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The 27 Best Tutorials to Learn PHP in 2021 (Free and Paid Resources)

For beginners and those just getting into WordPress development, PHP is one of the best places to start. It's a super simple and straight forward language so it's pretty easy to learn, and it forms the backbone of online development. Also, if you want to work in the WordPress backend, you definitely have to learn it.

But what if you don't want to spend months or years on expensive college courses? Instead, you could take your first step into web development today. There are hundreds of free and paid PHP tutorials that can help you get started right away, and we've collected over 20 of the best for you.

There's something for everyone here, from old-fashioned do-it-yourself documentation to guided tutorials to interactive classes with games and exercises to help you master your skills. Whatever your method of learning, you will find a course that suits you.

It takes a lot of work to master PHP, but with a little online guidance, you can improve your skills and start writing your own code in no time.

Why learn PHP

PHP is a server-side scripting language mainly used to create dynamic web pages. You'll see how PHP does things like generating interactive content, collecting form data, sending information to visitors, and authenticating users. It's also the backbone of WordPress and its plugins that add all sorts of unique features to the CMS. Pretty much anything can be done with PHP.

It is also generally very easy to master and a good entry language for new developers. If you have a background in programming then you should pull it off. But even total beginners won't have too much trouble finding their way around PHP.

And if you're getting into WordPress development, PHP is a must. It is needed to modify WordPress or write themes and plugins, and it is the core of the whole CMS. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are also languages ​​to look at, but none are as integral to WordPress as PHP.

The final reason to learn PHP: much like other programming languages, it has a huge community and a lot of free resources. That means you have plenty of places to go to ask for help, share ideas, download free software, or find helpful how-tos.

With that in mind, let's dive into these PHP tutorials that you can find online.

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Top 15 Free PHP Tutorials For Beginners

If you can't afford paid courses or just want to try PHP and see how you like it, free PHP tutorials are a great place to get started. Free doesn't always mean inferior quality, there are plenty of free tutorials out there that are just as good (or even better) than some paid courses. In fact, many developers say the free online resources are so good that you might not even have to buy premium courses!

Each of these websites offers a unique way to learn PHP. Start here, and if you need more guidance, you can skip to the paid PHP tutorials below.

1. Official PHP Manual

Official PHP Manual

Where better to start than with the official PHP developer documentation? This guide will walk you through everything from an introduction to PHP to installing it and understanding the basic syntax. It's a wonderful first read, especially if you're already used to programming the documentation.

The only problem with this is that while it covers some advanced features, it can only get you that far. It's also pretty straightforward and to the point, which is great for some, but total beginners could benefit more from a guided tutorial.

Take a look at the documentation and read through a few sections. Check out how it works for you. For many, a reference manual and plenty of self-directed practice is the best way to learn.

2. W3Schools PHP guide

W3Schools PHP tutorial

W3Schools is a great resource for web development beginners of all ages. The instructions are very simple and easy to understand, there are also many references and examples to look at and many exercises and quizzes to help you memorize PHP. You can even get a W3Schools online certification.

If you ever want to learn a new programming language and are looking for tutorials that are fun and easy to use, check out the documentation from W3Schools.

3. PHP: The Right Way

PHP the right way

Like any programming language, PHP has best practices that should be followed. If you don't, your code will be slow and cluttered, and maybe even break completely. PHP: The Right Way tells you all of the programming standards that may not be obvious to new developers.

It's not a beginner's tutorial that takes you step-by-step, but it's still worth reading through so you can create quality code.

4. FreeCodeCamp’s free PHP manual

If you enjoy watching video tutorials, this huge five hour session is perfect for you. The full course covers all the basics of PHP in depth and shows you everything you need to know from scratch.

Dedicate an afternoon to this and you will emerge from it as a PHP beginner. If you've already learned a little PHP and want to jump forward, you can jump to each section by clicking the timestamps in the description.

5. Learn PHP with Codeacademy

Code Academy

The best way to learn is by diving right into the programming? Codeacademy is a completely free resource that teaches code, and not just with video or text tutorials. Although it consists mostly of interactive lessons, there are also quizzes, articles, and freeform projects. It's just like a self-guided college course and all you have to do is create an account.

