True Beginner Resources for PHP
January 8, 2021 7:01 PM   Subscribe

This question is for my 18 year old son. He is building and managing a website using Lorekeeper, based on the Laravel PHP framework. He has outgrown the edits he can make using the editing tools and wants to work with the PHP directly, but is having trouble finding PHP learning resources for a true programming novice - most courses, tutorials or articles assume some programming experience in another language. He does know HTML/CSS and is generally very tech-savvy, but not any object-oriented programming languages.

The tutorials he has found use a lot of programming terminology that is not explained ("array," "string," "varchar," etc.) and it makes it hard to learn from them. He's interested in a PHP tutorial that is designed for programming novices or that doesn't make assumptions about prior programming knowledge.

Any kind of resource is fair game, paid or free - online is preferred, but books are good, too.
posted by jeoc to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If he's already working on a site using Laravel, I can think of no better resource than the truly excellent Laracasts. They cover Laravel in depth but do have a series on basics. They charge $15/mo for access to everything.
posted by goHermGO at 7:21 PM on January 8

Some basics in a cheat-sheet like format here

Keep in mind, it's a long journey from absolute beginner to effectively reading, understanding, and modifying someone else's code, but luckily modifying things and seeing what your changes do is, in my experience, one of the best ways to learn programming.

Also, it would be beneficial for him to learn git. This will let him easily track (and importantly, easily revert) any changes he makes that break everything. I don't have any specific resources for learning git (I kinda learned by doing) and this is kind of an optional step but getting familiar with it is definitely worth any programmer's while for a myriad of reasons.
posted by signsofrain at 7:38 PM on January 8

Old programmer here, 45 years experience but mainly on IBM mainframes. But at home I use PHP for hobby or household support LAMP (Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP) Projects. If you want you can MeFiMail me a disposable email address and I should be able to answer his basic PHP questions. I've never used any framework, just raw (and probably ugly) PHP, but if he just wants to get comfortable with the basics of PHP before tackling the framework, then maybe I can help (???). Totally your call.

But beyond that I agree with signsofrain he needs some way to "commit" his changes as he succeeds at various points (so he can drop back there if future changes break the site, or do "diffs" to see what changes he's made on different dates). I use subversion but git is more modern.

Finally, there's the PHP on-line documentation. And of course there's good old fashioned Googling, such as "php array examples" which pointed me here. If I had a $1 for every Google I did for PHP answers or error message explanations! (:->)

Or maybe someone else with more knowledge or resources will reply, in which case ignore this.
posted by forthright at 8:26 PM on January 8 [1 favorite]

Seconding Laracasts - the video tutorials are really very good and there's a whole discussions section to the site that's great for asking questions and mining for help too. It's a great tool to have when starting and a great resource as he acquires more skills. The primary focus is/was PHP and Laravel but it also has good coverage of other things, including front-end frameworks (like Alpine.js and Vue), tools (PhpStorm, Visual Studio Code, etc.), and more. (I've been working with Laravel since the 4.2 days - and PHP in general for a lot longer - and I still maintain a Laracasts sub to keep up with new stuff in both the Laravel world and not. I got a lot out of the Alpine.js series, for instance.)
posted by mrg at 9:07 PM on January 8

Thirding Laracasts. Plenty to explore when he is ready, too.
posted by backwards guitar at 2:51 PM on January 9

Another old programmer with loads of experience with PHP and Laravel. Happy to assist!


PHP: The Right Way
PHP Apprentice: An online book for learning PHP
GeeksforGeeks PHP Tutorials

Codecademy has a free online course for PHP
Stack Overflow is an excellent Q&A resource
SymfonyCasts Learn PHP

Reddit has subs for Laravel and PHP
posted by kirkaracha at 11:00 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]

The Laravel framework itself has a website with documentation and examples
posted by Chrysopoeia at 3:00 AM on January 16

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