Very recently I completed my first PHP assignment. While I was working with a client assisting them with a bunch of stuff like requirement gathering, hiring etc I was told about one of their existing project, which was written in PHP and was out-sourced to a vendor. The frequent changes in the requirement and loss of interest by the vendor made their life pretty difficult and wanted me to help out with new functionality that needed to be built. Of-course I readily agreed.
I quickly came up to speed with PHP – the best resource that worked for me was of-course http://www.php.net – I kept using it even when I was developing. Their function reference is pretty handy. I initially started coding with Zend Studio only to realize later that it would very soon expire. I switched to PHP IDE which is also an eclipse based IDE (like Zend) but was free. Being familiar with eclipse I was comfortable with both these IDEs.
The project was a web based application & I had to develop a few pages. I must admit problem looked simple initially but gradually as we spent more and more time with the client we realized that it is far more complex. At the end of it, I had ended up using a lot of java script, AJAX, JSON & JQuery all in 2-3 PHP pages.
Once I got comfortable with PHP, I tried my hand at other PHP based open source products like wordpress & joomla. Even tried installing something called sugar-crm. I have already built my blog over wordpress (currently hosted on wordpress.com) and am planning to build another website over joomla.