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The PHP Include Construct Easily Explained

Aug 9, 2008
Web designers should know by now that they should cut time where they can. This doesn't mean cut time in the creativity process, but rather in the mundane coding process that requires little expression. One such way to cut corners is to use the PHP include statement, which is going to effectively save an enormous amount of time for coding large projects.

The include construct in PHP is actually a lot like a function, but we call it a language construct simply because we view it as a piece of the PHP language. The include construct in particular is going to enable a web developer to include a remote file into the currently running application. It may seem unexciting, but this is a very big time saver.

The PHP include is going to save us time by allowing us to edit multiple files through a single file. If we had a navigation bar that needed changed, we would normally have to go to every page and change it if we were using HTML. But with PHP we can just reference a remote file, and dynamically change each and every page.

Many use the PHP include simply to get better organization- as if commenting one's code wasn't enough. PHP includes allow one to cut down many lines of code, but the application won't be any faster as a result. The contents of the remote file are still being read into the current application upon execution. Just because the code isn't there doesn't mean it isn't processed.

Another good function of the PHP include is to keep things in working order. If an include fails, we are going to get a visible error message. Now this isn't always a good thing, since some error messages will expose confidential information about the running script. In more precise situations, we would use the require construct to halt the entire script should it not complete correctly.

PHP includes will only work under the PHP extension, so it's urged that web developers only use the PHP extension if working on a large website. The HTML extension is starting to become less seen, as it will not support the many functions PHP can aid it with. DHTML is an alternative, but where possible all web designers should migrate to the PHP bandwagon. After all, the top paying web design jobs are going to require working knowledge of many systems.

Final Thoughts

Web developers all around the world are getting in on the PHP statement that is saving time for repetitive tasks. To accurately use the command, be sure to brush up on the include statement by reading manuals and documents relating to the include statement. If necessary, look for a few include tutorials to make sure the basics are covered.
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