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View Full Version : Best professional direction with PHP



MattyJim
11-04-2009, 11:47 PM
Hello!

I suspect that I'm about to open a can of worms here, insofar as I suspect there will be a number of correct and perfectly valid answers to the following question, but:

I've been working with PHP for a couple of years now, mainly just in my own spare time as I work for a company that uses .NET technologies, but I'd like to move my knowledge one step further and put myself on the right track to learn professional coding practices and PHP skills that would be useful in a commercial PHP development team.

With this in mind, can anybody suggest an industry recognised training route (something similar to the .NET certs, for example)? Are there any industry recognised IDEs or frameworks that it would beneficial to learn?

I'll have to fund everything myself, so money will definitely be an object ;), but I'd really like to gain the PHP experience (albeit non-commercial at this stage) that would be attractive to an employer.


I realise that this is a very open ended sort of question, and I've already read a little bit about frameworks such as Zend, but I'd love to hear some opinions from all you 'clued-up' folks so that I can see things from a broader perspective. :)

Fou-Lu
11-05-2009, 12:31 AM
I consider myself to be a professional php programmer, but I haven't taken any special courses, any certifications and don't use any particular framework.
That being said, I don't have any suggestions for you. PHP is so wide that personally I see ZCE carries much less weight than MCSE (is that right? Microsux Certified Software Engineer?). Most places I have applied for (when I was looking for a programming job) did PHP based work and didn't have a clue what I meant by ZCE.

MattyJim
11-05-2009, 11:09 AM
Thanks for your response, Fou-Lu!

The company that I work for at the moment doesn't offer fantastic opportunities for its developers to progress and become better at their jobs, and so I'm about to begin the Microsux ;) Certs (I'll use the self-learning approach to save money, I think) just to provide myself with some definite learning path...and hopefully a route to a new and better employer :D

It's a bit more difficult for me to assess my PHP progress, because I don't work alongside people who have an expert knowledge of that technology, but as PHP is, as you mentioned, so wide, I think that I might invest in a few books and work my way through them so that I can fill in any gaps and iron out any bad habits that I might have picked up from working on my own.

I'd like to freelance one day, and so PHP would be a great addition to my skillset; especially as I enjoy it so much.


Thanks for your help! :)

Fou-Lu
11-05-2009, 05:27 PM
May I suggest instead of investing in a particular book, perhaps an investment in some type of elibrary solution would be a better bang for you're buck. PHP is one of those languages that evolve so fast I find that by the time people get the book its out of date. Two years ago a buddy told me he was going to learn php and pulled out a php4 book. I laughed and told him he'd learn php from 3 years ago (5 now) using that book. It didn't really matter what book he had since he needed to learn the basics, but PHP4 and PHP5 have entirely different OO engines in them, and he had come from a java background and would have benefited more from a PHP5 book. BTW, I don't recommend a PHP6 book at this time, they are changing some major fundamental usages of PHP with version 6, things that need to be controlled prior to its release (like magic_quotes being a big one).

Now with you're .net background, assuming either C# or VB you use frequently, you will find the transition to PHP to be easy. You should start on basic procedural code to familiarize yourself with the weakness of using PHP (particularly its datatyping or more accurately its lack thereof), and then go straight into objects (which isn't something I normally recommend for people starting with PHP). You will find that the object handling is very similar to C# minus the datatypes, no overloading (PHP can take a variable number of parameters, and you can use func_get_args() to sweep up anything), no delegate forcing (you can still use callbacks, but you cannot explicitly define a signature), and no operator overloading. PHP's OO engine is still an infant compared to Java, C++ and even C#, so you'll find a number of bugs still exist in it.

One of the major changes you'll see is you need to 'babysit' php a little more by controlling you're datatype checks (using is_* functions) compared to C#/VB. But I presume you're familiar with ASP.NET as well, so I also assume you have an understanding of HTTP's stateless protocol, so you don't get any default event driven code.

Fumigator
11-05-2009, 05:49 PM
I know a guy who took the Zend PHP certification test and he said it was Friggin Hard. But he's a genius so he passed it. I really hate him.

http://www.zend.com/services/certification/

I really have no idea if getting this certification would help you land a sweet PHP job.

kbluhm
11-05-2009, 07:05 PM
A former employer offered to pay for the first test for all 12 programmers they employed. I was the only one who passed it, and I got a bonus and a pay raise.

Fast forward to my current job. I work at home in a virtual office setup with a damn good salary. After I was hired I was told one of the big advantages I held over all other candidates was my ZCE badge.

So it's not all bad, you just need to know where to look. If you dismiss it as pointless, so will the people hiring you.

and yes, if you don't know your sh**, it's friggin hard ;) a number of coworkers refused to take it again, and no one else was able to pass it

Fumigator
11-05-2009, 10:20 PM
A former employer offered to pay for the first test for all 12 programmers they employed. I was the only one who passed it, and I got a bonus and a pay raise.

