Mastering the PHP Developer Interview: 100+ Technical Questions Answered. 61-75.

Mastering the PHP Developer Interview: 100+ Technical Questions Answered. 61-75.

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25 min read

In this segment, we unravel complex PHP topics to sharpen your interview prowess. Explore how variables are passed, the intricate processes behind user-entered URLs, and the diverse protocols at play.

Delve into the variadic function or splat operator, and understand the significance of OWASP in web security.

Explore vulnerabilities and their safeguards, idempotent methods in REST, and the concept of 'stateless'.

Differentiate SOAP and REST, grasp API authentication methods, and dive into HMAC's role. Understand RBAC and ABAC distinctions, and discern the differences between nginx and Apache. Lastly, explore the workings of Opcache.

61. How are variables passed (by value or by reference)?

In PHP, you can control how variables are passed using the & symbol for references, and by default, variables are usually passed by value unless explicitly specified otherwise.

Passing Variables:

Imagine variables as envelopes containing information. When passing variables to functions or assignments, you can either provide a copy of the information inside the envelope (by value) or a way to access the original envelope (by reference).

Passing by Value:

  1. Copy of Content:

    • Imagine making a photocopy of a document. Passing by value creates a copy of the variable's value, and changes in the copy don't affect the original variable.
function modifyByValue($x) {
    $x = $x + 10;
}

$num = 5;
modifyByValue($num);
// $num is still 5, because the copy was modified

Passing by Reference:

  1. Access to Original:

    • Imagine sharing a document with colleagues. Passing by reference provides access to the original variable, so changes inside the function affect the original variable.
function modifyByReference(&$x) {
    $x = $x + 10;
}

$num = 5;
modifyByReference($num);
// $num is now 15, as it was modified directly

Default Behavior:

  1. Assignment by Value:

    • When assigning variables, PHP usually passes by value.
  2. Function Arguments:

    • By default, function arguments are passed by value.
  3. Exceptions:

    • Objects are often passed by reference, even without using the & symbol, because objects are handled by reference by default in PHP.

63. What processes occur when a user enters a URL in a browser?

User Entering a URL:

Imagine entering a URL in a browser's address bar as sending a letter to request a specific document from a remote location. There are several steps involved in processing this request.

URL Parsing:

  1. URL Entry:

    • Imagine writing down the recipient's address on an envelope. When a user enters a URL, the browser parses the URL to extract different components like the protocol (HTTP/HTTPS), domain name, and path.

DNS Resolution:

  1. Address Lookup:

    • Similar to looking up a contact's address in an address book, the browser sends a request to a Domain Name System (DNS) server to translate the domain name into an IP address.

Establishing a Connection:

  1. TCP Connection:

    • Like establishing a phone call, the browser opens a Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) connection to the IP address obtained from DNS.
  2. TLS Handshake (if applicable):

    • If the URL uses HTTPS, like a secure phone call, the browser performs a Transport Layer Security (TLS) handshake to ensure secure communication.

HTTP Request:

  1. Request Sent:

    • Similar to sending a letter, the browser sends an HTTP request to the server, including details like the method (GET/POST), headers, and the path.

Server Processing:

  1. Processing Request:

    • Like the recipient receiving the letter, the server processes the request. It may execute code, retrieve data, or perform other actions based on the request.
  2. Generating Response:

    • Like preparing a response letter, the server generates an HTTP response containing the requested content, status codes, and headers.

Response Received:

  1. Receiving Response:

    • Similar to receiving the response letter, the browser receives the HTTP response from the server.

Rendering:

  1. Content Display:

    • Like opening and reading the received letter, the browser renders the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript content to display the web page.

Example:

Imagine you're sending a letter to request a book from a library:

  • You write the library's address (URL) on the envelope.

  • The post office (DNS) translates the library's name to its physical location (IP address).

  • You establish a line (TCP connection) to talk to the library.

  • You make a request for the specific book (HTTP request).

  • The library processes your request and prepares the book (HTTP response).

  • You receive the book and read its contents (rendering the web page).

