PHP and Blockchain: The Future of Web Development?

Posted on

PHP is a widely-used server-side scripting language that has been around since the mid-1990s. Over the years, it has become the backbone of many popular websites and web applications. With the rise of blockchain technology, developers are exploring new ways to use PHP to create decentralized applications (dApps), which interact with blockchain networks.

In this article we’ll explore the benefits of using this language for blockchain development and how it could be part of the future of web development.

What is Blockchain Technology?

Before we dive into the specifics of using this language for blockchain development, let’s take a moment to understand what the essence of blockchain technology is and how it works.

At its most basic level, a blockchain is a decentralized, distributed digital ledger that records transactions across a network of computers. A block in the chain has a record of multiple transactions, and once added, it can’t be deleted or altered.

There is significant depth and complexity in the technical aspects of this technology. However, for the sake of this article, just keep in mind that the immutability and decentralization of blockchain networks are two of the most significant benefits of said technology. This is what makes it ideal for applications that require transparency, security, and trust.

The Benefits of Using PHP for Blockchain Development

PHP is a versatile language that can be used for a wide range of applications, including blockchain development. Here are some of the benefits of using both:

  1. Familiarity: Many developers already know this language, making it an accessible choice for building blockchain applications. Developers who are already comfortable with PHP can easily transition to building blockchain applications without having to learn new programming languages.
  2. Flexibility: PHP can be used to implement all sorts of systems, and this includes those that work with smart contracts, dApps, and interfaces that enable communication between different blockchain networks.
  3. Interoperability: this is a key challenge in blockchain development, as different blockchain networks may need to work together. PHP enables creating interfaces to connect various blockchains networks via APIs, middleware, or other integration techniques.
  4. Rapid Development: PHP is known for its rapid development capabilities, allowing developers to create new applications quickly and easily. This can be a significant advantage in the fast-moving world of blockchain development, where speed is often critical.

Using PHP for Blockchain Development

This language wasn’t specifically designed for blockchain development, but it’s still capable of building such applications. Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind when developing blockchain applications using PHP:

Smart Contracts

Smart contract execution depends solely on their own written terms, and is carried out by the network. This can be a way of automating business processes such as legal agreements, supply chain management, and financial transactions.

Ethereum is a popular blockchain platform that supports the creation of smart contracts using a programming language called Solidity. While this is not the only language that can be used for networks like Ethereum, it is the most popular one.

This means that PHP alone will not be enough in blockchain development: at least one smart contract language will be needed.

Decentralized Applications (dApps)

dApps can be used for purposes such as voting, data sharing, digital identity management, among other things. However, it’s worth noting that they run on a decentralized network, not a centralized server.

Your system may have a centralized server, and it might need to communicate with the blockchain through what’s a called a network node. Additionally, this server might very well be written in PHP. Having said that, keep in mind that you might not need a server at all, and your entire dApp can run from a web interface that interacts with the contracts that are on-chain.

See also  Blockchain en Abstracta Tech Talks: conceptos básicos y características

Using PHP to Interact with the Blockchain

There are several PHP libraries available for popular blockchain platforms like Ethereum, Bitcoin, and EOS.

Here’s an example of how to interact with the Ethereum blockchain using the web3.php library:

<?php
require ('vendor/autoload.php');

use Web3\Web3;

// connect to local node
$web3 = new Web3('http://localhost:8545/');

// use web3 library to get client version
$web3->clientVersion(function ($err, $version)
{
    if ($err !== null)
    {
        echo 'error: ' . $err->getMessage();
        return;
    }
    if (isset($version))
    {
        echo 'client version: ' . $version . PHP_EOL;;
    }
});

// use eth component to send ether
$eth = $web3->eth;
$eth->accounts(function ($err, $accounts) use ($eth)
{
    if ($err !== null)
    {
        echo 'error: ' . $err->getMessage();
        return;
    }
    // load first 2 accounts
    $fromAccount = $accounts[0];
    $toAccount = $accounts[1];

