My #1 Tip for PHP Programmers to Read and Write Code Easier

When I was first starting to write PHP, most tutorials I found placed the HTML output inside of the PHP. It’ll have an entire block of code that is only PHP, and it prints out HTML (and CSS and JavaScript for that matter).

There’s a better way though.

Take a look at lines 1 to 15 below. It does the same as lines 20–32:

The second section is easier to read (and write!).

A web server ultimately evaluates all of the code and prints out HTML. It doesn’t matter if you write the HTML in, or out, of the <?php … ?> tags.

Why Is This So Good?

Sometimes it gets tricky when the HTML you want to print out has single or double quotes (ex. specifying a Link or a Style/CSS class).

I have two solutions for this:

  1. Start/end your statement with the opposite type of quote that you need
  2. “Escape” the data, by adding a slash right before the quote

Both of these are inconvenient 😜

The next comparison example shows a real-world example demonstrating it’s easier to read, especially because most editors will color-code the different HTML tags. Note the first example has two instances of printing out a link (each using a different method as described above).

This is the same code as above, but a screenshot from my editor (Sublime Text) that better shows the color-coding of HTML tags:

Printing HTML in PHP: A Best Practice

There’s a shortcut to printing out text, where you use an equal sign instead of the opening “PHP” tag. I suggest avoiding it though. Compare these two:

<?php // This works, but don't do it ?>
<?php // instead do this ?>
<?php print "Hello"; ?>

The reason to not use the first one is that, if you were read in an XML file without specifying “php” then you may get errors. XML files also have <? . It’s better to get in the habit of explicitly using <?php print… to display the text.

And yes, “echo” and “print” do the same thing in PHP.

Like this style of writing? 👍👍 Are you creating a PHP web application and already know what a “variable” is and the concept of an “if” statement? Check out my book: Web Development for Intermediate Programmers — with PHP



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