64. What protocols do you know?

Imagine protocols as sets of rules that ensure smooth communication between devices and systems. Just like following a recipe to bake a cake, devices use protocols to exchange information accurately.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol):

  1. Web Communication:

    • Like sending and receiving letters, HTTP is the foundation of web communication. It's used when you browse websites, send forms, and retrieve resources like images.

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure):

  1. Secure Web Communication:

    • Like sending confidential letters with locks, HTTPS is a secure version of HTTP. It uses encryption (SSL/TLS) to protect data during transmission.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol):

  1. File Transfer:

    • Like sending files in a parcel, FTP is used for transferring files between computers on a network. It's commonly used for website content updates.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol):

  1. Email Sending:

    • Like sending letters via a post office, SMTP is used for sending emails from one server to another. It's responsible for the delivery of outbound emails.

POP3 (Post Office Protocol version 3):

  1. Email Retrieval:

    • Like collecting letters from a post office, POP3 is used to retrieve emails from a server. It allows you to download emails to your local device.

IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol):

  1. Email Access:

    • Like accessing letters from a remote location, IMAP is used to access and manage emails on a mail server. It keeps emails synchronized across devices.

TCP (Transmission Control Protocol):

  1. Reliable Data Transmission:

    • Like ensuring accurate delivery of messages, TCP breaks data into packets, sends them, and ensures they're received and reassembled in order.

UDP (User Datagram Protocol):

  1. Fast Data Transmission:

    • Like sending messages without verification, UDP is used for faster data transmission without guaranteeing delivery or order.

SSH (Secure Shell):

  1. Secure Remote Access:

    • Like securely accessing a computer remotely, SSH provides encrypted communication for secure login and data transfer.

DNS (Domain Name System):

  1. Address Translation:

    • Like a phone book for the internet, DNS translates domain names (like www.example.com) into IP addresses for communication.

Example:

Imagine communication between devices as sending and receiving letters:

  • Each type of communication (protocol) follows specific rules.

  • HTTP is like sending and receiving regular letters, while HTTPS adds locks to ensure security.

  • FTP is like mailing files, SMTP is like sending emails, and POP3/IMAP are like collecting and managing your mailbox.

65. What is a variadic function or splat operator?

Variadic Functions:

Formal Definition: A variadic function is a function that can accept a variable number of arguments. It allows a function to work with different argument counts, making it more versatile.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Think of a variadic function as a kitchen recipe that can handle any number of ingredients. Just like some recipes allow you to add as many or as few ingredients as you want, a variadic function lets you provide different numbers of arguments when calling it.

Example:

function cook(...$ingredients) {
    foreach ($ingredients as $ingredient) {
        echo "Adding $ingredient to the dish.\n";
    }
}

cook("tomatoes", "onions", "cheese");
cook("chicken");

Splat Operator (...):

Formal Definition: The splat operator (...) is a syntax in programming languages that "spreads" the elements of an array or iterable as separate arguments when calling a function. It allows you to pass multiple arguments from an array to a function.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Imagine you have a basket of ingredients. The splat operator is like a magic wand that takes all the ingredients from the basket and arranges them neatly on your cooking table. It's a convenient way to turn a list of items (like an array) into separate items for a function that needs individual arguments.

Example:

function cookWithBasket(...$ingredients) {
    foreach ($ingredients as $ingredient) {
        echo "Adding $ingredient to the dish.\n";
    }
}

$recipeIngredients = ["flour", "eggs", "milk"];
cookWithBasket(...$recipeIngredients);

Usage:

Variadic Functions:

  • Variadic functions are useful when you want a function to be able to handle different numbers of arguments without having to define multiple versions of the same function.

Splat Operator:

  • The splat operator is handy when you have an array or list of items that you want to use as arguments for a function. It saves you from manually listing each item as a separate argument.

Example:

Imagine you're running a restaurant:

  • A variadic function would be like a menu item that lets customers choose any number of ingredients for their dish.

  • The splat operator is like a tray that takes all the ingredients you've selected and places them individually onto your plate, making it easy to cook with them.