    // get and print balance for both accounts
    $eth->getBalance($fromAccount, function ($err, $balance) use ($fromAccount)
    {
        if ($err !== null)
        {
            echo 'error: ' . $err->getMessage();
            return;
        }
        echo $fromAccount . ' balance: ' . $balance . PHP_EOL;
    });
    $eth->getBalance($toAccount, function ($err, $balance) use ($toAccount)
    {
        if ($err !== null)
        {
            echo 'error: ' . $err->getMessage();
            return;
        }
        echo $toAccount . ' balance: ' . $balance . PHP_EOL;
    });

    // submit a transaction transferring ether from one account to another
    $amount = '0xde0b6b3a7640000'; // 1 ether to wei, expressed in hex
    $eth->sendTransaction(['from' => $fromAccount, 'to' => $toAccount, 'value' => $amount], function ($err, $transaction) use ($eth, $fromAccount, $toAccount)
    {
        if ($err !== null)
        {
            echo 'error: ' . $err->getMessage();
            return;
        }
        echo 'tx hash: ' . $transaction . PHP_EOL;

        // once again get and print balance for both accounts
        $eth->getBalance($fromAccount, function ($err, $balance) use ($fromAccount)
        {
            if ($err !== null)
            {
                echo 'error: ' . $err->getMessage();
                return;
            }
            echo $fromAccount . ' balance: ' . $balance . PHP_EOL;
        });
        $eth->getBalance($toAccount, function ($err, $balance) use ($toAccount)
        {
            if ($err !== null)
            {
                echo 'error: ' . $err->getMessage();
                return;
            }
            echo $toAccount . ' balance: ' . $balance . PHP_EOL;
        });
    });
});

In this example we’re using said library to:

  1. Connect to a local Ethereum node
  2. Check the balance of two of our managed accounts
  3. Send ether from one address to another
  4. Re-check balances

Executing this script will produce an output that will look something like this:

$ php web3.php 
client version: HardhatNetwork/2.12.7/@nomicfoundation/ethereumjs-vm/6.0.0
0xf39fd6e51aad88f6f4ce6ab8827279cfffb92266 balance: 10000000000000000000000
0x70997970c51812dc3a010c7d01b50e0d17dc79c8 balance: 10000000000000000000000
tx hash: 0x63d3ccb5a706ed1449b476584bec12aa6c3d662d08a48d07a6de369434415f3f
0xf39fd6e51aad88f6f4ce6ab8827279cfffb92266 balance: 9998999960625000000000
0x70997970c51812dc3a010c7d01b50e0d17dc79c8 balance: 10001000000000000000000

You can observe that the second account is 1 ether richer than before, and that the first one has paid for this ether plus gas fees.

An important thing to note is that this script is executed against a local hardhat regtest node. In order to connect to a mainnet or testnet for a different network, the $web3 variable might need to use a different URL.

Keep in mind however that some node providers (like Infura or Alchemy) might reject some specific library calls, so the script might need to be adapted for those cases.

Conclusion

In conclusion, developers can use PHP, a popular scripting language, as a building block of blockchain applications. PHP was not originally intended for blockchain development, but it can still be used to write programs that interact with smart contracts, dApps, and interfaces that connect different networks.

Using PHP for blockchain development offers several benefits, including familiarity, flexibility, interoperability, and rapid development capabilities. With the right PHP library, developers can easily interact with popular blockchain platforms like Ethereum or even Bitcoin.

As blockchain technology continues to evolve, we’re likely to see more and more PHP developers exploring the possibilities of this emerging technology. By leveraging PHP’s strengths and the blockchain’s unique features, developers can create innovative and powerful decentralized applications that have the potential to transform the way we interact with the digital world.

Posted in Blockchain, PHP, Technologies

infuy
linkedin logo
twitter logo
instagram logo
facebook logo
By infuy
Infuy is an international technology leader company specialized in outsourcing services in the latest technologies. Blockchain (smart contracts, dApps and NFT marketplaces), full-stack, mobile development, and team augmentation are some of the areas where Infuy specializes in. As a software development company based in Uruguay with offices in the US, Infuy is always looking for the next big challenge, and the next big partner. As a fast-growing company, Infuy is always looking for talented and proactive people, who live up to the challenge and are as passionate as their team is about their mission to provide the best solutions to their partners, with the latest technologies, to join the team. For more information about the company and its services, please visit https://www.infuy.com/.