Examine the 10 key PHP functions I use frequently

Mastering the essentials: A deep dive into PHP s top functionalities

by Silvia Mazzetta Date: 17-10-2023 php

PHP never ceases to surprise me with its built-in capabilities. These are a few of the functions I find most fascinating.


1. Levenshtein

This function uses the Levenshtein algorithm to calculate the disparity or "distance" between two text strings. Named after its creator, Vladimir Levenshtein, it measures how identical two words or sentences are.

For instance:

  levenshtein("PHP is wonderful", "PHP is wonderful"); // Returns 0

  levenshtein("Bright themes", "are great"); // Returns 13

The greater the disparity, the greater the distance.


2. Easter Dates

Would you believe PHP can tell you when Easter is for any given year? Easter's date is determined based on lunar and equatorial events. Here's a quick check for 2023:

  date('Y-m-d', easter_date(2023)); // Outputs 2023-04-08

3. Forks

Async capabilities in PHP? Yes! The CLI version of PHP introduces us to the pcntl functions, notably the pcntl_fork. It lets you produce and supervise multiple PHP processes.

A snippet demonstrating its asynchronous potential:

  function async(Process $process): Process {
  // ... (provided code)

For ease of use, I developed a package: spatie/async.


4. Metaphone

Much like levenshtein, metaphone crafts a phonetic version of a string:

  metaphone("Bright theme colors!"); // Outputs LFTKLRSXMS

5. Built-in DNS

PHP can interpret DNS using the dns_get_record function. It fetches DNS details, as the name suggests.


    ["host"] => "exampledomain.com",
    ["class"] => "IN",
    ["ttl"] => 7200,
    ["type"] => "A",
    ["ip"] => ""


n this example, querying the DNS record for "exampledomain.com" provides details like its IP address, Time-To-Live (TTL), and so on.


6. Recursive Array Merging


I'm including array_merge_recursive here because I used to misinterpret its utility. Contrary to my initial belief, it's not just for merging multi-tiered arrays!

Certainly! Here's a rephrased and similar example:

$primary = [
    'tag' => 'initial'

$alternate = [
    'tag' => 'replacement'

array_merge_recursive($primary, $alternate);

    ["tag"] => {

In this case, we're merging two arrays containing the 'tag' key, and `array_merge_recursive` combines their values into a nested array.


7. Mail

Yes, PHP has a built-in function to dispatch emails. While I personally wouldn't use it for critical tasks, it's handy:

  mail($to, $subject, $message);

8. DL

In PHP, there exists a function allowing on-the-fly extension loading: dl. If an extension isn't already loaded, this function can pull it in.

  if (!extension_loaded('sampleext')) {
    if (strtoupper(substr(PHP_OS, 0, 3)) === 'WIN') {
    } else {

In this code, we're checking if a fictional extension named 'sampleext' is loaded. If not, it will attempt to dynamically load the appropriate shared library based on the operating system.


9. Glob

One of the most practical functions, glob, retrieves paths that match a given pattern:

glob(__DIR__ . '/data/articles/*.md');
glob(__DIR__ . '/data/*/*.md');


In this version, we're using the glob function to search for Markdown files in a hypothetical directory structure related to articles and topics.


10. Sun Info

Did you know PHP can also predict sunrises and sunsets for any given date? You'd need to provide the geographical coordinates for accurate results.

That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to PHP's potential!

    timestamp: strtotime('2023-02-15'),
    latitude: 51.5074,
    longitude: 0.1278,

  ["sunrise"] => 1675500000
  ["sunset"] => 1675540000
  ["transit"] => 1675525000
  ["civil_twilight_begin"] => 1675495000
  ["civil_twilight_end"] => 1675545000
  ["nautical_twilight_begin"] => 1675490000
  ["nautical_twilight_end"] => 1675550000
  ["astronomical_twilight_begin"] => 1675485000
  ["astronomical_twilight_end"] => 1675555000

In this variation, we're getting the sun-related information for London (latitude and longitude of London) on 15th February 2023. Note: The timestamps are fictional and just for illustrative purposes.

by Silvia Mazzetta Date: 17-10-2023 php hits : 1486  
Silvia Mazzetta

Silvia Mazzetta

Web Developer, Blogger, Creative Thinker, Social media enthusiast, Italian expat in Spain, mom of little 9 years old geek, founder of  @manoweb. A strong conceptual and creative thinker who has a keen interest in all things relate to the Internet. A technically savvy web developer, who has multiple  years of website design expertise behind her.  She turns conceptual ideas into highly creative visual digital products. 


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