In PHP, variadic functions and the splat operator are tools that provide flexibility and convenience when working with functions that can handle different argument counts or when passing arrays as separate function arguments.

66. What is OWASP?

OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) is a nonprofit organization that focuses on improving the security of software applications, especially web applications. It provides resources, tools, and best practices to help developers build secure applications and protect against common security vulnerabilities.

67. What types of vulnerabilities do you know? How can you protect against them?

Specific Vulnerability Types and Protection Measures:

  1. SQL Injection:

    Description: Imagine an intruder manipulating your conversations. SQL injection allows attackers to manipulate database queries and potentially access or modify sensitive data.

    Protection Measures:

    • Parameterized Queries: Use parameterized queries to separate data from SQL statements, preventing attackers from injecting malicious SQL code.
  2. Cross-Site Scripting (XSS):

    Description: Similar to someone leaving misleading notes around, XSS lets attackers inject malicious scripts into websites that other users unknowingly execute.

    Protection Measures:

    • Input Validation: Validate and sanitize user inputs to ensure they don't contain malicious scripts.

    • Content Security Policy (CSP): Implement CSP to control what scripts are allowed to run on a web page.

  3. Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF):

    Description: Like tricking someone into performing unwanted tasks, CSRF involves tricking users into performing actions they didn't intend, often resulting in unauthorized actions.

    Protection Measures:

    • CSRF Tokens: Include unique tokens in forms to prevent unauthorized submissions.

    • Referer Header: Check the Referer header to ensure requests come from the same origin.

  4. Email Injection:

    Description: Similar to sending a deceptive letter, email injection allows attackers to inject malicious content into emails, potentially leading to unauthorized actions.

    Protection Measures:

    • Input Sanitization: Ensure email inputs are properly sanitized to prevent injection of malicious content.
  5. Accessing System Data:

    Description: Like peeking into someone's private room, attackers might try to access system information. This can expose sensitive data.

    Protection Measures:

    • Restrict Permissions: Limit access to system data to authorized users only.
  6. Exposing Source Code:

    Description: Like revealing the recipe of a secret dish, exposing source code can lead to security vulnerabilities and exploitation.

    Protection Measures:

    • Secure Configuration: Ensure server configurations restrict access to source code files.
  7. Global Variables:

    Description: Like allowing someone to change the rules of a game, global variables can be exploited to manipulate application behavior.

    Protection Measures:

    • Limit Use of Globals: Avoid using global variables whenever possible.
  8. PHP Injection:

    Description: Like sneaking additional ingredients into a recipe, PHP injection involves inserting malicious PHP code into an application.

    Protection Measures:

    • Input Validation: Validate user inputs to prevent unauthorized PHP code execution.
  9. File Upload Vulnerabilities:

    Description: Similar to hiding a dangerous object in a seemingly harmless package, attackers might use file uploads to inject malicious code.

    Protection Measures:

    • File Type Validation: Only allow specific file types to be uploaded.

    • Isolate Uploaded Files: Store uploaded files in a separate directory with restricted permissions.

  10. Blocking Error Output:

    Description: Like hiding a car's warning lights, blocking error output can prevent users from seeing important information about the system's health.

    Protection Measures:

    • Proper Error Handling: Implement proper error handling to provide meaningful feedback to users while keeping sensitive information hidden.

Solutions to Specific Threats:

  1. Logging Critical User Actions:

    • Implement logging to track critical user actions and system activities, helping detect intrusions and vulnerabilities.

    • Example: Create a logging function that records user actions, IP addresses, and timestamps.

  2. Restricting Access to Modules:

    • Secure sensitive modules by configuring access rules using .htaccess files.

    • Example: Use .htaccess to prevent direct access to PHP files, allowing access only through designated entry points.

  3. Disabling Global Variables:

    • Disable global variables by setting register_globals = off in server settings or using .htaccess.

    • Example: Use .htaccess to disable global variables to prevent unauthorized manipulation.

  4. Preventing Remote File Inclusion:

    • Disable allow_url_fopen in server settings to prevent remote file inclusion attacks.

    • Example: Set allow_url_fopen = off in server configuration to block including remote files.

