The question provides an insight into how the PHP language processes whitespace, which may include spaces, tabs, or line breaks. According to the provided question, whitespace is ignored in PHP, which is correct.
In most programming languages, including PHP, whitespace is largely insignificant and is mainly used for readability. This means it can be inserted to help in the visual layout of the code, without affecting how the code runs.
Let's take a look at a practical example to solidify our understanding:
$number = 5;
In the PHP code above, both lines do exactly the same thing - assigning the value 5 to the variable $number. Even though the second line includes spaces around the equal sign for clarity, PHP ignores these spaces and processes both lines of code identically.
It's important to note that while PHP may ignore whitespace, it's best practice to use it to increase the readability of your code. This can make it easier for others (or yourself in the future) to understand what your code is doing. A good practice is to follow the PSR-1 and PSR-2 coding standards provided by PHP-FIG, which gives guidelines on where and when you should use whitespace.
However, an exception where whitespace matters in PHP is within text strings. If a string includes a space, this space is considered a part of the string itself. Thus, while PHP might ignore whitespace in the structural code aspects, it will not do so inside your strings.
echo "Hello World"; // outputs: Hello World
echo "HelloWorld"; // outputs: HelloWorld
In the code snippet above, the first line produces a space between "Hello" and "World" because the space is included in the string, while the second line does not.
In conclusion, PHP generally ignores whitespace in the coding structure, but remember that good use of whitespace can greatly improve the readability of your code and it is important within text strings.