6. PHP Apprentice

PHP apprentice

Whether you are a beginner or experienced, PHP Apprentice has great advice for you. The free online book is still in the works, currently twenty-two pages, mostly filled with examples of PHP in practice. It's a bit like typical programming documentation, but a lot simpler and easier to understand.

7. GeeksforGeeks PHP guides


Many of these free resources cover the basics and not much more. This gigantic set of tutorials goes through absolutely everything, and covers all of the functions and libraries PHP has to offer.

It reads less like a guide and more like documentation. So, if you enjoyed the official PHP manual but want something more substantive, then give this website a try.

8. TutorialsPoint PHP Tutorial


This is another absolutely huge PHP learning resource, but it is structured more like a series of tutorials than very simple, documentation-style pages. There's a whole lot here, from the basics to more advanced topics, plus examples of using PHP for logins, forms, and with AJAX.

9. PHP Basics Playlist


If you're still sticking to the basics and prefer video walkthroughs, these PHP tutorials have exactly what you need. The 35 videos are relatively short, range from 5 to 20 minutes, and cover many different topics. You can watch the whole series for free in about five hours.

10. Learn PHP in Y Minutes

Learn X in Y minutes

Do you want to learn PHP quickly? This document goes into short and no-frills everything but code. There are no holding hands or lengthy explanations, PHP manages to summarize on a single page. Great if you like your tutorials in a nutshell.

11. Free Interactive PHP Tutorial free interactive PHP tutorial

What is unique about this PHP tutorial is that it is a series of interactive exercises that encourage you to try programming and see if you can get the output you expect. If you fail, it will let you know where you went wrong, just like a real code compiler. Try this out if you want to test your syntax in real time with a guided lesson.

12. The Net Ninja’s PHP Tutorial for Beginners Playlist

The Net Ninja’s free PHP tutorial

If you want to create your own website from scratch, here is the perfect video playlist. Using PHP and MySQL together you can build a fully functional website with a database and learn how to program all sorts of functions like forms and data validation. These videos are excellent and you are sure to learn a lot from them.

13. PHP5 tutorial

PHP5 tutorial

This documentation guides you through PHP and MySQL with lots of helpful pictures and easy-to-understand instructions. The only downside is that it focuses on PHP 5 which is already near the end of its life. PHP 5.6 is still widely used on the web, but PHP 7 is probably best to use if you can. This website still covers the basics of PHP fairly well, so it may still be worth reading.

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14. Traversy Media’s PHP Front To Back Playlist

Traversy Media’s PHP tutorial

Check out this playlist: it will teach you everything there is to know about PHP in a series of 22 video tutorials. It goes over the basics like installation and PHP syntax, then moves on to more advanced implementations like integrating MySQLi and setting cookies with PHP.

15. SoloLearn PHP Tutorial


SoloLearn have designed their lessons to be fun and engaging. Quizzes help you remember what you've learned while achievements and interactive content keep you interested. All you have to do is create an account and you can take the course on your phone as well as online. With over a million students, many developers have made their start here.

12 paid PHP tutorials for serious developers

These paid PHP courses offer an advanced look at PHP. Many of them are well worth the money and offer multiple learning methods: videos, text tutorials, and interactive learning exercises. They can also provide some insight into PHP that the free tutorials don't cover.

If your best learning is in an online college-like setting, these paid courses might be for you.

1. Udemy PHP tutorials

PHP tutorials on Udemy

Udemy is a hugely popular online platform for all types of courses from a wide variety of subject areas. Three and a half million students are learning PHP on the platform alone. There are hundreds of PHP courses out there covering the language in all possible aspects so there is something for everyone here.

The only downside: the courses can be quite expensive and typically cost $ 50 to $ 200. But they often include hours or even days of video, as well as interactive lessons and downloadable resources, so it can be a good investment.

2. PHP for Beginners

PHP for beginners

If you want a course that will take you from zero to mastering PHP, give this a try. It teaches you how to integrate PHP with CMS like WordPress, work with MySQL databases and create interactive content. You will also learn the basics of programming and debugging your own code. There's an absolute deluge of content here, so prepare yourself for a long course.