  5. Data Filtering:

    • Implement input filtering using whitelists and blacklist checks to allow safe data inputs.

    • Example: Validate user inputs against a whitelist of allowed characters and check for forbidden keywords.

  6. File Upload Validation:

    • Use is_uploaded_file() and move_uploaded_file() to validate and secure file uploads.

    • Example: Validate uploaded files using is_uploaded_file() before processing.

  7. Escaping Database Characters:

    • Use functions like mysqli_real_escape_string() to escape special characters before inserting data into databases.

    • Example: Escaping input strings before using them in SQL queries.

  8. HTML Entity Encoding:

    • Prevent XSS attacks by converting special characters to HTML entities using htmlspecialchars().

    • Example: Encode user inputs before displaying them on a web page.

68. What are idempotent methods? Which HTTP methods are idempotent in the context of REST?

Idempotent Methods:

Formal Definition: Idempotent methods are operations in computer science and web development that can be repeated multiple times without producing different results beyond the initial application.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Imagine you have a button that turns on a light. Pressing it once turns on the light. If you press it again, it won't change anything since the light is already on. The result remains the same regardless of how many times you press the button. This is similar to idempotent methods – performing the same action multiple times gives the same result.

Idempotent HTTP Methods in REST:

In the context of RESTful APIs, certain HTTP methods are idempotent. This means that sending the same request multiple times will not have different outcomes. These methods are safe to retry without worrying about unexpected side effects.

  1. GET:

    • Description: The GET method retrieves data from the server.

    • Idempotent: Yes, since retrieving the same data multiple times will have the same result.

  2. PUT:

    • Description: The PUT method updates or creates a resource on the server.

    • Idempotent: Yes, because if you update the resource with the same data multiple times, the resource's state won't change beyond the initial update.

  3. DELETE:

    • Description: The DELETE method removes a resource from the server.

    • Idempotent: Yes, since deleting the same resource multiple times won't change its state beyond the initial deletion.

Explanation of Idempotent HTTP Methods:

An HTTP method is considered idempotent if making the same identical request one or more times in a row has the same effect, without changing the server's state. In other words, an idempotent method shouldn't have any side effects other than collecting statistics or similar operations. Methods such as GET, HEAD, OPTIONS, and TRACE are defined as safe, which also makes them idempotent.

Example:

Imagine you have a RESTful API for managing tasks. You can use these idempotent methods as follows:

  1. GET:

    • Request: GET /tasks/123

    • Response: Retrieves task with ID 123.

Sending the same GET request multiple times will always retrieve the same task.

  1. PUT:

    • Request: PUT /tasks/123

    • Body: Updated task details.

    • Response: Updates task with ID 123.

If you send the same PUT request with the same updated details multiple times, the task's state will remain consistent with the initial update.

  1. DELETE:

    • Request: DELETE /tasks/123

    • Response: Deletes task with ID 123.

Even if you send multiple DELETE requests for the same task, it will be deleted just once and remain deleted.

Idempotent methods ensure that operations can be safely retried without unexpected changes, making them a crucial concept in building reliable and consistent APIs.

69. What does "stateless" mean?

Formal Definition: In computing, "stateless" refers to a system or application design where each request from a client to the server is independent and carries all the information needed to process it. The server does not retain any session or context information between requests.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Imagine you're sending a letter to a friend. You include all the information your friend needs to understand your message in that letter. Your friend doesn't need to remember any previous letters you've sent – each letter is self-contained. In the same way, in a stateless system, every time a client (like a web browser) talks to a server, it provides all the necessary information for the server to process the request. The server doesn't remember anything about previous interactions.

Example:

Let's say you're using a stateless web application to track your to-do list. Each time you load the webpage, you send a request to the server asking for your tasks. You don't need to log in or provide any special information because the request carries all the details needed for the server to send back your tasks. The server doesn't keep track of who you are or what tasks you previously had – it treats each request as new and self-sufficient.

A stateless design simplifies things. The server doesn't need to manage sessions, remember past interactions, or worry about clients connecting to different instances. This makes it easier to scale and manage systems, although some applications might still need to manage state in other ways, like using databases to store persistent information.

