What does ‘<?=’ Short Open Tag Mean in PHP ?

PHP, a powerful server-side scripting language, offers various features to enhance developer productivity. One of these features is the ‘<?=’ short open tag, which provides a convenient shorthand for echoing variables and expressions. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the meaning, syntax, usage, and best practices surrounding the ‘<?=’ short open tag in PHP.

What is the ‘<?=’ Short Open Tag?

  1. The ‘<?=’ short open tag is a concise syntax in PHP used to output data without the need for the traditional ‘<?php echo’ statement.
  2.  It allows developers to embed PHP code directly into HTML markup, simplifying the process of displaying dynamic content.


The syntax for the ‘<?=’ short open tag is straightforward:

<?= expression ?>

Here, ‘expression’ can be a variable, string, or any valid PHP expression that needs to be echoed.


The primary purpose of the ‘<?=’ short open tag is to echo data directly within HTML markup.

Consider the following example:

<h1>Welcome, <?= $username ?></h1>

In this example, the value of the `$username` variable will be echoed directly within the `<h1>` tag.applications


  1. Improved readability: The ‘<?=’ short open tag reduces the verbosity of PHP code, making it more readable and concise.
  2. Faster development: By eliminating the need for explicit echo statements, developers can write code more efficiently.
  3. Easier integration with HTML: The direct embedding of PHP variables and expressions within HTML markup simplifies template creation and maintenance.

Pitfalls and Considerations:

  1. Compatibility: While widely supported, some PHP configurations may have short open tags disabled for security reasons.
  2. Readability concerns: While the ‘<?=’ short open tag can enhance code readability, excessive use may lead to confusion, especially in larger projects.
  3. Maintenance: Codebases relying heavily on short open tags may become harder to maintain, particularly if developers with different preferences contribute to the project.

Best Practices:

  1. Consistency: Establish coding standards within your project regarding the use of short open tags to maintain consistency across files.
  2. Compatibility checks: Ensure that your code is compatible with different PHP configurations by verifying the availability of short open tags.
  3. Limited use: While convenient, use the ‘<?=’ short open tag judiciously to maintain code clarity and portability.


Example 1: Basic usage of the ‘<?=’ short open tag

<?php $name = "Codegyan"; ?>
<h1>Welcome, <?= $name ?></h1>

Example 2: Conditional output using the ‘<?=’ short open tag

<p><?= ($loggedIn) ? "Welcome back!" : "Please log in"; ?></p>

Example 3: Looping through an array with the ‘<?=’ short open tag

<?php foreach ($items as $item): ?>
    <li><?= $item ?></li>
<?php endforeach; ?>


The ‘<?=’ short open tag in PHP offers a convenient way to echo variables and expressions within HTML markup, improving code readability and developer productivity. By understanding its syntax, usage, benefits, pitfalls, and best practices, developers can leverage this feature effectively while ensuring compatibility and maintainability across projects. Incorporating the ‘<?=’ short open tag into your PHP development workflow can streamline your coding process and enhance the user experience of your web applications.