3. Lynda PHP tutorials

PHP tutorials on Lynda

Lynda includes 55 PHP courses and nearly 2000 video tutorials, which are typically hours long. Like Udemy, these are created by a wide variety of people and cover a wide variety of PHP-related topics. You can sort the results by skill level, subject, and even PHP version.

Also, a few videos of each course are usually available for free so you can see if it's right for you. After that, you'll need to purchase a subscription to see the rest of the lessons.

4. Coursera PHP Courses

PHP courses on Coursera

Do you want to learn from universities without actually going to college? These Coursera lessons are the way to go. Some are free, but many have a fee that you have to pay to enroll.

Financial support is available so this can be an affordable option. You actually enroll in a planned course, work with your peers, get graded and receive a certificate.

5. Learn Object-Oriented PHP By Building a Complete Website

Object-Oriented PHP course

Do you want to build your own website from scratch? In this course you will learn everything about object-oriented programming and how you can master it when you work with PHP. You have the opportunity to learn the basics and by the end you will have your own functional website created. Studying for months isn't much fun, so give this course a try if you want to start creating something right away.

6. Make a Spotify Clone from Scratch: JavaScript PHP and MySQL

How to Create a Spotify Clone Tutorial

Making a clone is one of the best ways to master a skill. It can teach you to copy like the experts do while at the same time giving you room to add your own touch and experiment. In this course you will not only learn PHP, but also JavaScript and MySQL, all from scratch. You will use your new skills to create a Spotify clone as it walks you through each step of the journey.

7. Laracast's Journey: PHP


Laracasts is a huge resource for screencasts or video tutorials that will record the screen and show you everything the teacher is doing. There are hundreds of PHP lessons here and the entire beginner course is free. You can access all premium lessons for $ 15 / month.

8. Treehouse PHP Courses


Treehouse offers thousands of courses for a monthly fee on its website, with over thirty PHP courses to study. In addition to videos, each lesson has quizzes and goals to help you master what you have learned. Some courses only last a few minutes while others have hours of video content. And if you want to try other web languages, you can access them with a Treehouse subscription.

9. The Complete PHP MYSQL Professional Course with 5 Projects

PHP MYSQL Professional Course on Udemy

PHP and MySQL often go hand in hand. If backend development is your goal, this course has five projects to help you move forward in your career. With 148 lectures and 20 hours of video, this course will keep you busy for a long time!

10. Pluralsight PHP Courses


Pluralsight is a source for world-class computer science and technology education. For a monthly fee, you get access to video courses and learning paths that can prepare you for specific professional roles or even get you certified.

This platform allows you to measure your skills in specific areas to see how well you would do in different technical professions. The main goal here is to help you acquire the skills you need to become a professional developer and get yourself into business.

11. Getting Started with Laravel

Getting started with Laravel course

In this course from Pluralsight you will get to know the most popular PHP framework: Laravel. Laravel helps you build web applications that are fast, powerful, and expressive. It's like an addon to PHP that allows you to make better things a lot easier. If you want to expand your PHP skills, Laravel is the best place to start.

12. PHP for Beginners: How to Build an E-Commerce Store

PHP for Beginners on Udemy

Do you want to build your own ecommerce store with PHP? PHP is an integral part of an online store as it often does a lot of the requests and authentications that you need to perform.

This course is not for beginners; you need to know the HTML and PHP syntax before you can get started. It is more focused on teaching you how to build applications and handle the front end and back end of an ecommerce store.

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Every developer has to start somewhere. Choose a PHP tutorial that fits your learning style and you can master PHP without paying for expensive college courses.

One of the hardest parts of web development is learning the different languages ​​that are needed to create a website. PHP is an easy language to understand, and it's a good place to start before diving into more complex web languages ​​like HTML, CSS, SQL, and JavaScript.

If you're also learning WordPress, you should keep an eye on what people are using with it. JavaScript and React are becoming increasingly important tools for WordPress developers, and once you've got some PHP experience, adding them to your skills could be a good next step.

Just remember, once you've completed the course or read all of the documentation, your learning doesn't stop. The web is constantly evolving and there is always more to deal with. Knowing about coding trends can keep you up to date and help you develop breakthrough apps or find work in new areas. PHP is just the beginning.

Do you have any PHP tutorials, cheat sheets, or your own resources to share with new developers? Share the PHP resources you found most helpful in the comments!

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