70. What is the difference between SOAP and REST?

SOAP:

Formal Definition: SOAP is a protocol that defines a set of rules for structuring messages and sending them over various transport protocols, typically using XML. It is more focused on providing a formal and standardized way for applications to communicate and interact.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Think of SOAP as sending a carefully formatted letter with specific sections for the address, subject, and content. It's like following a strict template to ensure the message's structure is consistent. SOAP messages are usually XML-based and can contain a lot of detailed information.

REST:

Formal Definition: REST is a design architecture that uses a set of principles for creating web services. It relies on the existing capabilities of the HTTP protocol, such as using different HTTP methods (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE) to perform CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) operations on resources.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Imagine you're interacting with a vending machine. You press buttons to buy snacks or drinks. REST is similar – you send requests to a server using simple HTTP methods like GET to retrieve data, POST to send data, PUT to update data, and DELETE to remove data. REST is more flexible and follows the principles of using the web's existing infrastructure.

Differences:

  1. Complexity:

    • SOAP: More complex due to its standardized structure and support for various protocols.

    • REST: Simpler and easier to understand, utilizing the basic HTTP methods.

  2. Data Format:

    • SOAP: Usually relies on XML for message formatting.

    • REST: Can use various formats, including JSON, XML, or even plain text.

  3. Protocol and Transport:

    • SOAP: Can use different transport protocols like HTTP, SMTP, or others.

    • REST: Primarily uses the HTTP protocol for communication.

  4. State Management:

    • SOAP: Often requires maintaining state between requests.

    • REST: Stateless by design; each request carries the necessary information.

  5. Flexibility:

    • SOAP: More rigid due to its formal structure and rules.

    • REST: More flexible, using existing web principles and adapting to different use cases.

Example:

Imagine you're building an application to retrieve weather information:

  • With SOAP, you'd send a structured XML request with specific elements to a weather service's SOAP API.

  • With REST, you'd make a simple HTTP GET request to a weather service's RESTful API, and it would return the weather data in JSON or XML format.

In general, SOAP is suited for scenarios that require strict standards and reliability, while REST is a more lightweight choice for scenarios where flexibility and simplicity are priorities.

71. What authentication methods are used for building APIs?

Authentication methods are techniques used to ensure that only authorized users or systems can access specific resources or perform actions within an API. Different methods offer varying levels of security and complexity to protect sensitive data and maintain the integrity of the API.

Basic Authentication:

Formal Definition: Basic Authentication is a simple method where the client (usually a user or application) sends a username and password with each request. The server validates the credentials against a user database.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Think of Basic Authentication like a username and password lock on your smartphone. To unlock it, you provide your credentials. Similarly, with Basic Authentication, you provide your username and password with each request to prove your identity.

Bearer Token Authentication:

Formal Definition: Bearer Token Authentication involves sending a token (a long, randomly generated string) with each request. The token is issued by an authentication server after successful login.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Imagine you have a wristband that grants you access to a party. As long as you wear the wristband, you can enter without showing your ID every time. Bearer Token Authentication works similarly – once you log in and receive a token, you present that token with each request, and the server recognizes you.

OAuth:

Formal Definition: OAuth is an authorization framework that allows a user to grant third-party applications limited access to their resources without sharing their credentials. It involves multiple parties: the user, the client application, and the resource server.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Think of OAuth as giving a friend a key to your house only for a specific purpose, like watering your plants while you're on vacation. Your friend doesn't need your main house key; they have a special key for a specific task. Similarly, OAuth lets you grant access to specific data or actions without giving away your main credentials.

API Keys:

Formal Definition: API keys are unique codes provided to users or applications that want to access an API. They're usually included in the request headers.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: API keys are like a digital ID card. You show the card to the API, and it recognizes you based on the code. API keys are often used for simple access control, but they might not offer the same level of security as other methods.

Example:

Imagine you're building a weather app that uses a weather API:

  • With Basic Authentication, your app sends a username and password with each request to the API.

