Why Learn PHP?
The internet is full of freelance programmers who will be more than willing to create custom code for your sites, the only problem, is that you'll be hiring a stranger with no long-term interest in your site or it's future. By obtaining even a basic level of PHP, it's functions and how it works, you can not only save your site from potentially exposing your site's security and it's stability, but also level the playing field by gaining the knowledge of how to customize and enhance most aspects of your site, for yourself.
How Useful Is PHP
By being able to collect valuable data, run calculations and asses valuable other bits of data, PHP can become an integral and vital component to any webpage. While similar to HTML in some aspects, including is flexibility for creating pages as well as their content, creating simple, small fragments of code, when assembled, can allow multiple changes, across multiple pages or sites with simple and timely changes. Similar to how CSS pages can control content and layout of sites, PHP code can not only allow fast and sweeping changes to a site's layout or content, but it can also add new levels of functionality and customization that other HTML and other markup languages simply can 't match.
What Do You Need to Learn?
Similar to other web languages, PHP requires no special tools or programs to be properly coded, instead simply a simple text editor is your most powerful tool. Some other tools available will warn you if and when your syntax is off or help you code by prompting for values or functions, but for the type of scripts needed for most web based applications, a simple text editor, such as notepad, is more than enough.
How To Get Started Learning
Being the second most popular web language, right behind HTML, PHP is not difficult to learn, nor find many training sites to start with. The only problem, is that most of the web based content found for free is either confusing, contradictory or assumes you have an acquired level of knowledge before starting. It is usually best to invest a little in your training, and get access to a fully serviced and professionally maintained service. Offering video tutorials, training packages and other testing options to make sure that you are progressing in your programming skills, are a key factor.