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Differences In Two Common PHP Language Constructs

Jul 13, 2008
The Internet for webmasters just wouldn't be the same without the language of PHP. PHP has given webmasters a long-lasting relationship with their websites, to manipulate it to best offer customers and Internet users what they need. But before becoming the master PHP expert, learning smaller details is important. And interestingly enough, many PHP developers don't know the difference between Echo and Print.

Two commands are used to output text to the screen: Print and Echo. But since both do the same thing, why would there be two different commands? The answer, interestingly enough, eludes even some PHP experts.

The two language constructs Print and Echo differ because Echo does not return a value- although Print does. This is an odd thing to have, however, since a command used to output data to the screen will almost never need to return a value. In fact, even those who have been in the programming industry for years have probably never seen a good use of Print where Echo couldn't follow.

While performance may be a big issue for PHP developers and their clients, the debate between Print and Echo is actually fairly meaningless. It is true that Print will take more system resources to use, but it is such a minimalistic amount that developers are recommended to choose the construct of their choice, regardless of speed issues.

So far the industry standard has been to use Echo, but it should be stressed that either command may be used at will. Echo seems to be the favorite as it is easier to type, not to mention it's a fun word to say! Those who favor the Print command are usually older programmers, who are accustomed to using the command Print from other programming languages that are now considered archaic.

Even though speed should always be an issue, it's important to focus one's attention not on selecting a language construct for printing- but rather how they use it. Too often developers will use multiple Print or Echo calls, only to organize their code. But this can drastically degrade performance if enough calls are made, so it's recommended to choose the language construct of one's choice- but use it wisely.

In Conclusion

PHP development just wouldn't be the same without fun debates such as the one just mentioned. But in reality, it really doesn't matter which route is taken- so long as either language construct is used in a performance-based manner. Although Print may still have somewhat of a following today, as books and publishers start using Echo more often, it's likely we'll see a death to the Print command soon enough.
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