  • With Bearer Token Authentication, your app gets a token after users log in to your app. It sends that token with each API request.

  • With OAuth, your app connects to the weather API using OAuth tokens, allowing users to authorize access without sharing their passwords.

72. How is HMAC used for API authentication?

HMAC (Hash-Based Message Authentication Code) is a method of ensuring the integrity and authenticity of data transmitted between two parties. It involves the use of a shared secret key and a cryptographic hash function. While not typically used directly as an authentication method for APIs, HMAC is often used in conjunction with other methods to enhance security.

HMAC Authentication:

Formal Definition: HMAC authentication involves creating a hash-based authentication code using a secret key and a message. The receiver of the message can independently calculate the hash and compare it to the received code to verify the integrity of the message and the authenticity of the sender.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Imagine you want to send a secret message to a friend. You both have a special key. You use the key to create a unique mark on the message, almost like a secret handshake. Your friend knows the key too and can check the mark to make sure the message is from you and hasn't been tampered with.

Example:

Suppose you're building a messaging app using HMAC for authentication:

  • You and your friend have a secret key.

  • You send a message to your friend along with an HMAC code created by hashing the message and your secret key.

  • Your friend receives the message and calculates their own HMAC code using the received message and their secret key.

  • If the calculated HMAC code matches the received code, your friend knows the message is genuine and hasn't been altered.

HMAC is often used to ensure the integrity of data, making sure it hasn't been tampered with during transmission. While not a direct authentication method, it can be part of a comprehensive security strategy to protect data in transit and enhance the overall security of API communications.

73. What is the difference between RBAC and ABAC?

RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) and ABAC (Attribute-Based Access Control) are two different approaches to managing access to resources in computer systems. They both aim to control who can access what, but they do so in distinct ways.

RBAC:

Formal Definition: RBAC is a method of access control where access decisions are based on the roles assigned to users. Each user is assigned to one or more roles, and each role has specific permissions associated with it.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Imagine a theater with different roles: actor, director, and audience. Each role has specific tasks and privileges. Actors can perform on stage, directors can manage the show, and the audience watches. Similarly, in RBAC, users are assigned roles like "admin," "user," or "manager," each with its own set of permissions.

ABAC:

Formal Definition: ABAC is an access control model where access decisions are based on attributes associated with users, resources, and the environment. These attributes are evaluated against policies to determine access.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Think of ABAC like a set of rules you follow when deciding who can enter a building. You check various attributes like age, ID, and purpose of visit. In ABAC, attributes about users (like job title), resources (like file type), and the environment (like time of day) are used to decide access.

Differences:

  1. Granularity:

    • RBAC: Focuses on roles and permissions, often leading to less fine-grained control.

    • ABAC: Offers more granular control by considering multiple attributes.

  2. Complexity:

    • RBAC: Simpler to manage and understand, especially for smaller systems.

    • ABAC: Can handle complex scenarios but might require more effort to set up and maintain.

  3. Dynamic Access Control:

    • RBAC: Typically static; access is based on predefined roles.

    • ABAC: Can be more dynamic; access can change based on real-time attributes.

  4. Scalability:

    • RBAC: Might become less manageable as roles multiply.

    • ABAC: Offers better scalability for large and dynamic systems.

Example:

Imagine a document-sharing system:

  • With RBAC, users have roles like "reader" or "editor" and predefined permissions.

  • With ABAC, access depends on various attributes: users' departments, document types, and their location.

In the end, both RBAC and ABAC have their strengths and are suitable for different scenarios. RBAC is great for straightforward systems, while ABAC offers more flexibility for complex scenarios where access depends on multiple attributes.

74. What are the differences between nginx and Apache?

nginx and Apache are both popular web servers used to serve websites and applications, but they have differences in various aspects:

  1. Connection Handling Method:

    • nginx: Asynchronous and event-driven architecture allows handling many connections efficiently with low memory usage.

    • Apache: Uses a process/thread-based architecture, which can lead to higher resource consumption under heavy loads.

  2. Content Delivery:

    • nginx: Efficiently serves static content, making it well-suited for tasks like serving images, CSS, and JavaScript.

