants to sell any products or services online has to either use an existing eCommerce service or develop its own eCommerce website.

Any eCommerce website will have basic functionality such as a shopping cart where customers can add products, adjust their quantity, etc., and it must offer payment gateway integration so that users can securely pay for the products that they purchase. You can use PHP to implement all of that.

In fact, there are dedicated solutions available so that you don't have to start from scratch when developing an eCommerce website. You can use free and open-source frameworks such as OpenCart and PrestaShop to create your own eCommerce store.

2. Create Content Management Systems

Almost everyone who ventures into web development has heard of WordPress. It is the most popular content management system out there. Guess which language WordPress uses to power its back end. PHP!

Content management systems are used to create a wide variety of websites. This can include something as simple as a personal blogging website or a portfolio website. You can also use them to set up your own eCommerce stores with the use of plugins such as WooCommerce, which works with WordPress.

WordPress isn't the only CMS that uses PHP. Other popular examples of PHP-based content management systems are Joomla and Drupal. You can even create your own custom CMS if you are feeling particularly adventurous.

3. Create WordPress Plugins and Themes

No CMS can do everything all by itself. So we need themes and plugins that will enhance the existing functionality. You can create themes and plugins for your favorite CMS in PHP. This won't be as daunting as creating an entire CMS, and you will still be able to customize things to fit your needs.

Consider WordPress as an example. There is an official directory of free themes as well as plugins created by other developers that you can install and activate on your own website. There are also marketplaces such as CodeCanyon that sell all types of WordPress plugins.

We also have tutorials on Envato Tuts+ that will teach you how to create your own WordPress plugins from scratch.

4. Create Online Forums and Communities

Dedicated online forums and communities are a big hit among enthusiasts where they share their passion with others. A forum is also useful for solving issues related to a product or service, providing customer support, and sharing buggy behavior or new updates.

Having a forum gives users the option to discuss things among themselves. If someone is facing an issue while using your product, they can get help from other people active in the community instead of waiting for a response from a company employee.

PHP offers everything that you might need for building your own forums from scratch. You can also use frameworks such as Laravel to create a forum if you don't want to start from scratch.

If you have a website based on WordPress, there are plugins available that you can use to integrate a forum into your website. People looking for a dedicated, free, and open-source forum solution can take a look at phpBB.

All these frameworks, plugins, and software packages use PHP to handle everything on the back-end.

5. Create Social Media Websites

It is also possible for you to create your own social media website using PHP. One of the most popular social media sites out there, Facebook, uses a flavor of PHP to run its services on the back-end. It relies on its own PHP engine called HHVM to get every last bit of performance juice. Performance will only become an issue once you are extremely huge.

If you aren't too keen on developing your own social media websites, you can consider developing apps for existing ones such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All of these websites have dedicated sections for developers to use their API in the language they like.

6. Develop Your Own API

Another interesting use case of PHP is in developing an API so that other people can use your services. Having an API will give you several advantages. For starters, it will be easier for other existing services to integrate what you have to offer. They will be able to exchange information and communicate easily.

Having an API also promotes innovation because someone else might use your API to provide services in a more convenient way to your users. Once you have used APIs from other services, it would be a good next step to learn how to develop your own API.

7. Develop Live Chat Support and Chat Rooms

Have you ever visited websites that offer different kinds of services such as web hosting? They usually have a button in the bottom-right corner that you can click to contact chat support. The chat support can either be live or non-live. In either case, you can develop that functionality using PHP.

We have tutorials on Envato Tuts+ that can help you get started with some basic functionality for live chat support.

We've also curated a list of free and paid live chat scripts that you can use for inspiration or integrate in your products right away.

8. Create and Edit Images

PHP has dedicated libraries that you can use to work with images. The ability to edit images programmatically is helpful in a variety of situations. For example, you can write a little script to resize images in batches to create thumbnails.

You can also manipulate images using the PHP GD library to replace colors in images, apply different filters, rotate images, etc. The same library is also useful for adding watermarks to images or for editing parts of an image at the same time.

Similarly, you can even draw basic shapes like circles, rectangles, and lines to create your own artistic masterpieces from scratch. Drawing these shapes using loops can produce magnificent results when done properly.

9. Create Forms

Forms serve a lot of purposes on websites. People use them for registering users, letting registered users log in, and allowing users to communicate with them, among other things.

You can use PHP to create all types of forms, no matter how complicated. Take a look through the following tutorials to learn how to use PHP to create login forms and contact forms or to add CAPTCHA to your forms.

10. Create PDF Documents

PDF documents are widely used to share information. Files in PDF format can be invoices, tickets, books, manuals, brochures, magazines, etc.

PHP allows you to create PDF files through code as well. Let's say you are running an eCommerce store to sell products. You will need to generate invoices for products that you have sold. Using PHP to generate these invoices is incredibly easy with the use of free libraries.

Final Thoughts

In this tutorial, we have seen ten different ways in which you can use PHP. Once you have a good command of the language, you can use PHP to create almost anything you can imagine. This is not to say that you should only focus on using PHP to do all these things.

Every programming language has its own strengths and weaknesses. You should take them into account while deciding which language to use. It is just a lot easier to use PHP directly with HTML so you can get started quickly.

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