Streams are a way of generalising file, network, compression resources and a few other things in a way that allows them to share a common set of features. I stream is a resource object that has streamable behaviour. It can be read or written to in a linear fashion, but not necessarily from the beginning of the stream.
Streams have been available in PHP for quite a while (at least since version 4.3.0) and are used pretty transparently by most PHP programmers. They can be used to access files, network resources, command line arguments, pretty much anything that goes through the input/output stream in PHP.
I was recently looking at ReactPHP and found that the use of streams was a requirement in order to prevent blocking the input/output stream. Although, I had seen streams being used in PHP applications, I wasn't entirely certain how to use them myself. As a result I thought I'd put together a post about them.