    • Apache: Generally performs well for dynamic content generation and complex processing.

  3. Configuration:

    • nginx: Configuration syntax is concise and straightforward, often leading to better performance.

    • Apache: Configuration can be more complex due to its modularity.

  4. Module Handling:

    • nginx: Supports fewer modules compared to Apache, but its core modules cover most common use cases.

    • Apache: Offers a wide range of modules for various functionalities, making it more versatile.

  5. Request Interpretation:

    • nginx: Handles requests asynchronously and is known for its ability to efficiently handle a large number of simultaneous connections.

    • Apache: Handles requests in separate processes or threads, which can lead to higher memory usage under heavy loads.

  6. Scripting Language Support:

    • nginx: Primarily focuses on serving static content and proxying requests, lacking built-in support for executing scripts.

    • Apache: Supports various scripting languages like PHP, Python, and Perl through modules.

  7. Performance:

    • nginx: Generally known for its efficient handling of concurrent connections, making it suitable for high-traffic websites.

    • Apache: Might face scalability challenges under extremely high loads compared to nginx.

  8. OS Support:

    • nginx: Provides good support on most platforms, but certain advanced features might be OS-dependent.

    • Apache: Offers wide compatibility with various operating systems.

  9. Community and Support:

    • nginx: Has a growing and active community with online resources and support.

    • Apache: Benefits from a long-standing community and extensive documentation.

  10. Documentation and Learning:

    • nginx: Documentation is concise and well-structured, suitable for those who prefer simplicity.

    • Apache: Offers extensive documentation and tutorials, which can be helpful for beginners.

Remember that the choice between nginx and Apache depends on your specific project requirements, server resources, and familiarity with each server's configuration and usage.

75. What is Opcache? How does it work?

Opcache (Opcode Cache) is a component in PHP that improves the performance of PHP scripts by caching precompiled bytecode in memory. It helps to avoid the overhead of repeatedly parsing and compiling PHP scripts on each request.

How Opcache Works:

Formal Definition: Opcache stores the compiled bytecode of PHP scripts in shared memory. When a PHP script is executed, PHP's Zend Engine compiles the source code into bytecode, which is a lower-level representation that the computer can execute more efficiently. Opcache stores this bytecode in memory for subsequent requests.

Explanation in Simpler Terms: Imagine a chef who prepares a recipe. Instead of preparing the entire dish from scratch each time, they prepare it once and keep it ready. Similarly, Opcache prepares the PHP script (recipe) by compiling it into bytecode (prepared dish) and stores it in memory. The next time someone requests the same script, Opcache serves the precompiled bytecode directly, saving time and effort.

Benefits:

  1. Faster Execution: Since the bytecode is already compiled, PHP scripts run faster without the need for repeated parsing and compilation.

  2. Reduced Server Load: Opcache reduces the server's load by decreasing the need to recompile scripts, thus saving CPU resources.

  3. Lower Memory Usage: Precompiled bytecode takes up less memory compared to the original source code.

  4. Improved Scalability: With faster execution and reduced load, the server can handle more requests simultaneously.

Example:

Suppose you have a PHP script that calculates the factorial of a number:

function factorial($n) {
    if ($n <= 1) {
        return 1;
    }
    return $n * factorial($n - 1);
}
echo factorial(5);  // Outputs: 120

When you run this script, Opcache compiles the function into bytecode and stores it in memory. If you request the same script again, Opcache serves the precompiled bytecode directly, making the execution faster.

Opcache is an essential tool for improving the performance of PHP applications, particularly in production environments with heavy traffic. It eliminates the need to recompile PHP scripts on each request, resulting in faster response times and better overall server performance.


Previous articles of the series:

Mastering the PHP Developer Interview: 100+ Technical Questions Answered. 1-15.

Mastering the PHP Developer Interview: 100+ Technical Questions Answered. 16-30.

Mastering the PHP Developer Interview: 100+ Technical Questions Answered. 31-45.

Mastering the PHP Developer Interview: 100+ Technical Questions Answered. 46-60.