An Introduction to PHP

PHP is an area of web development that is relatively new to me, yet is evidently emerging as one of the most popular forms of web scripting languages currently around. PHP effectively converts a static website into an active one by drawing upon, and enabling a wider variety of interactive content to be used within a site.

In order to gain some funemental background knowledge on PHP I decided to visit the website http://www.php.net which in essence is the home site for PHP and is a useful starting point for anyone interested in learning more about it. For instance, on the site there are introductory tutorials, mailing lists, regular updates on where the develoment of PHP currently stands, as well as numerous relevant links available.

Another useful resource I came across which further explains PHP, however in a less complex way is the website: http://www.tizag.com/phpT/ 

Their way of summarising PHP is by saying:

“Another way to think of PHP is a powerful, behind the scenes scripting language that your visitors won’t see. When someone visits your PHP webpage, your web server processes the PHP code. It then sees which parts it needs to show to visitors(content and pictures) and hides the other stuff(file operations, math calculations, etc.) then translates your PHP into HTML. After the translation into HTML, it sends the webpage to your visitor’s web browser.”

One of the main benefits to using PHP is it’s compatability with most of the popular operating systems (such as Microsoft Windows and Linux) as well as the most commonly used web servers around, such as Apache.

To begin developing with PHP, your computer needs several elements:

  1. PHP itself – To Develop within a PHP environment, your computer needs the PHP component, which can be downloaded for free from http://www.php.net  
  2. The second element your computer must have is a running web sever, the most popular choice would be Apache and again can be downloaded for free from http://httpd.apache.org It is important to note that the download file must match your operating system, for instance if your computer runs with Microsoft Windows, then the extension for the download file will include something along the lines of ‘win.’
  3. The final element is MySQL – a free database server that coincides with PHP development

Once these elements are installed and are running correctly, developing with PHP can begin!

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