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Part 1 – How to Learn PHP for WordPress and Genesis

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Good evening everybody and welcome to this special seminar, An Introduction to Customizing Genesis Using PHP. This seminar will become lesson 3 of the Customize Genesis Like a Pro Course here on BYOBWebsite. Tonight we’re going to start off by talking about how to learn PHP.

Traditional Method for Learning PHP

There is a traditional method for learning PHP and if you search for “Learn PHP”, you get a variety of good ones. I think that’s the name of a site even, learnphp.net. I was thinking of learnpgp.org but there are plenty of others that are similar to this.

These sites have you start off with setting up a local server on your own computer and then beginning to create a website in PHP. It usually starts off with the Hello World! routine where you write a little bit of code and Hello World! starts upon your site. It starts with the learning of sort of the fundamental building blocks of PHP.

Well, after you’ve done several hours of that you still can’t really do anything significant and you can’t really do much with WordPress because PHP is a language of WordPress. And WordPress has its own methods, its own system, its own functions and generally speaking, you rely on those things rather than on what you can learn in introductory PHP course.

In an introductory PHP course you really only have two tools. You have PHP code and MySQL code and those are the two things that you work with.

My Method of Teaching PHP is Specific to WordPress and Genesis

Well, if you are learning to code PHP in Genesis and in WordPress, I think that it’s a much better system to work on a live server. That means you actually work on a website that has WordPress up and running.

You actually start with a very sophisticated set of tools so you don’t start with the very simple basics but you start learning things that would otherwise be reasonably advanced and with a little bit of knowledge you can do very significant things.

Learning PHP through the Genesis/WordPress method, you’re going to have 3 sets of tools instead of the 2.

Tools for Learning PHP in Genesis and WordPress

The first is PHP code which shares it with the traditional method.

The second is WordPress functions. There are hundreds and hundreds of WordPress functions that you can use to accomplish what you want to do inside of WordPress.

Then there are Genesis functions and Genesis has its own set of tools specifically designed to make customizing a Genesis website easier or more straightforward.

Why I Didn’t Mention MySQL

Notice I didn’t say anything about MySQL. That’s because in WordPress you never really interact with MySQL and until you are very advanced, you’re generally not going to interact with the database at all directly. You are interacting with the database by using WordPress functions and the actual database interaction is relatively hidden, you don’t really see it.

So we are going to be using the WordPress/Genesis method rather than the traditional method of learning PHP which means that lots of very basic things that they teach in PHP we’re not going to talk about much at all.

But we are going to talk about some very sophisticated things that the traditional schools never really even get around to because they are WordPress functions and Genesis functions.

Resources for Learning PHP

We have a set of really 4 resources to use for this.

Genesis Documentation

We have the Genesis documents and if you are logged into your account in StudioPress, they’ve got this set of tutorials. It’s also got some code snippets and these two things really make up the Genesis documentation. This is a very useful resource for you when you are working on trying to do specific things in Genesis.

WordPress Codex

The second thing you have is the WordPress Codex and the WordPress Codex is probably going to be the most important reference that you use. It’s certainly the most important reference I use. In fact, you can see that if I type “w” in my browser window, it automatically brings up wordpress.org first and that’s because I go to that source so often for information.

w3schools

The next level of information is actually w3schools. You’ve probably seen me use w3schools in other contexts as a reference. It has some decent PHP information but you’re mostly going to use it probably for HTML and CSS because anything you do in PHP is still going to require you to do some HTML and some CSS. But it does have PHP tutorials and PHP references and you may in fact, end up using the PHP reference.

php.net – the Official Documentation for PHP

Finally, you have php.net. Although lately obviously I’ve been going to phpMyAdmin more often than anything else. Php.net is the official documentation for the programming language PHP and it’s really written for programmers.

Even I when I read it, I say to myself “What on earth are they talking about?” but nevertheless there’s all kinds of instances where php.net is going to be an essential resource.

If you’ve got all 4 of those resources, php.net, w3schools, WordPress Codex and the Genesis documents, you have really all of the documentation you need in order to code with PHP. Pretty much anything you want to do you’re going to be able to find it in one of those places. And up next, I’m going to show you how to setup a Genesis Development Environment.

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