Fast forward to my current job. I work at home in a virtual office setup with a damn good salary. After I was hired I was told one of the big advantages I held over all other candidates was my ZCE badge.

So it's not all bad, you just need to know where to look. If you dismiss it as pointless, so will the people hiring you.

and yes, if you don't know your sh**, it's friggin hard ;) a number of coworkers refused to take it again, and no one else was able to pass it

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't impressed... and I'm really curious now to see how tough that test is. I'd love to make a move over to a PHP shop, get out of this COBOL hell. Brandoe85 thinks it's great stuff but it really isn't! :p I have a feeling your abilities and work ethic had a lot to do with both your bonus/raise and new job... But I'm sure the ZCE didn't hurt.

djm0219
11-05-2009, 10:23 PM
I'm really curious now to see how tough that test is.

Me too considering it's 70 questions covering 12 topics.

kbluhm
11-05-2009, 11:05 PM
I forget how long they give you... I'm thinking an hour and a half? I took it back in May of '06, so I can't remember it too well. And they don't let you in on your actual score. You just get a sheet that says pass or fail. I assume it's supposed to avoid helping you to re-study certain areas more than others if you fail.

Fou-Lu
11-05-2009, 11:59 PM
Me too considering it's 70 questions covering 12 topics.

Is that all it is? Maybe I should take it afterall...


I forget how long they give you... I'm thinking an hour and a half? I took it back in May of '06, so I can't remember it too well. And they don't let you in on your actual score. You just get a sheet that says pass or fail. I assume it's supposed to avoid helping you to re-study certain areas more than others if you fail.

Do you recall what kind of questions there were, like multiple choice / true-false, or full functional code? With 1 - 2 hours, I'd assume multiple choice / true - false and maybe a couple of the... 'long' answer type questions? Makes sense as well when it comes to not telling you what you failed on and what you succeeded on; either you know it or you don't. Also, do you recall offhand how much was core only and how much was extension (mysql, curl, ftp etc)?

I'm half surprised that the ZCE was recognized by you're employers. Personally, I've been debating on trying for it, but like I mentioned most places had know idea what I was talking about, or at least de-valued the ZCE when I mentioned I was planning to take it (I never did, I needed to wait until I had a job to afford to take it - I was poor o.O). Maybe that was just so they didn't have to pay me more _. No reason I shouldn't now though, it would give just that little more incentive. Granted, I've got a sweet stable government DBA job now, so I'm not going anywhere, but the ZCE may let me push rates on freelance work a little further.

djm0219
11-06-2009, 11:38 AM
Is that all it is? Maybe I should take it afterall...

According to their web site 70 questions and 90 minutes for the test. I'm also very curious about the question mix and type.

MattyJim
11-07-2009, 03:00 PM
Thanks for your replies!!

I think I'm going to get my MS Certs out of the way for now, and in the meantime keep up with PHP with a view to possible certification later on.

Learning PHP5 has actually helped me out with the .NET OOP stuff because it's often helped me see parallel concepts (e.g. Inheritance, Interfaces, etc) from the two different perspectives, but it's evolving so quickly (I hadn't even realized that v6 was on the cards yet) that I probably need to be able to devote my full attention to it before I'll be able to achieve any real level of expertise.

Thanks again to everyone. Your advice is much appreciated! :)

Phil Jackson
11-07-2009, 03:31 PM
High all, sorry just kicking up dust again. Are these tests available in the UK? I am 23, self taught from the age of 10. I have not been to any school or uni and have no qualifications in PHP or web design. After over a year of applying for jobs in web development and design, and not even getting an interview I decided to go it alone about 6 months back. work is very slow and I barley scrape by. Was interested in taking such a test to increase my chances in employment. (i am a fully qualified electrician though and a dab hand in any trade)

Fou-Lu
11-07-2009, 06:41 PM
High all, sorry just kicking up dust again. Are these tests available in the UK? I am 23, self taught from the age of 10. I have not been to any school or uni and have no qualifications in PHP or web design. After over a year of applying for jobs in web development and design, and not even getting an interview I decided to go it alone about 6 months back. work is very slow and I barley scrape by. Was interested in taking such a test to increase my chances in employment. (i am a fully qualified electrician though and a dab hand in any trade)

You betcha, the tests are done through the Pearson VUE, check this link for locations (I don't have a particular address, but I doubt the distance would be a problem in the UK): http://wsvprd1a.pearsonvue.com/Dispatcher?application=VTCLocator&action=actStartApp&v=W2L&cid=369

Phil Jackson
11-08-2009, 11:53 AM
from the testing price list (sorry Fou-lu) which one am i looking at?

http://wsvprd1a.pearsonvue.com/vouchers/pricelist/

Fou-Lu
11-08-2009, 05:14 PM
Its the ANSI, but its not listed in the page. Go from the zend site: http://www.zend.com/en/services/certification/

Phil Jackson
11-08-2009, 05:36 PM
Only less than 5000 passed?

the "Zend PHP 5 Certification Bundle" looks a good start.



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